Category Archives: Wan Chai Amenities

Heading out to the bookstore? Know this…

The two largest bookstores in Wan Chai are JP books (right by exit A3 on Johnston road) and Cosmos books which is on Lun Fat and Johnston, more or less opposite Fook Lam Moon restaurant.

The JP bookshop has only one entrance and is a multilevel shop with 3 floors. The ground floor is where the entrance is and you’re required to head up to the first floor and upwards (ie if you want to get to the kids section be prepared to walk up 4 flights of stairs).Cosmos books has a similar layout, it’s a massive sprawl of books set out on two floors, in the basement and on the first floor. The ground floor serves as the main entrance.

So going to the bookstore, you’re faced with these two entrances.

If you’re heading out to the bookshop to pick up a few travel or summer reading books for yourself or the kids, remember to leave the stroller at home. These bookshops have comprehensive collections but are definitely not stroller nor disabled friendly.

Without resorting to couch purchasing on Amazon, what would your stroller options be then?

Kelly and Walsh opened recently in Pacific Place. It’s tucked into a corner sort of opposite and one level up from the cinema. That bookstore has aisles that would make mothers smile…. and an excellent selection of English books.

Alternatively if you’re in Wan Chai this weekend, you can brave the crowds and head to the book fair at the Exhibition center.

Advertisements

New MTR exit and underpass in Wan Chai now open

If you live in the Avenue on Lee Tung Street, you’ve now got a nice underground walkway to get you to the Wan Chai MTR station without navigating street traffic across Johnston Road. This underpass took around two and a half years to build so I’m relieved it’s finally done.

To get to it, take either escalator or lift down to the basement where the supermarket is and walk along the corridor until you get to the end where you’ll see an escalator taking you down to the tunnel.

Okay, so it’s escalators in the middle, stairs to the right. What about barrier free access?

Initially I thought this was a ramp. (Yay!). But no… it’s a lift for wheelchairs 🤔🧐.

The big pain is that you can’t just use it like in other buildings, you have to call the staff to switch it on. (Call in advance! 3791 2103) That is just so lame. Why couldn’t they just put in a ramp or just leave it on for the convenience of anyone in need of it. Why create another step and waiting time?? MTR Corp you are slowing down my journey!!! Hell, I’ll just use the escalator for my stroller. I feel sorry for the wheelchair users.

When you do get down into the tunnel, it’s nice and wide (at least 3 meters wide), slopes uphill going to mtr station and downhill if you’re walking to Lee Tung Avenue. From the design of it, Sino Land and Hopewell seem to expect a crowd heading in their direction. I suppose this is in anticipation of their next development and continued connection to Hopewell Center II. There are spaces created for a few new retailers in the station too.

That’s a new circle K shop coming up next to the platform lift (under repair until May 2018).

And here’s another shop undergoing renovation on the left opposite Circle K. Not sure what it is yet.

I’m not sure if behind this white sheet there will be a shop or an advertising installation. You can see beyond it however that there’s a corridor for future expansion into Southorn Playground’s new underground mall when that gets done.

So this exit is D and here’s a reminder of the opening hours.

I guess the arcade corridor access and lifts to the surface remain operational during these hours too. Check out the promotions from the basement arcade shops below.

Where to buy Bitcoins in Wan Chai

Bitcoins are all the investment rage now. Check out this Bloomberg article on the astronomical prices.

Bitcoin Guns for $10,000 as Cryptocurrency Mania Defies Skeptics

All this news about bitcoin currency exchanges being banned in China got me wondering what and why it’s such s big deal. Is it really that this currency is only used by people up to no good? That’s the feeling I get whenever I read mainstream news media.


And then I saw this. Genesis Block. It’s on my regular route to the kids playgroup Center.


How fantastic


What’s the exchange rate?
After reading this article, I’m still not sure what it’s about… how does one mine Bitcoins?

Here’s an article that describes the risks of crypto currency.

Then of course there’s the bubble effect of this asset class and how high it can go….

Here’s where to find it Genesis Block and their Ethereum ATMs.

A very strange playground off Bowen Road

Bowen Road has been undergoing some remodelling and renovations recently, mostly slope reinforcements and a refurbishment of decade-old toilets 👍.

But still no concession stands or octopus pay drink machines anywhere, which would be nice if LCSD could address. (I mean sometimes we forget to bring our water bottles and snacks for kids and ourselves…. how about allowing a pop up juice bar- coffee shop with croissants and bo-lo-baos that operates on weekends? Or a food truck?) Anyway, on my walk yesterday I noted the completion of a new playground off the fitness path. I really don’t know what to make of it. I think it’s neither here nor there.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
only two rocking horses and a small platform that's not even a slide. Oh yeah that's exciting. Yawn.

A badminton court surrounded by trees. Hmm, great for blocking the wind I suppose but kind of dark and enclosed.

It seems like a bit of a tick the box we have these facilities type thing. What a waste of money. To get kids and parents to go down those stairs to get to rocking horses and then back up is probably too much for most Hong Kong families. Mums with babies and toddlers wouldn’t go if they had a stroller. Who is this for exactly? Someone who has a kid of 2-5yrs and a 2 teenagers who play badminton?

ok, the space and area layout is sort of awkward but they should have done a fun looking playground based on a theme. Or just put in an awesome swing set with a view.

Maintaining it is quite a job in itself too. Poor sweepers looking at the stairs are likely to hate it.

Wish those in charge had been a little more innovative in design, then maybe it would be worth the effort.

If you want to see what inspiring playgrounds look like, check out the pics at the end of this post.

Bringing your stroller to Wan Chai by MTR? ACCESS DENIED.

This is just bordering on ridiculous. How can The lift serving the concourse to platform be out of order for renovation for 7 months?!!


Ok MTR Corp, in May I’d like to see 3 lift shafts where there was only one before and each lift capable of taking at least 5 strollers instead of the 3 that we can pack in like sardines (if all mobile people take the escalators). 


If any renovation lasts more than 3 days, MTR Corp should be obliged to put up a proper explanation of what is being done to justify the inconvenience, extra staffing and general annoyance this causes the public. 


I’m waiting for my reply.

Wan Chai’s first 24 hour, self service laundromat 

… is in a rather obscure location. 


Most laundry shops are along popular pedestrian streets. Swatow Street, in the market area of Triangle Street, the “American Laundry” shop on the corner of Queens Road East and Stone Nullah Lane (nothing American about it excepts its name), these small laundry service shops will wash your clothes by weight and fold them when dry into a tidy bag. Most of them open daily from 8am to 8pm (sometimes later) and their machines run pretty much non stop throughout the day. If you send your dirty laundry in early you’ll generally get to pick it up in the late afternoon or early evening. 

I’ve been reflecting on the small apartment sizes in Hong Kong and the general lack of space. Especially in the kitchen where clean laundry is often taken out of a washer/ dryer machine between a stove and a fridge. Does this make the most sense as a laundry area? As our little gang has three (or more) meals per day at home, a dishwasher would be highly appreciated to save water and precious drying space. 

The washing machine could be a communal or commercially run self service laundromat. Like coin laundries all over Japan, Europe and the US. One of my neighbours expressed her concern about using communal laundry machines (imagine finding other people’s pubes in your clothes, she said) but I think this thinking is incorrect.

The washing machines I’ve used in many laundromats have no attendants and yet are utterly spotless. The ones in Japan are high powered, clean and large, able to take a huge wash load. There’s often a little coin/ cashcard operated soap dispensing machine if you’ve forgotten to bring your own. 

The unmanned laundromats are monitored by CCTV and the doors are locked during the late hours, automatically unlocking at opening time. This makes it a completely remote controlled facility, a common control Center would be able to monitor a chain of laundromats this way.

Compare this to the shop here.


These are definitely for small loads, not sure if my sheets would fit. Wish they would install a larger one and charge a little more fit the bigger things that often don’t fit in the home machine either.

How much for a wash? Not too much if your machine has broken down. You’d pay a lot not to smell like a skunk. Less than $50.


There’s also a self collect locker service at the very back for your SF parcel pick up.

There are no doors. It is open 24/7. How fantastic. Maybe it’s busy after hours.

Quite neat. I wonder if it’s making any money. Great to know as a back up.

Intriguing sign at Wan Chai MTR

One of the two elevators at Wan Chai MTR breaks down every few months. They take turns. More often, it’s the one that slogs the lazy people (and the occasional handicapped person or stroller family) from the basement concourse to the ground floor and the overhead bridge. But I don’t think it’s the lazy people that’s the cause of the breakdown, though they are a major contributing factor. 

It’s the goods hauling guys who use this as a cargo lift. They shift weights that could be the density of two or three people on a single trolley. It’s almost downright dangerous to have elderly, disabled people and babies or young toddlers in the mix. 

Too often I’ve seen able bodied people squeeze into this elevator when there’s an escalator nearby to both ground and overhead bridge. Here in Hong Kong, people must be tired of commuting and even a few extra steps saved is worth inconveniencing others who need the priority access passage. 

Look at this ridiculous sign showing the realistic yet ironic situation at the lifts.


If you were in a line 7 strollers (prams) deep, it might take you half an hour to get from the ground floor down to the concourse. One lift only fits one family.

What can or should MTR Corp do about this?

SOLUTIONS?

  • Firstly how about putting the escalators next to the lift so that everyone standing in the queue has NO excuse not to use it. 
  • Or, put signs on the floor directing people to the escalators.
  • Then how about lifts that can actually move  at least 20 people at one go. We’re talking airport sized lifts, not small cramped coffin style ones from the 70’s.
  • All goods hauling has to go by a separate lift.
  • Signs indicating that only 1 able bodied person should accompany the baby or disabled person. How often have you seen 3/4 people accompanying one stroller or wheelchair user? The flocking is laziness. They should just meet at the platform. 

Hong Kong MTR Corp needs to put some of its profits (US 1.32 billion) to making the transport system accessible to everyone. It’s an efficient train system no doubt but the old stations need renovation and a re-think on providing barrier free and priority access to those who need it. 

Safety and Speed. Both important considerations in this busy metropolis. The MTR planners and architects should try pushing a stroller on a weekend to see where the chokepoints are.