Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Cattle Depot Artists Village, Ma Tau Kok

I spent some time this week wandering around the Cattle Depot Artists Village. Although being used as a sort of artist collective since 2001 it only received a Grade 2 listing in 2009. The site, originally built as an abattoir, was constructed circa 1908 to replace the Hung Hom slaughter house that was demolished to make way for the newly built KCR railtrack.

It operated as an abattoir until around 1969 when slaughtering duties were transferred to a new site in Cheung Sha Wan and the site was kept as a quarantine depot for various livestock including cattle, pigs and sheep. It remained in use until 1999 and anyone who was in Hong Kong in the 1990s may remember the livestock trains that used to roll down the East Rail (then KCR) rail line. I can always remember my first experience standing on the platform at Tai Po and saw everyone take a step or two back from the edge. I had no idea what was going on until the train rolled by and I was hit in the face with the smell of the pigs in the back.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Wader Studios Then and Now

If you read my film locations blog, then you may be aware that not so long ago I was researching the locations for a Thai movie, Aorm Aok Jao Praya (Thai: อ้อมอกเจ้าพระยา), when I realised that one of the locations seen on the film,Wader Studios, was the very same place where Bruce Lee had been photographed during some HK-based filming for The Big Boss (examples can be found here, here and here). It had been bugging me for several years and all of a sudden I had the answer thanks to some scenes for a Thai film shot in HK. In a sort of weird reverse coincidence, The Big Boss was a HK movie shot in Thailand.

Anyway, with that mystery solved one of my overseas Bruce Lee friends was quite keen to visit the site (or at least what is left of it) to see where those photos of Bruce had been taken. Well, sadly there is actually nothing left of the old studios, but at least we can stitch together some screen grabs and see the rough area. The following panorama (supplied by AP in the UK, thanks AP) is a stitch of several screen captures from Aorm Aok Jao Praya. The taxi car is driving up Castle Peak Road, and turns right towards the main gate of Wader Studios. The main studio office is the one you can see with red dashes of colour in the background.

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Avenue of Stars 2019

Well, it's been 3 long years since the Avenue of Stars closed to allow New World Development to build their new harbourside carbuncle, Victoria Dockside/K11 Atelier. The New World Centre and its adjoining serviced apartments are now consigned to history and in their place we have another Kowloon skyscraper.

Whilst all this was going on, some of the exhibitions from the former version of the Avenue were moved to a podium garden above TST East MTR Station and languished there for a while but was moved back a few months ago in preparation for the grand reopening.

Anyway, you may or may not recall many years ago I wrote a rather long piece for the (then) in-print Time Out magazine, and then followed it up here with a blow-by-blow guide to each personality featured on the Avenue. As a bit of a restart to this blog (because I have been lazy and not posted anything for nearly a year, although I have a bunch of stuff that is still in progress) I though it would be nice to revisit this old haunt and see if and how it has been improved.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Austin Coates and the Fuk Hing Bridge, Pak Tam Chung

Readers may recall that several years ago I was looking for a "lost" Bruce Lee filming location. It was for the Fist of the Unicorn movie starring his childhood friend, Unicorn Chan, and the film makers secretly filmed Bruce helping the various actors choreograph a fight scene. The footage was later incorporated into the film proper and it was marketed as a "Bruce Lee movie" (and still is...). Lee was actually in the process of suing the filmmakers when he died.

Anyway, you can read more about it in the post I made a while back and after an associated SCMP article was written about my small quest, the nearby bridge - Fuk Hing Bridge - is now often referred to as the "Bruce Lee" Bridge amongst various people living in Sai Kung. This is a bit of a shame. Not to take anything away from Bruce but his association with the bridge is fairly tenuous and there is someone else, seemingly forgotten about, associated with the bridge that has a more direct role in it being there.

Fuk Hing Bridge

Friday, 18 May 2018

Shatin Pass Road...on a motorbike

Okay, I know I am usually posting the odd walk and hike, but seeing as I have also been exploring Hong Kong on my motorbike I figured it would be nice to get an action camera up and running so I can film some of the places around the territory.

First up is the trip up Shatin Pass Road from Wong Tai Sin up to the junction near Tate's Ridge where Shatin Pass Road, Fei Ngo Shan Road and Jat Incline all join. Fans of the film Shatter may recognise one or two places (including the - blink and you'll miss it - pavilion where Ti Lung and Stuart Whitman take on Peter Cushing which makes a brief appearance at the 7:00 mark).

The fluffy dice is a nod to a former life in Chelmsford, Essex...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Walking up Jat Incline

Jat Incline is a former military road and named after the (then) British Army Regiment that built it. The Jat Regiment is an Indian Army Regiment that, prior to 1947, was part of the British Army and (according to the marker stone at the junction with Clearwater Bay Road) it was the 199th Jat Infantry responsible for the construction of the road in 1907. Sadly, I don't have a picture of the marker stone because I started my walk from Ngau Chi Wan Street - about 50 metres from the aforementioned junction - but Gwulo.com has a few pictures.

At some point the road name has become corrupted from "Jat Incline" to "Jat's Incline" and I can only assume that it may be due to the way the name was transliterated into Chinese. The Cantonese name for the road is Jat Saan Do (扎山道) where the first character 扎 is pronounced in a similar way to "Jat". This same character is also a Chinese surname so it's possible that when the road signs were being made, the sign makers assumed that "Jat" was a surname and gave the road its current possessive form.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Lomond Road Garden, Kowloon

On my recent wanderings around Kowloon, getting snaps and working out the route for the last Bruce Lee tour, I came across a small "rest garden" on Lomond Road. Hong Kong is full of these so-called rest gardens. Often they are just very small parcels of Govt land that are unsuitable for development and usually pretty drab places with concrete furniture and not much else. Sometimes you can be lucky enough to find one that actually looks nice but most are just an afterthought and demonstrate a real lack of imagination on the part of the city planners and contain little of interest.

