5 Nov 2017: I usually see the helpers packing their large cardboard boxes at Worldwide House in Central. It’s a weekly affair that takes place every Saturday and Sunday, the outer lobby walkway of the building is thronged by helpers shouting to each other for masking tape or just assistance to shut their boxes. There are the guys hanging about waiting for the packing to finish so that they can put the boxes into crates for loading onto trucks. Add to that mix, the chaos of the general public trying to make their way to the footbridge and the lifts to the MTR station and it’s a recipe for bumping, jostling and avoidance steering… if you’re good at bumper cars, you might be good at this.
Today I witnessed a more relaxed version of this in Wan Chai along Sam Pan Street. It’s a little street that branches off Spring Garden Lane into a what is now a back alley that leads to the market. It often smells because the refuse site for Lee Tung Avenue is situated along this street and wafts of the rubbish often float into the playground adjacent.
I thought I’d take a look to see what was being packed.
Boxes and bags were all placed along the side of the street and the ladies were busy filling them up to the brim, sealing over them with masking tape.
The truck was parked on the side of the road waiting to be filled. I’m quite sure it was going to be filled as the queue of packers went down and round the street.
I guess the idea is that these parcels with gifts and household stuff will make it home by Christmas or the New Year.
By the light of the full moon.. a vampire comes out to play…
Lee Tung Avenue has had great success in creating a public space where small, interesting art and music projects can draw the attention of a steady stream of people. Many are locals, young couples who visit in the evening for a dessert. Some are older people with their helpers, they occupy the benches to soak up the late morning sun. Then there are families, who use this pedestrianised street as a conduit to the schools. They often return after school, in the evenings to run around*.
Halloween has become an increasingly significant occasion for commercial festivity in Hong Kong. It’s nice because it involves the children and all that fancy get up is fun, but it doesn’t teach them much about American culture or what it means. Local and international schools both celebrate it and kids come home with drawings of pumpkins and bats and broomsticks. It’s almost as big a celebration as Christmas.
I thought it was fabulous that Lee Tung Avenue took a different approach to their display. The organisers chose an art installation with significance to both the mid-autumn festival and Halloween. Titled “Museum of the Moon“, a large blown up rendition of 5 km earth’s only moon surface is suspended from the arch and illuminated from within at night.
For the Halloween weekend, Ophelia was advertising a blood sucking gory time on Saturday night and Tuesday night. That vampire was co-opted into posing with visitors along the pedestrian alleyway by the light of the moon.
It was a funny and entertaining sight. The crowds were out enjoying the cool weather and the scene… as was I!
Halloween night walk in Wan Chai.
*Wan Chai really needs a good quality children’s playground, will LCSD please consider this carefully and install a great one at Southorn playground when you’re finished ripping it up for the underground Mall? All the future generated income could be reflected in quality of life an awesome playground would bring to families in the area. And I’m not referring to those red yellow plastic things you presently install all over. Please take a look at the Megan Daley park in Chicago or even this wonderful bamboo installation (since Hong Kong is so fond of using bamboo for scaffolding) at the restaurant Triplets in Chiang Mai.
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.
Last Thursday and Friday, there were staff (or volunteers) from Save the Children in their red t-shirts handing out brochures for the Peppa Pig Family Carnival in Lee Tung Avenue.
Now, if you’re a mother of any children between the ages of 2-8 years, you will know that this is absolutely irresistible to your kids. They will whine and demand to go, simultaneously declaring their love for the Peppa Pig characters.
The staff were friendly, the colours of the panels vivid and the booths were well spaced out. However, the content lacked substance and there was nothing to take home unless you were coerced into making a purchase of useless and un-environmentally friendly Peppa Pig paraphernalia in the name of charity.
What did the booths have?
There was a Virtual reality booth which had the clunky goggles ($80 per go) you put on to look around. It was empty on the Friday and I didn’t think the goggles were too comfortable. There were only two goggles on display.
Then there is the string art zone, where the lady in charge explained that kids get some string and get to tie it around the metal protrusions to weave family bonds. Hmm. A bit abstract for kids, I struggled with the thought of it myself in a small dark booth.
Then there’s the kite drawing zone. Here for a $20 donation, kids get a small paper kite (not a real kite) each and sit down for a few minutes to decorate and then the kite gets hung on a big kite board with metal pins.
So all that individual effort goes up onto a collective board and it’s an instagrammable moment for the organisers but what does the kid get as a memory?
“Mama they took my kite away. I got nothing.”
Perhaps the organisers would like to reconsider their activities and strategies to have something for the kids to take home. The string bonding thing is also quite worthless even though the concept probably sounded interesting on paper.
The most striking and entertaining activity on display was the pipe telephone. So simple, free and fun. They could’ve made it more like a 3-D maze but it’s a good effort.
There are different coloured pipes linking one side of the board to the other, at different heights to for adult/child play.
Well, there was a stage and some music and dancing going on, on Saturday but baby was asleep in the sling and I gave it a pass.
What made #1 happy was the opportunity for a photo with Peppa’s family.
Here’s how the overhead kite display looked during Typhoon 3, I wish the wind had been strong enough to make them take flight.
I just happened to be at Lee Tung Avenue at lunchtime on Tuesday and saw some tech guys setting up amplifiers and microphones. A young lady approached me and offered me a booklet about the a Capella festival that’s on this week. She gestured to a page towards the center of the booklet and showed me the write up on The Techtonics. “They’ll perform at 1pm” she said. It was 12.28 so I figured that I’d hang around and see what it’s all about.
I’ve always enjoyed a Capella and didn’t need any convincing.
The all male Techtonics group did their vocal warm ups at a corner and tested the microphones with some beatbox rhythms and a short song to get the crowd to stick around. It was effective. Many people gathered around the center courtyard area, occupying the benches and leaning against the walls near the Seoul bistro and Omotesando cafe entrances.
It was thoroughly enjoyable. They sang six songs animatedly and got the crowd excited. I felt like dancing along but was too busy recording it on video like everyone else! Well, I did do a little bit of dancing.
….looks just like the 2016 Chinese New Year display. It is still very impressive and they did a good job keeping those lanterns (customised with the name Lee Tung Avenue on them) looking clean, smart and surprisingly new. It makes sense to recycle them especially since they are large and look like decent quality to begin with.
I have to say it really sets the mood of the street, it’s nicely festive and sets it up for great photos no matter the weather or angle.
They also got out the faux Oriental Botero sculptures along the street. I’ve seen several tourists and locals posing for pictures beside these statues.
My friend NDS who runs a corporate florist in London was particularly impressed with these cherry blossom trees. I said “hmm.. it could be fake.” And she said “Nooooo way”.
So guess what. I took a close up.
Yup, sorry ND, they are real trees but fake flowers stuck onto the branches. I guess we’re both half right and half wrong?!!
It must have taken a lot of manual work to complete that project.
Finally, cast a look next door at Hopewell Center across the street.
And decide where you might like to take your selfies or bring your visitors for a stroll at night.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty