If Only The Map Was 3D

Fri. 5th July 2019

Rosary Catholic ChurchAt breakfast in the hotel, I find a book called The Heritage Hiker’s Guide to Hong Kong and that one of the walks described ends near our hotel. Guess what, we decide to walk the route the wrong way round starting with the Rosary Catholic Church just round the corner. It is a pretty building with a pink roof but difficult to photograph without standing in the middle of the road, not a good idea in a big city. Good job Dave is good at stitching together a panoramic set of pics. A surprise to see an old building in the middle of all the modern high-rise ones, but this is what we are looking for in this metropolis.

Steps to Kowloon ParkNathan Road is much as we remember it. That is busy, full of shops and neon signs, along with the cry “fake Rolex for sale” or “suit made to measure, Sir?” Continuing our heritage walk, we head on in search of St Andrews Church, which is hidden behind the new meeting hall. The first stone was laid in 1904 so not that old, but it is the oldest English speaking Anglican Church in Kowloon. To get a grasp on the history of Hong Kong we head for the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre. This is housed in a former military complex in the middle of Kowloon Park. The entrance to the park has cartoon characters lining the steps and then comic stars along one avenue, so Chinese like.

LMany turtlesike many parks in Hong Kong, Kowloon Park has more than just a grass area to sit. As well as the comic book characters, we found a swimming pool, a lake full of flamingos and other birds, and a Chinese style walkway leading to a pagoda. I was distracted by the mass of turtles scrambling over some rocks trying to enjoy what little sunshine was seeping through the ever present clouds. The park covers quite a large area with a network of paths leading in all directions. The downside of everything being so close together is that we see more sights and head everywhere on foot, adding to our step count. I have selected 70 pics out of the 200 odd we took but need to whittle that down further for a sensible size post. I am in danger of saying we did this and then that, but that would bore me as well as any reader.

Glass floor of many relicsOnce we finally reached the Discovery Centre, it was fascinating to learn about the development of Hong Kong buildings from the original sleepy fishing town to a skyscraper city and the influences of the changing legislation to encourage new tall apartment blocks getting ever taller. Indeed, the skyline (and the shoreline) has changed massively since we were here in 1992 and it will be interesting to compare our photos today with the pictures we took then. From the philosophy of demolish everything to make room for bigger and better, there has been a change to preserving some historical buildings to keep some heritage for future generations to see. So many ceramic pieces have been discovered that one room has a glass floor covering masses of the fragments.

Clock Tower on riverfrontOn that note we moved on to search out Signal Hill where there stands the 1907 Signal Tower which used to house a time ball to signal the time to ships in the harbour. We timed our visit badly as the tower closes in the middle of the day until 4pm. Although I like climbing towers I am not coming back up that hill in this heat and humidity during opening hours. No lunch to be had up here so the next sight was the revamped old marine police station which is now the trendy shopping mall 1881. It was a bit too trendy and the restaurants only did full meals which we certainly did not want at this time of day as we still had a long list of places to visit. We are heading for the Tea Ware museum by a circuitous route.

Famous Star FerryA visit to HK is not complete without a trip on the Star Ferry so it had to be done to get us across to Hong Kong Island. Dave says we are going past the HSBC building, which was an icon last time we came but now hidden amongst a sea of skyscrapers. Unlike the HSBC bank in Shanghai where we were quickly moved on as we tried to take a picture, here we could meander around as well as read the history boards. Being British we started reading from left to right and found we were going back in history rather than starting at the beginning. Oops. Time to pose outside with Steve (the lion), who is carved in a traditional British form. It is easily distinguished from the traditional Chinese lions adorning the next door Standard Bank.

Me and SteveNext stop is Hong Kong Park so armed with the (usually) ever faithful Google maps we set off. Unfortunately as we are on a hill and the buildings are joined by walkways on many levels so we were thwarted and took many a wrong turn saying, we should be up there! In the humid heat it is quite sapping and extra steps are not welcome. Especially in the park when we headed to the SARS memorial and tower, which are at the top. Once at the top we wanted to go into the large enclosed aviary we could see but alas the entrance was at the bottom end so it was back down the steps. We don’t normally go for animals in captivity but this aviary was pretty big so the birds had lots of space to fly in and out of the enclosed trees.

Imaginative tea wareFinally having explored most of Hong Kong Park we reach the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware and it is just that, an exhibition of tea ware, which even explains the ergonomics of the spout, handle and shape of a teapot. You may not be surprised to know it is the first specialised museum in the world to house Tea Ware. Upstairs there are exhibition rooms full of entrants and winners in a Tea Ware competition with various categories. One set had a set of cups and saucers reflecting planets for example. However my favourite was this set.

Dolphins at nightAfter a full on day we had a rest, but Dave had an idea for sunset to find a sculpture of metal dolphins. Google maps in hand we set off for the 15 minute walk. Half an hour later we were in a dead end path by a car park unable to see said dolphins, which should be pretty close. You guessed it we were on the wrong level. So, after heading up and through a hotel, up in a lift and asking twice we finally were out on the waterfront looking at said dolphins. Having eventually found them, we were determined to take some photos even though we were too late for sunset. Pleased with our efforts we retired to a nearby Italian restaurant we had passed in our walking, exhausted but happy having had another great day. We did promise ourselves we would walk less tomorrow…

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