ICC LIGHT AND MUSIC SHOW
The ICC Light and Music Show by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) premiered on 25th April 2013 and has been recognised with a Guinness World Record certificate for largest light and sound show on a single building. The show combines music and story in light on two façades of International Commerce Centre (ICC) facing the harbour totalling 50,000 square metres, with a Love Hong Kong message on the world-famous Victoria Harbour skyline. The show follows the trend of using LED displays on building facades.
The first season of the ‘ICC Light and Music Show’ features a story of ‘adventure, courage and love’ along the line of “Love Hong Kong”. The story combines 5 music plays into one episode with powerful yet upbeat rhythms, accompanied by water flow and bird singing sequences. The animation is designed along the “Love Hong Kong” theme with spring elements in lively vibrant mood, including a special ‘Love Hong Kong’ pattern with spirit-lifting light and music storyline presenting “Love Hong Kong”.
The show is the brainchild of Hirohito Totsune, renowned Japanese lighting designer with achievements recognized by a leading international lighting design association. This is his latest project after the Tokyo Skytree lighting. The towering 118-floor ICC, Hong Kong's tallest building at 490-metres, posed a challenge with its height and width in creating and projecting highly-detailed graphics. Hirohuto Totsune and his team created almost a thousand sketches for the animation that fills the ICC façades through a programme controlling each LED at 30 frames per second. The result is a breakthrough in beautifully rendered animation that surpasses traditional lighting design.
The show takes place twice nightly at 7-45pm and 9pm. Recommended viewing places are the outdoor terraces of Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and anywhere along the waterfront promenades of Hong Kong Island, from Sheung Wan to Causeway Bay. The accompanying music is broadcast at Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and at ICC and tailor-made ICC Light and Music Show apps are available for iPhone and Android platforms enabling the public to listen to the synchronised music. For further details see the ICC Light and Music Show website;
HONG KONG MARITIME MUSEUM RELOCATED, ENLARGED AND REOPENED
Kong Maritime Museum has reopened at its new location, Central Ferry
Pier 8, on 26th February 2013, having been closed since June 2012, when
the lease on its previous premises at Murray House, Stanley expired. The
new location was formerly the pier for Star Ferry services between
Central and Hung Hom which ceased to operate at the end of March 2011.
The museum occupies the eastern berth of the upper and lower deck levels
and the whole of the public viewing deck and roof viewing deck. The
western berth of the pier and upper and lower deck levels are being
retained by Star Ferry Pier Company and a marriage registration company.
The non-profit making private museum was founded in 2004 by Hong Kong Shipowners Association and first opened to the public at Murray House in 2005. Since opening, the number of exhibits has increased from about 650 to over 3,000 and the library collection has increased from about 20 to over 2000 books and the museum had quickly outgrown its gallery space. The location of the museum was also considered inconvenient for educational visits, being some distance from Hong Kong's central districts and many schools. The Hong Kong Government agreed to lease the site the museum for ten years at a nominal rent of one dollar per annum and provide financial support by contributing HK$99.3 million of the HK$101.2 million cost of relocation and construction works for adapting the premises, with the museum funding the remaining costs. The Government will also contribute up to about HK$4.5 million of the estimated HK$12 -14 million annual operating costs for the first five years of operation. The new museum, which illustrates over 2,000 years of maritime history, has a floor space of over 4,000 square-metres, almost ten times the floor space of the Murray House location and features fifteen themed galleries including a viewing gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, maritime heritage resource centre and shop. A cafe will also open shortly.
The relocation and expansion has provided Hong Kong with another first-class museum and brings welcome new life the Central waterfront which has been blighted by reclamation work for many years.
For more information regarding Hong Kong Maritime Museum see MUSEUMS - HONG KONG ISLAND
Hong Kong Maritime Museum's new and expanded premises at Central Pier 8
WING LEE STREET TONG LAU CONSERVATION AND INFORMATION CENTRE
Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan is a terrace containing twelve tenement buildings of which all but three were originally scheduled for demolition under the plans for the Urban Renewal Authority (URA)’s Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street Development Scheme dating back to 2003. The street is the last remaining street in Hong Kong entirely lined with tong lau, typical post-war 1950’s Chinese-style buildings and the tong lau on Wing Lee Street are unique to Hong Kong and southern China. At one time the street contained eleven printing workshops. However, the last letterpress printing shop in the street, Wai Che Printing Company, closed in December 2012, although its Original Heidelberg Cylinder Letter Press Machine has been moved to Youth Square at Chai Wan, where it will form part of an exhibition on printing. Its owner, Lee Zak-yue, had worked at the company for over 60 years.
Wing Lee Street, location for the highly acclaimed film "Echoes of the Rainbow", seen before the URA's restoration project began. The first building on the left, number 1, was occupied by the last printing works in the street, Wai Che Printing Company, until closing in December 2012. Its original Heidelberg printing press has been saved and will be displayed as part of a printing exhibition at Youth Square, Chai Wan
Acquisition offers by the URA commenced in 2008. However, public opposition to the original scheme intensified after the highly acclaimed film “Echoes of the Rainbow” was shot on the street and won an award at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. The film, which was also submitted for nomination for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language to the 83rd Academy Awards, is set in the 1960’s when Hong Kong was under British rule and depicts the life of a working family in Hong Kong whose popular eldest son and star athlete becomes ill with leukaemia. In March 2010 the URA announced an alternative concept whereby no further acquisition approaches would be made and all twelve tenement buildings on Wing Lee Street would be preserved. Under the new plan various measures were proposed to compensate both tenants who stay and tenants who move out including;
(i) a "Home Environment Improvement Allowance" ranging from HK$40,000 to HK$80,000 for every tenant household who opts to stay at Wing Lee Street to improve their living environment and provide temporary allowance for accommodation elsewhere when their flats are under renovation
(ii) Rental, for affected tenants, of flats in the URA rehousing block at No 466, Des Voeux Road West, at a rate comparable to the public housing rental rates.
(iii) A relocation allowance to tenants who opt to move elsewhere.
(iv) “Special Rehabilitation Allowance” and “Special Allowance for Rehabilitation of Common Areas” for property owners participating in the conservation of Wing Lee Street
(v) a "Home Environment Improvement Allowance" ranging from HK$40,000 to HK$80,000 per household for owner-occupiers who succeed in applying for the “Special Rehabilitation Allowance”
In July 2011 the Town Planning Board announced approval of the Urban Renewal Authority Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street development scheme plan with excision of Wing Lee Street and Bridges Street Market site from the plan and incorporation of the excised area into an outline zoning plan.
Only four of the twelve tenement buildings, numbers 5,7,8 & 9 have been renovated as the URA has not been able to acquire the remaining tenements which are in the hands of property acquisition companies or still occupied by the original residents. Under the renovation programme, which has cost about HK$14 million, original features such as floor tiles and staircase railings have been retained as far as possible and a kitchen has been added to each of the renovated tenements. The exterior facades have been retained.
Wing Lee Street, seen after renovation of four tenements
In November 2012, one of the renovated tenements, 5 Wing Lee Street, was opened as Artist Home Base, an artist-in-residence programme run by Hong Kong Arts Centre. This tenement is divided into four flats which are to be made available, from January 2013, to overseas and Chinese mainland artists to live in and create works inspired by the surrounding environment. The arts centre spent HK$100,000 on furnishing the flats and will charge only a management fee of HK$350 a day for residencies of up to three months.
Number 5, left, now houses Artist Home Base, an artist in residence scheme operated by Hong Kong Arts Centre
In February 2013, 7 Wing Lee Street was opened to the public by the URA as an information centre. The centre, which is open from 10am to 7pm daily (free admission), enables visitors to view the interior of the renovated tenement. Display boards illustrate the history of the locality and the effect of bubonic plague and subsequent development of tenement housing in the district and explain the URA’s restoration project. The centre also allows local Non-Governmental Organisations to organise community events and during Chinese New Year 2013, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) organised a traditional Chinese “Poon-choi” Feast (Big Bowl Feast) in the street. HKFYG, together with the Architectural Conservation Programme of Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong have also organised a heritage photo exhibition in the centre.
7 Wing Lee Street, one of the renovated tenements, opened to the public by the URA as an information centre in February 2013
CENTRE STREET ESCALATORS
The first phase of an escalator system costing HK$61 million, running along Centre Street between Third Street and Bonham Road at Sai Ying Pun, opened in early 2013.The covered system comprises three one-way sections between Third Street and Ying Wa Terrace with a total length of 60-metres and a two-way escalator of 25-metres from Ying Wa Terrace to Bonham Road. The final section from Ying Wa Terrace to Bonham Road is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. The new system links with the existing escalators in the Sai Ying Pun Market complex and will provide a continous escalator link from Second Street to Bonham Road. The new escalator link will also connect with a footbridge connected to Sai Ying Pun MTR Station on the West Island Line which is due to open in 2014.
