Thursday, 19 November 2015

Some pictures of No.2 Devon Road in 1961.

A little over a year ago I republished a blog entry about the original houses that can still be found in Kowloon Tong. You can read about it here: Down in the Tong. I'm very lucky because a very nice person called Kathryn has sent me some photos of one of the houses that is (currently...) still standing.

No. 2 Devon Road is still in fairly decent condition and looks to have had very little done to it over the years, unlike many of the other original buildings that have been extensively remodeled or even worse, just demolished. Here's a picture I took of it a year or so ago - unfortunately, this was the best shot I could get without making people think I was a burglar.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Traces of San Miguel, Tai Po

Perhaps not a very interesting post for most, but I find these little things quite fascinating - a throwback to a much simpler time. You may recall from my recent Tai Po Walking tour that I was able to spot faint traces of an old painted cigarette advertisement on the side of a building. Well, before the advent of modern printing technology (and even now I am guessing there must be an upper limit to what can be printed?) the only option for big advertisements was to get some guy up on some bamboo scaffolding to paint it by hand. It seems to be a lost art form these days so it's nice when old traces can be found.

This brings me onto a Govt photo that I stumbled across on social media a while back. It shows a view of an under construction Tai Po Centre on the left which places it in the early 1980s. On the right is the older part of Tai Po Market with a rather large squatter settlement and various buildings. The building with the painted advertisement is actually part of the Plover Cove resettlement estate, built in the mid-60's to rehouse displaced villagers from the Plover Cove reservoir project. I was curious to know if any of the advert could still be found, so I headed down there with my camera.

Source: Govt Archives

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Woodside, Mount Parker Road

Several years ago, I posted a small and fairly insignificant post on my old blog about Woodside - the large red brick Colonial mansion that sits a little way up Mount Parker Road in Quarry Bay.  At the time (2008) the house was intact but seemingly empty and had already been given a Grade 2 listing back in 1998. Though small, the post was enough to trigger some really interesting comments from past tenants and it would be a great shame if they were lost. The benefit of this repost is to note that the building was re-opened to the general public in 2012 as the AFCD Biodiversity Discovery Centre. I did make an unplanned trip a year or so ago but unfortunately didn't have my camera with me.

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Walking Tour of Tai Po

I was a at a bit of a loose end the other day so I figured I would head back to my old stomping ground in Tai Po and put together a small walking tour that takes in most of the interesting sites around town. It's not a definitive list because Tai Po District itself is massive and encompasses much of the surrounding area including Lam Tsuen, Plover Cove, the whole of the Tolo Channel including the northern coastline of Sai Kung and various outlying islands such as Tap Mun and even Tung Ping Chau (yes, ALL are part of Tai Po District). Anyway, this is a short tour that takes you around much of the town and takes you past a little bit of history, some stuff I personally find curious and, I guess, some nice views (at least weather and pollution permitting).

Friday, 9 October 2015

Some Colonial-era Postboxes

In a rather strange turn of events, it appears the head honcho at the Post Office has declared that all Colonial-era postboxes will soon be modified to hide the Royal cipher so as not to cause "confusion" to the people of Hong Kong. Of course, the real reason is quite obvious to anyone who has witnessed China slowly turning the screws on the place since the handover - speeded up by the Occupy protest last year, no doubt - so why be all dishonest about it?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Google Earth now has Hong Kong in 3D!

Many thanks to Gweilo8888 for the heads up. It appears that Google has finally got around to adding Hong Kong to its growing list of cities that now have 3D views. I'm already a big fan of Googleearth and Streetview and the fact that it allows me to quickly check places has been a real plus for all my film locations posts, but now to see a large portion of the place also rendered in fairly detailed 3D is just fantastic.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tak Seng On Casa De Penhores, Macau

A couple of months ago I posted about the imminent demolition of the Tung Tak Pawn Shop - one of only four remaining curved Canton-style (i.e. with supporting front pillars) buildings left in Hong Kong. Sadly it looks as though that sad matter is being seen through to the end by its owner. So, rather than dwell on the negative in HK, let's head over to Macau (or Macao, if you prefer) and have a look at a nicely preserved example of Macanese pawnshoppery.

For those who don’t speak Portuguese (me included), Casa De Penhores is the Portuguese name for a pawnshop (lit: house of pledges). The Tak Seng On is one of the most famous pawnshops in Macau and sits on the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro next to Senado Square.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bus Tours on the Cheap – #271 from Tsim Sha Tsui to Tai Po (and back again)

Despite the fact that Hong Kong's MTR system is usually lauded by anyone and everyone, my number one preferred way of navigating this place is by bus. Sure, it's not necessarily as convenient or speedy (or even as cheap for that matter) but it's certainly a great way to familiarise yourself with the general layout of things and take in some sights that you may not necessarily get to see stuck underground. So, following on from a post I did a while back for the 64K bus route from Tai Po to Yuen Long, here is one that may be more useful to anyone staying in Kowloon but wishing to head into the New Territories for a few hours. It's the #271 bus from Nathan Road to Fu Heng Estate in Tai Po.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Around Lobster Bay, Sai Kung

I had the misfortune (or fortune as it turned out) to be stuck out at Lobster Bay  (龍蝦灣 - Lung Ha Wan) for a couple of days over the summer whilst my youngest attended pony camp at the Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre.

My initial intention was to drop him off and leave him but getting to and from Lobster Bay can be a bit of a pain if you don't have your own car so in the end I figured I should make the most of it and actually stick around and do stuff. I'm quite glad I made the effort because I ended up filling my time with some decent exploring and I found out the area has enough going on to keep you busy for a fair amount of time.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

And then there were three...the end of Tung Tak Pawn Shop

Those interested in Hong Kong's built heritage may already know the news that the Tung Tak Pawn Shop on the corner of Marsh and Hennessy Roads is currently being demolished to make way for a high rise. It's a sad time for heritage conservation (actually, it always seems to be a sad time for it) because this building was one of only four remaining columned corner shophouses that feature a curved facade.

Its fate was decided some time back and even when I included it in this post about shophouses, I was aware it had been slated for the wreckers ball. But still, it's a great shame that a stylish and historic building such as this will just end up being replaced by some bland glass box to match all the other new buildings in Hong Kong.

Tung Tak Pawn Shop

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Tao Fung Shan Christian Centre, Shatin

I first found out about Tao Fung Shan from one of the monthly newsletters published by the RASHK (Royal Asiatic Society of Hong Kong) newsletters. Sadly, I can't remember the year or month but the article covered the various buildings in HK constructed in the style of what has become known as Chinese Renaissance. What this seems to mean is western structural architecture/construction techniques with a Chinese aesthetic such as ornate columns, archways or roof styles that are often found on local temples and the like. Hong Kong has some great examples in the form of King Yin Lei, the Aberdeen Seminary, the now demolished Ho Tung Gardens and several more. This style of architecture is quite rare now, certainly many buildings with these characteristics have gone a long time ago making the remaining ones that little bit more special.

In the case of many of these buildings the style was simply for show, but in the case of Tao Fung Shan it functioned as a way to attract local Chinese to the property, under the mistaken impression they were entering a temple or monastery, and then try to convert them to Christianity. It all sounds a bit nefarious but I suppose the Chinese style of building just made the place less intimidating to those who were curious about Christianity.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Wat Maktham Vanaram Thai Buddhist Temple, Tai Po

Thai Buddhism isn't something you would necessarily associate with a place like Tai Po but it turns out that Tai Po is the location of one of several official Thai Buddhist Temples. Now, of course I'm not talking about the rather grand and very ornate temples that you see in Thailand itself, but a much more humble place that has been converted from what seems to be a  couple of old village houses. The temple's name is Wat Maktham Vanaram and is located in a small area referred to on maps as Tin Liu Ha. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lo Pan Temple, Kennedy Town

When I first arrived in Hong Kong to live, back in 2006, I briefly went through a 'fascinated with all Chinese temples' phase and tried to visit as many as I could. One of my favourites still is a small place up on the hillside in Kennedy Town along a small lane called Ching Lin Terrace. It's called Lo Pan Temple and is unique in Hong Kong in several ways that I will explain in a minute. However, it had been lost in the mists of time until I recently reviewed Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (a film I will cover at a later date on my HK and Macau Film Stuff blog) where it was featured at the start of the movie.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Jockey Club Tak Wah Park, Tsuen Wan

Whenever I visit Tsuen Wan I always feel the place has a bit of an identity crisis – part new town, part old market town and part industrial centre. It’s a bit of a mess I feel, and wandering around the ‘newer’ parts of town is often an exercise in problem solving as you attempt to find the most convenient flyover in order to simply cross the road. It’s a bit of a pain if you are not familiar with the place. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Tsuen Wan’s transformation into a New Town was the first of its kind in HK and, as such, a bit experimental in nature.

Regardless of the reason, what you find now is a place where old village buildings can be found stuck in the middle of urban residential high rises of various ages and provide a stark contrast between Tsuen Wan now and then.

