A Travellerspoint blog

January 2021

Just Talking Rubbish.

A trip to Kennedy Town.

sunny

Sign in the MTR.

Sign in the MTR.

Yesterday I went to Kennedy Town, the westernmost point of the tramline on Hong Kong Island and nowadays also the westernmost point on the Island Line of the MTR. Like Sai Ying Pun, which I visited last week, Kennedy Town is currently going through a process of gentrification. It's just not quite so far along in its transformation.

Kennedy Town is named after Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy, the seventh governor, who served in Hong Kong for five years from 1872 to 1877. He was responsible for reclaiming the coastal strip of land that forms Kennedy Town in 1886.

However, long before it was called Kennedy Town, this area had a less pleasant name. It was known as Lap Sap Wan, or Rubbish Bay, because it was the dumping ground for everything the rest of Hong Kong did not want.

Historically Kennedy Town was a bit isolated from the other parts of Hong Kong Island, being right out on the island's extreme west. As well as being home to rubbish dumps, with the chimneys of their huge incinerators belching out smoke, Kennedy Town also had abattoirs devoted to turning squealing pigs into barbecue pork and crunchy pork chops. In 1894 when Hong Kong went through a terrible plague, those suffering from it were frequently brought to plague hospitals here. If they did not survive, they did not have too far to travel, as this was also the location of Hong Kong's public mortuary. Many of the 3500 victims of this plague would have ended up there. Over time many factories and small family businesses developed in Kennedy Town, especially on Rock Hill Street and Belcher’s Street. Kennedy Town was a gritty, dirty, very working class, down to earth neighbourhood.

When I arrived in Kennedy Town, I checked to see if its MTR station also had some artworks. I found out it had pictures of various sights that can be found here and a sculpture shaped like an apple cut in to two halves.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

Art in the MTR.

I left the MTR station through exit B as I first planned to visit Kennedy Town's most famous temple. This is called Lo Pan Temple. It dates from 1884 and is the only temple in Hong Kong dedicated to builders, carpenters and contractors. Apparently people come here to pray before they have work done on their houses. To reach the temple I had to climb up many stairs, as the temple is situated up a hill and at the end of a pleasant and quiet street known as Chi Lin Terrace. The most famous thing to see in the temple are its wall paintings. The attendant at the temple, who looked about three hundred years old, was very unfriendly and stared at me like I was an alien from another planet. I tried talking to him to see if this would make him slightly friendlier, it didn't, so I just ignored him and looked around anyway.

Climbing up stairs to the temple.

Climbing up stairs to the temple.

Lo Pan Temple.

Lo Pan Temple.

Doorway with wall paintings above it.

Doorway with wall paintings above it.

Bell and Drum.

Bell and Drum.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

Inside the temple.

After visiting the temple I walked back downhill, I soon reached one of the streets that trams pass along and stopped to take some pictures of these.

Tram.

Tram.

Tram.

Tram.

The next place I visited was Belcher's Bay Park. This is a pleasant park with lots of greenery, children's play areas and sitting out areas. Apparently the park was designed on the theme of sea navigation. It is decorated with four pretend lighthouses. These are made from old acetylene gas operated lanterns which were in service in the Tathong Channel for more than twenty-five years. The park was especially popular with Kennedy Town's elderly residents who come here to play board games, stroll or sit in the shade. This got me thinking a bit about the changes that are happening here. Although the area is becoming much nicer, which is good, I hope it's original inhabitants will still be able to live here and not be driven out by escalating rents.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Belcher's Bay Park.

Sitting out area.

Sitting out area.

Pretend lighthouse.

Pretend lighthouse.

After visiting the park, I had a choice, I wanted to visit a place nicknamed Instagram Pier and the Sai Wan Swimming Shed. They were in opposite directions I decided only to visit the Sai Wan Swimming Shed and leave the other sight for later.

To get to Sai Wan Swimming Shed, I walked along Victoria Road. Kennedy Town doesn't seem to have much in the way of street art like the other areas I've visited recently. Well at least not in the part I was in. I found only one example.

Street Art.

Street Art.

Street Art.

Street Art.

I wasn't sure exactly where the Sai Wan Swimming Shed was, though I did know it was opposite Green Island and a second smaller island. Eventually I noticed a gateway to an area with a green fence and steps down towards the sea. It had a sign on it in Chinese but not English. I took a chance on it and fortunately it was correct.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed is around fifty years old and is thought to be Hong Kong’s last swimming shed. It used to be a place for swimmers to change into their bathing suits before braving the stormy waters of Victoria Harbour. Nowadays it is filled, and I do mean filled, with people taking photographs to put on Instagram. There was actually a queue of people waiting for their turn to step on to the little pier here to take pictures. I did not join the queue; I just photographed the pier from above. At first the sea here looked quite placid, but every time a boat passed by the water went crazy. I think if you did try swimming here you would be thrown against the rocks. I've read that this place is even busier at sunset, as that's when you can get the most beautiful shots. Most people were queueing in pairs. One would pose, while the other photographed them then they'd swap roles. One woman even queued to take pictures of her dog posing on the pier. Not sure if he took her!!! Haha!!!

Looking down on the pier.

Looking down on the pier.

Looking down on the pier.

Looking down on the pier.

The pier with Green Island in the background.

The pier with Green Island in the background.

A Lovers' Tryst.

A Lovers' Tryst.

A Lovers'Tryst.

A Lovers'Tryst.

Stormy waters after a boat passes.

Stormy waters after a boat passes.

Instagram your dog.

Instagram your dog.

Fishing down on the front.

Fishing down on the front.

Fishing down on the front.

Fishing down on the front.

Green Island which is now a drug rehabilitation centre and Little Green Island which is uninhabited..

Green Island which is now a drug rehabilitation centre and Little Green Island which is uninhabited..

Islands and boats.

Islands and boats.

Personally, and it may just be me, but I loved the shed itself much more than the pier. It was made of corrugated iron painted a beautiful shade of green. It had beautiful windows and mirrors hanging on its outer walls.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

It also had a lovely flower filled garden, with little steps, bamboo and potted plants and a fish tank filled with chubby fish.

Bamboo.

Bamboo.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Flower filled garden.

Stairway.

Stairway.

There's something relaxing about watching fish swim.

There's something relaxing about watching fish swim.

There's something relaxing about watching fish swim.

There's something relaxing about watching fish swim.

Also all around the shed there were little shrines to various gods and goddesses. These were very well tended and cared for.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

I then began my climb back up the steps only to find the people in front of me dressed up to the nines in their designer clothes were having another Instagram photo session on the steps, so I had to queue to get out of there. Fortunately, I was in a good mood, normally I'm not quite so patient.

The climb back up.

The climb back up.

Instagram on the stairs.

Instagram on the stairs.

I then headed back to Kennedy Town. I stopped to investigate a little shrine I had noticed on the way to the swimming shed. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Shrine.

Then as always I could not resist taking photos of the trees that were growing out of walls. These seem to be everywhere in Hong Kong and while I'm not normally a fan of Hong Kong's high rise buildings, here I really liked them. I think it was something to do with the space between them. You can't tell from my picture but there were sea eagles circling the tops of the blocks. It was quite mesmerising. I also noted all the washing out to dry, not sure why I always like that but I do.

Roots.

Roots.

Roots.

Roots.

I believe I can touch the sky.

I believe I can touch the sky.

I believe I can touch the sky.

I believe I can touch the sky.

I believe I can touch the sky.

I believe I can touch the sky.

Hung out to dry.

Hung out to dry.

Hung out to dry.

Hung out to dry.

As I made my way back to the MTR, I passed through an area lined with restaurants, cafes and bars, a sure sign that gentrification is well on its way.

Everything that could have got in the way of this shot got in the way of this shot, but I still like it .

Everything that could have got in the way of this shot got in the way of this shot, but I still like it .

Restaurants.

Restaurants.

Thai restaurants.

Thai restaurants.

Cafes and Craft Beer.

Cafes and Craft Beer.

Cafes.

Cafes.

Trendy Kennedy Town is known as K - town.

Trendy Kennedy Town is known as K - town.

Once I got back home there were sure signs in my lobby that Chinese New Year is on the way, too.

Chinese New Year is on the way.

Chinese New Year is on the way.

Posted by irenevt 09:56 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (13)

Water, Water Everywhere....

Exploring Tai Tam.

overcast

Today I decided to go to Tai Tam, which is Chinese for big pool. Tai Tam Country Park is huge. It occupies around 1,315 hectares, about one fifth of the whole area of Hong Kong Island and it is home to four important reservoirs. I did not visit all four, but the reservoirs are: Tai Tam Upper Reservoir, Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir, Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir and Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir.

These reservoirs were planned from as long ago as 1872, but due to an economic depression, building work did not begin until ten years later in 1882. Three of the reservoirs were completed by 1888. However, because of Hong Kong's expanding population, the water supply they provided was insufficient, so the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir had to be built, too. The construction of the Tai Tam Tuk Dam began in 1912 and was finished by 1917. Jointly the four reservoirs have a capacity of 6.2 million cubic metres. All four of the reservoirs are managed by the Water Supplies Department of Hong Kong.

To get to Tai Tam I travelled to Sai Wan Ho MTR Station, exited through exit A and then took a number 14 bus which goes all the way to Stanley Fort. I got off the bus at Tai Tam Reservoir North and headed down lots of steps for a walk along Tai Tam Harbour first. If I had stayed on the bus, it would have crossed over the top of Tai Tam Dam, which is pretty spectacular, and I could have got off at Tai Tam Country Park on the other side. If I had crossed the road and walked away from the dam, I could have entered the country park via an alternative route. There are always so many choices of where to go when out walking here.

Once I got down the stairs to the harbour, I had an excellent view of the Tai Tam Tuk Dam. This dam was designed by Daniel Jaffe; after whom Jaffe Road in Wan Chai is named. The Tai Tam Tuk Dam is sixty feet tall, eight hundred feet wide and has twelve arches. Tai Tam Road which connects Stanley and Chai Wan passes right over the top of the dam, providing views of the reservoir in one direction and of the harbour in the other.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

When Tai Tam Tuk Dam was constructed, the Hakka village of Tytam Took had to be submerged. The villagers were moved to a new village on Tai Tam Tuk Harbour in 1912. When I walked through the new village today, I noticed some very posh houses.

Archaeologists have found six bricks and mortar wells or caissons under the water in Tai Tam. These were dug by hand to a depth of about twenty metres as part of the ground investigation for the dam's construction. They've also uncovered artefacts such as opium pots, aerated water containers and soy sauce dishes which sank to the bottom of the water when Tytam Took was submerged.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Posh house in the new Tai Tam Village.

Posh house in the new Tai Tam Village.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour. The circular building in the picture is one of the caissons.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour. The circular building in the picture is one of the caissons.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Don't forget your wellies.

Don't forget your wellies.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Hong Kong International School.

Hong Kong International School.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Harbour.

There's a Waterworks Heritage Trail around the reservoirs with twenty-one points of historical interest. I did not follow it, but on my walk I came across bits and pieces of it. The first part was the Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station, which dates from 1907 and is located on Tai Tam Harbour.

Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.

Tai Tam Tuk Raw Water Pumping Station.

After exploring the harbour, I headed off to the country park. On the way I passed a very beautiful tree. The fruit growing on it look so much like apples, though obviously they aren't. After looking at it, I climbed up to the main road and entered the country park.

Beautiful tree, apparently it is a cluster fig tree.

Beautiful tree, apparently it is a cluster fig tree.

Beautiful tree.

Beautiful tree.

Tai Tam Country Park.

Tai Tam Country Park.

Lots of trails go through the Tai Tam Country Park so it's always difficult to decide where you want to go. There's just too much choice. I largely just stayed around the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, but I noted some ways I'd like to explore on future visits. There's a good view back towards the top of the dam and the road that crosses over the top of it from the entrance to the country park. I was quite intrigued to notice a set of stairs leading straight into a pool, too.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Looking back at the dam.

Be careful of that last step.

Be careful of that last step.

On the walk around Tai Tam Tuk reservoir there are four lovely masonry bridges, which date from 1907. These cross several significant stream beds. Each of the bridges has granite arches and huge columns, though it's only possible to see bridge one and four. There's no viewing point for bridge two and three so you can only see the top part.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

The First masonry Bridge.

It took me a while to find a good viewing point for the fourth bridge as so much of the country park is taped off to stop people barbecuing and having picnics there due to Covid. I ended up viewing it in both directions.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge viewed from down stream.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge viewed from down stream.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge with Tai Tam Intermediate dam behind it.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge with Tai Tam Intermediate dam behind it.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

The Fourth Masonry Bridge.

Crossing one of the other bridges.

Crossing one of the other bridges.

There were also beautiful views out over the reservoir from the top of the bridges.

View across the reservoir towards Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

View across the reservoir towards Tai Tam Tuk Dam.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across the reservoir.

View across a reservoir.

View across a reservoir.

Behind the fourth masonry bridge stands Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam, which was built between 1904 and 1907. It has a stilling pond with concrete side walls and tubular steel guard rails. In 1977 this dam’s spillway was lowered by 3 metres for safety reasons. I noticed people walking along the top of this dam. I should probably have climbed up the steep stairs and joined them - if this was possible - as there must have been a good view from up there.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam.

After the fourth masonry bridge I found the path that would take me along a stream and back to Tai Tam Road, but instead of taking it, I walked on a bit further enjoying the shady tree-lined paths, the odd sign here and there of autumn and views down towards a stream. Then I decided I would return the way I had come because I knew it ended in a bus-stop. In fact I would have reached a bus-stop on either of the paths.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Looking down at streams and waterfalls.

Looking down at streams and waterfalls.

Wandering shady paths.

Wandering shady paths.

I just missed the first very crowded 14 bus back to Sai Wan Ho, then was delighted to see an empty minibus heading for Chai Wan MTR pull in, so I got on that and began my long journey back home. Chai Wan is the last stop at the eastern end of the Island Line so I knew I'd get a seat for this stretch of the journey - luxury on a Sunday.

When I reach Sunny Bay Station, I know I'm almost home.

When I reach Sunny Bay Station, I know I'm almost home.

Posted by irenevt 06:05 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (9)

Art, Ghosts, Parks and Markets.

A stroll around Sai Ying Pun.

sunny

Recently I've been photographing and writing about lots of street art. Every time I try to research it, street art in Sai Ying Pun pops up, so I decided this must be the most famous place for street art in Hong Kong and I would have to check it out. Today, as soon as I had finished all my Zoom teaching, I set out to explore. I currently spend so much time sitting down in front of a computer that getting out and moving about felt like luxury.

I travelled by train to Sai Ying Pun and took exit B3 to find the street art. Sai Ying Pun was originally a fishing village. Then when the British colonized Hong Kong, there was an army camp, known as West Camp, here. In 2015 the Island Line of the MTR was extended to Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun was one of the new stops on the line. This made the neighbourhood more desirable and started off a process of gentrification that saw an influx of the middle class to this area. This in turn brought about an increase in the number of cafes, restaurants and bars here and resulted in the creation of lots of street art!!

Sai Ying Pun has benefited from an urban art project called Artlane. This was the brainchild of the Henderson Land Development Agency. The art occupies and brightens up three streets. Unfortunately, parts of the streets were under construction, so I could not view everything.

Before I even reached the street art, I was impressed by the MTR station which had 3-d models of Hong Kong street scenes. I thought they were superb. They were very realistic, as they included construction sites, scaffolding, street sweepers, rubbish collection and more.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

3-d models in the MTR by Louise Soloway Chan.

The street art was right next to the MTR exit and very easy to find. It certainly brightened up the whole area.

Cat and Flowers. Part of Little Girl Watering Plants by Hong Kong artist Zue Chan.

Cat and Flowers. Part of Little Girl Watering Plants by Hong Kong artist Zue Chan.

Little Girl Watering Plants by Hong Kong artist Zue Chan.

Little Girl Watering Plants by Hong Kong artist Zue Chan.

Rainbow Staircase by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Rainbow Staircase by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Animal Town by by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Animal Town by by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Animal Town by by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Animal Town by by Blessy Man and Henry Lau.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Autumnal Staircase.

Autumnal Staircase.

Wine, anyone? Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.

Wine, anyone? Music Town inspired by Vienna by Zue Chan.


Autumn on the river.

Autumn on the river.

Autumn on the river.

Autumn on the river.

Autumn on the river.

Autumn on the river.

A day in the rainforest by and dear, Hong Kong.

A day in the rainforest by and dear, Hong Kong.

Adventure by Graphic artist Rao Amandeep, for some reason this reminds me of willow pattern plates.

Adventure by Graphic artist Rao Amandeep, for some reason this reminds me of willow pattern plates.

Chicks painted by Ceet Fouad.

Chicks painted by Ceet Fouad.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Joy of Music and Art by Noble Wong.

Geometric Art, makes me think of licorice all-sorts.

Geometric Art, makes me think of licorice all-sorts.

Bruce Lee by French artist Ceet Fouad.

Bruce Lee by French artist Ceet Fouad.

When I had finished looking at the street art, I headed upwards towards High Street because there were a couple of buildings there I wanted to see but I ended up walking all the way to Bonham Road as I kept finding more and more attractive buildings.

One of the first of these was Kau Yun Church. This church is associated with Kau Yun School. The school was founded after the Second World War when Hong Kong was in a ruined state and many children were in danger of being deprived of an education.

Kau Yun Church and School.

Kau Yun Church and School.

Kau Yun Church and School.

Kau Yun Church and School.

Kau Yun Church.

Kau Yun Church.

Further up the road was the Rhenish Mission School which also has its own church.

Rhenish Mission School.

Rhenish Mission School.

Rhenish Mission School.

Rhenish Mission School.

Across from the Rhenish Mission School was the very impressive Kings College. This was built between 1923 and 1926. When the Pacific War broke out in December 1941, King’s College was used as a first aid station. During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, the school was used as a stables for military mules and horses by the Japanese Army.

Kings College.

Kings College.

Kings College.

Kings College.

Kings College.

Kings College.

Although I had not intended to go to Hong Kong University, I was by this stage so close I thought I might as well take a look. I trained as a teacher at Hong Kong University about twenty years ago. It has some beautiful buildings, but due to flyovers and other roads, it is not easy to photograph. The sun was also in the wrong place for a photo. I could not get a decent shot of the main building.

Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery.

Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery.

One of the entrance ways to Hong Kong University.

One of the entrance ways to Hong Kong University.

In this area there were also more churches and schools.

Saint Anthony's Church.

Saint Anthony's Church.

Saint Paul's College.

Saint Paul's College.

Sai Ying Pun is home to many trendy restaurants, cafes, bars and arts and crafts shops. I passed lots of these on my walk to my next sight.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Cafes, restaurants and bars.

Art and craft shop.

Art and craft shop.

My next sight was two beautiful old historical buildings with a rather sad history: Sai Ying Pun Lunatic Asylum and Sai Ying Pun Mental Hospital.

The Mental Hospital is apparently one of the most haunted buildings in Hong Kong. During World War II, Japanese soldiers tortured and executed people here. Ghostly happenings include: hearing women crying when there is no-one there, mysterious footsteps, ghosts which suddenly appear only to burst into flames, and headless ghosts.

Most of this building was demolished and a modern building constructed in its place, but the facade of the old mental hospital with its archways and shuttered windows was retained. This building dates from 1892. It was initially used as quarters for the foreign nursing staff of the Civil Hospital. Then it was converted into a mental hospital for female patients and continued as such until 1961. It then remained vacant for several years until the government decided to use it as a community centre which opened in 2001.

The lunatic asylum first opened in 1891. It could accommodate 16 patients. This building is now used as a methadone treatment clinic.

The Old Lunatic Asylum.

The Old Lunatic Asylum.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

The Old Mental Hospital.

Just across the road from the Old Mental Hospital is the King George V Memorial Park. There are two memorial parks to George the Fifth in Hong Kong. The other is in Jordan, Kowloon. This is a pleasant park with strong walls like a fortress and lots of sports facilities, sadly all closed. There is a basketball court, a football ground, sitting out areas, a public toilet, and a child care centre. The original park sign has become engulfed in tree roots. There are trees clinging to most of the park walls.

Huge Banyan Tree near the entrance.

Huge Banyan Tree near the entrance.

Overlooking the park.

Overlooking the park.

Overlooking the park.

Overlooking the park.

Stairway.

Stairway.

Park Sign.

Park Sign.

Walls.

Walls.

Clinging Tree Roots.

Clinging Tree Roots.

Original park sign surrounded by tree roots.

Original park sign surrounded by tree roots.

Clinging Tree Roots.

Clinging Tree Roots.

Clinging Tree Roots.

Clinging Tree Roots.

I then walked down the hill to the waterfront. On the way I passed lots of dried fish shops and other Chinese dried goods shops around Des Vouex Road West. The air was filled with the salty perfume of the sea. There has been a seafood market here since the nineteenth century. Products available here include dried abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, and dried mushrooms among many others.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Chinese Dried Food Store.

Leaving the seafood market, I continued towards the waterfront. I crossed the major road here using a footbridge and strolled into Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park. Although it is January and the weather was quite cold here just a few days ago, today was incredibly hot. There were even people lying out on the grass sunbathing in their swimming costumes. That's how hot it was.

Sun Yat Sen Park has a statue of Sun Yat Sen, a huge green lawn, fountains and harbour views. There are also sports facilities here, including a large swimming pool.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, studied and plotted to overthrow the Manchurian overlords of the Qing Dynasty while living in the western district of Hong Kong.

Sun was born in the village of Chuiheng in Guangdong Province. He was educated at secondary and tertiary level in Hong Kong before opening a medical practice in Macau. Sun helped plan the failed Guangzhou uprising of 1895. After that he was banned by the government from entering Hong Kong. He used to meet his fellow conspirators on a boat, which would have been moored where his park stands today, as the land for the park has been reclaimed from the sea. After being banned from Hong Kong and China, Sun lived in exile for sixteen years. He was finally able to return to Chinese soil after the successful Wuchang Uprising of 1911. The following year, he became the first president of the Republic of China. He died of liver cancer in 1925.

Sun Yat-sen Park has lots of symbolism. The crosses at the fountain represent Sun's conversion to Christianity. The water of the fountain represents his baptism.The bell tower is shaped like the entrance to Hong Kong University where he studied and has five bells which represent his five powers constitution.

Archway and Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Archway and Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Sun Yat-sen Statue.

Scene from Sun Yat-sen's life.

Scene from Sun Yat-sen's life.

The art work above shows the Four Bandits, a nickname given to a group of four young students who were keen on discussing current issues in China, and on overthrowing the corrupt Qing dynasty run by the Manchus. The Four Bandits were: Yeung Hok-ling, Sun Yat-sen, Chan Siu-bak and Yau Lit. The meeting place for the bandits was Yeung's family shop located at 24 Gough Street. The art work is based on a photograph taken at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. The fifth person who is standing was Kwan King-leung. The photo was taken around 1888.

Crosses and Fountain.

Crosses and Fountain.

Crosses and Fountain.

Crosses and Fountain.

Fountain and Crosses.

Fountain and Crosses.

Fountain and Crosses.

Fountain and Crosses.

Five Bells Tower.

Five Bells Tower.

Five Bells Tower.

Five Bells Tower.

Enjoying the view.

Enjoying the view.

View across the harbour.

View across the harbour.

Skyline.

Skyline.

Statue with swimming pool behind it.

Statue with swimming pool behind it.

Monument near park.

Monument near park.

After leaving the park I headed back towards Sheung Wan and paid a visit to Western Market. This is housed in a beautiful old building. Western Market was built in 1906. The current market was the North Block of the original Western Market. The South Block was demolished in 1981. The market contains craft shops, flower shops, cloth shops and a cafe.

Western Market from the north side.

Western Market from the north side.

Western Market from the south side.

Western Market from the south side.

Sentries guard the entrance.

Sentries guard the entrance.

Phone Box.

Phone Box.

Phone Box.

Phone Box.

Escalator.

Escalator.

Through the upstairs circular window.

Through the upstairs circular window.

Flower Shop.

Flower Shop.

Flower Shop.

Flower Shop.

Arches and Lights.

Arches and Lights.

Cloth Shop.

Cloth Shop.

Stained glass.

Stained glass.

Stained glass.

Stained glass.

After leaving the market, I walked to the MTR where I stopped to photograph some beautiful models created by talented school children as part of the Art in the MTR initiative before returning home.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Models in the MTR.

Posted by irenevt 09:33 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

Skeletons and Caves.

Walking Cape D'Aguilar.

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Today I decided to go for a hike. It's a while since I have been hiking, so I started with a relatively easy one - Cape D'Aguilar. This is a beautiful, rocky promontory at the south-eastern tip of Hong Kong Island. The hardest part was probably getting to the starting point, as it's a long way from where I live. To go on this hike you need to go to Shau Kei Wan MTR, exit A3 and then take the number 9 bus which goes to Shek O. Today is Sunday so everyone was out enjoying themselves; the queue for the bus was huge, but fortunately the service is frequent on Sundays and public holidays so I got on the second one. Quite honestly being in the countryside was busier than being in the city centre. There were also lots of police around to make sure noone removed their masks.

Cape D'Aguilar is called after Major-General Sir George Charles d'Aguilar, who served as Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong from 1843 to 1848. The Chinese call this area Hok Tsui, which means Crane's Beak, because of its shape.

This walk is mainly paved. At the beginning it has views across Tai Tam Bay and the South China Sea towards Stanley. Unfortunately, it was pretty hazy today so those views were not very clear.

View across Tai Tam Bay.

View across Tai Tam Bay.

View across Tai Tam Bay.

View across Tai Tam Bay.

There were hundreds of people doing this hike so the pathways were busy. One advantage of this for me was that, since I didn't really know where I was going, I could just follow everyone else.

Along the pathways.

Along the pathways.

Along the pathways.

Along the pathways.

On the side of the path furthest from the sea there were some interesting rock formations and lots of tree roots growing out of nothing, which seems to be very common in Hong Kong.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Rocks and Roots.

Winter Branches.

Winter Branches.

When you reach the PCCW Radio Transmitting Station on this walk, you have to leave the paved road and walk along a dirt track. There are some very good views from here.

Near the PCCW Radio Transmitting Station.

Near the PCCW Radio Transmitting Station.

Coastal Views.

Coastal Views.

Coastal Views.

Coastal Views.

Shortly after the Transmitting Station I reached the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve. This became a marine reserve in 1996. It's the only marine reserve in Hong Kong. I first went to see Thunder Cave. This is a tall narrow cave that the sea rushes into with a deafeningly loud noise. It's very popular for people taking photos so there was a bit of a queue. I noticed some people had piled up pebbles into heaps to make small sculptures.

Thunder Cave.

Thunder Cave.

Thunder Cave.

Thunder Cave.

Thunder Cave.

Thunder Cave.

Small rock sculptures.

Small rock sculptures.

Next I headed to the beach. Again it was so busy I had to queue up to climb down a narrow ledge onto the beach. There are lovely views towards some islands from here. I know one of these is Kai Pei Chau. This translates as Thigh of a Dog Island, presumably due to its shape, though it certainly didn't remind me of dog's legs!!! The beach here is made up of large pieces of broken rocks and stone that has weathered into very sharp shapes, so it is very difficult and very tiring to walk on. My legs were aching afterwards.

Thigh of a Dog Island. Don't ask me, maybe it's from another angle.

Thigh of a Dog Island. Don't ask me, maybe it's from another angle.

Beach and Island.

Beach and Island.

Down on the beach.

Down on the beach.

Down on the beach.

Down on the beach.

Down on the beach.

Down on the beach.

There is a building on the beach here which seemed to be undergoing major renovation. I think it's part of the The Swire Institute of Marine Science, which is known as SWIMS for short. It belongs to Hong Kong University. Outside this building there is a huge skeleton of a whale, which is nicknamed Miss Willy. There are two stories about its origin and I'm not sure which one is true.

One version says this is the skeleton of Hoi Wai, an orca or killer whale, which performed at Ocean Park for eighteen years until her death in 1997. The other version says it's the skeleton of a juvenile Bryde whale which died in 1955 after getting stranded between the pillars of a jetty in Victoria Harbour. Either way it is pretty big.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

The Bones of Miss Willy.

I clambered across lots more jagged rocks to reach Crab Cave. This is an area of rock that is curved on top and has a curved opening underneath it, making it look like the body of a crab. From a distance two large pieces of rocks could be the crab's claws. This time I really could see the resemblance. This is a very popular place for taking photos. Some people also climbed onto the roof of Crab Cave, but I didn't bother to climb up there.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

Crab Cave.

I wandered carefully across the rocks, watching the waves break over them. Then I climbed up a nearby hill for views over the whole area.

Clambering over rocks.

Clambering over rocks.

Clambering over rocks.

Clambering over rocks.

Rocky Coastline.

Rocky Coastline.

Rocky Coastline.

Rocky Coastline.

Rocky Coastline.

Rocky Coastline.

Cape D'Aguilar Sign Post exposed to the elements.

Cape D'Aguilar Sign Post exposed to the elements.

Crab Cave from a distance.

Crab Cave from a distance.

Cliffs.

Cliffs.

Looking down from the hill.

Looking down from the hill.

Looking down from the hill.

Looking down from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from up the hill.

View from up the hill.

After that I wandered back the way I had come and exited the marine reserve. I returned to where the road had forked and took the left side up to Cape D'Aguilar lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse dates from 1875 and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Hong Kong. It is made of granite and proudly stands 9.7 metres tall. This lighthouse was no longer needed when the Waglan Island Lighthouse was commissioned in 1893 and was taken out of service three years later. It was declared a monument in 2005. There were queues of people waiting to have their pictures taken in the lighthouse doorway. There were lovely views towards Shek O from behind the lighthouse and lots of colourful and attractive plants in this area.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Views from the lighthouse.

Views from the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

Plants near the lighthouse.

After visiting the lighthouse, I began my trek back to the busstop. On the way I passed an old World War II gun battery. It looked beautiful, but I had read that the walk down to it was very steep. The last section involved holding a rope to stop falling down. I decided, coward that I am, just to admire it from afar.

This battery is called Cape D'Aguilar Battery and it dates from 1939. It was constructed as an emergency battery by the Royal Navy. It had two 4 inch guns. In 1941 it was destroyed by the British to stop it falling into Japanese hands.

Cape D'Aguilar Battery.

Cape D'Aguilar Battery.

Posted by irenevt 10:12 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

A Stroll Back in Time.

Sheung Wan and Central

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I wasn't happy when I wrote my last blog that I did not make it to the district known as Tai Ping Shan in Western. I thought today after work I'll go there and add my visit to the previous blog. However, being me, I got carried away and went here and there and everywhere. I then decided that slotting it all into the last blog would be a pain, so I might as well start a new blog. I basically started out today in Central and wended my way over to Sheung Wan. I mainly paid attention to historical buildings and street art, but also visited markets and a couple of parks.

I started my explorations in Central with a quick visit to The Lanes. The Lanes refers to Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West. These parallel lanes are lined with shops along the sides and have rows of stalls down their centre. They sell clothing, souvenirs and lots of other goods at relatively cheap prices. There's not many positive things to say about Covid, but I must admit this visit is the quietest I have ever seen The Lanes. I could easily walk up and down them. Normally, this area is packed.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

Next I walked up Pottinger Street, which is also referred to as Stone Slab Street, because it is is paved unevenly with granite stone steps and can be pretty difficult to walk on. This street was originally named after Henry Pottinger, the first Governor of Hong Kong who served here from 1843 to 1844. In the nineteenth century Pottinger Street acted as a kind of rough boundary between part of Hong Kong westerners lived in and part Chinese people lived in. Nowadays Pottinger Street is lined with stalls. Several of these were selling decorations, clothing and lucky red envelopes for Chinese New Year.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

After looking at Pottinger Street, I walked across to Graham Street, which is home to one of the oldest street markets in Hong Kong. This market specializes in fruit, vegetables and other food stuff. It is more than one hundred and sixty years old. Unfortunately, The Urban Renewal Authority plan to demolish it and redevelop the area.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

My next stop was hard to find, because it isn't well signposted. It was Pak Tsz Lane Park. This is situated in a quiet square, close to the rear of 52 Gage Street. At this address, in the late nineteenth century, members of a revolutionary anti-Qing Dynasty group, called the Furen Literary Society used to meet. The building exited out onto several narrow lanes which could be used for a quick getaway from either Qing agents or the Hong Kong police. Leading members of the revolutionary group which met here were Yeung Ku-wan, Sun Yat-sen and Tse Tsan-tai. Yeung Ku-wan was eventually caught and assassinated by Qing Dynasty agents here. There's a plaque showing where he was killed. There is also a sculpture called "Cutting off the Queue." Queue is the name for the long pigtail Chinese men used to wear. Cutting it off was an act of rebellion against the emperor. As well as the sculpture, the park also has information panels about the history of the Furen Literary Society and a slatted display of Sun Yat-sen's letter of condolence to Tse Tsan-tai, after the assassination of Yeung Kui-wan.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Display about the Furen Literary Society.

Display about the Furen Literary Society.

Nearby street art. This one has speech bubbles and I believe people sometimes add rude comments. It was comment free when I visited.

Nearby street art. This one has speech bubbles and I believe people sometimes add rude comments. It was comment free when I visited.

Next I climbed up to Hollywood Road and began looking for the former Police Married Quarters, normally referred to as PMQ. This listed building was once the old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters. It has been totally refurbished and is now used as a venue for arts and design. Going back further in time to 1889, before this site was the police married quarters, it was the site of Victoria College (later renamed Queen's College), a prestigious school which provided a western style education. Well known former pupils of this school include: Dr Sun Yat-sen and business tycoon, Sir Robert Ho Tung. Sadly, the school was destroyed in World War II, though parts of its foundations remain and are preserved within PMQ.

