Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Fire Engine Frustrations

Inconsiderate people are everywhere. Not just at the lifts at the MTR. Is it Hong Kong’s stressful, time-lacking situations that make it so? It must be tough work being a customer service officer here. People want top service but are out to get the best deal and expect the first class infrastructure to help create that competitive environment. 

I watched this Fire engine wail past me at the Wan Chai / Johnston Road intersection, its fire fighters all suited up and sirens at maximum volume. I took a leisurely stroll (maybe 2km/hour) up Wan Chai Road towards the market to find it completely stuck before the Queens Road East intersection. How can a person carrying a baby, a backpack and an umbrella be walking faster than a fire engine?


How frustrated the firemen must be. Cars were double parked two vehicles deep on one side and a truck occupied the other side of the road. And the truck and goods people expected the fire engine to somehow squeeze its way through. The road was certainly not designed as a three laned highway. 

If a fire was burning down a house or a family was trapped in an elevator, this little traffic jam would be wasting valuable time. Do the drivers care? No. What if it’s their family? 

The truck finally moved off at the insistence of the fire engine. Those cars double parked should’ve moved off too. 

If only the traffic police would allow pedestrians to report obstructions and penalise them, that might force all these drivers to behave with more consideration. 

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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.

The premature death of a City Tree

The City Tree installed at Hopewell Center always seemed a half hearted attempt. It was more PR pomp and bluster than a genuine statement of green energy, roadside air pollution or the creation of a sitting area with the feeling of sitting under a real tree in a park. 


It didn’t come as a huge surprise to me then, that last week some guys dismantled it very quietly and without much fuss. In its place, they’ve erected a shelter in which they seem to be doing some tile work. Could they be building a bigger one? It’s all a bit unclear what direction this is heading in and whether the sponsors will keep backing a project that doesn’t work. 

I think if the sponsors are serious about it, pay to build a proper one that will handle the roadside air pollution and please pay the maintenance subscription fees. It looks like the City Tree is higher maintenance than a real tree… but then again it’s supppsed to represent 20-30 trees in a park so maybe the maintenance costs should be equal to that. No shortcuts. 

If you’d like to see some history on the city tree, check out these posts from when it was ALIVE

Free Buddhist meditation classes in Wan Chai

On Jaffe road near the excellent pork wanton noodle shop Trusty Gourmet, is a large but discreet Buddhist meditation centre called Pu Guang.  Walking by, you may not even notice it, unless they happen to coincide with one of their functions or ending of a class. 

A friend CB used to attend the class conducted in the basement and found it quite relaxing. He described it as a friendly and peaceful atmosphere, despite not understanding any of the instructions in Cantonese. 

They are now running free classes in English if you happen to be interested. Details here.

Ceramics shop pop up in Wan Chai Road

Update: it is now September and the ceramic shop lease has run out. They are no longer here. It is now a sock and towel shop for a few months!


As stores vacate their spaces due to rent or other business decisions, landlords keen to keep the space in use and tenanted seem able to lease them out for short periods of time. It’s almost like an Airbnb for retail. 

The tenants rent by days til their goods are sold or by month until the landlord finds a long term tenant. It keeps the neighbourhood lively and interesting… there’s never a shop shuttered for too long.

Ceramic shops seem to do fairly well as pop up stores, fragile but non-perishable. Here’s one that appeared on Wan Chai road last month.


Matching sauce bowls and soup spoons. All in pretty patterns.


Chopstick rests and dipping bowls.


Mugs and other random household items.


Lots of plates and bowls.


Small soup bowls in various colours and prints. 


Small dinner plates and heat tolerant dishes for baking.


More plates and bowls with lids for kids.


They also have plain white crockery.


Then I spied more appetiser dishes..


Suggested pairings for your dining set. 

It looks pretty fun to mix and match your place settings! And not expensive either:)

Find the shop here:

The Satisfaction of Samsen

This Thai casual style eatery is NOT kid friendly. Do not bring your toddlers or babies, there are no high chairs (bar chairs), no kiddy utensils and no kids menu. So you gotta go alone or on a date!

Note: it’s open Mon-Sat lunch 12 noon to about 2.30pm then dinner 6-10pm. Shut on Sundays.

We have done takeaway from Samsen several times, all delightful eating even out of cardboard boxes. The only dishes Samsen doesn’t allow takeout for are their noodle soups or “boat noodles”. 

One day last week, I found myself liberated and alone for lunch. I gleefully took myself to Samsen at 12 noon and promptly got seated at the bar counter. Perfect. 


There are hooks thoughtfully placed beneath the counter to hang your bag (love restaurants that do this) and I had a great view of the working kitchen which always helps to manage time and expectations. 


It was a boiling hot day. The Thai iced tea was perfectly shaved and sweetened with just the right kick of lime acidity. It was a pleasure I sought to extend by drinking it very slowly. 


My Wagyu beef boat noodles arrived. Oooh first….inhale the aromas. Then follow up with a taste of the soup. Be careful not to slurp it all down. The Wagyu beef was super tender and the beef balls chewy. The noodles were done just right, smooth texture with a good touch of elasticity. 

The bowl looked small but by the time I got to the end of the broth I felt strangely satiated. 

No dessert for me today but definitely next time.

Samsen requires no introduction given its high profile chef and nightly queues for dinner. It’s a thumbs up from me, a welcome addition to the Wanchai dining scene. 

I’m already craving the next visit.