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Posts tagged “sun

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]

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SUN YAT-SEN (孫中山), Central-Sheung Wan (中上環 ), Hong Kong

Dr. Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), Father of Modern China, delivered a public speech at Hong Kong University in 1923. Began with a rhetorical question “Where and how did I get my revolutionary and modern ideas?” Sun’s answer was Hong Kong, the British colony where he came 30 years prior at the age of 17 and stayed for 9 years as a high school and medical student. During his time in the city, Sun was impressed by the architecture, urban order and public safety of Hong Kong, and the efficiency of the government. Whereas just 50 miles away in Heungshan (now Zhongshan), Sun’s home village in Qing China, government officials were highly corrupted and incompetent. His experience and knowledge obtained in Hong Kong had inspired Sun’s ideas of the Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命) and strengthened his will to establish a modern China.

Sun Yat-sen spent most of his time in the core area of Victoria City, now the area of Central-Sheung Wan. In 1996, the Hong Kong Government began to promote a tourist route called Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail (孫中山史跡徑) to commemorate the famous visitor. 16 spots related to Sun were identified along the 2-hour historical walk in the Central-Western District. Nine local artists were commissioned to design unique plaques that can be seen as urban artworks. These spots include the locations where Sun attended schools, places he lived, venues he met with his political partners, and sites where his organizations engaged in revolutionary activities. In 2006, the Edwardian Classical Kom Tong Hall in the Mid-Levels was converted into Sun Yat-sen Museum. Not only does the museum provides another focal point in the city to learn about Sun’s story, it also offers the perfect reason to preserve the 1914 building. Kom Tong Hall was the former mansion of businessman Ho Kom-tong (何甘棠), the younger brother of Robert Ho Tung (何東), the richest man in Hong Kong at the turning of the century. Listed as a declared monument, Kom Tong Hall (甘棠第) was one of the first buildings in Hong Kong to use reinforced concrete structure and fitted with concealed electrical wiring. The historical architecture itself is well worth a visit. The story of Sun Yat-sen remind us that Hong Kong, as a melting pot between East and West, and the old and new, has been a source of inspirations and a window to the outside world for the Chinese community in the modern era.

For the convenience of tourists, a map of Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail can be found at the Central-Mid Levels Escalators. [Central-Mid Levels Escalators, Central, 2021]
A mosaic mural on Bridges Street (必列者士街) depicts the portrait of Sun Yat-sen and a number of buildings related to his story. It was 1883 when Dr. Sun arrived in Hong Kong. He first went to Diocesan Boy’s School and then the Government Central School for education. [Bridges Street, Tai Ping Shan, 2020]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 4: Original site of the American Congregational Mission Preaching Hall
From 1884 to 1886, Sun stayed at American Congregational Mission Preaching Hall (now China Congregational Church) on Bridges Street, where he was baptized by Rev. C. R. Hager. The church has long been moved to another location on Bridge Street. Its original site was occupied by a Modernist market building known as Bridges Street Market. The Bauhaus style building has been recently converted into a museum of journalism known as Hong Kong News-Expo. [Junction of Shing Wong Street and Bridges Street, Tai Ping Shan, 2020]
Across the street from Hong Kong News-Expo, an old tenement building on Shing Wong Street (城皇街) has erected a statue of Sun Yat-sen on the front facade and displayed his motto “Everyone in the world shares the same” (天下為公) [A tenement apartment at Shing Wong Street, Tai Ping Shan, 2020]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 5: Original site of the Government Central School
In 1860, Rev. Dr. James Legge proposed to combine the three Chinese schools of Victoria City (Tai Ping Shan, Central and Sheung Wan) into one public school. His proposal was accepted by the government and led to the opening of the Government Central School at Gough Street, where Sun attended secondary school. [Art installation to commemorate the former Government Central School, Gough Street, Central, 2020] t
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 6: Yeung Yiu Kee, the Meeting Place of the “Four Great Outlaws”
An eyecatching sculpture at Shin Hing Street (善慶街) marks the former shop location of Yeung Yiu Kee (楊耀記), meeting point of the four outlaws (Sun Yat-sen, Yau Lit, Chan Siu-pak and Yeung Hok-ling) [Art installation at the junction of Gough Street and Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan, 2020]
Accessible via Pak Tsz Lane (百子里) a hidden alleyway from Graham Street Market, Pak Tsz Lane Park is an easily missed attraction in the heart of Central. The park was built to commemorate Furen Literary Society (輔仁文社), one of the earliest revolutionary groups that contributed to the Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命). [Entrance of Pak Tsz Lane at Gage Street, Central, 2014]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 7: Site of Yeung Ku-wan’s Assassination
Yeung Ku-wan (楊衢雲), founder of Furen Literary Society (輔仁文社), and later president of Revive China Society, was assassinated by Qing agents at his home and English tutoring school. Today, this is part of the memorial park Pak Tsz Lane Park (百子里公園). [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
To tell the story of Furen Literary Society and the early revolutionists, historical accounts are incorporated graphically into the garden design. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]]
Along the disable ramp, a vertical screen is doubled as a map diagram to describe an uprising battle in Weizhou in 1900. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
In 1901, Yeung Ku-wan was assassinated at the park’s location. Sun Yat-sen’s public letter urging for memorial donation to Yeung’s family is carved into a display screen in the park. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 8: Furen Literary Society (輔仁文社)
Founded by Yeung Ku-wan
in Hong Kong in 1892, three years prior to Sun’s founding of the Revive China Society in Honolulu, Furen Literary Society is often considered as the predecessor of Revive China Society. The guiding principles of Furen Literary Society were “open up the people’s minds” and “love your country with all your heart”. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
In 1895, the Furen Literary Society was merged into Revive China Society. Yeung Kui-wan and Sun Yat-sen became President and Secretary respectively of the society. “Cutting off the Queue (pigtail)” was a symbolic gesture in Yeung’s time for abandoning the backwardness of Qing China. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
Apart from history buffs, locals love to linger at the memorial park to read newspaper, chat with neighbors, and play chess. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
At Pak Tsz Lane Park, even graffiti is dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen. [Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, 2020]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 9: Original site of the Queen’s College
During Sun’s time at the school, the Government Central School expanded to a new complex at the intersection of Hollywood Road and Aberdeen Street (now the site of PMQ). The school was renamed to Queen’s College (皇仁書院) in 1894. In front of the PMQ on Hollywood Road, an art piece was erected to commemorate the former school site. [Art installation outside the PMQ at the junction of Hollywood Road and Shing Wong Street, Central, 2020] D
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 10: The Alice Memorial Hospital and the College of Medicine for Chinese
In 1887, Sun entered Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (now School of Medicine of Hong Kong University), the first institution in the city to teach Western medicine. [Art installation at the junction of Hollywood Road and Aberdeen Street, Central, 2021]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 12: Hong Kong Headquarters of the Revive China Society (興中會)
Disguised under a business named “Kuen Hang Club” (乾亨行) at Staunton Street (士丹頓街) in today’s SoHo , Sun found Revive China Society (興中會) to organize revolution activities. The former site is now marked by a plaque designed by a local artist. [Staunton Street, Central, 2021]
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail Spot No. 16: Hong Kong in the Time of Dr Sun Yat-sen
Outside PMQ on Staunton Street, outdoor display of historical photographs reveal the scenery of the city during the time of Sun Yat-sen. [Staunton Street, Central, 2021]
Built in 1914, Kom Tong Hall was renovated and converted into a museum to house a collection of artefacts and historical photos to tell the story of Sun Yat-sen. [Castle Road, Mid-Levels, 2020]
Kom Tong Hall is a magnificent example of Edwardian architecture in Hong Kong in the early 20 century. [Castle Road, Mid-Levels, 2016]
Some of the architectural details are well preserved to this day. [Castle Road, Mid-Levels, 2016]
Even if one is not interested in history, visitors would be impressed by the well preserved staircase. [Castle Road, Mid-Levels, 2016]

PERFECT SUNSET, Selcuk, Turkey


Sleepy town of Selcuk welcomes one of Turkey’s biggest concentrations of tourists.  Home to the mighty Ephesus, as well as the ruined Basilica of St John (where some believed was the final resting place of St John the Apostle) and House of the Virgin Mary (a stone house where some said was the final home of the Virgin Mary), Selcuk has its unique power to attract visitors from around the world while maintaining the tranquility as a small town in the Aegean Region.  After visiting Ephesus, we strolled around the town for a short while and completed the day by enjoying a glass of wine and a moment of perfect sunset on the rooftop of Homeros Pension.

streetscape 2Away from the Classical ruins, Selcuk is still dotted with historical buildings from the Middle Ages.

06ME14-06Alpaslan Mesciti is a 14th century building.  Today, the building continues to serve as a mosque.

man in selcukThe Turkish way to chill out: to smoke Turkish tobacco with a water pipe or nargile in the front porch of their home or shop and watch the world goes by.  The tradition started 500 years ago in the Ottoman Empire. Its popularity declined as cigarettes entered the Turkish market after World War II.  In recent two decades, water pipes have made a solid comeback for the younger generations.

06ME14-02Other than smoking nargiles, some locals we met chose to play music to celebrate the last hour of sunlight.

06ME14-08Many of the elder generation preferred to socialize at the outdoor area of a cafe.

streetscape 3Near Homeros Pension, the beautiful sunset made everything to appear under a tint of orange.

streetscape 4Walking under the last bit of sunlight on the hill was a sublime experience.

06ME14-13For our short stay in Selcuk, we picked Homeros Pension, a family run guesthouse full of character.

06ME14-14The common areas of Homeros Pension are richly decorated.

06ME14-15Local handicrafts fit perfectly well with the interior.

homeros pension 4Apart from local handicrafts, we could also find gifts left by previous travelers, such as these koalas from an Australian traveler.

06ME12-08The delicious food at Homeros was prepared by the experienced hands of the elderly staff.

06ME14-22The rooftop patio was a fantastic spot to enjoy the sunset.  We were invited by the friendly staff to have a glass of wine during sunset.

homeros' roof patio 2With the clean air and relatively low buildings, we had no trouble watching the sun setting below the far horizon.

06ME14-27Watching the marvelous sunset and mingling with the other guests at the guesthouse on the rooftop patio was the perfect way to end our day.





DAY 3 (7/8): SUNSET No. 2, Old Bagan, Myanmar, 2017.12.25

Our car sped through the dusty country road towards one of the designated viewing platform in Old Bagan.  It was our last chance to enjoy the sunset scenery over the pagodas of Bagan.  We thought we were late, but instead we were among the first few to arrive at the viewing platform.  We picked out spot to view the sunset in front of the golden fields, romantic pagodas and distant mountains.  We were occasionally distracted by the passing cattle and humble shepherds.  As the sun set behind the surreal skyline of Medieval pagodas and spires, we knew that our brief tour of magical Bagan was coming to an end.  It might have been too much history and Buddhist philosophy to take in in less than two days, but the experience did prove more than worthwhile for a spiritual journey to the religious and historical heartland of Myanmar.  After the sunset, Win Thu and our driver dropped us back at Oasis Hotel.  At the parking lot, we went through the formality of payment and tipping, and earnestly thanked them for introducing us the wonder of Bagan.

DSC_4768We passed by a number of fascinating pagodas on our way to the viewing platform.

DSC_4776The late afternoon sun was gorgeous, casting a beautiful orange glow on the bricks of the pagodas.

DSC_4778The platform was just a earth berm in the midst of grass fields and pagodas.

DSC_4779The sun was still high above the pagodas when we arrived.

DSC_4785A number of pagodas stood out in front of us.

DSC_4786Another marvelous temple was partially covered by scaffolding.

DSC_4803The shrubs right in front us began to glow under the golden sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe silhouette of pagodas and spires formed a romantic skyline in front of us.

DSC_4810Our focus shifted to the cattle passing behind us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe white cattle and the red pagodas together formed a surreal picture.

DSC_4815The view of the shepherds and cattle was a great bonus for us.

DSC_4820The cattle gradually disappeared beyond the woods behind us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a perfect day to watch the sunset.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stood silently to watch the sun lowered behind the distant mountains.

DSC_4921Once the sun was gone, most tourists soon left the platform.  We stayed for a little longer to absorb the tranquil atmosphere of Bagan.

* * *

Blog posts on Myanmar 2017:

Day 1: Yangon, Myanmar
DAY 1: A PLACE FOR PEOPLE, Shwedagon Pagoda

Day 2: Bagan

Day 3: Bagan
DAY 3: SUNSET No. 2, Old Bagan

Day 4: Farewell Myanmar