Tag Archives: wan chai

Wan Chai’s first 24 hour, self service laundromat 

… is in a rather obscure location. 


Most laundry shops are along popular pedestrian streets. Swatow Street, in the market area of Triangle Street, the “American Laundry” shop on the corner of Queens Road East and Stone Nullah Lane (nothing American about it excepts its name), these small laundry service shops will wash your clothes by weight and fold them when dry into a tidy bag. Most of them open daily from 8am to 8pm (sometimes later) and their machines run pretty much non stop throughout the day. If you send your dirty laundry in early you’ll generally get to pick it up in the late afternoon or early evening. 

I’ve been reflecting on the small apartment sizes in Hong Kong and the general lack of space. Especially in the kitchen where clean laundry is often taken out of a washer/ dryer machine between a stove and a fridge. Does this make the most sense as a laundry area? As our little gang has three (or more) meals per day at home, a dishwasher would be highly appreciated to save water and precious drying space. 

The washing machine could be a communal or commercially run self service laundromat. Like coin laundries all over Japan, Europe and the US. One of my neighbours expressed her concern about using communal laundry machines (imagine finding other people’s pubes in your clothes, she said) but I think this thinking is incorrect.

The washing machines I’ve used in many laundromats have no attendants and yet are utterly spotless. The ones in Japan are high powered, clean and large, able to take a huge wash load. There’s often a little coin/ cashcard operated soap dispensing machine if you’ve forgotten to bring your own. 

The unmanned laundromats are monitored by CCTV and the doors are locked during the late hours, automatically unlocking at opening time. This makes it a completely remote controlled facility, a common control Center would be able to monitor a chain of laundromats this way.

Compare this to the shop here.


These are definitely for small loads, not sure if my sheets would fit. Wish they would install a larger one and charge a little more fit the bigger things that often don’t fit in the home machine either.

How much for a wash? Not too much if your machine has broken down. You’d pay a lot not to smell like a skunk. Less than $50.


There’s also a self collect locker service at the very back for your SF parcel pick up.

There are no doors. It is open 24/7. How fantastic. Maybe it’s busy after hours.

Quite neat. I wonder if it’s making any money. Great to know as a back up.

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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. 

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 disappointment of a cancelled bus route

The 590A plied a route from Admiralty through Wan Chai to South Horizons every 15-30 minutes. This was the bus we took last year to get to school when the South Island Line was still under construction. Since the MTR line opened and the weather became generally worse (hot, humid and polluted), we’d given up on the erratic schedule of the bus service in favour of the South Island Line

There are pros and cons of course. The 590A always operated a clean nice double decker and took a very efficient route to South Horizons. It is well air conditioned and a very pleasant ride to see what’s happening above street level in Wan Chai. The bus stop is also a few minutes closer to home and as it is a direct route, doesn’t need transiting. It was pretty much the closest thing I could get door to door to South Horizons. 

In contrast, the MTR transit requires a bit of a rushed walk with plenty of anxious commuters through the bowels of Admiralty station, 3 escalators down to get to the South Island Line from the main blue Island line.

I fancied taking the bus today. I had time to spare and thought a bus ride would be nice to see the changes happening above ground. Imagine my disappointment when I got to the Wan Chai road bus stop and found that the route had been terminated!


Hong Kong is totally efficiency driven. If it ain’t making money, cancel it…

I’m now walking back to the MTR station… it’s back to the underground. 


If you take their suggested replacement route, bus 90, it gets you to Ap Lei Chau estate which is close but still a 10-12 minute walk to South Horizons unless you get off at a preceding stop (say just after the bridge) and catch the 592 or 595 that’ll drop you at the South Horizons bus stop near Marina Square. 

Typhoon season: Huff, puff, blow your house down…

All the excitement about a typhoon 8 this Sunday is now dissipating as Typhoon Mawar has been blown northerly and will hit Shantou and the coast of China instead. Perhaps we’ll get some rain in Hong Kong but that’s looking less and less likely now as the storm track shifts. It’s now a T1 and might not get much above that.


I was away when Typhoons Hato and Pakhar blew into town, Hato caused a 2 hour delay in my flight take off time and we sat in the plane the entire duration of the lightning strikes and heavy downpour at the airport. In the robust metal tube of the new A350 the storm didn’t seem all that intimidating. 

Friends and neighbours updated me on the disruptions and damage all over (I’m sure you’ve seen the footage circulated online by now). We secured our windows and doors before we left but neglected a few pieces of laundry which were blown to the floor and soaked on our return. Our balcony plants were snapped and decimated by the strong winds and heavy downpour but the flat generally seemed in good shape on our return. 

Mr Rammstein took a walk around Queens Road East area after the typhoon Hato blew over and sent me a few pictures. Credit and effort goes to him for these.

Completely devoid of people at Hopewell Center
A neighbour’s broken window

And now of some fallen trees and branches pictures.

Snapped branches of trees at the Wu Chung house bus stop
Tidy pile of leaves and branches outside bank of china
Leaves and branches by the old post office recycle bins
Branches and splinters near Green Common
By the ruttonjee hospital exit on Wan chai road

These fallen branches were all cleared up soon after Hato blew by. But clearing up after Pakhar has taken considerably longer. There are still fallen branches and leaves on sidewalks up by Kennedy road and tree cutters are doing their best on Stubbs road creating large logs out of fallen tree trunks. (You can see this if you hop on the 15 bus towards the Peak from Wan chai).


Many of these trees are still with their snapped branches dangling at crazy angles. It’s probably best to avoid walking near them in the current weather as you don’t know when the rot sets in or the wind might blow it in your direction. Obviously the clearing up will take several more weeks due to the huge amount of work all over the island and beyond. 

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