Tag Archives: Hong Kong

An almost seaside walk

It is now possible to walk to Admiralty again if you’re by the Wan Chai convention center. The walk is still not scenic, and neither romantic nor quick, but it does open up a vital channel which is shorter than doing the crazy walk out near Gloucester Road.

On the bright side, it is entirely flat, relatively smooth (great for strollers) and shielded from the construction site.

if you want to know how much of the Harbour has been filled here, take a look at the picture below.

There’s space for a whole new dual carriageway and the tunnel beneath.

Too bad the Wan Chai beach idea never made it past the drawing board.

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Updates around Wan Chai

I’m still wary walking around this week as there are still lots of broken off tree branches, loose signage and chips of granite and glass on the pavement. It’s already a whole lot better, salute to the cleaning crew who work with such clinical efficiency.

I am feeling sad today for a particular tree that has been uprooted in Wan Chai. The massive and shady tree that stood as tall as the Hennessy Primary School looks to have a similar fate to the one in the news in TST. It has provided shelter to taxi drivers on their mid day break, pedestrians who just need that cover for the crossover and a green canopy (for those looking over that crazy intersection that cars need to manoeuvre) to get on to Wan Chai road from Fleming road.

Bye bye tree 😢. Corner of Takan Lodge[[[[[[
On Lee Tung Avenue, all the smaller trees that fell over are back upright and the lanterns have made their reappearance. Nothing’s gonna stop the commercial celebration of lantern festival this weekend.

The dog mascot stands sentry over the lanterns at Lee Tung Avenue

At the Blue House this Saturday evening, there’s a gathering for the mid autumn aka lantern festival. The promo leaflet is all in chinese. Essentially there’s a lantern competition for the best handmade one, a dumpling making activity and lots of general hanging around with the residents of the Blue House. I rang the organizer and was a little disappointed that you can show up but none of the listed items were actual “activities”. She postured that if you lived in the neighborhood and had “nothing else to do that evening…” you could drop by. 🤔

She also said that everyone had to bring their own food to share with others as no snacks are provided…

I attended a mid autumn festival village party in Shek O last year and it was a marvellous effort by the community to putting on a fun event for families and a whole spectrum of society, with sitting areas for eating Tong yun for the duration of the evening (made and shared for a small donation of $10-50 per person). And kids got to help out too. There were games areas with an array of prizes, a beautiful area where everyone displayed the lanterns they made. Unfortunately this year the devastation inflicted by the typhoon is so severe that the residents will probably not be in the mood to celebrate.

I’m curious to see how the Blue House organizes this and whether they can make it really nice or if it turns out to be a sloppy sort of event confined to pavements with no fun or colour to it. Let’s see.

Typhoon 10 Mangkhut huffed and puffed and…

The biggest storm so far of 2018 and the last two decades was fascinating to witness.

This was a great test of urban infrastructure, a lesson for architects and engineers, a real way for the community to bond through helping each other or simply keeping in touch.

Yesterday evening, I spent it at Shek O beach. The swells were increasing in size, reaching almost 2 meters in the short time we were there at low tide.

It had been an idyllic day, hot but sunny and somehow, knowing that a massive storm was soon to strike, most people were out making the most of it. Wanchai on a Saturday afternoon had an almost carnival like atmosphere.

Here are a few sights of the aftermath in Wan Chai last night.

Some dangers still lurking above and beneath your feet. Anyone heading out should wear only sturdy shoes and be highly alert for possible loose items that could cause injury.

Broken glass from windows and chunks of granite

Broken, broken, broken.

Fallen signboards and ripped lanterns
Many trees affected along Gloucester Road

Tree down on Lockhart, Firemen surveying scene

Overall things weren’t too bad in Wan Chai. The trees were the most affected, and a few buildings will need to sort their windows out. Shui On Center needs to work on their lifts and air con.

From The SCMP

All closed up at the MTR station

Tree leaning against a bench at Lee Tung Avenue.

And I’ve now figured out why the bins in Wan Chai are still in the same place. Someone thought of tethering them to the nearest railing. Such a simple and clearly effective idea. 👍😀Good thinking.

Another construction site banging near you soon

If you live anywhere along Queens Road East, you may be suffering from the development of Hopewell Center 2. The constant jack hammering (they hit a big rock and it has to go, somehow) has forced tenants who are affected by noise and vibration to locate their business elsewhere.

The dusty and dirty business of construction drives out all but the most persistent of shops and stores as foot traffic drops. The rent had better be damn good to make them stay.

I noticed the vacancies on Anton Street for a long time and I should have guessed that it was the long awaited extension of the Swire empire in Wanchai. 28 Hennessy, that white swanky building next to the Ozo hotel is going to become a massive commercial property with another larger tower beside it. Thanks to the Designing Hong Kong blog, I was able to see what the plans are.