The first phase of the Centre Street escalator system opened in early 2013. The system will eventually run along Centre Street from Third Street to Bonham Road
Proposals for a another mid-levels escalator system running along the full length of Pound Lane are still under consideration (see WHAT'S PLANNED) and hillside escalator links are also being considered at various other locations including Wong Tai Sin, Kwai Tsing and Eastern Districts following a commitment in the former Chief Executive's 2008-2009 Policy Address. Feasiblity studies and technical assessments of the top 10 ranked proposals are being carried and, as at January 2013, a new pedestrian escalator link at Tsz Wan Shan in Wong Tai Sin is under construction.
CENTRAL WATERFRONT PROMENADE
During late November 2012, a section of the new Central Waterfront Promenade was opened to the public. The promenade, which stretches from Central Pier 10 to just beyond Tamar Park, outside the new Central Government Headquarters and Legislative Council Building at Admiralty, is built on reclaimed land and runs above the tunnel for the Central – Wan Chai Bypass, currently under construction as part of the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation Project, which commenced in 2003 and is expected to be completed in 2017.
promenade, which features elevated viewing decks, also provides easy
traffic-free access for pedestrians between Star Ferry Pier and
Admiralty Station. Under an agreement signed in 1994 between the Chinese and UK governments, a stretch of about 150-metres of waterfront, reclaimed under the Central - Wan Chai Reclamation Plan, is reserved for a military dock for the Chinese People’s Liberation
Army, which has its Hong Kong Garrison Headquarters nearby. The promenade, which will be extended to Fenwick Pier in early 2013, links up with the Statue Square Corridor, currently under development, which will provide an continous open space deck running from Statue Square to the promenade and the Civic Corridor, also under development, an arts and entertainment and green space area, running behind the promenade to Tamar Park, which will include a Civic Plaza venue for civic events, linked to the promenade by an elevated deck.
Although the public are now able to access the promenade, some of the landscaping work and creation of green space remains to be completed but toilet facilities and a refreshment kiosk, iBakery Express, operated by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, and employing persons with disabilities in bakery production as a social enterprise have since opened. The promenade breathes much need new life into an area of Central Hong Kong, which, having been blighted by construction work for many years, will be transformed into a leisure area of public space to be enjoyed by both locals and tourists with al fresco dining, landscaped lawns and providing an attractive waterfront entertainment venue.
Waterfront promenade looking towards Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
Shortly prior to the promenade’s opening, the first public event to be held on lawns in the Statue Square Corridor adjacent to the promenade, was held when RTHK staged its popular “Symphony Under the Stars” televised concert. An observation wheel, similar to those in some other tourist destinations, such as the “London Eye”, is expected to be installed, near to the promenade, between Central Piers 9 & 10 during 2013.
Elevated boardwalk and upper promenade. The new waterfront will feature plenty of green space at Tamar Park, which opened in 2011, in front of the new Central Government Headquarters and new lawns
HONG KONG AVENUE OF COMIC STARS
Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars, which was officially opened on 28th September 2012, is a path of around 100 metres in length and new tourist attraction in Kowloon Park featuring fibreglass statues of local comic characters dating back to the 1960's, including Old Master Q, Cowboy, Wang Xiao Hu and McDull. The statues, each up to 3-metres high cost between HK$1.5 million to HK$2 million to build. Visitors are able to take photos with the characters or place hands on the handprints of local comic artists like Dr Tony Wong and Mr Ma Wing-shing. For visitors wishing to know more about Hong Kong comics, guided tours in Cantonese, English or Putonghua are available.
Located near the Park Lane Shopper's Boulevard entrance of Kowloon Park, the avenue displays 24 sets of vividly painted figurines of local comic characters and 10 bronze handprints of local comic artists. There is also a Gallery of Comic History and Development and a Gallery of Comic Education to introduce visitors to Hong Kong comics history, the production process, tools, workshops and manuscripts.
Visitors exploring Hong Kong Comic Avenue of Stars during its opening day, 28th September 2012
The comics industry makes an important contribution to Hong Kong's creative industries and has benfited the local economy. The Government's sponsorship to set up the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars is intended as a further boost to the promotion of the industry. Since the establishment of Create Hong Kong office in June 2009, the Government has sponsored over ten projects amounting to some HK$18 million to drive the development of the industry.