Lomond Road Rest Garden is different because despite being tiny, it appears to contain several hundred years of history.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Bruce Lee Guide to (the rest of) Kowloon

I had originally planned to add this walking tour several years ago, but as usual life got in the way somewhat and it wasn't until recently that I found the time to actually head over and walk the route. I tend to forget how long it takes me to put these things together.

There is a caveat (or two) in that the walk is much longer than the other two because the places I talk about are much further apart. Also, several locations really have only tenuous links to Bruce and, as always, redevelopment of older buildings mean the only commonality between now and Bruce's time is often just a place or building name. Still, I'm sure there are Lee fans out there that will still get some value from the places and having them put into an easy-to-follow route around an otherwise unfamiliar city.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Stonehouses Family Garden, Kowloon City

Anyone who makes the effort to head over to Kowloon City for some exploration should also try and schedule some lunch (or at least a coffee break) at the Stonehouses Family Garden. I became aware of this place last year when Chris DeWolf penned an article for the SCMP detailing some of the interesting history of the local area, Lok Fu.

It then slipped my mind until later in the year when a friend invited me out for some lunch and chose this place because of its previous association with the Hong Kong film industry.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Sam Tung Uk, Tsuen Wan

Tsuen Wan has never been the easiest place to explore thanks to its need to make everyone walk around on a less-than-user-friendly system of walkways. But stuck in-between the often incongruous mixture of industrial buildings, office blocks, shopping malls and residential buildings you can find some real gems. Here is one of the more well-known ones and lucky for us it's just a few minutes short walk (along the ground and in a fairly straight line) from the Tsuen Wan terminus of the MTR's Central line (that's the red one for those who don't know).

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Family Hiking: From Tai She Wan to Pak Tam Chung

My kids are still fairly young (the youngest will be 8 next month) but for several years now we have been taking them on some fairly decent hikes which they seem to love and loathe in equal measures. Said youngest did a very challenging 14km hike at the tender age of 5 a few years back, so this particular hike - being around 12km - was not really much of a challenge for his seasoned legs.

I wanted to write about this hike because it was one of the original "family hikes" that appeared in the fourth edition (and earlier?) of Pete Spurrier's The Serious Hikers Guide to Hong Kong. The book has since been revamped and separated into four separate booklets covering each of the major trails in Hong Kong (Maclehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau Trails), which is actually great, but the downside is that these enjoyable family hikes seem to have been discarded in the process.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

An Article (or two) for Portwatch Magazine

For those interested, I penned a couple of short articles for a club magazine over the previous summer. Portwatch is the publication produced by the Aberdeen Marina Club in Sham Wan. I figured that with all the information I had on films made in and around the area it might make interesting reading. Sadly the word limit was a bit restrictive - the bilingual nature of the publication meant I only had half of what I would normally get. As a result the editor decided to split the article into two parts. I would have loved to go into more detail but there you have it.

There's no direct link available but you can go to the club's website (http://www.aberdeenmarinaclub.com/portwatch.php) and find the offending material on and either download it or view online:

Aberdeen on Screen Part 1: Jul/Aug 2016 issue pages 30-31
Aberdeen on Screen Part 2: Sep/Oct 2016 issue pages 28-29

Friday, 30 December 2016

The view from the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui

As the year draws to a close and I look out of my window and see the rather grim state of the air at this time I felt the need to rehash an old post done in a time of much nicer weather and infinitely more breathable air. Also quite timely for those wishing to find a decent vantage point to watch the New Year fireworks. Well, actually I've never bothered to go and see what the fireworks are like from here (or anywhere else for that matter) - just can't stand the crowds - but this place may be worth checking out because it is one of the lesser-known (or at least lesser-considered) views across the harbour. It's the roof terrace of the HK-China Ferry Terminal on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. I say "lesser-considered" because the ferry terminal building's location is a little further away from the harbour compared to the more favoured spots, but it still provides some great views with the added bonus that it isn't very busy. When I was there in the height of the summer a few years ago I was the only person there.

HK China Ferry Terminal Building

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

On top of Tai Mo Shan

Tai Mo Shan is Hong Kong's tallest peak and in the 10 years I have lived here, I had never been to the top. I've been nearby for some interesting dim sum breakfast at Chuen Lung village, and also a few months ago I walked (with my kids) down the Kap Lung Ancient Trail and back up the Kap Lung Forest Trail, but had yet to make it to the top. So when David Bellis from Gwulo suggested a trip there to find some traces of the Japanese occupation I thought it might be a good opportunity. So, last Tuesday in the glorious heat and sunshine of Hong Kong's (unexpectedly) mild winter, we headed up there with Thomas Ngan (the same Thomas who is rather helpful identifying various film locations over on the other blog).

Radio transmitter at the top of Tai Mo Shan

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Around the Mai Po Marsh Nature Reserve

The Mai Po Marsh Nature Reserve sits in the far northern reaches of Hong Kong's New Territories. It's not the easiest place to visit for two reasons 1. you need to pre-book onto a tour, no turning up on spec and 2. It is far away from the rail network which means you have to get there via taxi or green minibus. Luckily, it's been run by the WWF HK since 1983 and so all the information you require about it can be found by going to this page.

I did this the lazy way and just joined an organised trip done through my wife's work, but it was well worth taking the time. If you've ever visited the wetland park in Tin Shui Wai then this is more of the same but in a more natural environment (less boardwalk and more picturesque pathways) and I feel more worth the effort.

Mai Po Marsh Nature Reserve