The extension is for two basement underground car park floors (only 32 cars so not even 1 car park lot per floor of each building), a few pop up shops on the ground level (1 basement retail-what could this be?!), presumably swanky chain coffee shops from the Swire group, two levels (in pink) for some varied purpose and a green space that doubles up as a refuge zone in the event of an emergency.

This is all very well from an architectural viewpoint. But Designing Hong Kong makes the case that it is destroying the vibrant street life that existed there before.

I’m not against redevelopment, in fact I think careful redevelopment brings certain advantages to the neighbourhood. For example bigger sidewalks due to mandatory setbacks, more shade from the sun or rain for pedestrians, the renewal of pipes and electrical wires that pose a hazard in old buildings attempting to support the demands of new technology. It could also bring about a better selection of goods and services….

So I took a closer inspection of what the redevelopment plans are all about.

You can see that the plot for redevelopment is about 60% of the block, affecting three streets, Anton, Landale and Queens Road East. Anton street has no street life anymore since Swire acquired the buildings, and Ozo dominates the opposite block. Landale Street is the F&B heart of the area with ever changing local food choices serving lunch to office workers.

Check out the ground floor. There’s some allocation for retail or pop-up stores, an interactive art wall, a bit of green here and there for visual impact (ie nothing that you can picnic on).

What really bothers me is the lack of public accessible seating or areas to rest. I think that the authority granting redevelopment licenses should demand more of this from every developer. You’ve deprived the area of convenient and accessible street-level amenities like restaurants, laundry, printing shops at street level (not to mention other businesses that used to operate above) and replacing it with an office tower full of financial firms and big name institutions. You could at least make some demands on catering to public interest.

Is this all part of the payback for the connection between Admiralty and Wanchai…. the bridge and tunnel domination of the Swire group as an extension of Pacific Place and PP3.

This plan shows the 2nd floor. Okay nice podium garden, landscape garden… is it open to the public? I’ve walked past 28 Hennessy many times and it’s cold and stark lobby area does not encourage anyone to ascend the escalator to the lobby. That pink area designated for office/Exhibition/education.. what is that? Will it be a tuition center or a Wework type office?

Here’s the side view. You can see that the gardens are inaccessible, they are all above the first floor.

The picture above from Designing Hong Kong shows the “entrance” to 28 Hennessy, all concrete, no seating areas, just a stark flat area (albeit with a few token sculptures) beside the escalator. It’s sayonara to the pink building with the curved exterior that (among other things) had a yoga studio, a local shirt tailor, a little snack shop selling the traditional Hong Kong egg waffles and fruit juice. Now we have large cement trucks, cranes and piling machines to look forward to.

As developers go, Swire sets one of the highest standards in the industry. Swire, please find a way to include many more redeeming factors in this particular development. I’d like to see a great connector between Johnston and Queens Road East where people can pass through, take a break, people-watch, shade from the sun and rain.

It used to be that office staff from Central would head over one or two stops on the tram to a bustling local neighbourhood to get a cheap and filling lunch quickly and all sorts of office or personal errands done.

Now, it seems those 2 stops aren’t far enough.

…………………

Make your comment* about this development to the Town Planning Board here. It closes tomorrow (7Aug) so do it quickly.

Thanks to Designing Hong Kong for letting us know about this!

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.

The never ending queue of Kam’s Roast Goose

Have you heard about Kam’s Roast goose in Wanchai?

There’s a story of a family feud, arguments over intellectual property and a legal battle. Kam’s Roast Goose is the result of a split off.

This little restaurant in Wanchai that has seats that pack people in like sardines in a tin sees a never ending queue on weekends. Thinking of going at 2 or 3pm to skip the lunch crowd? Forget it, you’ll still be in the line for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps on a day of thunderstorms, that’ll be the time to go.

The location was expertly chosen. Facing the large, busy trunk of Hennessy road where traffic flow is a constant, The restaurant benefits from the wide sidewalk which allows people to queue 2-3 abreast and still provide space for pedestrians. The school occupying the adjacent plot completes the perfection of this lot as no other shops or restaurants complain about people blocking their frontage. The school entrance is on the other side and there isn’t any impedance to either party.

What about the food? I like everything but the goose. Somehow goose doesn’t really appeal to me… the meat is dark, on the dry side and in very small portions. I go for the siu yok, char siew and yao gai. Those dishes are excellent and you can takeaway at a very decent price.

When I went a few weekends ago to buy takeaway, I waited about 15 minutes (there were 3/4 people in the takeaway queue in front of me). A couple came along and asked the reception lady how long they would have to wait. “2 or 3 hours” she said without missing a beat. “Could be faster if people do drop out of the queue“.

If you can bear the wait and queue at the restaurant, bring a face mask because the fumes from the passing buses get really bad. It’s one of the worst stretches of bus fumes in Wan Chai.

Find your way to Kam’s Roast Goose.