A Travellerspoint blog

Love is in the Air.

A Stroll Along Bowen Road Fitness Trail.

sunny

King Yin Lei with Bougainvillia.

King Yin Lei with Bougainvillia.

Another day, another trip for more eye medicine! This is a different kind of medicine and from a different place. Since I had travelled all the way to get it, I decided to do a short walk after buying it.

I took the number 15 bus which goes up the Peak again, but this time I only travelled up a short way, as my walk would start from opposite the Adventist Hospital. I deliberately got off the bus a couple of stops after the hospital, because I wanted to take a closer look at the beautiful old Chinese mansion there.

This mansion was originally known as Hei Lo meaning 'Happy Shelter'. It was designed in Chinese Renaissance style by British architect, Arthur Robert Fenton-Raven. He originally came to Hong Kong with the British army, then returned after qualifying as an architect.

The mansion was commissioned by Li Po-Lun, a Chinese woman who made large sums of money by investing wisely in the stock and foreign exchange markets. In 1937 she paid HK$600,000 to buy a large plot of land on the Peak and have a mansion built there. At this time very few Chinese people were allowed to live on the Peak. Li's husband, Shum Yat-chor was a successful businessman who ran a chain of herbal tea shops in Australia.

However, fortunes change and by the 1970s, Li and her family were experiencing severe financial difficulties which forced them to sell off Hei Lo. It was bought by businessman, Stephen Yow Mok-shing, who renamed it King Yin Lei, which means 'Esteemed View'. In 2004 Yow decided to sell King Yin Lei, allegedly for HK$430 million and conservationists began to worry about its approaching fate. The new owner initially began to demolish King Yin Lei with the intention of building blocks of flats on the site.

I had worked in a school opposite the building a couple of years before this and was always quite fascinated by King Yin Lei as I waited for my bus home. I was horrified to learn that in 2007 workmen were beginning to tear this beautiful building apart. Fortunately the government stepped in and declared the building a historical monument. The owner was given an alternative plot of land of a similar value to build on and King Yin Lei was saved.

Since then, the mansion has only been open to members of the public on a small number of occasions. I have never been fortunate enough to get in, but have seen photos of the inside and it's stunning. The house also has a beautiful garden with stunning views and a swimming pool. The swimming pool is nowadays sadly empty except for rain water.

Several films have been shot in King Yin Lei, including 'Soldier of Fortune' starring Clark Gable and Susan Hayward, though apparently Susan Hayward never actually came to Hong Kong and a body double filmed her scenes here. This was because at the time of filming, Hayward was embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-husband and couldn't leave the country. King Yin Lei was also used as Han's mansion, home to the evil villain in 'Enter the Dragon' starring Bruce Lee.

King Yin Lei - Stunning Chinese Mansion.

King Yin Lei - Stunning Chinese Mansion.

King Yin Lei, a different view.

King Yin Lei, a different view.

King Yin Lei.

King Yin Lei.

King Yin Lei and some of the gardens.

King Yin Lei and some of the gardens.

King Yin Lei Driveway. The empty swimming pool is down the stairs on the right.

King Yin Lei Driveway. The empty swimming pool is down the stairs on the right.

King Yin Lei Views.

King Yin Lei Views.

From the mansion I headed down the hill. I was annoyed that the pavement kept running out and I had to walk on the edge of a very busy road from time to time. This was very dangerous and made me question my sanity in doing it. Every now and then there were beautiful views from here.

Views on the walk down from the mansion.

Views on the walk down from the mansion.

Views on the walk down from the mansion.

Views on the walk down from the mansion.

Anyway, I finally got to the steps leading down to Bowen Road Fitness Trail. The Bowen Road Fitness Trail is about 3km long and completely flat. It is popular with walkers, runners, children and dog walkers. There are great views from this trail, fitness stations along the route, a couple of small parks and a couple of interesting shrines. Bowen Road was named after Sir George Bowen, who was the ninth Governor of Hong Kong from 1883 to 1885.

Bowen Road Sign.

Bowen Road Sign.

Bowen Road Fitness Trail Map.

Bowen Road Fitness Trail Map.

Bowen Road - some parts have great views.

Bowen Road - some parts have great views.

Bowen Road - some parts have great views.

Bowen Road - some parts have great views.

Some parts are shaded and green.

Some parts are shaded and green.

Some parts are shaded and green.

Some parts are shaded and green.

Runner on Bowen Road.

Runner on Bowen Road.

As soon as I came down the stairs onto Bowen Road I noticed another set of stairs leading up to a colourful little shrine, so I climbed up to take a look and I was glad I did as it was really very pretty.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.

Small shrine on way up to main shrine.



Incense inside the main shrine.

Incense inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Small shrine inside the main shrine.

Close up of small shrine inside the main shrine.

Close up of small shrine inside the main shrine.

Close up of small shrine inside the main shrine.

Close up of small shrine inside the main shrine.

The Main Shrine.

The Main Shrine.

The Main Shrine.

The Main Shrine.

Back on the path, not far from the first shrine, I noticed a city boundary marker, indicating that in 1903 Victoria City ended at this point.

City Boundary Stone.

City Boundary Stone.

As I walked along Bowen Road Fitness Path to the second larger and more famous shrine, I enjoyed lots of beautiful city views. Bowen Road Fitness Trail has some shady areas , surrounded by trees, where you can cool down in the summer months and some open areas with spectacular city views.

Looking over Happy Valley Race Course.

Looking over Happy Valley Race Course.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

View over the city.

Looking over the city.

Looking over the city.

I'm pretty sure the low brown building here is Nam Koo Terrace. It's apparently one of the most haunted buildings in Hong Kong. The Japanese kept comfort women here during World War II.

I'm pretty sure the low brown building here is Nam Koo Terrace. It's apparently one of the most haunted buildings in Hong Kong. The Japanese kept comfort women here during World War II.

I really want to visit that low brown building, but not sure how close I can get with all the construction going on.

I really want to visit that low brown building, but not sure how close I can get with all the construction going on.

City View.

City View.

View of the Hopewell Centre.

View of the Hopewell Centre.

Hopewell Centre.

Hopewell Centre.

Bowen Road near the Hopewell Centre.

Bowen Road near the Hopewell Centre.

The second shrine I visited is known as Lovers' Rock. It's a huge nine metre high phallic shaped granite boulder that is supposedly home to the god of love. Single women visit here if they want to find a partner and childless women visit if they want to have a baby.

To get there it's necessary to climb up lots of stairs. As you climb up you will pass lots of little shrines. There are good views from the top. When I went behind the rock, I noticed lots of love related graffiti written on it

Apparently Lovers' Rock gets very busy during the Maidens’ Festival, on the seventh day of the seventh month, that's some time in August. There was almost no-one here when I visited, which was great.

Sign for Lovers' Rock. Also known as Lovers' Stone Garden.

Sign for Lovers' Rock. Also known as Lovers' Stone Garden.

This little shrine is on Bowen Road at the foot of Lovers' Rock.

This little shrine is on Bowen Road at the foot of Lovers' Rock.

Stairs up to the shrine.

Stairs up to the shrine.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Shrine on the way up.

Looking back down.

Looking back down.

Looking back down.

Looking back down.

The Midway Shrine.

The Midway Shrine.

The Phallic Rock Shrine.

The Phallic Rock Shrine.

The Phallic Rock Shrine.

The Phallic Rock Shrine.

Tunnel underneath Lovers' Rock.

Tunnel underneath Lovers' Rock.

Graffiti on the back of Lovers' Rock

Graffiti on the back of Lovers' Rock

Four-faced shrine next to Lovers' Rock.

Four-faced shrine next to Lovers' Rock.

In addition to the shrines, there are a couple of parks on this walk. The first is called Orchid Valley, not sure why, I've been here twice without seeing any orchids. This park has got public toilets, bridges and pavilions. When I walked from Wan Chai to Aberdeen Reservoir up Wan Chai Gap Road last year this place was a godsend to collapse in after the steep climb.

Orchid Valley.

Orchid Valley.

Orchid Valley.

Orchid Valley.

Back on Bowen Road Fitness Trail.

Back on Bowen Road Fitness Trail.

When I finally reached the end of Bowen Road Fitness Trail, there was a rather attractive pink house guarded by stone lions. It looked like a nice place to live if you could afford it. It certainly wouldn't come cheap.

Posh House at the end of Bowen Road.

Posh House at the end of Bowen Road.

Posh House at the end of Bowen Road.

Posh House at the end of Bowen Road.

Lion guarding the house.

Lion guarding the house.

Then I reached Bowen Road Gardens. This is also a small park with washrooms, seats, lots of plants and a little Chinese style pavilion.

Although I enjoyed my walk along Bowen Road, historically it is also associated with the Bowen Road dog poisoner. I'm not sure that he or she has been active lately, but this deranged individual used to leave poisoned meat at the side of the road here. As a result many dogs, cats and wild animals died. He or she has never been caught.

Bowen Road Gardens.

Bowen Road Gardens.

After a quick look at Bowen Road Gardens, I decided to wander down Bowen Drive and wended my way back to Admiralty MTR.

Walking back down to Admiralty MTR.

Walking back down to Admiralty MTR.

Walking back down to Admiralty MTR.

Walking back down to Admiralty MTR.

Walk back down to Admiralty MTR.

Walk back down to Admiralty MTR.

The reason I had done such a short walk was I had promised I'd take Peter out to dinner and I didn't want to let him down as he doesn't get out much at the moment with his failing eye sight and the COVID epidemic. Nowadays restaurants close at six pm, so if you want to eat dinner out you have to go out about four p.m.

Peter enjoying his pint.

Peter enjoying his pint.

Posted by irenevt 12:54 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (8)

Seeing Things From Different Points of View.

A Climb Up Mount High West.

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View from Mount High West.

View from Mount High West.

I've been avoiding going out much for the last few weeks, because the COVID situation here has gone totally out of control. Our government used to get worked up if we had around ten new cases. Recently we have been having more than 50,000 new cases a day. The normal structures in place for controlling COVID haven't been able to cope with the huge increase in numbers, so hospitals are overflowing and sick people are at home rather than in isolation.

Also it is possible we are going to go into a lock down situation some time this month to allow mass testing for COVID to take place. We don't know if or when this lock down will happen, but rumours about it have sparked off panic buying. As a result shops are being emptied and the queues in them are enormous.

Add to that, the fact that for about two weeks it was really freezing and continuosly pouring here and you can see why staying in has been more appealing than venturing out.

Last Wednesday, the 26th of February, we did go out to Lai Chi Kok to get our boosters. There's a beautiful park there. I didn't have time to look around this time, but I did leave Peter for a short rest and looked at the gardens near the testing centre.

Pavilion at Chinese Garden.

Pavilion at Chinese Garden.

Chinese Garden.

Chinese Garden.

Fish Fountain.

Fish Fountain.

Stone Lantern.

Stone Lantern.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Pond in Chinese Garden.

Bridge in Chinese Garden.

Bridge in Chinese Garden.

Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea.

One of my other few forays into the outside world was to buy take away pizzas on Monday. I lead an exciting life! Restaurants close at 6pm at the moment due to COVID and only do take away after that. I was told the pizzas would take an hour to bake so I went for a walk to the far side of Discovery Bay where I don't usually go, just so I could pass the time. It's quite pretty over there with a lovely marina.

I started out just walking along the waterfront.

I started out just walking along the waterfront.

I noticed these boats were a popular resting place with tired birds.

I noticed these boats were a popular resting place with tired birds.

Families wandering along the waterfront.

Families wandering along the waterfront.

The view back the way.

The view back the way.

There's an ornate fountain at the end of the waterfront.

There's an ornate fountain at the end of the waterfront.

I walked over towards Nim Shue Wan Beach.

I walked over towards Nim Shue Wan Beach.

I walked over towards Nim Shue Wan Beach.

I walked over towards Nim Shue Wan Beach.

I then walked round to the marina which looked lovely as the sun began to go down.

I then walked round to the marina which looked lovely as the sun began to go down.

Boats in the marina.

Boats in the marina.

Boats in the marina.

Boats in the marina.

The Marina.

The Marina.

More ornate fountains.

More ornate fountains.

Wending my way back to get our pizzas.

Wending my way back to get our pizzas.

Yesterday, Tuesday 1st March, I had to go and get Peter more eye medicine in Central, so I thought I might as well do the hike I was going to do last time I went. I changed last time due to a blanket of fog descending on everything. This time it was really sunny with beautiful views so I decided to do it.

When I arrived in Central around 11am, I could scarcely believe how empty the MTR was. You can normally scarcely move here for other people.

Hong Kong is like a ghost town.

Hong Kong is like a ghost town.

Empty MTR station.

Empty MTR station.

I took a slight detour to photograph the Central Post Office which I believe is going to be demolished.

I took a slight detour to photograph the Central Post Office which I believe is going to be demolished.

For once when I took the number 15 bus up the Peak I remembered to sit on the correct side for views.

I took a picture of the cenotaph from the trip up.

I took a picture of the cenotaph from the trip up.

I also photographed the colourful restored houses in Wan Chai.

I also photographed the colourful restored houses in Wan Chai.

The views from the bus as it wound its way up the Peak were gorgeous but not easy to take from a moving vehicle.

Blue Skies and Views on the way up.

Blue Skies and Views on the way up.

Views on the Way Up.

Views on the Way Up.

Beautiful Views over Hong Kong

Beautiful Views over Hong Kong

I managed to get some lovely shots over Hong Kong as the bus went uphill.

I managed to get some lovely shots over Hong Kong as the bus went uphill.

Views.

Views.

Views.

Views.

And More Views.

And More Views.

I used to do some lessons in a school opposite this mansion.

I used to do some lessons in a school opposite this mansion.

At the top of the Peak I went to the Lions Pavilion to ensure there really were lovely views before starting my hike. This time I wasn't disappointed.

Lions Pavilion.

Lions Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

View from the Pavilion.

Lions Pavilion.

Lions Pavilion.

View from Lions Pavilion.

View from Lions Pavilion.

Before setting out on my walk I nipped in to the Peak Shopping Centre to use the loo. It's necessary to scan the vaccination pass on your phone to get in nowadays. I noticed a restaurant with plastic food models. It reminded me of restaurants in Japan.

Peak Valeria Shopping Centre

Peak Valeria Shopping Centre

Peak Tram under Blue Skies for a Change.

Peak Tram under Blue Skies for a Change.

Restaurant with plastic food models.

Restaurant with plastic food models.

Plastic Food Models.

Plastic Food Models.

Then I headed off to Lugard Road. This road is the first part of Hong Kong Trail Section 1. It can also be walked as a circular trail together with Harlech Road. It also leads to the walk up to Mount High West which was where I was going.

Lugard Road is named after Sir Frederick Lugard, who was Governor of Hong Kong from 1907 to 1912. It stretches for one and a half miles and is situated around 400 metres above sea level. There is an elevated section which affords fantastic harbour views. At some point I must go here at night.

The first part of the walk on Lugard Road.

The first part of the walk on Lugard Road.

First View Between Houses.

First View Between Houses.

The Harbour Viewed Across Flowers.

The Harbour Viewed Across Flowers.

The Harbour Viewed Across Flowers..

The Harbour Viewed Across Flowers..

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

Harbour View.

Harbour Views.

Harbour Views.

Harbour Views.

Harbour Views.

Selfie on Lugard Road.

Selfie on Lugard Road.

Harbour View surrounded by greenery

Harbour View surrounded by greenery

The elevated section must have been quite a feat of engineering. The roadway is over a hundred years old. Some parts are quite narrow. It has old fashioned street lamps and a pretty wrought iron fence.

The Elevated Section.

The Elevated Section.

The Path.

The Path.

The Path.

The Path.

Stairs leading off.

Stairs leading off.

There's lots of beautiful vegetation along the way. The massive banyan trees with huge aerial roots are well-known. I was really pleased to see Chinese New Year flowers along the route. I first discovered these last year and thought, due to Covid, I wouldn't be hiking at the right time to see any this year.

Banyan Trees.

Banyan Trees.

Banyan Trees.

Banyan Trees.

Chinese New Year Plants.

Chinese New Year Plants.

You have to be mega-wealthy to live on the Peak. Gardens are surrounded by rolls of barbed wire and security gates are kept very firmly locked.

Locked Gates

Locked Gates

Barbed Wire.

Barbed Wire.

I loved the Buddha statues I passed on the way.

Stone Buddah.

Stone Buddah.

Stone Buddha.

Stone Buddha.

Mount High West Walk is at the end of Lugard Road. It starts from the little park where Lugard and Harlech Roads meet. It's not a long walk but it involves climbing lots of steep flights of stairs so it is pretty tiring. I couldn't believe how hot it was when I was climbing. I was puffing and wheezing like a steam train all the way up.

Pavilion in the Park.

Pavilion in the Park.

In the park.

In the park.

Beautiful  Bougainvillea in the park

Beautiful Bougainvillea in the park

Sign Post for the Mount High West Walk.

Sign Post for the Mount High West Walk.

To begin the walk you go down a small number of stairs then wander through some woods for a short way. You will reach some seating areas, which would be good places to have a picnic. Then you'll start to climb. Some helpful signs along the route tell you how much further you have to go. There are great views back the way as you climb.

The path started flat.

The path started flat.

The Path is shaded at the start.

The Path is shaded at the start.

Rest Point on Way Up.

Rest Point on Way Up.

Rest Area.

Rest Area.

Then there were stairs, stairs and more stairs.

Then there were stairs, stairs and more stairs.

View back the way.

View back the way.

View back the way.

View back the way.

Mount High West is known in Cantonese as Sai Ko Shan. It reaches a height of 494 m. From the top of the mountain there are spectacular 360° views. Boards tell you what you are looking at. There's also a trigonometrical marker, of course.

Looking at the top of the mountain.

Looking at the top of the mountain.

Top of Mount High West.

Top of Mount High West.

Trigonometrical Marker.

Trigonometrical Marker.

View Point at the Top.

View Point at the Top.

Tiring as it may be to climb Mount High West when you get there the views more than make up for the steep way up, because from the top of Mount High West you can look out over Pok Fu Lam Reservoir in one direction and over Victoria Harbour in the other. I went past the view point and past the road closed signs to walk on the mountain path at the top of Mount High West. I noted a steep way down but didn't inflict it on myself.

View over Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

View over Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

Selfie with Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

Selfie with Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

View over Mountain and Harbour.

View over Mountain and Harbour.

View over Victoria Harbour.

View over Victoria Harbour.

Road Closed Sign.

Road Closed Sign.

Ferry sailing past Lamma Island.

Ferry sailing past Lamma Island.

When I had finished enjoying the views from the summit of Mount High West, I began my descent. I was feeling indecisive should I walk down the Peak via Pinewood Battery or should I complete the circular loop via Harlech Road then catch the bus down.

I decided to go with the Harlech Road option. Harlech Road does not have spectacular views like Lugard Road, but it has got a dramatic waterfall, lush vegetation, sitting areas and lots of shade.

Shady Harlech Road.

Shady Harlech Road.

Sitting out on Harlech Road.

Sitting out on Harlech Road.

Trees are taking over on Harlech Road.

Trees are taking over on Harlech Road.

The Lugard Falls on Harlech Road

The Lugard Falls on Harlech Road

The Lugard Falls on Harlech Road

The Lugard Falls on Harlech Road

When I arrived back at the bus station a number 15 bus was just leaving. I could have waited around twenty minutes for the next one, but instead I decided to walk down through Pok Fu Lam Country Park again. I had missed walking very much during my 'at home' phase so wanted to keep going plus I wondered how different it would be on a sunny day and if its streams and waterfalls would be more exciting after all the rain we have had. It was different. Last time was very atmospheric, pleasantly creepy. This time was bright sunny and beautiful.

Pok Fu Lam Country Park again.

Pok Fu Lam Country Park again.

Trees growing out of walls.

Trees growing out of walls.

Trees growing out of walls.

Trees growing out of walls.

Autumn Colours.

Autumn Colours.

Shelter on Route.

Shelter on Route.

Waterfall on route.

Waterfall on route.

Stream.

Stream.

Stream.

Stream.

Waterfall.

Waterfall.

Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.

I loved this flame tree opposite the Watchman's Cottage.

I loved this flame tree opposite the Watchman's Cottage.

Bethanie is a frustrating building that it's impossible to get a good picture of, but I can almost see the octagonal roof here.

Bethanie is a frustrating building that it's impossible to get a good picture of, but I can almost see the octagonal roof here.

I looked at University College again. This is wandering around its grounds.

I looked at University College again. This is wandering around its grounds.

Finally, I jumped on a number 40 bus going to Wan Chai North again, but I got off at Hong Kong University MTR this time and made my way home.

Street Art near Hong Kong University MTR.

Street Art near Hong Kong University MTR.

Street Art near Hong Kong University MTR.

Street Art near Hong Kong University MTR.

Posted by irenevt 14:04 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (4)

Trying to Cheer Myself Up

A bit of New Year colour

I haven't been going out much in the last couple of weeks as there is a huge outbreak of Omicron here. This is, of course, going on all over the world, but here our government is sticking by their dynamic zero policy, which means they want zero COVID cases in the community. This means an endless round of closures (nearly everything is shut), lock downs and compulsory testing.

My friend, who travelled across Hong Kong today to visit his mother, sent me pictures of the huge queues of people waiting to be tested in various districts he passed through. Here in Discovery Bay we have to get tested by Sunday or face a HK$10,000 fine, that's around £1000 each. If you are positive with symptoms, you will be sent to hospital. If you are positive and asymptomatic, you will be sent to a quarantine centre. If you are a close contact of someone who is positive, you have to stay home and self isolate while wearing a tracking tag.

From February 24th we need a vaccine passport in order to enter a shop, restaurant or any other public building. In fact, the only thing you don't need it for, so far, is transport. Not sure where you would be going without one, as you aren't allowed in anything!! We are both double vaccinated and I've booked us both a booster. Later on, I think around June, you'll need to prove you have had a booster or lose your vaccine passport.

I went and took a look at the queues here today, but didn't join them yet. I think queuing will be how we are spending tomorrow. Since Peter is elderly and can't stand for long periods of time, I'll take a folding chair with us.

After looking at the queues, I went to photograph anything I could see that was colourful or beautiful in an attempt to cheer myself up. I also did a bit of food shopping in case we get forced to self isolate. Self isolation is the lesser of all the evils.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers on my cheer myself up walk.

Flowers.

Flowers.

I watched some dog walkers taking all the dogs they have to look after for a walk. Seeing someone walking around ten dogs at a time here is fairly common.

Dog walkers.

Dog walkers.

Dog walkers.

Dog walkers.

I took some photos of views and interesting features as I walked to the supermarket

Flowers and views.

Flowers and views.

Views.

Views.

Love Padlocks.

Love Padlocks.

Art work.

Art work.

There are still lots of things around to celebrate Chinese New Year, though the celebratory atmosphere is somewhat lacking as you can probably imagine.

Firecrackers.

Firecrackers.

Windmills.

Windmills.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Brightly coloured fruit.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Cheerful Flowers.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Posted by irenevt 09:22 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (10)

The Year of the Tiger ....

Enters with a quiet, 'Miaow!'

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

For a long time the COVID situation here has been pretty much under control and life has been more or less normal - except for the fact we can't travel, unless we quarantine for three weeks on our return. However, in the last few weeks that has all changed. Previously we used to be hysterical if there were 20 COVID cases a day here. Today there were over 600. This is all due to the arrival of the Omicron variant. The government are pondering changing some of our rules. For example, if you get COVID here, you are hospitalised even if it's a mild case, but the hospitals are going to fill up soon, so isolation at home is being considered. Previously close contacts of those who were COVID positive were placed in quarantine centres, but again they will probably be able to self-isolate at home due to lack of space.

Last Tuesday was the start of Chinese New Year. The fireworks celebrations over the harbour were cancelled again due to the pandemic and so was the New Year's Day Parade. People are being asked not to have family gatherings and to stay in as much as possible. This has also coincided with pretty cold weather for here. I have been largely staying in, though I'm not sure how long I can continue doing this before a desperate need for exercise takes over.

Before all this happened, in fact before Chinese New Year, I went to Tsing Yi to shop. While there I strolled through the park and checked how autumnal the line of deciduous trees by the pond had become. I'm starting to really like this park and wander around it frequently.

The line of trees by the pond.

The line of trees by the pond.

Autumn Colours by the Pond.

Autumn Colours by the Pond.

Autumnal Trees by the Water.

Autumnal Trees by the Water.

Autumnal Trees by the Water.

Autumnal Trees by the Water.

A bit of greenery for contrast.

A bit of greenery for contrast.

Still Many Flowers.

Still Many Flowers.

Reflections.

Reflections.

Mighty Banyans.

Mighty Banyans.

Colourful Flowers.

Colourful Flowers.

I also took a look at some of Tsing Yi's Chinese New Year decorations while passing the residential buildings there.

Caishen, god of good fortune, very popular at Chinese New Year.

Caishen, god of good fortune, very popular at Chinese New Year.

Tigers and Gold.

Tigers and Gold.

Next I wandered along the waterfront past gently bobbing boats and colourful plants.

Spiky Plants.

Spiky Plants.

Colourful Plants.

Colourful Plants.

Peaceful Waters.

Peaceful Waters.

Peaceful Waters.

Peaceful Waters.

Peaceful Waters.

Peaceful Waters.

Inside Maritime Square Shopping Mall there were more festive displays and a Chinese New Year market.

Spring Blossom Display.

Spring Blossom Display.

Spring Blossoms.

Spring Blossoms.

Chinese New Year Market.

Chinese New Year Market.

Lanterns and Orchids.

Lanterns and Orchids.

Orchids Stall.

Orchids Stall.

Today I was excited to get as far as my local supermarket. It was thrilling after days of reading and playing Wordle!!!

Inspired by this taste of freedom I also took a short night-time stroll near my home to photograph Chinese New Year displays.

Bringing in the Year of the Tiger.

Bringing in the Year of the Tiger.

Chinese New Year displays lit up at night.

Chinese New Year displays lit up at night.

Spring Blossoms.

Spring Blossoms.

Flowers and Gold.

Flowers and Gold.

Windmills of good fortune. The Chinese believe that spinning the windmill brings good luck.

Windmills of good fortune. The Chinese believe that spinning the windmill brings good luck.

Posted by irenevt 09:46 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (12)

Indecision

Any Walk Will Do

overcast

I don't normally go hiking two days in a row. My legs can't take it, but yesterday I had to go all the way to Central, Hong Kong Island to get eyedrops for my husband. I couldn't make up my mind whether just to go and get them and come home, go get them then go shopping, or go get them then go walking.

Eventually I decided I'd go get the drops, then take the nearby 15 bus up the Peak and from there walk up Mount High West which is famous for its fantastic views.

On the way my bus stopped at a red light right next to a beautiful market in Wan Chai, which was selling flowers and plants for Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Market.

Chinese New Year Market.

I was enjoying the views on the trip up the Peak, then I noticed it start to get darker and darker. By the time we arrived, the mountain was enclosed in a dense fog. I walked to the nearby viewing point to see how bad it was. It was almost impossible even to make out the Kowloon side of the harbour. Not a lot of point in climbing up Mount High West for views in such circumstances, so I'd have to do something else.

Lions View Point Pavilion.

Lions View Point Pavilion.

Foggy view over Victoria Harbour.

Foggy view over Victoria Harbour.

I took a wander around the Peak Galleria taking some photos and thinking about what to do.

The Peak Tram is currently closed and undergoing renovation.

The Peak Tram is currently closed and undergoing renovation.

Lounging around by the tram.

Lounging around by the tram.

I always photo this little cafe, just because I like it.

I always photo this little cafe, just because I like it.

Chinese New Year Decorations in Peak Galleria.

Chinese New Year Decorations in Peak Galleria.

Outside the Backyard Pet Store.

Outside the Backyard Pet Store.

I liked Mr Jelly Belly outside Candylicious.

I liked Mr Jelly Belly outside Candylicious.

I finally decided I would just enjoy walking back down the Peak instead of taking transport. There are quite a few different ways to do this, but I decided I would go via the Pokfulam Country Park. Previously I have walked down to Pokfulam Reservoir on a dirt trail after visiting the Pinewood Battery. This time I took the paved path, which is very easy to walk on and completely closed to traffic.

Entrance to Pokfulam Country Park.

Entrance to Pokfulam Country Park.

Foggy view of the reservoir I was heading to.

Foggy view of the reservoir I was heading to.

There were lots of beautiful trees around the path, many were covered in moss. They seemed to be thriving in the damp environment and leant a kind of spooky air to the walk, but I mean spooky as in atmospheric rather than scary. I passed by several gurgling streams. Their water level was low as this is dry season, but their sound was still a peaceful accompaniment to the walk. In many places people had written messages onto the moss covered rocks - a sort of plant based graffiti.

Tree clinging to a wall at the start of the walk.

Tree clinging to a wall at the start of the walk.

Trees taking over the world.

Trees taking over the world.

This huge branch was covered with growth.

This huge branch was covered with growth.

Multi-trunked tree.

Multi-trunked tree.

Stream but the water level is low in the dry season.

Stream but the water level is low in the dry season.

Another nearly dry stream.

Another nearly dry stream.

Jungle view.

Jungle view.

People leave graffiti here by writing on the moss.

People leave graffiti here by writing on the moss.

Little shelter on route.

Little shelter on route.

Naturally having decided to walk down, it began to clear up a bit, but it didn't matter. I was enjoying my forest walk. I felt a bit lazy though as everyone else I passed was walking up the mountain, rather than down.

Some mountains were beginning to clear up as I walked down.

Some mountains were beginning to clear up as I walked down.

I passed a couple of little waterfalls and a place where many trails branched off. One day I may do the Peel Rise Walk, but today I just stuck with going down to the reservoir.

One of the waterfalls on the way down.

One of the waterfalls on the way down.

Stream.

Stream.

Waterfall.

Waterfall.

A Choice of Routes.

A Choice of Routes.

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions.

Selfie on route.

Selfie on route.

Eventually I reached some war remains which I have seen before and knew I was nearly down. It was incredibly quick, considering how long it took the bus to get up there.

War Remains.

War Remains.

War Remains.

War Remains.

I think these will have been store rooms.

I think these will have been store rooms.

Maybe for weapons.

Maybe for weapons.

Past the store rooms, I had reached the reservoir. I've been here before. It's a small reservoir and it is only possible to walk along one side. At the end of it, there's a beautiful old building which used to be a watchman's cottage. At the end of the reservoir there's a riding school.

View over the reservoir.

View over the reservoir.

View over the reservoir.

View over the reservoir.

View over the reservoir.

View over the reservoir.

End of the reservoir.

End of the reservoir.

The Watchman's Cottage.

The Watchman's Cottage.

Horse in the riding school.

Horse in the riding school.

Last time, when I was writing up my blog after visiting this reservoir, I discovered that there was a beautiful old building near the reservoir and that I had missed it. Of course, I had forgotten all about this, but then I suddenly saw a sign for University Hall and I remembered. To get to University Hall I went through a gate in the wall. To be honest, I wasn't even sure if this building was open to the public or if I was trespassing. There was no-one around, so I just went for it.

University Hall is currently a hall of residence for male students at Hong Kong University, but it has gone through many different incarnations.

It was originally built by Douglas Lapraik, a wealthy businessman of Scottish descent, and was known as Douglas Castle. In 1839 Lapraik travelled to Macau to become an apprentice watchmaker. Then in 1842, he moved to Hong Kong and ventured into the world of shipping. He was very successful and helped co-found the Hongkong Whampoa Dock Company. In 1861 Lapraik leased a hill next to a site where a reservoir was just about to be created and began building a castle. This was finished around 1864, but Lapraik only lived here briefly as ill health forced him to return to the UK where he died in 1869. His nephew, who inherited Douglas Castle, had a stained glass window erected in his beloved uncle's memory in Saint John's Cathedral. Sadly this was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.

On the opposite side of the road from University Hall stands Bethanie which was built by the French Mission in 1875 as a sanatorium for sick missionaries. In 1894, when Hong Kong was experiencing a terrible bout of bubonic plague and many people were fleeing, the French Mission bought Douglas Castle. They added a new wing, a chapel and a printing press. Under the French, Douglas Castle was renamed Nazareth. During the Second World War Nazareth was requisitioned by the Japanese. Then after the war, overseas missionaries were no longer welcome in Mainland China, causing the French Mission to be reduced in size. They maintained Bethanie but sold off Nazareth. In 1954 the building was bought by the University of Hong Kong and converted into a hall of residence.

The chapel of Nazareth is now a dining hall and its crypt is now a student common room. There are two elephant-like statues on the main staircase of University Hall. These are considered to be unlucky and students must not touch them near graduation or they will fail all their exams.

Entrance to the hall near the reservoir.

Entrance to the hall near the reservoir.

Entrance to the hall near the reservoir.

Entrance to the hall near the reservoir.

Stone Inscription.

Stone Inscription.

University Hall.

University Hall.

University Hall.

University Hall.

Beautiful Staircase.

Beautiful Staircase.

Elephant-like statue.

Elephant-like statue.

Elephant-like statue.

Elephant-like statue.

Bethanie.

Bethanie.

Instead of boarding my bus home next to Bethanie, I decided to walk along Pokfulam Road for a while, as I remembered there were some lovely views from here over Cyberport and Lamma Island. Previously I've only looked at these from a speeding bus.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Views from Pokfulam Road.

Finally, when I reached the Queen Mary Hospital, I boarded a bus, as it was difficult to continue along the road due to traffic. I headed towards Wan Chai, did my shopping and went home.

Queen Mary Hospital.

Queen Mary Hospital.

Posted by irenevt 12:44 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (6)

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