ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “orange

BLUE HOUSE BY THE NULLAH, Wan Chai (灣仔), Hong Kong

From Victoria Peak, a stream flowed down to Kennedy Road and then found its way down a stone nullah into Victoria Harbour next to the imposing Naval Hospital (today’s Ruttonjee Hospital). Despite the water’s occasional foul smell, the community regularly came to the nullah for laundry. In 1959, the nullah was covered and turned into Stone Nullah Lane (石水渠街). Today, apart from some car mechanics and restaurants, Stone Nullah Lane is best known as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Wan Chai, and its tourist attractions: Pak Tai Temple (灣仔北帝廟) and Blue House (藍屋). Among all the historical buildings in Wan Chai, Blue House is probably one of the most well known, partly due to its importance as one of the city’s last remaining prewar tenement buildings (tong lau) with balconies, and partly due to its vivid blue colour. Passing by the intersection of Queen’s Road East and Stone Nullah Lane, it is almost impossible to miss the Blue House complex and its colourful neighbours. To many’s surprise, the Blue house complex was not always blue. In 1990’s, two decades after the building was acquired by the government, blue paint was used to dress up the structure simply because there was blue paint available from the Water Department.

Long before the complex was painted blue, the Blue House was already a well known destination in the neighborhood for its healthcare and educational roles in the community. Long before the complex was even erected, the site was home to Wah Tuo Hospital (華佗醫院), a clinic serving the local community. After the clinic was merged into a larger facility in Sheung Wan, the clinic was converted into a small temple dedicated to Wah Tuo (華陀), the legendary Chinese physician in the 2nd century AD. In 1920, a tenement block with exquisite balconies were erected at 72, 72A, 74 and 74A Stone Nullah Lane, which later became the Blue House that we know today. In 1950’s, descendant of a student of the famous Chinese martial artist and physician Wong Fei-hung (黃飛鴻) opened a martial arts school and dit da (跌打) or Chinese bone-setting clinic at the Blue House. Apart from healthcare, the Blue House also housed a charity school (鏡涵義學) and Wan Chai’s only prewar English school (一中書院), a grocery shop, wine shop, union of the seafood trade, and residential units. Over half a century from its completion, in 1978 the complex was acquired by the government. After the complex was listed as heritage building in 2000, the project “Viva Blue House” was put forward by St Jame’s Settlement (聖雅各福群會), the NGO serving the Stone Nullah Lane community since 1949. Began in 2006, “Viva Blue House” aims to revitalize the complex and the adjacent Yellow House and Orange House into a tourist attraction/ apartment compound. As part of the project, a visitor centre called Hong Kong House of Stories (香港故事館) was established at the Blue House, telling neighborhood stories to outsiders through workshops, exhibitions, tours, and talks, as well as organizing community events such as communal dinners and film screening.

The open stone nullah at Stone Nullah Lane was a community laundry spot a century ago. [Photo: 1910’s, public domain]
The splendid Pak Tai Temple (灣仔北帝廟) and Stone Nullah Stone Garden (石水渠街公園) mark the end of Stone Nullah Lane. [2022]
An old street sign of Stone Nullah Lane was preserved at the temple wall. [2022]
Apart from the renovated Blue House and Yellow House, only a few original old tenement buildings remain in the neighborhood of Stone Nullah Lane. [2022]
From Queen’s Road East, Stone Nullah Lane can be easily recognized by its colourful tenement blocks. [2022]
Among all the colourful buildings, the most famous block is undoubtedly the Blue House. It remains as one of the last surviving prewar tenement building or tong lau equipped with balconies. [2022]
Vivid colour has become a symbol of the Blue House neighborhood. [2022]
With workshops, small exhibitions, talks, community events, vegetarian restaurant, and organic shop, the Blue House is a popular destination during weekends. [2020]
The unintended blue paint has become an iconic character for the Blue House. [2020]
Once a year, tour of a selected flat is available during the open house event. [2022]
The ground floor of no. 72 was the former location of Wah Tuo Temple and martial art school of Lam Jo (林祖). Lam was the nephew of Lam Sai Wing (林世榮), the student of legendary martial artist and physician Wong Fei-hung (黃飛鴻). [2022]
After a thorough renovation, the Viva Blue House revitalization project continues to organize events for the community and outside visitors. [2022]
The Blue House has become an official hub of the Stone Nullah Lane community. A blackboard at the courtyard outlines the list of events for the week, from community dinner, workshops, recycling collection, to public interpretative tours. [2020]
Occupied the ground floor of no. 74, Hong Kong House of Stories (香港故事館) serves as a small visitor centre at the Blue House. [2022]
A Christmas tree made with recycled plastic bottle caps was on display at the Blue House courtyard in 2021. [2022]
We have been to the lovely Local Ginger Veggie Bistro (本地薑) at the Blue House courtyard a few times. The restaurant actually occupies the ground floor of the adjacent building, the Orange Building (橙屋) at King Sing Street (景星街). [2020]
Local Ginger Veggie Bistro (本地薑) uses local produces and ingredients for their vegetarian dishes. [2020]
Built in 1957, the Orange House (橙屋) almost got demolished in 2006. In 2007, the government decided to preserve Orange House as part of the Blue House revitalization project. [2022]
1927 saw the completion of the beautiful Yellow House (黃屋) right next to the Blue House at Hing Wan Street (慶雲街). [2022]
After the revitalization of Blue House, the Stone Nullah Lane neighborhood has welcomed a new wave of artistic and youthful culture. [2022]
Across the street from Yellow House, Tai Lung Fung (大龍鳳) has become a cool venue in the neighborhood for drinks and local snacks. [2022]
Apart from Lockhart Road and the redeveloped Lee Tung Avenue and Starstreet Precinct, the Blue House neighborhood is an off the beaten destination to chill out after work. [2022]

MONASTERIO de SANTA CATALINA, Arequipa, Peru

Like many Spanish colonial cities, the historical core of Arequipa is laid out in a grid pattern.  Occupying two city grids located three blocks north of Plaza de Armas, the enormous complex of Monasterio de Santa Catalina is the biggest tourist attraction in the city.  Founded in 1579, the monastery is a nun convent of the Dominican Second Order.  Dona Maria de Guzman, a rich widow, was the foundress of the monastery.  At its peak, the 20,000 sq.m monastery housed about 450 people (nuns and their servants).  Many upper class families were willing to pay a large sum of dowry in order to send their second daughters to the monastery as nuns.  Nowadays, about 20 nuns still live in a private quarter in the complex.  The majority of the monastery has been turned into an open air museum.

Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a great example of Spanish colonial architecture with unique local influences.  With vivid colours, tranquil cloisters, and centuries of modifications and additions since the earthquake of 1582, the monastery has become a collection of colonial architecture and religious antiques.  We spent a good couple of hours wandering in the monastery.  The vivid blue, orange, and white walls gave the splendid and solemn architecture some delightful touches that echoed the vibrant colours of native cultures in Peru.

0A floor plan of the monastery in display showing the extensiveness of Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

1Cloister of the Orange Trees, one of the main cloisters in the monastery, is decorated with vivid blue walls and religious wall paintings.

2Frescoes depicting religious stories at the cloister.

3Fresco and the vivid blue wall by the cloister.

4Roof drainage and the white washed walls of Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

6A small court adjacent to the outdoor laundry area in Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

7Steep exterior steps leading up to the rooftop.

8Cluster of laundry basins where nuns washed their clothes.

9Calle Sevilla in the living quarter is flanked by dwelling units for nuns, with the chapel in the background.

10AThe vivid orange walls in the nun’s living quarter coupled with stone bench, large roof tiles, and unique roof gutter.

10bAn atmospheric pastel coloured street corner and plant decorations looked surreal.

11Stone inscription above a window opening in Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

12Antique tools in a kitchen where nuns made their own food, including bread.

13In almost every kitchen in the complex, there is a ceiling oculus for smoke ventilation and natural light.

14There are many well preserved antiques in Monasterio de Santa Catalina, including the stone filter on the left and a wooden furniture on the right.

15Portraits of nuns in a bedroom at the living quarter.

16View of the living quarter, internal streets and outdoor fountain from the rooftop in Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

17View from the roof top in Monasterio de Santa Catalina towards the scenery of volcanoes and mountains outside the city.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru