Coombe Road Children’s Playground

This playground is very very popular on weekends. There are two playgrounds separated by a road. One for the young ones 2-5 years of age ( climbing frame and swings) and another for the 5-12 year olds which has a climbing frame, swings and a scooter/ skateboard zone.

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Families come from all over to let the kids go crazy on the slides, scooter around, buy bubble guns that shoot out a stream of bubbles… Every kid wants one of those.

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Then there’s the fairground atmosphere of adults and children eating as they play, instead of cotton candy floss and lollipops, think local snacks, fish balls, steamed Siew Mai and herbal boiled eggs (my favourite… try it for $5 per egg). The little concession stand does milk teas and coffees, hot or cold, ovaltine and Horlicks. The fridge stocks most soft drinks that you can think of and there’s an array of candy, chips and chocolate to choose from. Let’s not forget the ice cream. There’s the usual Walls type ice cream available, cones and sticks. They only accept cash so make sure you bring change.

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Amenities wise, there’s a public restroom, water coolers to refill your bottle and lots and clean benches to sit and eat. Or just sit. 

On a clear low pollution day, you can look out over the South side from the picnic area and enjoy the cool breeze rushing over the mountains. The falcons love it, look out for them soaring overhead. 

In the high humidity of summer, there are lots of mosquitoes so do not forget your bug spray. 

Access this playground via:

  1. No. 15 bus, catch it from Central or Wan Chai towards the Peak (possible with pram but depends on how crowded bus is, usually full of tourists with very big fancy cameras)
  2. Walk up Wan Chai Gap ( starts beside Bamboo Grove. Tough with pram, do not try going uphill unless super fit. Do not try going downhill unless someone else carries the baby.)
  3. Catch a taxi/ uber it up there

  
There are some nice pram friendly walks you can do from here (Black’s Link and Aberdeen Reservoir Walk), I’ll be detailing them in another post. 

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Monmouth Children’s playground

On Sunday, we met up with friends who had just moved here from Paris. We brought them to one of our favourite noodle shops in the Star street area,  一碗麵 (“one bowl of noodles“, it only has a Chinese name). After that, we needed to get the kids to work off some of that excess energy.
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A friend whom I’d bumped into on the minibus recently told me about a playground I’ve never seen or heard of. It’s not marked on maps and there are no signs on street level that this playground exists. He said it was up Electric Road, up the stairs from Maison Es. This was the playground I suggested we check out.

This playground is NOT pram friendly. 

Firstly, Electric Street is a rather steep slope. If you found it steep going up Wing Fung Street or St. Francis Street then you should just stop for coffee and forget about attempting Electric Street. If your coffee came with two sugars and you also ordered dessert, then I highly recommend you try pushing your pram up here ( just to metabolize it off, of course).

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At the top of the street, you’ll see some rather narrow stairs. Fold your pram up or hoist it up on your shoulder and prepare for a good workout. This walk up the stairs will feel like an x kg one arm dumbbell press (x = weight of your pram), working out your shoulder, back and legs. The good news is, it only takes about 3 minutes to get up there.

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The playground is a decent size with a climbing frame and see-saw (but disappointingly, no swings), ensconced on all sides by the tall apartments on Monmouth Terrace. I suppose this playground was provided for the residents in these buildings. It’s shaded and has little in the way of greenery but a nice breeze makes up for that. 

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There’s lots of sitting benches, which are made of metal and discourage sleeping. A little gazebo provides a bit of shade if it should rain. There’s also an open gazebo structure, I’m not sure what purpose it serves apart from being an eyesore. Best if they remove it and put in a nice swing.

We spent a good hour here just relaxing and chatting. Having the privacy and the nice cool breeze made the effort worthwhile, although I’d never have made it up here with the pram on my own (thank you husband, your gym instructor is doing a fine job).

After that, it was back down the slope to Star street to peruse the shops. Fortunately small person had the company of an 8 year old boy, she was very motivated to walk and chase him down.

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Tung Wah Centenary Square Gardens

Named after the Tung Wah group of hospitals, it is unclear why the park is situated here in a rather awkward location. I’ve never seen anyone use this park except the cleaners who keep it squeaky clean.

Centenary Square Gardens
I wish there was more to say about this little sitting park. It’s hardly a garden, a number of trees that you can count on one hand and some shrubs. There are lots of benches and a lot of concrete. 

Named for the school sponsored by the Tung Wah group situated just behind, it’s a little rectangle that diagonally faces the street intersection and is across from the Sikh temple and kindergarten.Perhaps it was designed for old folk or patients from the nearby hospital to sit around outside and get some sunshine or do tai chi in the yard like area. 

I recommend giving it a miss unless you need to tie your shoelaces or missed your bus and need a place to sit and wait. 

  

Morrison Hill Children’s Playground & Skateboard Park

Morrison Hill is full of schools for all ages. They are literally on every corner you look. There’s the German Swiss International School, the two Tang Shui Kin Secondary Schools, the Muslim Kindergarten, the Christian Kindergarten, the Vocational Institutes and a plethora of other training centers all crowded around the Morrison Hill Public Swimming Pool.

Morrison hill entrance Philippine monument

Next to schools, there has to be playgrounds. These kids have their school yard during school hours, and can visit either Wan Chai park or Morrison Hill playground.

Pram access from Queens Road East
Pram access from Queens Road East

Right on the corner of Oi Kwan Road and Sung Tak Street is Morrison Hill Children’s playground and Skateboard park. It overlooks the very busy Morrison Hill Road and the high way link to the Aberdeen tunnel is just next to it. To be fair, the high way link isn’t too imposing once you’re used to Hong Kong city planning but the excessive use of horns by vehicles caught in congestion can be rather distracting. That, and the exhaust fumes. I’ve only seen skateboarders and kids on scooters on the weekends, during the week, it’s a completely empty space for kids to run around.

Skateboard Park
Skateboard Park

As always,  weekday mornings are good and late evenings are fine too.

Recommended ages
Recommended ages

The playground looks quite similar to most other playgrounds in Hong Kong (presumably they were all bought on consignment and installed at roughly the same time). It consists of a simple climbing frame with slides. Although there is a sign indicating that part of the frame is for 2-5 year olds,  it isn’t very good for toddlers as the frame is a little too high for them to get onto themselves. If your kid is over 4 years of age, I think it might work for them.

Morrison hill climbing frames
Morrison hill climbing frames

There are also two rocking ride-ons. Apart from that, there’s a lot of open seating and tree-shaded benches and tables to sit at.

Pram / Stroller access is via Oi Kwan Road only. So if you’re coming from Causeway Bay Leighton Road area, you just walk up Sung Tak Street and onto Oi Kwan Road. If you’re coming from Queen’s Road East, you don’t need to walk all the way around, use the corridor short cut onto Oi Kwan Road which looks like this. It’s just after the MacLehose Dental Centre and before the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. Look out for it on your left after you walk by a bus stop.

Access corridor
Access corridor

It’s a good pitstop if you’re on a mission to browse lamps on Morrison Hill Road or shop at the Bowrington Street Market and have a kid in tow. There are no public toilets here, you’ll need to go into the stadium or try using the ones at the public swimming pool across the street.

If your kid is screaming for swings, head to the Tak Yan Street Swing  area. It’s about a 5 minute walk past the post office and mosque around the not too strenuous hill.

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Tak Yan Street Playground

  
The location of this playground is a little strange. In the sense that it seemed kind of an afterthought. 

  
It was as if city planners said ok there’s space here, let’s put something in for kids. Then the playground planner dudes looked at it and said… Err ok well I guess a swing set and two rocking horses should make them happy. Hmm.

Playground layout tak yan
someone is always snoring on the benches

This is the only swing set near Wan Chai Park (which doesn’t have one!!!).

Most resident mommies do this:

  • Morrison Hill playground for the kid to release that pent up energy
  • Proceed on a 5 minute walk to Tak Yan St for the swings
  • Lug the kids home

  
There are many schools here and a public swimming pool. These playgrounds do occasionally get busy after school but as it’s very small, not many kids bother with it. So queues for the swing won’t be that long. 

A sitting out area was recently added. It seems to be quite popular. There are no toilets or other amenities here.

Sitting Area
The only thing that bothers me is that there’s a power supply station right across the road. 

  
It’s really too bad that most Hong Kong city playgrounds are situated near refuse collection sites and power supply stations or large busy road intersections. It must be tough to reorganise the city when land is so tightly controlled by private developers.

Hokkaido Dairy Farm: Family friendly HK style “tea house”

I have possibly the biggest baby pram/stroller in Wan Chai. I have seen a few others of the same make and model but yet to see one that’s larger. Many people grunt and tut when they see me coming, some even grumble audibly. Well, the kid is comfortable in it, it’s got big wheels to glide over the nasty bumps and I’ve got tons of space for toys and groceries. So there.
A cha chaan teng in Wan Chai that will allow you to bring a stroller in? It’s pretty much unheard of. Parents with a stroller and kids in tow are relegated to eating only at Eric Kayser or Starbucks (or Passion at off peak hours). Where can one go for a Hong Kong style breakfast that will allow a mommy, baby and monster stroller in?

Hokkaido Dairy Farm
This is an important announcement to all mothers wanting a HK style breakfast. If you have your pram/ stroller with you, you can forget about eating in the famous Kam Fung or Capital Cafe. Famous they may be, but so popular that space they have none. They fill every square inch of space with a table or a stool. Aisles between tables are so narrow, you need to crab walk by them to squeeze into your seat… My pram barely made it through the front door of Capital Cafe and it got stuck in an aisle by the open tables. The staff yelled at me to shut the pram but I yelled back that it wouldn’t make a difference. That’s when they threw me out. Oh well.

Not at Hokkaido Dairy Farm. At off peak hours, this little cha chaan teng is quiet, service is fantastic (look out for a staff by the name of Mui Lee- super switched on), and the food serving is hearty.

Breakfast at HDF

The menu is the similar to other HK cha chaan tengs so at least you’ll get your fix. There’s a kids menu too. My little one wanted macaroni so that’s what she got.

Menus at HDF
If my stroller fits through the doors, yours will too.

  
Here’s how to find it. On Johnston road, between Hennessy Primary School and the iClub Wan Chai hotel. If you’re lost, look around for the 759 store and go towards the left as you look at the entrance.

Wan Chai Park

Let’s start by stating the obvious. Wan Chai Park is Wan Chai’s main park. It has the most amount of green space, which isn’t very much in HK but the trees there have beautiful buttress roots which cling to every bit of earth and surface area they can get. Like us, real estate is important to them.

Sights at the park
The park is one of the most complete in terms of amenities. There’s a football pitch, model boat pool which serves as a relaxing fountain area, an elderly exercise zone, a community garden and the all important playground.

  
There are also toilets, drinking water fountains for adults and kids, and ample benches for all to sit for a while.

Wan Chai Park Layout
Disappointingly there is a smoking section. I suspect there may have been some disciplinary issues relating to that. The park board indicates a phone number to call in the event that smokers are where they shouldn’t be. I recall one trip to Wan Chai Park around lunchtime where I was astonished to find myself enveloped in smoke at the entrance. A group of puffers were near the elderly exercise area smoking up a storm. At the time I didn’t think to report them but I suppose I might in the future.

Directions: Park Signboard
The park does get busy, early mornings are usually for the elderly using the exercise equipment and many spread out through the park doing the hand-shaking and hip side-to-side movements. Toddlers and babies get to run around the playground freely with grandparents and nannies. There’s often a gentleman or two napping on the benches. Occasionally the handicapped kids will come to play soccer, or some kids will practice scooters or remote control car racing on the pitch.

  
In the afternoon, the schools nearby let the kids out and many of them swarm the playground. These older boys of less than 10 years can get pretty rough -pushing, shoving, yelling- to get their way on the climbing frames and slides. Mommies or nannies are often sitting on the side chatting, so with little oversight, scenes from Lord of the Flies replays in my mind. Many of those kids (mixed origins, Indian, Nepalese, Myanmese, Chinese) had no qualms stepping on my 2 year old’s hands and feet in their anxiety to be the first to slide. It elicited many tears and screams of despair. Do not bring your kid late afternoon if he/she isn’t prepared to play rough.

Here are some tips for access if you have a pram/stroller.

Wan chai park entrancesPublic toilets and stairwayExit to Wood RoadBroad paths
When the weather is good, it’s a nice park to be in. But be warned that there isn’t much shade for rain and a dearth of nearby cafes within 10 minutes walk that will allow you in with a stroller.

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