ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Channel

A DIP IN THE HARBOUR, Sai Wan Swimming Shed (西環泳棚), Kennedy Town (堅尼地城), Hong Kong

I first learnt about the swimming sheds from my father, who used to explore the waters of Sai Wan (西環) at the westernmost area of Hong Kong Island in his childhood. Back in 1950’s and 1960’s, sea swimming was not necessary a half day journey to a beach far away from the city. Hongkongers could instead hop to one of the ten or dozen of swimming sheds along Victoria Harbour after work for a quick dip in the sea. This swimming culture originates in 1911, when the first swimming shed was built at Tsat Tsz Mui (七姊妹) in North Point. It became a hit and soon expanded to seven sheds in the area. Taking the tram to the swimming sheds was the most popular pastime back then. A newspaper in 1929 estimated that each day there were about 5000 swimmers visiting the swimming sheds. These sheds were constructed of bamboo and timber, housing changing rooms, lockers and showers facilities, and a series of decks on stilts to enter the water. At its peak, some big establishments even had eateries, boat rentals, and arena for roller-skates. Back then, limited transportation options kept many Hongkongers away from more faraway beaches, while the water of Victoria Harbour was still relatively clean.

As beach facilities and public swimming pools became more accessible to common people, the degraded water quality of the Harbour, and most important of all, land reclamation and waterfront redevelopment projects have basically nailed the coffin for all swimming sheds in 1970’s.
In 1988, Chung Sing Swimming Shed (鐘聲泳棚) reopened at the western end of Kennedy Town, where lush green Mount Davis slopes down to the sea. This remnant from the past, with about 20 members, has become the last operating swimming shed in Hong Kong. The membership of the swimming shed is far from its heyday decades ago. But the relatively secluded Chung Sing Swimming Shed, which commonly known as Sai Wan Swimming Shed (西環泳棚) nowadays, has been offered a second life. Photos of the lovely sunset over tranquil water at Sai Wan Swimming Shed has become an Instagram sensation in the recent decade.

A flight of steps leads visitors down to the swimming shed from Victoria Road. [2020]
A small shrine dedicated to the local deity wishes everyone a safe visit. [2020]
The birdeye’s perspective from the shed offers a picturesque view of the swimming deck below. [2020]
The swimming shed is simply a metal shelter that houses an office, as well as changing and shower facilities. [2020]
A tank of goldfish at the resting area enhances the causal charm of slow living at the shed. [2020]
From the swimming deck, Victoria Road is nowhere to be seen. The two metal sheds seem to be the only manmade structures in the area. [2020]
Some visitors prefer venturing out to further from the deck to the adjacent rocky shore. [2020]
Most swimmers usually visit in the morning, while selfie takers would come in the afternoon to chase after the sunset. [2020]
Since becoming an IG hit, many young visitors come to Sai Wan Swimming Shed for photo opportunities. [2020]
Quite often, swimmers and selfie takers would rub shoulders on the swimming deck. [2020]
Across the Sulphur Channel (硫磺海峽) is Green Island (青洲) and its lonely lighthouse. [2020]
There is an ambitious land reclamation proposal to link up Hong Kong Island with Lantau Island (大嶼山, distant mountain silhouette), via the small islands of Green Island (青洲), Kau Yi Chau (交椅洲), and Peng Chau (坪洲). Such proposal may lead to disastrous effects to the natural environment. [2020]
Sunset Peak (大東山) and Lantau Peak (鳳凰山) on the distant Lantau Island is the third and second highest peak in Hong Kong. [2020]
At low tide, the pebble beach below the deck would become accessible. [2020]
As number of swimmers (mostly elderly) continues to dwindle, it would be no surprise if Sai Wan Swimming Shed is demolished once again in the near future to make way for other developments. [2020]
For certain, walking down the wooden steps into Victoria Harbour is quite a different experience than entering a public swimming pool. [2020]
At times when the marine traffic is light, swimming in the open sea just a few minute bus ride from Kennedy Town Station offers a sense of isolation and tranquility as if a quick meditation session in the nature. [2020]
Braving the waves of Sulphur Channel between Green Island and Hong Kong Island may soon become memories of the past, but images of the sunset panorama would live long on the Internet. [2020]
Most visitors will leave right after the sun is gone, leaving Sai Wan Swimming Shed in peace once again until early next morning, when swimmers return for a whole new day. [2020]

DAY 70 (3 OF 4) – BEAGLE CHANNEL & ISLA H, USHUAIA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA

Named after the ship captained by Fitz Roy who took Charles Darwin on board to study natural science around the globe, Beagle Channel was one of the three sail routes where ships could go between the Atlantic and Pacific before the opening of Panama Canal.  The Beagle channel is narrow, but the water is crystal clear and full of marine wildlife.  Doing a cruise in the Beagle Channel is a mandatory activity for all visitors to Ushuaia. There are many tour companies in town offering various boat rides up the Beagle Channel.
After the seafood lunch at Chiko, we took a boat tour with Tres Marias.  With only 10 people on board, touring the Beagle Channel on a sailboat is a unique experience unlike most of the other cruise boats that can take dozens or even over a hundred of passengers at a time.  While most boats would take tourists to see the sea lions and sea birds from afar, and reach as far as the Lighthouse Les Eclaireurs, we chose Tres Marias because it allowed passengers to physically land on Isla “H”, a small island in the channel within the Isla Bridges natural reserve.
The sea was calm today.  After leaving our bags in the cabin, we climbed up to the deck and sat under the boom.  The trip to Isla H took about an hour.  After we arrived, we got about an hour to hike around the island with our guide.  The island is largely covered with small plants that can survive the harsh Fuegian winds.  On a stone beach, we passed by a shell mound left by the former canoe people, the nomadic Yamana. There were also various types of seaweed and seashells all over.  On the high point of the island, our guide led us to a colony of rock cormorants nesting on the cliff.
After Isla H, Tres Marias took us to a colony of sea lions on a small island.  Waves were higher on our way back with water splashing onto the deck every so often.  Since we were sitting at the front of the boat, we both got soaking wet as if exposed to a cold shower.  Overall it was a pleasant experience to sail in the Beagle Channel.  It was cold, wet, but the scenery and the wildlife made it worthwhile.
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Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought