ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “moon

SUN, MOON & STAR, Wanchai (灣仔), Hong Kong

6pm, December 1st 1890. On a hill close to Wan Chai historical waterfront, two British steam turbines began to generate power in Hong Kong’s first power plant, lighting up a group of electric street lamps in Central. Back then, no one could imagine that the small group of street lamps would one day turned into a world famous night view. As the demand for electricity surged, the power plant was relocated to a bigger facility in North Point, then a bigger one in Ap Lei Chau, and lastly to the current one on Lamma Island. On the slope where the city’s first power plant once stood, a bronze plaque in a shaded parkette is all that is left. In the past, electricity meant light, and light meant the sun, moon and stars. Centred around the parkette, three tiny streets, namely Sun Street (日街), Moon Street (月街) and Star Street (星街), and a network of small streets and alleys form what we now call the Starstreet Precinct (星街小區). Cosy cafes, lovely restaurants, galleries, boutiques, and design shops draw visitors every weekend and Friday night to explore the precinct. Tucked away on a slope with less than 100m from the busy Queen’s Road East and just a stone throw away from the financial district, the pedestrian friendly Starstreet Precinct is the best kept secret of Wan Chai, offering a relaxing and otherworldly ambience that some have described as “European”. What does it mean by “European” is subject for debate, the tranquil neighborhood nonetheless serves well as an urban oasis. In 1988, Swire Properties, the owner of the adjacent Pacific Place, began to purchase properties in the precinct and gradually revitalize the area into a vibrant and multicultural quarter. Their effort apparently paid off. Among with Melbourne’s Smith Street, London’s South Bank, Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, and Tokyo’s Cat Street, Wan Chai’s Starstreet Precinct was named one of 30 coolest streets in the world by Timeout in 2021.

Today, a bronze plaque in a parkette is all that is left for Hong Kong’s first power plant. [Photo: Kwong Ming Street Children’s Playground, 2022]
Through Sik On Street (適安街) from Queen’s Road East, one can enter a network of hidden alleys on the slope of Victoria Peak. [Photo: Sik On Street and Queen’s Road East, 2020]
The stepped Sik On Street leads up to the network of hidden alleys away from the busy commercial roads of Wan Chai. [Photo:Sik On Street, 2020]
Some of the tenement buildings at Sik On Street have been renovated for rental. [Photo: Sik On Street, 2022]
A turn at Sik On Street leads to another alley called Sau Wa Fong (秀華坊), where the unique character of Starstreet Precinct begins to appear, with small cafes and shops occupying the ground floor of low rise residential buildings. [Photo: Sau Wa Fong, 2022]
Offering all sort of pottery and household items designed by local and Japanese artists, Co Ninety is one of main draw of Sau Wa Fong. [Photo: Sau Wa Fong, 2022]
Famed barber shop Hair House by Adam Chan also chooses Sau Wa Fong as its home. [Photo: Sau Wa Fong, 2022]
Ethos, Jouer and Bogu are some of the cafes and cake shops frequented by the younger generation at Sau Wa Fong. [Photo: Sau Wa Fong, 2022]
The sleepy Sau Wa Fong terminates at St Francis Street (聖佛蘭士街), a sloped street with sleek restaurants and boutique where the Starstreet Precinct officially begins. [Photo: St Francis Street, 2022]
Having its flagship store at St Francis Street, local trainer brand Lane Eight is getting its name known in both Hong Kong and the US in recent years. [Photo: St Francis Street, 2022]
Turning into the deadend of St Francis Yard (進教圍), tailor shop Sarto Lab focuses on making Italian style suit jackets. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2020]
Founded by Frenchman Arnault Castel in 2006, Kapok is one of the most popular new boutiques in Hong Kong selling a wide range of causal European and Japanese fashion. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2022]
With a 60+ years of history, Tak Yu Hong Kong Style Cafe (德如茶餐廳) is selected by CNN as one of the four best Hong Kong milk tea in the city. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2020]
Hong Kong is one of the base offices of Monocle Magazine around the world. A Monocle Shop gives a global ambience to the Starstreet Precinct. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2020]
The pedestrian friendly Sun Street (日街) is home to a range of boutiques, including White Do (白做研究所). First opened in Tainan, White Do sells a range of Japanese and Finnish knitwear, items and works from local and Japanese designers. [Photo: Sun Street, 2022]
White Do also sells the leather products by Cappello & Martello, a Sicilian leather workshop based in Hong Kong. [Photo: Sun Street, 2020]
A Personal Tailor (APT) has been a popular cafe in the Starstreet Precinct in the last two years. [Photo: Moon Street, 2020]
Occupying an old tenement building, Greek Taverna Artemis Apollo offers a taste of the Mediterranean to visitors of the Starstreet Precinct. [Photo: Moon Street, 2020]
Pici is a casual pasta bar with semi outdoor seating at St Francis Yard. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2020]
California coffee roaster Blue Bottle has been a popular player of third wave coffee shops since its introduction into Hong Kong. [Photo: St Francis Yard, 2022]

NATURAL vs. MAN-MADE WONDER, High Island Reservoir East Dam (萬宜水庫東壩), Sai Kung (西貢), Hong Kong

Completed in 1978, High Island Reservoir (萬宜水庫) is the largest reservoir in Hong Kong in terms of volume.  Situated at the southeastern end of Sai Kung Peninsula, High Island Reservoir is surrounded by some of the city’s most scenic country parks and pristine beaches.  Designated as an UNESCO geopark, the coastal areas near the East Dam (東壩) of the High Island Reservoir is filled with hexagonal volcanic columns unseen anywhere else in Hong Kong.  140 million years ago, catastrophic volcanic eruption covered much of the area in layers of tuff.  The tuff cooled throughout time and gradually solidified to form rock.  The hexagonal columns were formed from contraction during the cooling.  Today, remnants from the highly active volcanic era become one of the most spectacular natural sights in the city.  Equally impressive at the East Dam are the concrete dolosse blocks at one side of the Dam along the coast.  Each dolos block weights up to 20 tons.  They are used as wave breakers to protect the dam against the rough sea.  To complete the beautiful picture, there are also sea caves and stack islands dotted around the coast, and the azure sky and boundless South China Sea.

01From Sai Kung Town, the taxi ride to the East Dam, the furthest point of High Island Reservoir (萬宜水庫), takes about 45 minutes.

02The spectacular High Island Reservoir East Dam separates the buffer lake of the reservoir and the boundless South China Sea.  Known as Po Pin Chau (破邊洲), the magnificent stack island outside of the East Dam is famous for its tall volcanic columns on one side of its cliff.

03The concrete East Dam structure that separates the two sides of blue water is really photogenic.

04The dolosse blocks pile up on the seaward side of the East Dam, creating a chaotic yet beautiful barrier.  Walking on the dam, we could hear the waves but weren’t be able to find an open view of the sea unless we climbed on the dolosse blocks.

07Once we climbed on the dolosse blocks, we were immediately overwhelmed by the sight of the powerful waves hitting against the coastal volcanic hexagonal columns.

05We climbed down the dam, sat on one of the step and had a quick picnic lunch.

06Looking inland, we could see the inner East Dam that separating the buffer pool with the main reservoir above.  The massive dam structure looked to us as if merged with the adjacent natural landscape.

08Sea caves are common features near the East Dam.

09At the East Dam, natural volcanic hexagonal columns appear side by side with the manmade dolosse blocks.

10To explore a bit of the surrounding coastal landscape, we decided to walk further into the trail heading to Fa Shan (花山) and Pak Lap (白臘).  The trail was not very well defined, but we managed to find our way in the hill of shrubs reaching waist height.

10aOur goal was to at least to have a closer look at the cliff of volcanic columns of the stack island of Po Pin Chau (破邊洲).

11The coastal landscape in the area was truly spectacular.  Some like to explore the area by sea kayaking.

12Passing by the stone beach of Kim Chu Bay (撿豬灣) or Rolling Stone Beach (滾石灘), we saw a few hikers watching the powerful waves.

13Some visitors didn’t mind to get wet and chose to explore by boat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, we reached the closest lookout overlooking the magnificent Po Pin Chau (破邊洲).

14The stone columns of Po Pin Chau (破邊洲) appeared like a gigantic church organ.

16We then found our way down to the Kim Chu Bay (撿豬灣) or Rolling Stone Beach (滾石灘) to get a even closer look and even touch of the volcanic columns.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll cliff sides at Kim Chu Bay (撿豬灣) or Rolling Stone Beach (滾石灘) were covered with stone columns.

17After the hike out to Po Pin Chau (破邊洲) and Kim Chu Bay (撿豬灣), it was already late afternoon by the time we returned to the East Dam.

18.JPGInstead of calling a taxi, we decided to walk back out to the main road where we could take a public bus.  The route led us to go along a little over half the perimeter of High Island Reservoir and took about two hours.

19Beyond the haze we could see the Sharp Peak or Nam She Tsim (蚺蛇尖) in a distance, a popular challenge for hikers in Hong Kong.

20Soon the full moon was up over the tranquil water of High Island Reservoir.

21The scenery of High Island Reservoir was serene and calm.

22We enjoyed a few minutes of perfect sunset when we reached the West Dam (西壩).  Beyond the West Dam was Port Shelter Sea (牛尾海) and a series of islands.  The closest island was Tai Tau Chau (大頭洲).

23As the sun gradually set, we picked up our pace of walking.  Known as the Maclehose Trail Section 1, the trail surrounding High Island Reservoir was long but relative flat and easy.  By the time we reached the bus stop at Tai Mong Tsai Road it was almost dark.