A hike from the Wong Nai Chung reservoir to Violet Hill

It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.


We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.

Our Violet Hill hiking route – start at reservoir, end at Parkview
 It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.



After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.


Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.


And the foliage gradually changes.

Pine trees up on the hill

There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.

Twisted tree trunks that look like gnarled fingers
Baby fern emerging

This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).

Rocky path or just a deteriorating stone stair?

Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.



There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.


Then up a long stairway into the mist.

Young bamboo sprouts

On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.

After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.


Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.

The Violet Hill Trigonometry Point, Hong Kong


Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.

Panoramic view of Violet Hill trail

You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.

Down, down, down we go
Down we went back into the subtropical foliage

Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.

Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.

Beautiful lonely purple blue orchid
Whose glasses are these?

Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.


After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.


The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.


About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.



We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.


You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).


Direct from Pahang: where to find Musang King all year round in Hong Kong

Dedicated to Durians

I was at the “Wan Chai- Shibuya style” crossing, waiting to get to the other side of Hennessy Road. My eagle eyes and super sharp durian radar are always on “search mode” (sort of like the Terminator or Robocop, maybe like the spaceship scanners in the Matrix). What was that on the other side of the six lane road??


You can’t go wrong with a name like that. No mincing of words, no mystery, no guessing. A shop called Musang King must be all about the King, only the King and nothing else. Right?

I popped in for a look.

It was a small shop (replaced the Ice.licious whimsical popsicle store), just wide enough to fit the freezers and fridges, leaving enough room for clients to get in there, buy and leave. It’s not a cafe and there’s no reason to hang around. On the day I…

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What is a Cantonese wet shave? Find out at Oi Kwan Barbers

Despite being a resident, it’s fun to view daily life through a tourist lens. It never gets boring.

Spring Garden Lane for example, looks a little different every day and the mood of the street also varies according to the hour of the day. It’s tidal. The ebb of people heading towards Queens Road East for work in the morning and the flow back to the MTR station at 5pm. The smokers and queues at the Hong Kong Jockey Club branch on Saturdays, the queue for Kam Fung during breakfast and lunch hour seven days a week.


On a bright November afternoon last year, I happened to be strolling down Spring Garden Lane and saw a film crew right outside Oi Kwan’s barber shop. Most people wouldn’t even notice this hole in the wall. The barber shop occupies a narrow space between a florist and a very busy local restaurant. The reason why I noticed it at all is because I have an interest in barber shops. Well, ever since SW asked me to find one for him in Singapore many moons ago. The where can I get a good shave question just had to be answered.

If you did a search for shaves in Hong Kong, you’ll probably find the most famous and classiest one in the Mandarin Oriental hotel where the barber also offers waxing and pedicure services (hey, guys only). Then you’ll get the hipster barbers in Central up by Soho where guys sport instagrammable haircuts and a couple of tattoos on each arm and an earring. Some will offer you a glass of whiskey or brandy to get you in the meditative mood. To go to these, you’d either have to be rich or trendy, probably both.

Not so at Oi Kwan. This little barber shop that started in the 1960’s seats three and there are no luxury bells and whistles. Goodness, there isn’t even a door.

Oi Kwan Barbers closed on Wednesday
Shop is closed, all boarded up
It’s well lit and open on weekdays for hair cuts and shaves. You get your hair washed by sticking your head over a sink and a rudimentary shower hose douses you with water. Check out this review from a customer. 

This little old barber shop has survived despite the gentrification of Wan Chai and has opened a branch at the Comix Home Base in Mallory Street.

Mallory Street entrance, Oi Kwan Barbers
I think it’s pretty funny that it took them half a century to open a branch, but that’s the way opportunities show up. They just launched this new branch on the 30th of March 2017. From the looks of it on the FB page, it’s a bit more upmarket and swanky, I’m sure the prices will reflect it too.


Perhaps this is to compete with all the swanky barbers in Central…


Their write up (above pic) tells you a bit more although the translation is a little dodgy. Just in case you can’t read it in the picture, I’ve typed it up here.

Living in history and a living history- best describes Oi Kwan barbers Hong Kong and China.

We walked with Hong Kong’s growth, reminded ourselves the treasure the prosperity earned through hardships.

In Spring Garden Lane where the ceiling fan turns slowly, the old radio gives its broken sound and the cut-throat razor gives you a gentle stroke, you recline on the chair, close your eyes, forget Hong Kong’s hot humid weather, forget the crowded alleys…. hold a old comic book and immerse yourself in this street corner… and 50 years passed.

Our fathers came from war shaken 1950’s China as most of the Hong Kong populations, started this little workshop. Enduring the hard times, Oi Kwan served generations to generations, from the neonates to their grandfathers, they all walked from this little alley with a refreshing and neat look.

Succeeding our fathers, we stood fast against the economic bubble of Hong Kong.

You can check them out if you need a shave in Wan Chai.

Customer getting a hair cut at Oi Kwan Barbers

Read more about its current owner Mark Lau here.

Police outreach program 

I was standing in the bank of China branch along Queens Road East when I heard a blaring siren. It was coming from a police MPV that had parked outside the bank. 

The siren blasted its wails every few seconds and sometimes erratically so it made me jump whenever it sounded. Well, it certainly got everyone’s attention. 

I waited about five minutes, the sirens stopped blasting and I stepped out to see what the fuss was all about. Initially I thought it was the police either doing a raid or a random street immigration inspection… or worse, arresting someone.

The security guard saw me hanging around and approached me to see if I needed help opening the door. 

“What’s happening outside?” I asked him in Cantonese.

“Police are distributing leaflets” he answered.

I stepped out onto the pavement and saw three uniformed police officers holding a stack of leaflets which they attempted to give to anyone who cared to make eye contact. 

The policewoman asked me if I lived in Wan Chai. Yes I said and she handed me this.


Pretty funny poster. It looks like it was done in-house. The message is clear though. I guess this outreach program is in response to the increasing number of people falling for scam artists and fraudsters here.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority – Coin counting and exchange service on wheels

I love quirky Hong Kong

Take this service run by the local monetary authority for example. A mobile truck equipped with coin sorting and counting machines, going district to district to help vendors unload their heavy bags of metal discs, and the rest of us who enjoy hoarding coins in glass bottles, shelves and cookie tins.
What a great service! Everywhere else in the world you’re condemned to finding a bank that will allow you to deposit any coins. In Wanchai market, vendors don’t accept anything smaller than a dollar. So the small denominations mostly get dished out at the supermarkets. 

Better yet, they help you put the money on your octopus card :).


My sincere apologies to Jack F. and J.Y. who have been waiting to unload their hundreds of dollars worth of change. I was supposed to send you an alert when the truck came round to Wan Chai (usually parked outside Wu Chung house)… 

CORRECTION! It’s still here til the end of this week!

You can check the schedule for your district here.

Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty