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.
Some of Wan Chai’splaygrounds 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.
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.
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 swingsor slide.
Instead it serves more as an air well and walk through connector for residents. Not much of a playground is it?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
As always, weekday mornings are good and late evenings are fine too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you should find yourself on the dark oops, North side of Hennessey Road in the early morning or recently ate at the legendary American Peking Restaurant and need to digest/ metabolize off the food, you can do so at this decent park and playground.
For toddlers, watch their little face light up and hear those foot stomping exclamations of “I wanna go play mama” as you wheel your stroller into the playground. Three separate climbing frames with slides is quite a treat for Hong Kong ( I wish they would spend a bit of money to upgrade and update them). Nonetheless for children something is better than nothing. There’s a short zip bar which is fun for older kids and if you bring a ball they can spend time shooting hoops at the adjoining basketball court. No swings though.
It really isn’t busy during the week which is nice and the benches are clean and plentiful around the perimeter of the park. There’s a public toilet here so that’s helpful if you had too much to drink.
The construction site across Lockhart road is quite noisy with piling right now so you’ll just have to tolerate that. Spacious, clean and nice open areas for running around chasing sparrows and letting off steam. I guess it’s because it’s right next to the Boys’ and Girls’ association.
Tai Wong Street East is another one way street in old Wan Chai, running from Queens Road East (QRE) to Johnston Road.
A fair amount of gentrification has happened along this street nearer the Johnston road end, most notably the Pawn which is now a nice bar and restaurant. The side nearer QRE retains some of the older shops and charm. I’ll get into that in a separate blog entry.
If you should find yourself along this street and do not wish to have to pay for a drink at a bar to rest your feet, you can head to this little rest area. It’s nothing fancy and frankly there is the constant hum of nearby air conditioning compressors, but it’s good enough for a ten minute pit stop to change a diaper or drain the water bottle you brought with you.
It is pram friendly only on the pavement approaching from Johnston road, so if you are coming from QRE, walk on the right side of the street to avoid all the stairs then cross to the left side of the street to access the sitting area.
The different platform layers have a significance, it’s cut in the shape of the reclaimed coastlines. In the evenings, some other kids come out to play and have a grand old time hopping off the ledges. It’s good that they put a railing near the exit to prevent kids from accelerating onto the street.
It is between the bird shop (parrots displayed outside is also very interesting to kiddies) and the Wen Ding standalone chinese restaurant.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty