A Travellerspoint blog

Marketing Central.

A Visit to the new Central Market.

sunny

Yesterday I needed to go to Marks and Spencer's in Central and since I hadn't done any exploring over the weekend, due to the weather, I decided to combine this with a visit to the recently refurbished Central Market. Over the weekend we had a typhoon number 8 and lots of rainstorm warnings. A construction worker was killed in Happy Valley when the bamboo scaffolding outside a house collapsed, before the everyone stop work level of storm was posted.

I began by walking down from school. On the way I stopped to admire some beautiful flowers, watch a cute cat up a tree and, to my surprise, considering I'm on the lookout for pawnbrokers' signs, discover there's one on the street next to the MTR that I pass every day, but have never noticed. I've become interested in these signs which show an upside down bat holding a coin.

Flowers on the walk down from school.

Flowers on the walk down from school.

Flowers on the walk down from school.

Flowers on the walk down from school.

Cats in trees on the way down from school.

Cats in trees on the way down from school.

Pawnbrokers on the walk down from school.

Pawnbrokers on the walk down from school.

This photo shows the screen blocking the door and the high up pawnbrokers' seat.

This photo shows the screen blocking the door and the high up pawnbrokers' seat.

Staying on the theme of pawnbrokers, on my walk along Des Vouex Road, Central I found two more. One of them just off Des Vouex Road was even the right colours: green and red. This is how they look when they are lit up. In the day time they are yellow and red.

Pawnbrokers' Central.

Pawnbrokers' Central.

Pawnbrokers' Central.

Pawnbrokers' Central.

Second Pawnbrokers' Central.

Second Pawnbrokers' Central.

Then I reached Central Market. Well, what can I say? It was a wet market. It was closed down for years for refurbishment. It's recently reopened. It looks nice, but it bears absolutely no resemblance to how it was before. It was once a place for locals to bargain for cheap, fresh food. It was filled with hustle and bustle. It had colours, smells - not all of them pleasant. Now its interior is just like that of any high end shopping centre. The previous clientele cannot afford anything here.

At first I felt sad about this. Then when I looked up the history of the market, I found it had been through many, many reincarnations. Maybe this is just one more of them. Many places in Hong Kong are gentrifying and sometimes this may be a good thing - but, I think, not always. There's a class of Hong Kong people who are being priced out of more and more places. Where can they go?

Positives of the market were: wall paintings, a museum-like display of old equipment that was once used in the market, old fashioned stalls, staircases from the original building and old photographs.

Negatives were: I felt like I was wandering around any of the billion soulless shopping centres that can be found anywhere in Hong Kong. In fact, it could pretty much have been anywhere in the world.

Central Market Entrance.

Central Market Entrance.

Central Market Sign.

Central Market Sign.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Modern Wall Art.

Display.

Display.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Old Photo of the market.

Inside the market.

Inside the market.

Inside the market.

Inside the market.

Inside the market.

Inside the market.

View from the market.

View from the market.

Plant Display.

Plant Display.

Staircase.

Staircase.

Staircase.

Staircase.

Fancy Lights.

Fancy Lights.

Fancy Lights.

Fancy Lights.

Old Sign.

Old Sign.

Weighing Machine.

Weighing Machine.

Weighing Machine.

Weighing Machine.

Old Weighing Machines on display in the Museum Part of Central Market.

Old Weighing Machines on display in the Museum Part of Central Market.

Old Weighing Machines on display in the Museum Part of Central Market.

Old Weighing Machines on display in the Museum Part of Central Market.

Old Clock and Video about the old market.

Old Clock and Video about the old market.

Hong Kong Tramways Shop.

Hong Kong Tramways Shop.

Old-fashioned Stalls.

Old-fashioned Stalls.

Stalls of Liqueurs.

Stalls of Liqueurs.

Stalls of Spirits

Stalls of Spirits

In the atrium of Central Market.

In the atrium of Central Market.

In the atrium of Central Market.

In the atrium of Central Market.

In the atrium of Central Market.

In the atrium of Central Market.

After visiting the market, I walked up Victoria Road, past a flock of pigeons onto Queens Road Central. I took some pictures of the tall buildings which to be honest make me feel a bit claustrophobic. I walked past Lang Kwai Fong, a popular clubbing area. Finally, I made it to Marks and Spencer's which was already getting geared up for Halloween.

A Flock of Pigeons.

A Flock of Pigeons.

Donki is a popular new store.

Donki is a popular new store.

Outside Pottinger Hotel.

Outside Pottinger Hotel.

Tall Buildings.

Tall Buildings.

Tall Buildings.

Tall Buildings.

Tall Buildings.

Tall Buildings.

Lang Kwai Fong.

Lang Kwai Fong.

Marks and Spencer's.

Marks and Spencer's.

Close up of bat with coin sign.

Close up of bat with coin sign.

Posted by irenevt 13:15 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (6)

Sunday Wanderings.

Exploring Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Cheung Sha Wan.

rain

Today I decided to go and see the Avenue of Comic Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. It's located in Kowloon Park, but for some reason I have never been to this part of the park before.

On my walk along Nathan Road from exit A Tsim Sha Tsui Station, I noticed lots of beautifully painted stairways leading into the park as well as a large sculpture.

Swan Lake on Stairway into the Park.

Swan Lake on Stairway into the Park.

Musical Ensemble on Stairway into Park.

Musical Ensemble on Stairway into Park.

This statue is entitled 'Please' and it's by sculptor, Van Lau.

This statue is entitled 'Please' and it's by sculptor, Van Lau.

This statue is entitled 'Please' and it's by sculptor, Van Lau.

This statue is entitled 'Please' and it's by sculptor, Van Lau.

Wonderful old tree on Nathan Road.

Wonderful old tree on Nathan Road.

Then I saw a stairway lined with models of cartoon characters; I had arrived at the Avenue of Comic Stars. To be honest, I am not really familiar with Hong Kong comic characters, but even so I found the walkway good fun, despite the fact it started bucketing down with rain as soon as I arrived. Apparently the characters on show here are all popular Hong Kong comic characters from the 1960's to the 2010's. This walkway was opened in 2012. Each character is near their handprint to make it just like the Avenue of Stars.

Stairway leading to Avenue of Comic Stars.

Stairway leading to Avenue of Comic Stars.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

Detail of Characters on Stairway.

I believe this character is called Old Girl.

I believe this character is called Old Girl.

Comic Character.

Comic Character.

Comic Character. I think this is Little Horse.

Comic Character. I think this is Little Horse.

Statues with tall buildings on Nathan Road.

Statues with tall buildings on Nathan Road.

Statues with beautiful old building, probably part of the army barracks that was once located here. This cat is called Din Dong.

Statues with beautiful old building, probably part of the army barracks that was once located here. This cat is called Din Dong.

Ding Ding, Comic Penguin.

Ding Ding, Comic Penguin.

Cartoon Panda. It's called panda-a-panda.

Cartoon Panda. It's called panda-a-panda.

New Take on The Little Mermaid. Apparently she's called Sau Nga Chun, I think.

New Take on The Little Mermaid. Apparently she's called Sau Nga Chun, I think.

Not sure who this pink boy is.

Not sure who this pink boy is.

Hero Type Characters.

Hero Type Characters.

Hero Type Characters.

Hero Type Characters.

Hong Kong's James Bond perhaps. Yes it is. He's known as K.

Hong Kong's James Bond perhaps. Yes it is. He's known as K.

View after the rainfall.

View after the rainfall.

In addition to the sculptures, there was a beautifully painted Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Looks a bit Alice in Wonderland-like to me.

Looks a bit Alice in Wonderland-like to me.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

Comic Wall.

I noticed the flowers in the park's roof garden looked beautiful after the rain.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

Beautiful Flowers.

There were two buildings opposite the park on Nathan Road that I wanted to see. One was the Former British School, the other building was Saint Andrews Church.

The Former British School at 136 Nathan Road is the oldest surviving school building in Hong Kong for the children of expats. It was paid for by Sir Robert Ho Tung and officially opened by Governor Blake on 19th April 1902. Later this school moved to new premises, then it was closed down all together by the Japanese during World War II. After the war, The British School reopened as King George the Fifth School, generally shortened to KGV, which is the oldest of all the English Schools Foundation schools here. The original school building located here now houses the Antiquities and Monuments Office and was declared a monument on 19th July 1991. Unfortunately for photography purposes, this building was being renovated, so was covered everywhere with tarpaulin and scaffolding.

I found this photo of the school online.

I found this photo of the school online.

Next door at 138 Nathan Road is Saint Andrew's Church. This is the oldest English speaking Protestant church in Kowloon. It dates from 1906 and was financed by Sir Catchick Paul Chater who owned the land here. During World War II the Japanese turned this church into a Shinto shrine. I was fortunate as a service was just ending as I arrived, so I got to look inside the church.

Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Storm clouds gather behind Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Storm clouds gather behind Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.



Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.



Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.

Stain Glass Window, Saint Andrew's Church, Kowloon.



Next I walked along Austin Road at the northern end of Kowloon Park, then turned right onto Shanghai Street. I walked along this street until I reached King George V Memorial Park. There are two parks dedicated to King George V in Hong Kong: one here and one in Sai Ying Pun. This park was built in 1940. It was opened by Norman Lockhart Smith in 1941. He was chosen in place of the governor, who was ill. In the centre of the park stood a statue of King George V. A few months after the park was opened, the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. They removed the statue and used the park as a rubbish dump. Nowadays the park has several Chinese style pavilions and some sports facilities. It is a welcome bit of greenery in a pretty built-up area. I noticed the Xiqu Centre I visited last week is just across the road from the park.

Entrance to King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Entrance to King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

Chinese-style Building, King George V Memorial Park, Kowloon.

After visiting the park, I walked along Jordan Road and noticed the entrance way to Temple Street Night Market on my left, so although it wasn't night time and the market wasn't on, I crossed the road to take a look. The gateway to the market is the same, or certainly very similar to, the one I saw at the Yau Ma Tei end of Temple Street when I visited there. As I started to walk along Temple Street, I was delighted to see a red and green sign for a pawn shop. No, I didn't want to pawn anything, but I have read that these signs are becoming increasingly difficult to find as more and more pawn shops close down.

Apparently, pawn shops have been around in Hong Kong for about two hundred years. The traditional pawn shop sign depicts an upside down bat holding a coin in its mouth. This sign is considered to be lucky as the Chinese word for bat which is, fook, sounds similar to the word for - fortune. In addition, the phrase 'upside-down bat' sounds similar to 'fook dau', meaning 'good fortune has arrived'. When I say words sounds similar, what I mean is, Cantonese mainly has words of one syllable. Their meaning changes depending on which tone people pronounce them in. Cantonese people say words 'sound similar' if they are the same word pronounced in a different tone. To give an example sze means four when pronounced in one tone and death when pronounced in another, so four is considered to be an unlucky number as it sounds like death.

Anyway let's get back to pawn shops. The entrance to a pawn shop always has a screen to block people's view of who is in the shop and thus lend some privacy to those forced to pawn their belongings. Apparently, the counter inside the pawn shop is always very high to show the superior status of the pawnbroker and to prevent people from seeing how the value of their goods is worked out. Pawn shops in Hong Kong are not allowed to charge more than 3.5 per cent interest per month on any loans they issue, and they cannot provide loans of more than HK$100,000.

Entrance to Temple Street Night Market.

Entrance to Temple Street Night Market.

Pawn brokers' sign.

Pawn brokers' sign.

Looking back towards Jordan Road.

Looking back towards Jordan Road.

Looking down Temple Street.

Looking down Temple Street.

Older People pushing carts is a common sight here.

Older People pushing carts is a common sight here.

Restaurant.

Restaurant.

Foot massage parlours are common here.

Foot massage parlours are common here.

Narrow lane with no traffic.

Narrow lane with no traffic.

Taking a break in a quiet lane.

Taking a break in a quiet lane.

After looking at Temple Street, I walked further along Jordan Road until it crossed Nathan Road. Here I found Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium. I loved it. It was beautifully laid out and very photogenic. It felt more like a museum than a shop. This department store occupies five storeys. It sells food, teas, ceramics, clothes, paintings, calligraphy sets and much more. It dates from 1959.

Entrance to Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

Entrance to Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

Lions guard the entranceway.

Lions guard the entranceway.

Entrance to Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

Entrance to Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

Old pictures of the shop were on display everywhere.

Old pictures of the shop were on display everywhere.

Food Stuffs on Display.

Food Stuffs on Display.

Food Stuffs on Display.

Food Stuffs on Display.

Ceramics.

Ceramics.

Ceramics.

Ceramics.

Beautiful Teapots.

Beautiful Teapots.

Just Looking.

Just Looking.

The Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

The Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium.

Furniture.

Furniture.

Furniture.

Furniture.

Screens.

Screens.

Goods on Display.

Goods on Display.

Stairways.

Stairways.

Stairways.

Stairways.

Outside on Nathan Road.

Outside on Nathan Road.

Outside on Nathan Road.

Outside on Nathan Road.

Outside on Nathan Road.

Outside on Nathan Road.

I then wandered further down Jordan Road to Kowloon Union Church. This beautiful building was one of the first inter-denominational churches in Hong Kong. It was built by the London Missionary Society in 1931 and was partly financed by Sir Paul Chater. During World War II, the Japanese used this church as a stable for their horses. After the war in 1947 the church was reopened and rededicated. It was declared a monument in 2017. Some renovation was being carried out when I visited, so the church tower was covered in scaffolding. I looked inside, but could not take pictures, as a service was going on when I arrived.

Kowloon Union Church.

Kowloon Union Church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Since I was so close to it, I next walked to Cox's Lane and looked at Kowloon Cricket Club and Kowloon Bowling Club. I couldn't go inside either of these, as they are for members only. The Kowloon Cricket Club was founded in October 1904. The club's foundation stone was laid by Sir Hormusjee N. Mody, the club president. Their is a bust of him in the entrance way. As the whole ground is surrounded by high fences, it's impossible to get a good photo of the cricket field from the outside.

Kowloon Cricket Club.

Kowloon Cricket Club.

Kowloon Cricket Club.

Kowloon Cricket Club.

The club was opened by Sir H. N. Mody.

The club was opened by Sir H. N. Mody.

Its hard to get a good shot of the cricket field.

Its hard to get a good shot of the cricket field.

Its hard to get a good shot of the cricket field.

Its hard to get a good shot of the cricket field.

Kowloon Bowling Green Club.

Kowloon Bowling Green Club.

Kowloon Bowling Green Club.

Kowloon Bowling Green Club.

I then got back on the MTR, but I didn't go home. As I was on the Tsuen Wan line and would pass through Cheung Sha Wan, I decided I would go and visit Lei Cheng UK Han Tomb.

After World War II, many Chinese immigrants flocked to Hong Kong. Many had little money and ended up in huge squatter camps. On Christmas night 1953 a massive fire broke out in the squatter camp in Shek Kip Mei. The fire raged for five hours and left 53,000 people homeless. The government responded by building Hong Kong's first public housing. While construction was underway in the Cheung Sha Wan/Sham Shui Po area, workers unearthed an ancient Han Tomb. Construction was halted and the area sealed off. Professor F.S. Drake of the University of Hong Kong and his students were brought in to excavate the site.

The tomb is made of brick and has four interconnected chambers. Fifty-eight pottery or bronze objects were found inside the tomb.

Nowadays it is possible to view the tomb through a glass panel. The bronze and pottery objects found in the tomb are on display and there is a pretty Han Chinese style garden around the tomb. The garden has ponds, statues, rock formations and waterfalls. As I visited on a Sunday, many maids had gone there to celebrate their day off.

Lei Cheng UK Han Tomb.

Lei Cheng UK Han Tomb.

Lei Cheng UK Han Tomb.

Lei Cheng UK Han Tomb.

Photo of the great fire of Shek Kip Mei.

Photo of the great fire of Shek Kip Mei.

Professor F.S. Drake and his student excavate the tomb.

Professor F.S. Drake and his student excavate the tomb.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Pottery items found during the excavation.

Bronze items found during the excavation.

Bronze items found during the excavation.

Bronze items found during the excavation.

Bronze items found during the excavation.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

The surrounding Han Garden.

This area of Cheung Sha Wan is built up but with wide open roads.

This area of Cheung Sha Wan is built up but with wide open roads.

This area of Cheung Sha Wan is built up but with wide open roads.

This area of Cheung Sha Wan is built up but with wide open roads.

In recent years MTR stations have been made more attractive by the art in the MTR program. In Cheung Sha Wan Station the walls are decorated with 'Tea Pots, Bowls, Cups and Some Spoons' by Mariko Jesse.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Art in Cheung Sha Wan MTR.

Posted by irenevt 10:51 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

And Now For A Bit of Culture.

A Visit to West Kowloon Cultural District.

overcast

Today I finally made it to West Kowloon Cultural District. I've been interested in visiting here for a while, but have always thought it was still largely a construction site. Actually parts of it still are, but there's enough of this area finished nowadays to justify a visit.

The idea for the West Kowloon Cultural District originated in 1996 when the Hong Kong Tourist Board conducted a survey of tourists and discovered that they claimed they found Hong Kong lacking in cultural sites. In 1998 the then chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, proposed remedying this with the establishment of the West Kowloon Cultural District. His idea was approved, but there followed a series of setbacks and delays. The first phase of the district finally opened in 2015 and the second phase is expected to be completed in 2026.

To get to the West Kowloon Cultural District I took the MTR to Kowloon Station and headed towards exit E. The first building I saw upon exiting was the International Commerce Centre (ICC), which at 108 stories and measuring 484 metres, is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the twelfth tallest building in the world.

The International Commerce Centre.

The International Commerce Centre.

I then followed the signs to the West Kowloon Cultural District and arrived near the Freespace Building, which is a new centre for contemporary arts performances. On the way I passed a wall covered with hard hats indicating that construction was definitely still on-going.

Construction definitely continues.

Construction definitely continues.

The Freespace Building.

The Freespace Building.

The Freespace Building.

The Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

Mural outside the Freespace Building.

After looking at the Freespace Building, I walked to the M+ Building, which is a museum of visual culture set to open on the 12th of November this year. Apparently this museum Intends to rival the Tate Modern in London, the MoMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in terms of the breadth and importance of its collections. Only the museum's shop and cafe are open at the moment, but I photographed its shape, bamboo-like walls, hanging lights and reflecting doors. There was also a lovely harbour side cafe here.

M  Building.

M+ Building.

M  Building.

M+ Building.

Front of the M  Building.

Front of the M+ Building.

Detail of the M  Building.

Detail of the M+ Building.

Reflections in the M  Arts Centre Window, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

Reflections in the M+ Arts Centre Window, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

Lights and Reflections M  Building.

Lights and Reflections M+ Building.

Lights M  Building.

Lights M+ Building.

Lights M  Building.

Lights M+ Building.

Flowers outside M  Building.

Flowers outside M+ Building.

Cafe by the harbour.

Cafe by the harbour.

Cafe by the harbour.

Cafe by the harbour.

Next I walked along the harbour front enjoying the views. It was a bit overcast, but the scenery was still lovely. There's a walkway along the waterfront with a lawn on one side and many people bring their tents and spend the day here at the weekends.

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

Harbour view.

Harbour view.

Harbour view.

Harbour view.

Harbour view.

Harbour view.

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

Harbour View

Harbour View

Taking selfies by the waterfront.

Taking selfies by the waterfront.

Pitch your tent and enjoy a day by the waterfront.

Pitch your tent and enjoy a day by the waterfront.

I liked this building.

I liked this building.

Along the harbour front there was an exhibition called 'Friends With You' featuring large colourful characters to take photos with.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

'Friends With You'.

Overlooking 'Friends With You' plus harbour view.

Overlooking 'Friends With You' plus harbour view.

Overlooking 'Friends With You' plus harbour view.

Overlooking 'Friends With You' plus harbour view.

I then walked along the waterfront in the direction of the Palace Museum. On the way there is a large green expanse of lawn and more beautiful harbour views.

Harbour Walkway.

Harbour Walkway.

Harbour Walkway.

Harbour Walkway.

On the Waterfront.

On the Waterfront.

View Across the Lawn.

View Across the Lawn.

The Palace Museum is still under construction and should, hopefully, be completed by July 1st 2022. It will exhibit artefacts from Beijing's Palace Museum. This building has been designed to look like the buildings in the forbidden city in Beijing.

The Palace Museum.

The Palace Museum.

The Palace Museum.

The Palace Museum.

The Palace Museum.

The Palace Museum.

Just past the Palace Museum is the Competition Pavilion. This was the winning design of a Hong Kong Architects and Designers Competition held in 2017. It was designed by Paul Tse and Evelyn Ting of New Office Works and is called “Growing Up.” I have seen pictures of it and was not that impressed, but I found it much more beautiful in reality than in the photos. It was one of my two favourite places I visited that day.

The Palace Museum and Pavilion.

The Palace Museum and Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

The Art Pavilion.

After the pavilion I continued along the waterfront a short way for views over Jordan and towards Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter. There were lots of ferries around here.

Waterfront near Jordan and Yau Ma Tei.

Waterfront near Jordan and Yau Ma Tei.

After this I wanted to visit the Xiqu Centre which stages Chinese operas. To get there I had to go out of the West Kowloon Cultural District and walk along the edge of a major road. Although these areas will eventually be connected, at the moment there is a large construction site between them.

The Xiqu Centre is a really beautiful building and together with the Competition Pavilion was my favourite part of the cultural district. One site I looked at described it as shaped like a Chinese lantern; another claimed it's meant to look like the curtains that can be found on a stage. Inside there is a Grand Theatre, a Tea House Theatre, eight studios, a seminar hall, restaurants, a gift shop and a large public atrium. The outer walls of this building are beuautiful and make wonderful patterns when you photograph them.

Xiqu Centre Sign.

Xiqu Centre Sign.

The Exterior of the Xiqu Centre.

The Exterior of the Xiqu Centre.

The Exterior of the Xiqu Centre.

The Exterior of the Xiqu Centre.

Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Looking out from inside the Xiqu Building.

Tea Shop Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Tea Shop Inside the Xiqu Centre.

Gift Shop inside the Xiqu Centre.

Gift Shop inside the Xiqu Centre.

Chinese Opera Posters.

Chinese Opera Posters.

Chinese Opera Posters.

Chinese Opera Posters.

Chinese Opera Poster.

Chinese Opera Poster.

Chinese restaurant.

Chinese restaurant.

Chinese restaurant.

Chinese restaurant.

Beautiful Walls of the Xiqu Centre.

Beautiful Walls of the Xiqu Centre.

Beautiful Walls of the Xiqu Centre.

Beautiful Walls of the Xiqu Centre.

Finally, I walked to the nearby Kowloon High Speed Rail Terminal from where it is possible to catch trains to Mainland China. This is also a very beautiful example of modern architecture. This building has a massive glass curtain wall made up of over four thousand irregularly shaped glass panels and its elegant curved ceiling is made of over eight thousand tonnes of steel. Its sloping rooftop is covered with beautiful flowers and greenery. It is possible to climb up to a viewing point from which you can look out over the harbour or enjoy a view over Kowloon. at the moment the harbour view looks out over a construction site.

elegant Curving Facade of station.

elegant Curving Facade of station.

Kowloon High speed Rail Station Side View.

Kowloon High speed Rail Station Side View.

More Views of the Station

More Views of the Station

More Views of the Station.

More Views of the Station.

Rooftop Garden.

Rooftop Garden.

Flowers in the rooftop garden.

Flowers in the rooftop garden.

To the Viewing Point at the West Kowloon High Speed Rail Station.

To the Viewing Point at the West Kowloon High Speed Rail Station.

At the Viewing Point.

At the Viewing Point.

Looking over Kowloon from the Viewing Point.

Looking over Kowloon from the Viewing Point.

Looking at the Xiqu Building from the View Point.

Looking at the Xiqu Building from the View Point.

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

By this time I had had too much sun, so I headed back to the MTR which was next to the Elements shopping centre and a tall building called The Arches. Then I took the train and a bus back home.

Arches Building near the MTR.

Arches Building near the MTR.

Posted by irenevt 07:49 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (6)

Moon Gazing

Mid-Autumn Festival.

overcast

Yesterday evening was Mid-Autumn Festival. This is celebrated every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This festival is associated with harvest time. Chinese people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival by eating brightly coloured round foods such as fruit and mooncakes while sitting outside and gazing at the moon. The moon will be at its fullest during this festival. It is also traditional to make or buy lanterns at mid-autumn and these are used to decorate buildings or are carried by children during their night time picnic.

Peter with the lanterns by day.

Peter with the lanterns by day.

And by night.

And by night.

Peter with lanterns.

Peter with lanterns.

Me with lanterns.

Me with lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

My friend sent me this picture of Mid-Autumn in Ap Lei Chau.

My friend sent me this picture of Mid-Autumn in Ap Lei Chau.

There is a legend associated with the festival. There are many versions of it, but this is my favourite.

Long ago there were ten suns in the sky. It was constantly day time and always extremely hot. Plants struggled to survive in the heat and crops would often shrivel up and die. One day, a skilful archer called Hou Yi, tired of the eternal heat and light, pointed his bow towards the heavens and shot down nine of the suns. Hou Yi's actions made life much better for the whole of mankind, so as a reward, the goddess Xiwangmu gave him a magic potion. Anyone who drank this would achieve immortality.

While Hou Yi deeply wanted to be immortal, he only had enough potion for one person and he could not bear to live for all eternity without his beautiful young wife - Chang’e, so instead of drinking the potion, he hid it under their bed. However, an evil man called Feng Meng, who worked as an apprentice to Hou Yi found out about the potion and wanted it for himself. One night, Feng Meng forced his way into Hou Yi's home when Chang’e was there all alone. He tried to make her give him the potion. Knowing she could not fight him off, Chang'e stopped him in the only way she could, she drank every last drop of the potion herself. When she had finished, she became lighter and lighter and began to float through the air. She floated right out of her window, up through the night sky and all the way up to the moon which became her new home forever and ever.

Hou Yi was heartbroken when he discovered his beloved wife had gone, but knowing she was up on the moon, he would spend his nights gazing up at her. He also laid out fruits and cakes as offerings to her every evening until the day he died and from this practice Mid-Autumn Festival was born.

It was a funny day weatherwise. Like most days recently it began with a beautiful sunrise. I've been photographing these most days on my way to work.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

Later in the day it became stormy with torrential rain, thunder and lightning. I took some harbour views from school, because I thought the sky looked quite dramatic.

Stormy skies over the harbour.

Stormy skies over the harbour.

Stormy skies over the harbour.

Stormy skies over the harbour.

In the evening we went for a swim at our pool. There was a large group of people having a Mid Autumn Festival party there. I heard one of them say. "Where's the moon. We're all supposed to be looking at the moon." She was right there was no moon, it was too cloudy. What a disappointment! A short time later I heard lots of Ohs and Ahs. The moon had broken through the clouds. It was huge, bright red and very beautiful. My photos really don't do it justice.

The moon viewed from the pool.

The moon viewed from the pool.

The moon viewed from the pool.

The moon viewed from the pool.

After our swim we went upstairs to the restaurant and had dinner on the balcony, gazing at the moon.

Peter at dinner.

Peter at dinner.

Moon Gazing.

Moon Gazing.

Moon Gazing.

Moon Gazing.

Me and the moon.

Me and the moon.

Peter with the moon.

Peter with the moon.

The day after Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday here. We got up early and went for a swim. In the evening we are out on the Residents' Club. On the walk there we passed the beach just as the sun was going down. It was pretty crowded.

Discovery Bay Beach on a public holiday.

Discovery Bay Beach on a public holiday.

Posted by irenevt 00:27 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

Tiptoeing through the sandy fields.

Return to Sha Tin.

sunny

It's a long time since I have been to Sha Tin, but it has always held a special place in my heart. When we arrived in Hong Kong in August 1996 for the first time, we were met at the airport by two teachers from Peter's school who escorted us to the Regal Riverside Hotel in Sha Tin. We lived there for a month, paid for by the Hong Kong Government, while looking for accommodation. Eventually we took a flat in Fo Tan which is also part of Sha Tin. We lived there for eight years before moving to Discovery Bay. Today I returned there and it's only the third time I have been back.

Sha Tin is yet another of the new towns built to house Hong Kong's expanding population under the government's New Town Development Programme in the 1970's. Sha Tin means sandy fields. Prior to becoming a new town this area was largely agricultural. One of the things I liked best about Sha Tin is that a river runs through the middle of it and this helps make it feel more spacious.

I got to Sha Tin using the newly extended Westrail which runs from Tuen Mun to Wu Kai Sha, just past Ma On Shan. I got off at Che Kung Temple Station. I've been here before, when I lived in Sha Tin, but at that time I walked here from Tai Wai Station.

To get to the temple I exited through exit B and then turned right and walked along a major road. The temple was on the other side of the road about five to ten minutes walk away. Che Kung Temple dates all the way back to the Ming Dynasty, though it has undergone major renovations and even reconstruction since then. The temple was built in honour of Che Kung, also known as General Che. He was a famous general who was rumoured to be able to clear up epidemics. Many years ago, during a major outbreak of disease in Sha Tin, people built his temple and apparently the epidemic ended as soon as it was complete. We could certainly do with him nowadays!!! I remember reading somewhere that it is considered good luck to come here before going to Sha Tin Racetrack and placing a bet. The statue of General Che in the centre of the temple is huge. He looks quite fierce and is holding a giant sword. At the entrance to the temple I saw lots of windmills. Apparently turning a windmill brings good luck.

Gateway to the temple.

Gateway to the temple.

Main temple building.

Main temple building.

Close up of main temple building.

Close up of main temple building.

Statues in grounds of temple.

Statues in grounds of temple.

General Che.

General Che.

General Che.

General Che.

Image inside the temple.

Image inside the temple.

Deities.

Deities.

Lucky windmills.

Lucky windmills.

Painting in temple.

Painting in temple.

Impressive Doorway.

Impressive Doorway.

Animal images on outer walls of temple.

Animal images on outer walls of temple.

Animal images on outer walls of temple.

Animal images on outer walls of temple.

Leaving the temple, I headed towards the MTR again, but I continued past it looking for Tsang Tai Uk - the Big House of the Tsangs. On the way I noticed a place with temperature control machines and leave home safe app devices at the entrance. If it hadn't had these, I wouldn't even have noticed it, but I went up and asked "What is in there?" And they said: "It's the four faced Buddha." I went in to take a look. They were very friendly inside and told me that the Buddah was a gift from Thailand, but there were signs up saying no photos everywhere, so I only got two pictures on the lower floor before I noticed all the signs.

At the shrine of the four faced Buddha.

At the shrine of the four faced Buddha.

At the shrine of the four faced Buddha.

At the shrine of the four faced Buddha.

I then continued on to Tsang Tai Uk. This is a Hakka walled village, which was built in 1847 by Tsang Koon-man, a stone mason. This compound was, and indeed still is, home to the Tsang Clan. The building is rectangular in shape with guard towers at each corner. These were once needed to defend the village against pirates. The village isn't a museum, it is still people's homes, so it's only possible to visit the central courtyard and the ancestral hall. Inside the compound there are some wells and pieces of old machinery. Apparently Prince Charles came here on a state visit to Hong Kong, due to his interest in architecture.

Tsang Tai UK.

Tsang Tai UK.

Tsang Tai UK.

Tsang Tai UK.

Earth god shrine outside the village.

Earth god shrine outside the village.

Central Courtard.

Central Courtard.

Central Courtard.

Central Courtard.

Doorway.

Doorway.

Doorway.

Doorway.

Doorway.

Doorway.

The ancestral hall.

The ancestral hall.

The ancestral hall.

The ancestral hall.

I think these are threshing machines.

I think these are threshing machines.

I think these are threshing machines.

I think these are threshing machines.

Next I walked to the Shing Mun River. Personally I felt this had improved a lot. When we lived here, it used to smell and there were always dead fish floating on the surface. We lived in Fo Tan and strangely coloured water- sometimes weird shades of green, sometimes blue - used to flow down the Fo Tan Nullah and into the river. This water came from Fo Tan's industrial zone. On this visit, I noticed live fish, lots of egrets and no bad smells. The Shing Mun River runs from Tai Wai, through Sha Tin Town Centre to the Tolo Harbour in Tai Po. There is a nice pedestrian bridge across the river called the Lek Yuen Bridge. Lek Yuen means source of clear water. The central Sha Tin area was known as this before the new town was built. Along one side of the river there's a long cycle track and behind that is Sha Tin Park.

Pedestrian bridge near Tai Wai.

Pedestrian bridge near Tai Wai.

Tall buildings reflected in the Shing Mun River.

Tall buildings reflected in the Shing Mun River.

Looking towards the Heritage Museum in Tai Wai.

Looking towards the Heritage Museum in Tai Wai.

Looking up the Shing Mun River towards the Lek Yuen Bridge.

Looking up the Shing Mun River towards the Lek Yuen Bridge.

Looking up the Shing Mun River towards the Lek Yuen Bridge.

Looking up the Shing Mun River towards the Lek Yuen Bridge.

When I lived in Sha Tin, I loved the park. I used to come here all the time. This park was created in 1988. My favourite parts are the Chinese gardens at each end. These have pagodas, bridges, waterfalls and pavilions. There are some statues in the central part of the park and behind these is Sha Tin Marriage Registry, Sha Tin Public Library and Sha Tin Town Hall.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Chinese Garden in North Sha Tin Park.

Pond with waterlilies.

Pond with waterlilies.

Colourful flowers.

Colourful flowers.

Colourful flowers.

Colourful flowers.

Strange toadstool sculpture.

Strange toadstool sculpture.

Got the whole world in my hands.

Got the whole world in my hands.

These sculptures look like rings and they are outside the marriage registery.

These sculptures look like rings and they are outside the marriage registery.

Sculpture outside the town hall.

Sculpture outside the town hall.

Hong Kong has really embraced the idea of brightening up its drab concrete surfaces with murals. These were on the walls of the northern part of Sha Tin Park

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Murals on the park walls.

Behind the park is New Town Plaza, a huge shopping mall where you can also find Sha Tin MTR Station on the East Rail Line. I used to go here on my commute to work every day. Outside the shopping mall on a third floor podium is Snoopy's World. I've always rather liked the Charlie Brown books, so I was happy to visit here and take some photos. This small theme park was created in 2000. It is free entry. There's a play area, canoe rides for small children, Snoopy's kennel, a school bus and school facade with clock and Snoopy town.

Snoopy's World.

Snoopy's World.

Snoopy asleep on his kennel.

Snoopy asleep on his kennel.

Charlie Brown at home.

Charlie Brown at home.

Charlie Brown at home.

Charlie Brown at home.

Snoopy's World.

Snoopy's World.

The School Bus.

The School Bus.

The School Bus.

The School Bus.

Snoopy and Woodstock.

Snoopy and Woodstock.

Charlie Brown fishing.

Charlie Brown fishing.

Charlie Brown fishing.

Charlie Brown fishing.

Apparently you can get married inside there.

Apparently you can get married inside there.

The Canoe Ride.

The Canoe Ride.

Peppermint Patty and Schroeder.

Peppermint Patty and Schroeder.

Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy.

I then walked through New Town Plaza to the train station. I didn't go inside the station yet. Instead I exited through exit B and walked down a slope towards a minibus station. This is where I used to catch my minibus home from. To my left was Pai Tau Village. I used to walk past this every day. There are some attractive old houses here.

Pai Tau Village.

Pai Tau Village.

Pai Tau Village.

Pai Tau Village.

Pai Tau Village.

Pai Tau Village.

The walls next to this village are covered in colourful murals.

The first flight in Hong Kong took place in Sha Tin Airfield at 5:10pm on 18th March, 1911 when Belgian, Charles Van den Born, flew a 1910 Farman Mk II bi-plane named “Wanda”,  over the fields and water of Tolo Harbour.

The first flight in Hong Kong took place in Sha Tin Airfield at 5:10pm on 18th March, 1911 when Belgian, Charles Van den Born, flew a 1910 Farman Mk II bi-plane named “Wanda”, over the fields and water of Tolo Harbour.

Murals.

Murals.

There are some pagodas nearby.

There are some pagodas nearby.

Sha Tin is home to one of Hong Kong's two race courses.

Sha Tin is home to one of Hong Kong's two race courses.

Sha Tin was once a farming community.

Sha Tin was once a farming community.

Then housing estates were built.

Then housing estates were built.

Murals.

Murals.

Murals.

Murals.

When we lived in Sha Tin, one of the first things we did was visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery - or so we have always thought. In reality we made a very common mistake we visited Po Fook Hill Columbarium instead. It's taken us a very embarrassing twenty-four years to realise this and it's not just us, many people make the same mistake. Why? Well when you exit the MTR and head towards the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, you will suddenly see an imposing archway guarded by lions, behind it on a hill there are pagodas, Buddha statues and animal statues. It looks exactly like a temple, but it isn't. It's a columbarium, which means it's a place to store the cremated ashes of your loved ones. The only signs for Po Fook Hill Columbarium are in Chinese. Nothing tells you what the building is in English. Then there's the fact that while most sights in Hong Kong are well-signposted, The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is not. Add to that the fact that the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is behind Po Fook Hill Columbarium and that the entrance to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is well-hidden and you can understand why the mix up happens.

To get up Po Fook Hill you can walk, ride an escalator or even ride in a Swiss built funicular. Po Fook Hill Columbarium is one of the largest public cemeteries in Hong Kong. It dates back to 1990 and contains the ashes of over one hundred thousand people. There are great views over Sha Tin from here making this place well worth a visit in its own right even if it isn't the famous monastery.

Entranceway to Po Fook Hill Columbarium.

Entranceway to Po Fook Hill Columbarium.

At the bottom of the hill there is a Tang Dynasty style garden. There's a turtle pond here as turtles symbolise longevity.

At the bottom of the hill there is a Tang Dynasty style garden. There's a turtle pond here as turtles symbolise longevity.

Tang Dynasty style garden.

Tang Dynasty style garden.

Shrine in the garden.

Shrine in the garden.

Pagoda.

Pagoda.

Pagoda and views.

Pagoda and views.

Pagoda and views.

Pagoda and views.

Looking up at the cemetery building.

Looking up at the cemetery building.

Cemetery building.

Cemetery building.

Terrace with statues.

Terrace with statues.

Pagoda

Pagoda

Cemetery building, perhaps you can see why I thought it was a temple.

Cemetery building, perhaps you can see why I thought it was a temple.

Cemetery building.

Cemetery building.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Buddha.

Buddha.

Buddha.

Buddha.

One of the areas where ashes are stored.

One of the areas where ashes are stored.

Views from the cemetery.

Views from the cemetery.

Views from the cemetery.

Views from the cemetery.

Views from the cemetery.

Views from the cemetery.

I already sort of knew that this building was not the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, because when I planned to visit Sha Tin I looked up some sights to remind myself about them and read an account of someone climbing over four hundred stairs to get to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. I thought: "Why didn't they just get on the escalator?" Then I looked at more reviews, some with pictures, and I thought: " I don't remember any of this."

To get to The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery it's necessary to go a little further on than the columbarium, then go left. There's a tall fence, still no signs and an insignificant looking path which leads to the monastery. The first sign I saw for the monastery was when I had arrived at it!

By the time I arrived at the monastery I had been wandering around in the sun for around three hours and I was now faced with more than four hundred steps to climb. I took it very, very slowly and I still felt utterly exhausted. Thank goodness I had brought lots of water with me.

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery dates from the 1950's. It was founded by a monk called Yuet Kai and completed in 1957. It's not really a monastery as no monks actually live here. As you climb the steep stairways to the monastery, the path is lined with golden statues of arhuts, a kind of Buddhist Saint. Each one has a different expression, some look quite comical.

Yuet Kai , the founder of the monastery, moved to Hong Kong from Mainland China in 1933 and taught the principles of Buddhism here. The place where the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is currently located was at that time the site of a temple to Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy. Sadly one of the nuns at this temple was killed here during World War II. After the war, the land here was purchased by a local tobacco company, then the owner, obviously a devout Buddhist, donated it to Yuet Kai. He was meant to build a Buddhist college here, but ended up building a monastery instead.

Yuet Kai died in 1965, eight years after the monastery was complete. His body is said to have shown no signs of decay eight months after his death. It was then embalmed and placed inside the main monastery building where it is still exhibited to the present day. It's not possible to photograph this part of the monastery.

In 1997, during the Handover of Hong Kong back to China, when Peter and I lived in Sha Tin, we had terrible rain storms that lasted for days. There was a landslide at this monastery and the caretaker of the building was killed.

The monastery is located on two levels. The upper level has four halls dedicated to Kwan Yin and other Buddhist and Taoist deities, the lower level has a hall with the embalmed body of Yuet Kai and over ten thousand tiny Buddha statues. These are the images that give the monastery it's name. There is also a nine storey pagoda and two pavilions here.

More of the temple exists past the upper level buildings, but this area is closed and repair work is still being carried out due to the terrible landslide that occurred all those years ago.

Monastery sign.

Monastery sign.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

Arhuts.

The pathway is lined with golden arhut statues.

The pathway is lined with golden arhut statues.

The pathway is lined with golden arhut statues.

The pathway is lined with golden arhut statues.

Arhuts and view.

Arhuts and view.

Arhut and View.

Arhut and View.

Arhuts and pagoda.

Arhuts and pagoda.

Main Hall on lower level.

Main Hall on lower level.

A view over the lower level with its vegetarian restaurant.

A view over the lower level with its vegetarian restaurant.

Nine storey high pagoda.

Nine storey high pagoda.

Pavilion on the lower terrace.

Pavilion on the lower terrace.

Pavilion on the lower terrace.

Pavilion on the lower terrace.

Building at the upper level.

Building at the upper level.

Statues at the upper level.

Statues at the upper level.

Statues at the upper level.

Statues at the upper level.

Statues on the upper level.

Statues on the upper level.

View over Sha Tin from the monastery.

View over Sha Tin from the monastery.

When I had finished looking at the monastery, I headed back home. It was a huge relief to get back into the air-conditioning.

Posted by irenevt 02:43 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (6)

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