PMQ.

PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

One of the reasons I did not complete the whole of this area on my first visit is because exploring the streets means constantly going up and down steep hills. After a while, it gets too sore on the knees. Sheung Wan translates as Upper District because it is mainly located on the sides of hills. Ladder Street is just one of several steep streets here.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Another reason was that I kept being constantly distracted by street art which is basically pretty much everywhere in this area. Sheung Wan has a lot of ever changing street art especially in Pu Hing Fong, Square Street, West Street and Tai Ping Shan Street.

Carp swimming by Danish artist Christian Storm.

Carp swimming by Danish artist Christian Storm.

Street Art by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Street Art by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Photo Opportunity by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Photo Opportunity by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Street art/Video Game.

Street art/Video Game.

These birds were part of a bigger art work with pretend windows, but my photo of that didn't turn out.

These birds were part of a bigger art work with pretend windows, but my photo of that didn't turn out.

Mountains, part of Hong Kong Walls Festival.

Mountains, part of Hong Kong Walls Festival.

Dragon.

Dragon.

Warli Art from West India, created by Vayeda Brothers, Mayur and Tushar.

Warli Art from West India, created by Vayeda Brothers, Mayur and Tushar.

By Zoie Lam an artist based in Hong Kong. She created the imaginary planet Zlism. Her paintings detail a world with all its residents and happenings.

By Zoie Lam an artist based in Hong Kong. She created the imaginary planet Zlism. Her paintings detail a world with all its residents and happenings.

Is she a princess? Seems to advertise Oscary Art which is in PMQ.

Is she a princess? Seems to advertise Oscary Art which is in PMQ.

Square Street.

Square Street.

Street Art.

Street Art.

San Wui Commercial Society School, Tai Ping Shan.

San Wui Commercial Society School, Tai Ping Shan.

Outside a cafe.

Outside a cafe.

Dragon by MEGIC, a Canadian Chinese artist.

Dragon by MEGIC, a Canadian Chinese artist.

Art by Hong Kong artist, KS. He has a unique portrait series. His first solo exhibition was called “Random is Beautiful” in 2010.

Art by Hong Kong artist, KS. He has a unique portrait series. His first solo exhibition was called “Random is Beautiful” in 2010.

Flowers near Hollywood Road Park.

Flowers near Hollywood Road Park.

Peacock, Tai Ping Shan Road.

Peacock, Tai Ping Shan Road.

After looking at all that, I finally reached what I had set out to see - Tai Ping Shan. Tai Ping Shan means "Peace Hill". In the early years of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, Tai Ping Shan was the area where most Chinese people lived. It was a poor, crowded, dirty area filled with temples, brothels and opium dens. In May 1894, bubonic plague broke out here, causing huge numbers of deaths. This led the Government to implement a series of measures to improve living conditions in this area. Measures included cleaning streets, demolishing buildings, the creation of Blake Garden - Hong Kong's first public park and establishing the Bacteriological Institute, which is now The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences. The Tung Wah Hospital Group, a charitable organization providing health care and education for poorer members of society, was also founded here following the outbreak of plague.

Nowadays Tai Ping Shan Street is a friendly place lined with temples and colourful shops. I had a look at several of the temples and found the people there welcoming and happy for me to take photos. The first temple I visited was The Kwun Yum Temple, dedicated to the Chinese goddess of mercy.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.



Next I saw the Shui Yuet Temple which is also dedicated to Kwun Yum, but in her pre-goddess state. Shui means water and Yuet means moon. Together these stand for tranquillity and separation from the mundane, materialistic world. A pinwheel is set up near the entrance to the temple and can be spun around for good luck.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Then I had a look at Tai Shui Temple which is dedicated to the sixty heavenly generals— the most powerful group of gods of the Taoist earth deities. A very pleasant man explained to me that this temple is not open to members of the public, but let me take a photo anyway, because I asked nicely.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

I just liked the look of this hardware shop

I just liked the look of this hardware shop

Sheung Wan.

Sheung Wan.

After this I visited Hollywood Road Park which had some pretty pagodas, ponds and waterfalls. Hollywood Road Park used to be known as Possession Point, the location where the Royal Navy landed on Hong Kong Island, before the signing of the Treaty of Nanking. It was also the site of the former Tai Tat Tei which means large piece of land. In the 1960's and 1970's there was a popular bazaar market here which was famous for street entertainment, a night market and cheap street food, earning it the nickname the "poor man's nightclub".

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

I passed a few interesting buildings as I descended the hill towards the MTR. On my walk there I also passed many shops which specialized in dried foods.

Buildings.

Buildings.

Travelodge Central Hollywood Road. Mural designed and painted by Stern Rockwell.

Travelodge Central Hollywood Road. Mural designed and painted by Stern Rockwell.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Posted by irenevt 11:00 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (7)

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