THE DISAPPEARED CANAL, Wanchai/ Causeway Bay (灣仔/銅鑼灣), Hong Kong
Cutting through Happy Valley (跑馬地), Yellow Mud Stream or Wong Nai Chung (黃泥涌) once flowed past Morrison Hill (摩利臣山) and entered Victoria Harbour through an estuary in eastern Wan Chai, opposite to the tiny Kellett Island (奇力島/ 燈籠洲). In 1850’s, reformist Governor John Bowring (寶寧) allowed Chinese citizens to become lawyers, established the first commercial water supply system, ensured safer design for construction projects, and developed the river mouth of Yellow Mud Stream into an area known as Bowring City, or Bowrington (寶靈頓). At the heart of Bowrington lies Bowrington Canal (寶靈頓運河), where the water of Yellow Mud Stream was directed towards the harbour. Some locals found the narrow canal resembling a goose neck, and hence named it Goose Neck Creek or Ngo Keng Kan (鵝頸澗). First built in 1861, Bowrington Bridge or Ngo Keng Kiu (鵝頸橋) has become a landmark of Victoria City ever since. In 1970’s, the canal was covered and turned into an underground waterway during the construction of Canal Road Flyover (堅拿道天橋), connecting Cross Harbour Tunnel at Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter with Wong Nai Chung Flyover and Aberdeen Tunnel in Happy Valley.
Just as Kellett Island is no longer an island and Morrison Hill is no longer a hill, Bowrington Canal is no longer a canal, but only a historical reference to today’s Canal Road. Following today’s Canal Road Flyover and Wong Nai Chung Flyover would give us an idea where the original Bowrington Canal and Yellow Mud Stream once flowed. “Bowrington Bridge” (鵝頸橋) remains as a nickname referring to the intersection of Hennessy Road and Canal Road, despite the bridge was long gone. Many people, including me, who are too young to see the real Bowrington Canal and Bridge, would often mistake the concrete Canal Road Flyover as Bowrington Bridge. To many, the Bowrington Bridge intersection is the unofficial boundary between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, and also the famous spot of traditional villain hitting or da siu yan (打小人). Performed by old ladies, villain hitting is an old folk sorcery once popular in Guangdong and Hong Kong. It is a small ceremony in which the old lady would help her client to curse the enemy, usually someone that the client hates. East of Canal Road Flyover stands Times Square (時代廣場), a luxury shopping centre and office complex occupying the original Sharp Street tram depot; while west of the flyover sits Bowrington Road Market (鵝頸街市), a large market that include street stores and a multi level complex. At the boundary between Wan Chai and Happy Valley where Morrison Hill once stood, Canal Road Flyover makes a bend and becomes Wong Nai Chung Flyover extending into Happy Valley. The hill was removed in 1920’s as part of Praya East Reclamation Scheme, when rocks cleared from the hill were used to reclaim the nearby waterfront.
TAI TAM COUNTRY PARK (大潭郊野公園), Hong Kong
Occupying about one fifth of area of Hong Kong Island, Tai Tam Country Park is one of the more accessible hiking destinations in the city. The park is famous for its four reservoirs. Built in 1888, 1904, 1907 and 1917 respectively, the Tai Tam Upper Reservoir (大潭上水塘), Tai Tam Byewash Reservoir (大潭副水塘), Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir (大潭中水塘) and Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir (大潭篤水塘) served as the major water sources for Hong Kong Island in the early 20th century. These reservoirs are surrounded by a series of green hills, including Mount Parker (柏架山), Mount Butler (畢拿山), Violet Hill (紫羅蘭山), and Jardine’s Lookout (渣甸山). A series of hiking trails wind through the hills and pass by the reservoirs, making the country park a popular hiking destination in Hong Kong.
One of the trailheads begins at Mount Parker Road, at a densely populated area of Quarry Bay and just a stone throw away from Taikoo Place, a busy business district in East Hong Kong Island.
The country park provides a decent view for the adjacent residential developments. Built in 1989, the five 34-level towers of Mount Parker Lodge (康景花園) present some of the most typical private residential developments for the city’s middle class.
Looking over to Taikoo Place, the 69-storey One Island East Tower rises above the densed residential neighbourhood of Quarry Bay.
Opposite to Quarry Bay and Taikoo Place, the second highest peak of Hong Kong Island, Mount Parker, is marked by the observatory station.
To the south we were treated with the scenery of Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir and Tai Tam Bay.
As we reached the lookout of Mount Butler, we were treated with the view of Quarry Bay, Taikoo Place and the distant Kai Tak runway and East Kowloon.
A series of four water bodies make up the group of Tai Tam Reservoirs.
Looking west we could see the silhouette of Wanchai and Central in the haze.
Completed in late 1980s, the 18-tower Hong Kong Parkview (陽明山莊) is a luxurious residential and service apartment complex right by the country park.
We walked from the lookout of Mount Butler down to Wong Nai Chung Gap.
Soon we came to a lookout over Tai Tam Reservoir.
Looking northwest through Wong Nai Chung Gap (黃泥涌峽), the valley in the middle of Hong Kong Island, we could see the International Commerce Centre (ICC) and East Tsim Sha Tsui across Victoria Harbour.
Constructed between 1883 to 1888, the Reservoir Dam and Valve House of Tai Tam Upper Reservoir (大潭上水塘) were among the first phase of reservoir construction in Tai Tam.
The original dam was 30.5m high and 122m long, connected to a network that brought water through tunnels and aqueducts all the way to Central.
On our way down to Wong Nai Chung Gap (黃泥涌峽), we passed by a former granite quarry.
The old quarry is now occupied by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Depot where the police deals with explosives.
Hong Kong Parkview (陽明山莊) is famous of its surrounding scenic views, and also its occasional break-ins.
We exited the country park near Wong Nai Chung Gap. So we came to the historic Wong Nai Chung Reservoir (黃泥涌水塘). Built in 1889 as Hong Kong’s third reservoir, Wong Nai Chung Reservoir has been used as a boat park for 30 years from 1986 to 2017.
Wong Nai Chung Reservoir is one of the six pre-war reservoir groups in the city.