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A Day Trip to the Former Kai Tak Airport.

sunny

I used to love Kai Tak Airport, but I've only been back once since it ceased to be an airport, and that was years ago and even then I only went back because a friend recommended the bar that still existed there. Kai Tak has gone through many incarnations in its lifetime

It all began in 1912 when two businessmen, Ho Kai and Au Tak, formed the Kai Tak Investment Company. This company began to reclaim land from the sea, just off the coast of Kowloon. They intended to build residential apartments on it, but their venture failed. The government of the day bought the land from them and used it as an airfield. This airfield housed both a flying school and a military airfield. The first recorded flight from Kai Tak took place on Lunar New Year's Day in 1925.

Later, during World War II, Hong Kong was taken over by the Japanese and they began to expand Kai Tak using many Allied prisoners of war as forced labourers. They acquired stones for this expansion by dismantling the historic walls of Kowloon Walled City and by dynamiting the forty-five metre tall Sung Wong Toi Memorial Stone, which commemorated the last Sung Dynasty emperor.

In more recent times Kai Tak needed to handle more traffic than it could cope with and its noise began to affect the residential areas around it. It was also regarded as one of the most dangerous airports in the world to land in or take off from. As a result of all these problems, the government sought out a new location for Hong Kong's airport and they eventually settled on Chek Lap Kok near Lantau Island which became Hong Kong's new airport in 1998.

After its closure as an airport, Kai Tak became home to government offices, automobile showrooms, a go-kart racecourse, a bowling alley, a snooker hall, a golf range and finally a cruise terminal.

While part of the Kai Tak area is currently a cruise terminal, the area around it has been converted into a Sky Garden and a Runway Park. These are great ideas and I really wanted to see them. However, the whole area around Kai Tak, which I think will mainly end up residential, is definitely still a work in progress and the places I visited were surrounded by many, many construction sites.

I got to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal by taking bus number 22 from the transport interchange at Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong. The 86 minibus from Telford Gardens, Kowloon Tong also comes to this area.

At the start of my journey I took photos of the Christmas display in Festival Walk. I'll also place here photos of other Christmas displays I have seen recently.

Christmas Display in Pacific Place near one of the two places Peter has to keep having his eyes checked.

Christmas Display in Pacific Place near one of the two places Peter has to keep having his eyes checked.

Christmas Display in Pacific Place near one of the two places Peter has to keep having his eyes checked.

Christmas Display in Pacific Place near one of the two places Peter has to keep having his eyes checked.

Christmas Display in Central MTR Station on way back from doctor's.

Christmas Display in Central MTR Station on way back from doctor's.

Christmas Display in Festival Walk.

Christmas Display in Festival Walk.

Christmas Display in Festival Walk.

Christmas Display in Festival Walk.

I began my explorations in the cruise terminal itself. This is the final stop of the 22 bus. From the bus terminus I took the lift to the roof gardens which occupy 23,000 square metres. These are pleasant enough and there are plenty of places to sit, but the main reason for visiting is for the views: both towards Hong Kong Island and towards Kowloon.

The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

The Cruise Terminal viewed across Runway Park. It's designed to look like an aeroplane.

The Cruise Terminal viewed across Runway Park. It's designed to look like an aeroplane.

View of Cruise Terminal from Sky Garden.

View of Cruise Terminal from Sky Garden.

The Roof Garden.

The Roof Garden.

The Roof Garden.

The Roof Garden.

The Roof Garden.

The Roof Garden.

Looking Across the Cruise Terminal Roof Garden.

Looking Across the Cruise Terminal Roof Garden.

Looking towards Hong Kong Island from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards Hong Kong Island from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards Hong Kong Island from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards Hong Kong Island from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking Towards Kowloon from Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards Lei Yue Mun from Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards Lei Yue Mun from Cruise Terminal.

Looking over the Harbour from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over the Harbour from the Cruise Terminal.

The End of the Terminal Building.

The End of the Terminal Building.

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is a three storey building with the capacity to berth two 360 metre long vessels. It began operation in 2013. During my visit a huge cruise ship called Genting Dream was moored there. There are several restaurants inside the terminal.

The Genting Dream from the Sky Garden.

The Genting Dream from the Sky Garden.

The Genting Dream.

The Genting Dream.

The Genting Dream.

The Genting Dream.

Another thing I enjoyed was wandering around the second floor of the Cruise Terminal and taking photos framed by its windows. The cruise terminal is long and thin like an aeroplane and these windows are like looking out of an aeroplane window.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

Wandering the Second Floor of the Cruise Terminal.

View from Cruise Terminal Window.

View from Cruise Terminal Window.

After wandering around the cruise terminal, I headed outside to the nearby Sky Garden. This 1.4km long elevated garden covers parts of Shing Fung Road. Shing Fung Road runs along the former notorious 13/31 Runway. This runway got its name because it had a magnetic orientation of 135/315 degrees. It was considered to be one of the most challenging runways in the world as landing here involved avoiding mountains, the sea and the city buildings which surrounded Kai Tak Airport.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking towards the Sky Garden from the Cruise Terminal.

The Sky Garden has noise barriers to deaden sound from the road below. It has solar panels and wind turbines to generate energy. It also has four seasonal gardens which have plants which flower in spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively. It also has several fountains. Its architectural design makes it look a bit like an aeroplane. Its ends are marked 13 and 31 like the former runway it stands on.

The Sky Garden with Noise Barriers.

The Sky Garden with Noise Barriers.

Sky Garden and Noise Barriers.

Sky Garden and Noise Barriers.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

The Sky Garden Fountains.

The Sky Garden Fountains.

The Sky Garden Fountains.

The Sky Garden Fountains.

Selfie at the Sky Garden.

Selfie at the Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

The Sky Garden.

The Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden.

Sky Garden Noise Barriers.

Sky Garden Noise Barriers.

Runway 13/31.

Runway 13/31.

Runway 13/31.

Runway 13/31.

Sky Garden was popular with joggers.

Sky Garden was popular with joggers.

Wind Turbines.

Wind Turbines.

Zoomed View Over Harbour from end of Sky Garden.

Zoomed View Over Harbour from end of Sky Garden.

Zoomed View Over Harbour from end of Sky Garden.

Zoomed View Over Harbour from end of Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

View of Kowloon from the Sky Garden.

When the redevelopment of Kai Tak is finished the Sky Garden will link the Cruise Terminal and a park. That park has not been created yet and many of the buildings that will be part of this development are in the process of being built at the moment, so the Sky Garden is currently in the centre of an enormous construction site. I actually found the construction site fascinating because it just seemed to stretch everywhere.

One of the many Construction Sites.

One of the many Construction Sites.

Still a Colourful View Despite all the Construction.

Still a Colourful View Despite all the Construction.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Construction Site.

Lastly, I walked all the way back to the other end of the Cruise Terminal to see the Runway Park. If I'd had any sense I'd have started there to save me having to retrace my steps, but I guess it enabled me to walk along the other side of the Cruise Terminal Roof. Runway Park is at the very tip of the former runway. There's an aeroplane on display here. There's also a large grassy lawn which is popular at weekends. Also at weekends, it's possible to come here by ferry and the little ferry terminal is here in Runway Park.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Looking over Runway Park from the Cruise Terminal.

Runway Park.

Runway Park.

Aeroplane at Runway Park.

Aeroplane at Runway Park.

More Reminders of Runway 13.

More Reminders of Runway 13.

Looking across the lawn at Runway Park.

Looking across the lawn at Runway Park.

It was time to rush home and administer the next rounds of hubbie's medicines. I jumped on a number 86 minibus and headed towards Telford Gardens in Kowloon Bay from where I could get onto the MTR.

Posted by irenevt 09:57 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Fascinating. Say, you're getting very good with those selfies.

Do you ever look at construction sites and wonder how all the workers can ever put the parts together correctly? It all looks first so bare and then so confusing. It's fun to watch it all fall into place.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, at first I was trying to take photos missing out the construction site, but that was nearly impossible. Then when I started to look at the construction site, I started to get fascinated by it. It would be interesting to do a start to finish photography project of a building site and this would be one of an entire neighborhood. I probably won't be in Hong Kong to see this one finished.

by irenevt

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