Tag Archives: playground

A very strange playground off Bowen Road

Bowen Road has been undergoing some remodelling and renovations recently, mostly slope reinforcements and a refurbishment of decade-old toilets 👍.

But still no concession stands or octopus pay drink machines anywhere, which would be nice if LCSD could address. (I mean sometimes we forget to bring our water bottles and snacks for kids and ourselves…. how about allowing a pop up juice bar- coffee shop with croissants and bo-lo-baos that operates on weekends? Or a food truck?) Anyway, on my walk yesterday I noted the completion of a new playground off the fitness path. I really don’t know what to make of it. I think it’s neither here nor there.

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only two rocking horses and a small platform that's not even a slide. Oh yeah that's exciting. Yawn.

A badminton court surrounded by trees. Hmm, great for blocking the wind I suppose but kind of dark and enclosed.

It seems like a bit of a tick the box we have these facilities type thing. What a waste of money. To get kids and parents to go down those stairs to get to rocking horses and then back up is probably too much for most Hong Kong families. Mums with babies and toddlers wouldn’t go if they had a stroller. Who is this for exactly? Someone who has a kid of 2-5yrs and a 2 teenagers who play badminton?

ok, the space and area layout is sort of awkward but they should have done a fun looking playground based on a theme. Or just put in an awesome swing set with a view.

Maintaining it is quite a job in itself too. Poor sweepers looking at the stairs are likely to hate it.

Wish those in charge had been a little more innovative in design, then maybe it would be worth the effort.

If you want to see what inspiring playgrounds look like, check out the pics at the end of this post.

Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Some of Wan Chai’s playgrounds are tucked away in little hidden areas, almost like private courtyards for in-the-know residents. It’s nice that these spaces are reserved and gazetted as public parks, though I wish the local district council would consider upgrading them (not just maintaining them) as a matter of routine.

One example is this playground at Wan Chai Gap Road. Not many would know of its existence unless you’re a regular commuter along the Wan Chai Gap Road, or have a habit of ducking down narrow alleys for a look around.


There are two access points to the playground, one down a narrow alley off Stone Nullah Lane (past popular drinking spot Stone Nullah Tavern), the other is via the steep Wan Chai Gap Road off Queens Road East. That’s the steep little road just by the old post office. Then down some stairs to the left.

Playground entrance

It’s surrounded either by high walls or buildings on all sides, and there are steps for both entrances, so this isn’t one that I recommend going with your monster stroller.

Play area for children 2-5years old

It does open up to a fairly wide concrete area, with very small facilities for young kids. By that I mean that the age catered for is 2-5 years old. There are three little ride-ons which can provide a ten minute respite, and a tic tac toe grid if you fancy a quick game. I thought it was a real pity the very large under-utilised space had no swings or slide.

Instead it serves more as an air well  and walk through connector for residents. Not much of a playground is it? 

Wanchai Gap Playground “Connector”

I suppose kids could take their toys there to play… but if that was the idea then a ramp should be made in place of steps.

Hong Kong needs to step up a notch in playground design. As one of the top financial centres in the world, the public playgrounds are lagging behind Tokyo, New York, London, Singapore. 

Find the playground here if you need to get off the busy streets and catch a breather.

Location of Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Indoor playground for Toddlers

If there’s one thing worse than being in an outdoor playground when it’s hot, it’s being there when it’s full of people so there’s nowhere to sit, AND full of mosquitoes that leave horrible welts on your calves for weeks (horrible Hong Kong Park).

It was in the height of summer last year that I discovered Spring. How did I hear about it? A minibus went by with an ad for it and I googled the address and went to check it out.

What a fantastic find. A large open indoor play space with natural light in Wan Chai only exists here. Unfortunately Baumhaus, despite a better location (recently opened on Queens Road East) cannot compare. Combine that with great interior design and warm friendly staff who know when to leave you alone.

Toddler exercise zone
Constantly changing toddler exercise zone


Small person has spent an immeasurable amount of time there ever since. She took to it right away, the toddler exercise area changes every week, providing new challenges. The indoor swings were a huge hit with her, I’m always moving furniture out of the way for maximum amplitude.

Spring 3
natural light, thoughtful furniture design

The padded stairs, tree house and slide are superb areas for toddlers to work out their little leg muscles. And it’s all cleverly designed so that a small adult can also fit in it if necessary. The glass windows provide a direct visual of the kids and serves to reduce the racket their making.. Very well thought out.

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Park your kid, your pram and yourself

I love that I can sit for a while and perhaps speed read a magazine, have a drink and luxuriate for a few minutes in a nice loo.

Aside from cooking and mandarin classes, small person spends her time with kitchen play sets, train tracks, Lego and other dexterity building toys in the toy zone. Depending on where you sit, as it is an open concept space, it’s possible to keep an eye or ear on your toddler wherever they are.

Spring 4
Barefoot babies, bring your socks mummies

The play space you’ll get to use for free if you sign up for at least one of their myriad of classes (cooking, language, art, sports, dance….). Though I’m sure that if you’re in the neighbourhood and just need to set your child down for a while, the staff will let you in. 
Spring is on the 3rd floor of a commercial building. There’s lots of parking for cars nearby. You can get the tram to Tonnochy if it’s too far from the MTR (but remember,
no prams on the trams) If you’re coming on foot like me, there are two entrances to the building, via Gloucester Road ( big orange highway) or Jaffe Road. Jaffe road is also known as Food Street in Wan Chai, many delicious restaurants along here, most are mommy-pram friendly if you get there by 11am, before the lunch crowd starts. Otherwise, wait til 2pm and you’ll get your seat and less stressed wait staff.

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. 

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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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.