Perhaps the most well known of these places is the Sam Tung Uk museum – a former Hakka walled village which has been preserved in-situ to offer the modern urban dweller a look into how life in Tsuen Wan really was like. Certainly less well-known although of similar value in terms of local heritage is the Tak Wah Park that has been created from the former village of Hoi Pa.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Commemorative Stone Tablet, Tai Po Kau

I was recently reminded of an old post I did a few years back concerning a commemorative stone tablet in Tai Po Kau Garden in Tsung Tsai Yuen (松仔園) - the main entrance point for Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve located along Tai Po Road. I did briefly touch on this topic again in a previous post (Walking along Tai Po Road – Taipo to Shatin Section) because it was on route, but I didn't go into too much detail because I did envisage re-posting the information at a later date. It seems that later date has arrived and I have since been able to add a few more pictures. A special thanks goes to the folks over on the Hong Kong in the '60s Facebook group who inadvertently reminded me and also provided some rather excellent further information including what appears to be this location's unofficial name: Mang Gwai Kiu ( 猛鬼橋), which in Cantonese which means "Ghost bridge".

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Remnants of the Tai Wo Ping Interchange nr Beacon Hill

Perhaps not much interest to anyone other than myself, but I like discovering these things. Anyway, not so long ago I came across an old postcard of a rather modern looking road interchange that just happened to be quite close to where I currently live. The problem was I couldn't remember ever seeing it before and certainly couldn't find it on modern maps, despite it being so close. The problem, I subsequently found out, was that the interchange was a victim of changing development plans and what was once envisaged to be a quick and convenient way to join onto Tai Po Road from Lung Cheung Road (and vice versa) soon became redundant, and so the whole thing was demolished to make way for a different road configuration. Although I don't have access to the postcard mentioned above, I have managed to track down a Govt picture of the section of road. This snap was taken some time in the 1960's, I believe. See below.

Source: HK Govt archives

That's Tai Po Road going from bottom left to centre right, and the curved on/off ramp is connecting Tai Po Road with the Lung Cheung Road (which is behind the camera).

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Iec Long Fabrica De Panchoes, Macau

I've just realised that despite this blog's name and the fact that I have been moving my posts over here now for almost a year, I've only managed to publish a single article about Macau. Time to change that, I think, with this old post concerning the Iec (pronounced "Yeck") Long Fabrica De Panchoes in Taipa village.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A quick visit to the old Tai Po Police Station

A few years back I was lucky enough to join a local battlefield tour of the New Territories organised by The Orders and Medals Research Society, and led by noted local historian Dr Pat Hase - the author of an excellent book concerning the so-called "Six Day War" that followed the British Govt's taking over of the NT in 1899. Prior to the tour starting, Dr Hase was able to organise a very quick site trip to this noted set of structures that sit atop Flagstaff Hill in Taipo. This hill was also the location for the NT handover ceremony and saw the initial part of the fighting between British troops and local village militias (I suggest you read the book for yourselves) and of course, at the time the Police Station hadn't been built, but it's a historic place and Dr Hase had the means to shows us around, which he kindly did.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

New Town Plaza podium and some 90's nostalgia, Shatin

Anyone who visited Shatin's New Town Plaza during the 90's will probably remember that it was a vastly different place to today. Before it turned into the overpriced and rather vapid Mainland Chinese shopping Mecca it is today, it was a fairly 'normal' local mall with normal shops that weren't selling whitening creams, Ugly Betty-style fashion, rolex watches and 10 carat diamonds. The one thing that made it stand out in my memory was the rather naff musical fountain in the centre of the main plaza (see below). Every 15 mins or so (it could've been 30, I can't really remember) tinny classical music would start up, coloured lights would start flashing lights and twirling jets of water would shoot into the air.

New Town Plaza in the 80's (Source: 昔日香港 on Facebook)

Monday, 16 March 2015

The American Club and Enter the Dragon

A few of the more popular posts from my old blog covered the topic of the location used for filming the tournament scenes in Enter the Dragon. It seems that for a lot of people this topic never gets old, and people still contact me about it quite regularly - especially so since I took the old posts offline. In the interests of Lee fans around the world and to avoid several overlapping posts, I've merged them together into a single consolidated post below, which has also given me the chance to relook at some things and include some pictures I left out first time round.

So, just how much of the tournament grounds from Enter the Dragon still exist? The answer is, sadly, absolutely nothing since the whole area was redeveloped into two main sites: The American Club and Pacific View apartments. But thankfully some glimpses of the place's kung fu past can still be found if you look hard enough.

 Stanley Lodge, Tytam Villa and Palm Villa from above (Source: HK Govt)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Bus Tours on the Cheap: #64K from Tai Po Market to Yuen Long

One of the best ways to explore Hong Kong (or any place for that matter) is by using the bus. Sure the MTR system is often quicker and cheaper but nothing really beats a bus tour and what better way to do one than on a reasonably lengthy scheduled route that costs less than a bottle of Coke Zero at the 7-11.

It is actually quite feasible to cover a large area of the territory on just a few carefully selected routes, and here is one of them - the 64K bus from Tai Po Market Station to Yuen Long. A route that takes in both the new and old of Tai Po, the lush scenery of the Lam Tsuen valley as well as the rather shambolic (but sometimes picturesque) tumbledown nature of Kam Tin's various container parks :-/

This route in particular has some well-trodden tourist spots on the way including the famous (but now rather naff) Fong Ma Po Wishing Tree, Ng Tung Chai waterfalls and Kadoorie Botanical Farm. It also has a few stops along the way where you can make a further detour if you don't fancy going all the way into Yuen Long. I've pointed them out as and when so just keep reading.The great thing about this ride is also that you can hop off at either end, go for a wander, and then return and catch the bus all the way back to your starting place. Even the most timid of visitors should have no problem wandering outside their comfort zones with such an easy trip, the only bit of thought needed is deciding which end of the route you wish to catch the bus from: Tai Po or Yuen Long. Either way is fine, the route I've described is the same, it's just that I did it from TP - YL direction.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lee Hoi Chuen's Grave, Cheung Sha Wan

Lee Hoi Chuen was not just famous (in HK, at least) for being a Cantonese opera and movie actor, he also gained significant fame in later life (well, perhaps posthumously...) because he was the father of Bruce Lee. 

I was told about his final resting place several years ago, but had put it on the back burner for the fact that trying to find a grave in a Hong Kong cemetery is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It wasn't until I moved to Kowloon, in the vicinity of St Raphael's Catholic Cemetery, that the Lee grave came back on the radar - largely because I was beginning to pass the place on a fairly regular basis on the bus or in a taxi. Also, it's almost exactly 50 years to the day since he died (7th Feb 1965) so I thought perhaps this was a good time to post.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Fist of the Unicorn – another ‘lost’ Bruce Lee location rediscovered

Not long after finally nailing down the location for the fight scene between Sammo Hung and Bruce Lee at the beginning of Enter The Dragon, I turned my attention to the next Lee-related film location challenge. Strictly speaking the film in question, Fist of the Unicorn (a.k.a Unicorn Fist/Bruce Lee and I), wasn't a Lee film at all - he had simply come to the set as a favour to his friend (the star, Unicorn Chan) and helped choreograph a fight scene. The location involved was a seemingly non-descript rural place with a small river and, other than that, no clues were obvious. It was an interesting bit of investigation and worthwhile repeating for any curious Lee fans who didn't read it when I originally posted back in 2011.

I was curious about this place simply because I couldn't find any other information about it, and I was in full-on Lee location finding mode. This place seemed to have eluded other fans and so I figured it would be good to have a stab and see what I could find.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A Family Walk from Pak Fa Lam to Ho Chung

On the first day of the new year, it seemed like a good idea to go for a wander and take advantage of the relatively nice weather. Also, it felt like it was time to start with some new stuff rather than just spend the next two years porting over all my old (and, with hindsight, often very crappy) blog posts.

Tackling a stage of one of the larger hiking trails seemed to be a bit too much, especially for the kids, so instead a quick look on the LCSD website revealed a so-called "family hike" that looked like it might be interesting. The walk (seen here) official walk starts at a small cemetery in Pak Fa Lam and finishes in Ho Chung village, but because we caught the bus our walk started proper when we alighted next to the petrol station opposite Anderson Road.

The thing that grabbed my attention for this little excursion is the fact that it goes past the resting place of Dr Sun Yat Sen's mother: Lady Yang (楊氏).

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Connaught Road fifty years later, Hong Kong Island

We haven't had one for a while, but for several years we would receive a ‘heritage’ calendar from my wife's company. They were (and still are) rather nicely produced and featured a ‘heritage’ photo on each month - each year highlighting a different photographer or era of photos. Out of the 4 or 5 years we had them, 2 of those years were dedicated the the photographs of Hedda Morrison, who visited Hong Kong in both 1947 and again later in 1959 documenting both trips with some very impressive and interesting pictures.

I found one picture of Connaught Road (taken during her 1959 trip) quite interesting for a couple of reasons. First, and perhaps most obviously, the picture (see below) shows Connaught Road at a time when it was right on the waterfront. You can even see the old Blake Pier in the foreground (it now stands next to Murray House in Stanley). However, most amateur history enthusiasts, like myself, will already know how much of the harbourfront has changed over the years. What is more interesting to me is the fact that there are two buildings on this photograph that are still standing today - over fifty years later! In HK that is quite an impressive achievement.