"Cloud", one of the comic characters depicted on the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars
The avenue is a three-year project sponsored by Create Hong Kong and co-organised by Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Industry Support Centre, Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Arts and Culture Co-ordinating Committee of the Yau Tsim Mong District Council.
Guided tours and interactive workshops will be organised to give tourists and students a deeper understanding of the exhibits and large scale activities will also be held annually to highlight the avenue's status as a new tourism spot.
Hong Kong Avenue of Stars is open daily from 5am until midnight and admission is free.
For full details see the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Star's website;
City Gallery, Hong Kong’s first permanent planning and infrastructure gallery was opened to the public on 22nd August 2012. The gallery, located at the City Hall Annex at 3 Edinburgh Place, Central, replaces the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery which opened in 2002 and was originally located on the ground floor only of the building. The former gallery was closed in April 2009 and replaced by an interim temporary gallery located on the ground floor of the Murray Road Multi-storey Car Park Building until May 2012.
Occupying five storeys with a floor area of more than 3,200 square metres, the gallery, which has spectacular views over Victoria Harbour, offers a range of interactive exhibits to showcase Hong Kong's unique past and future, as well as share with the public the vision for city planning and infrastructure projects.
City Gallery, located in the City Hall Annex at Edinburgh Place
The ground floor is the location of periodic themed temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions “City Hall Annex History” and “Unique Hong Kong”. The first floor showcases “Living Environment”, “Protecting Our Heritage” and “Hong Kong Next Century”, second floor exhibitions feature “Strategic Picture”, “Strategic Infrastructure”, Transport and Communications” and “Sustainable Development” and the third floor “Main Show” is a 17-minute audio-visual introduction to Hong Kong's remarkable past development as well as plans for the city's future. The fourth floor houses the Resource Centre (not yet open), equipped with work stations for visitors to search information related to planning and infrastructures, as well as browsing through the catalogue. Also on the fourth floor is the 180-seat Multi-purpose Hall which is used as a conference and seminar venue.
Simulator, located on the 2nd floor, enables visitors to appreciate planned major transport and communications projects
There are free 90-minute guided tours on a first-come, first-served basis for up to 25 participants, conducted in English on Sundays and public holidays at 3-30pm, in Cantonese on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays at 11am and in Putonghua on Saturdays and public holidays at 3pm.
City Gallery is open from 10am to 6pm on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesday to Saturday. Closed on Tuesdays (except Tuesdays which fall on a public holiday) and the first two days of Chinese New Year.
Admission is free.
Hysan Place, in the heart of Causeway Bay's shopping district, is the first major shopping mall to open on Hong Kong Island since 2003
The first major shopping mall to open on Hong Kong Island since 2003, Hysan Place at Lee Gardens, opened on 10th August 2012 on the site of the former Hennessy Centre on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, which was demolished in 2006. The 36-storey retail and office development by Hysan Development Company, features 17 floors of retail shops, cafes and restaurants with a floor area of about 270,000 sq ft. The development is part of Hysan's Lee Gardens "concept zone" which includes Hysan's existing retail malls Lee Gardens One and Two, Lee Theatre and Leighton Centre. There are about 120 shops operating in the mall including some international brands who have not previously had outlets in Hong Kong. Japanese brands Deicy, Shel’tter, NINE, Language and Double Standard Clothing have all opened stores on the fourth floor and Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite, occupying three floors, is Hong Kong's largest bookstore which became the city's first 24-hour bookstore, opening continously from Thursday to Sunday but has since curtailed its closing time to 11pm daily. However, from October 2012, the bookstore will extend its closing time to 2am on Thursdays to Saturdays and on the eve of public holidays. T Galleria, operated by global luxury goods chain DFS Galleria occupies two floors. Hong Kong's third Apple Store opens at Hysan Place in mid-December 2012 and Hollister is opening its second Hong Kong store in early 2013. For further details see SHOPPING MALLS - HONG KONG ISLAND
THE GRAND HALL OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS, PO LIN MONASTERY (under construction - opening 2014)
The new Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, at Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping, on Lantau Island, which has been under construction since 2007, is now nearing completion and expected to open in early 2014. Scaffolding and sheeting was removed in mid-2012 to reveal the huge building which now dominates the monastery. The hall, located immediately behind Main Buddha Shrine Hall, is built in Song dynasty architectural style covers an area of 6000 square metres.
The Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, expected to open in early 2014, towers over the Main Buddha Shrine Hall and now dominates Po Lin Monastery
When completed the hall will house the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas with ten thousand Buddha statues, Scripture Library, Abbot’s Chamber, Dharma Hall, Permanent Ordination Hall, 3000 square-metre Exhibition Hall for precious Chinese and Buddhist relics and artefacts and a multi-purpose hall. It will also be the venue be used for study of scriptures and Buddha teachings and for teaching, contemplation and practice of Dharma and religious disciplines are taught, contemplated and practiced as well as being a platform for traditional, historical, cultural, and educational and tourism promotional activities.
Artist's impression of the completed Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas
TSZ SHAN MONASTERY AND THE WORLD’S TALLEST BRONZE GUAN YIN STATUE (under construction – opening 2013)
The world’s tallest bronze Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue and surrounding monastery is currently under construction at Tung Tsz, Tai Po.
The world's tallest Guan Yin statue, towering over the nearly completed Tsz Shan Monastery
The 50,000 square-foot Tsz Shan Monastery will be a non-profit making complex which will promote Buddhism to the general public as well as allow followers to reflect. The steel-framed bronze Guan Yin statue will be 76-metres tall, over double the height of the “Big Buddha” on Lantau Island, and will be the tallest bronze Guan Yin statue in the world.
At 76-metres, more than twice the height of the "Big Buddha" on Lantau Island, the statue overlooking Plover Cove is expected to become a major tourist attraction when it is completed in 2013. Scaffolding surrounds the statue, seen here in May 2012
The monastery, which is located in scenic surroundings off Ting Kok Road, between Tai Po and Tai Mei Tuk faces Plover Cover and has the Pat Sing Leng mountains as its backdrop, spelling good fortune according to fung shui masters. The monastery and Guan Yin statue are expected to become a major tourist attraction, when completed in 2013.
The monastery will be run by Tsz Shan Monastery Limited, set up in 2009, whose chairman is The Rev Sik Kwok-kwong, who is also chairman of Hong Kong Buddhist Association, and whose board of directors include Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hong Kong multi-national conglomerate Cheung Kong (Holdings), members of his family and three managers of Cheung Kong.
By November 2012, the goddess's face had been revealed and makes an imposing sight set against the mountain backdrop
Construction of the monastery attracted over 200 cases of opposition from local residents, green groups such as The Conservancy Association and students. Objections were mostly to the size of the car park, which will be substantially larger than indicated in the original plans and will include space for 180 cars and 18 coaches as well as 6 spaces for vans and taxis.
YAU MA TEI THEATRE AND THE RED BRICK BUILDING
Yau Ma Tei Theatre, closed for 14 years, reopened as a Cantonese Opera theatre and training centre on 17th July 2012 following a major renovation project. The theatre, built in 1930 at junction of Waterloo Road and Shanghai Street, was formerly a cinema and is the only remaining pre-World War II theatre in urban Hong Kong. The theatre was built during the era of silent movies, when visiting the cinema was still an aristocratic leisure pursuit and it originally attracted a mostly upper class and white collar clientèle. However, during the 1980's the theatre began to screen erotic films until finally closing in 1998.
A HK$180 million renovation project commenced in 2008, funded by the Architectural Services Department, has now been completed to restore the Grade 2 listed building to its former glory. The distinctive cream painted theatre has an art deco facade, dutch gable walls and Chinese pitched roof. The building's most striking features are, however, the two pillars at the front entrance, engraved with crying and laughing masks, and the proscenium arch. Two walls on either side of the stage, which are believed to have supported a balcony for someone making a narration or voice-over during movies have been preserved.
The newly-renovated Yau Ma Tei Theatre, which had its Grand Reopening on 17th July 2012, has become a Cantonese Opera training centre as well as giving short performances for tourists and full-length performances by aspiring actors
The 300-seat theatre will stage short Cantonese opera performances lasting 45 minutes, to entertain and provide an introduction to the art form to tourists as well as full-length performances by young artists as the theatre becomes a training hub.
During the first year there will be 72 short performances and 130
full-length performances and the theatre is expected to eventually
produce up to 500 performances a year. In October 2012 Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Travel Council of Hong Kong launched "Experience Cantopera - a Taste of Hong Kong's Intangible Cultural Heritage", a 45-minute programme of performances by young and upcoming artists from the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong tailor-made for foreign visitors as an introduction to Cantonese Opera. The programme runs until February 2013.
The Red Brick Building, opposite the theatre on Shanghai Street has also been restored and houses administrative offices for the theatre, souvenir shop and function rooms. The two-storey building dating back to 1895 was originally staff quarters for a pumping station supplying extracted well water for Kowloon. After reservoirs were later constructed in the New Territories parts of the building were used as a post office and for storage. After World War II, the building served as a hawkers' licensing center, and in the late 1960s served part for community use, mainly as a reading room. In 1988, it became a shelter for street sleepers but gained a reputation as a haven for drug dealers. It was awarded Grade 1 historical building status in 2000 and the government decided to combine the site with Yau Ma Tei Theatre in 2007 and embark on a restoration programme for both buildings. The distinctive red bricks are sourced from Guangzhou.
Officiating at the grand opening of the Yau Ma Tei Theatre on 17th July 2012 are (from left) the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the Chairman of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, Mr Charles Chow; Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Mr C Y Leung; the Chairman of the Cantonese Opera Development Fund Advisory Committee, Mr Frankie Yeung; the Chairperson of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, Dr Liza Wang; and the Director of Architectural Services, Mr Leung Koon-kee
The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong performs the Cantonese opera works "Blessing by the God of Fortune" and "A Fairy Delivers Her Son to the Mortal Father" after the opening ceremony on 17th July 2012
The Grade 1 listed Red Brick Building, formerly the Engineer's Office of the Pumping House dating back to 1895, has also been renovated and opened in May 2012 as administrative offices, event venue and souvenir shop for the theatre
TAI O HERITAGE HOTEL (OLD TAI O POLICE STATION)
Old Tai O Police Station, dating back to 1902, is one of the few remaining historic rural police stations and is a fine example of a typical colonial-style building of the period with a distinctive façade characterized by its arched verandahs, traditional timber pitched roof and Chinese pan-and-roll roof tiles. The government-owned landmark, which was declared a Grade III Historic Building in 1988, has been renovated by Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited under the Hong Kong government’s "Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership" scheme. The HK$67 million project commenced in June 2010 and was completed when the building reopened as the “Tai O Heritage Hotel” on 21st March 2012. It stands on a small wooded hillside at Shek Tsai Po Street, overlooking the entrance to Tai O harbour, near Tai O Ferry Pier.
The newly renovated Old Tai O Police Station, now Tai O Heritage Hotel, is visible through the trees and sits is a commanding location overlooking the entrance to Tai O Harbour
Tai O had been a remote fishing village on Lantau Island on the south China coast for centuries before the leasing of the New Territories, including Lantau Island and the other outlying islands, to the British in 1898. A village settlement at Tai O is believed to date back to the late Ming Dynasty and was recorded on a late 16th century coastal map of Kwang Tung (Guangdong). The fishing villages in Tai O were originally inhabited by mainly Tanka fishermen who lived on their fishing boats or in stilt houses. They were later joined by Hoklo people and other immigrants. With its fishery and salt pan production, the villages in Tai O became more developed towards the end of Qing Dynasty (end of 19th to early 20th century) with a local street market operating along Wing On Street and Kat Hing Street. Following British colonisation, enforcement of the British administrative authority soon reached Tai O and in May 1899 a Chinese style house began to be used as a temporary police station, regarded as a yamen (magistrate office). In 1902, a permanent police station was built at the current site to reinforce the police forces on Lantau Island and officers of the Old Tai O Police Station remained under the control of the marine police from its opening until its closure in 1996. They were mainly responsible for the public security of the villages in Tai O and patrolled within the community by means of sampan. Goods coming in and out of Tai O had to be declared to Customs and visitors needed to be interrogated by the police before landing at Tai O Pier. Fifteen police officers were initially assigned to the Police Station in 1903 and records show that in the early 1950s, there were only fourteen police officers, a translator and an assistant working at the station. European officers usually occupied the higher rank positions, whereas the Indian officers patrolled on the streets and the Chinese officers were engaged in clerical work.
During renovation the arched verandahs, which had been blocked out, were opened up and restored to their original appearance
The verandah before renovation
During the 1920’s villagers living in Tai O had regularly been bothered by bandits and a brutal robbery occurred in Tai O Village on 25 March 1925. About 60 bandits held up and robbed thirty-five houses and shops. The villagers were unable to inform the police until the bandits left and, according to elderly villagers, the Old Tai O Police Station was also captured by the bandits at that time. In the late 1930’s the marine police were kept occupied when, for three years prior to the invasion in 1941, the Japanese army began attacking Chinese fishing vessels. There were 71 attacks on Hong Kong-based vessels and whilst some were seen as legitimate targets, aiding the Chinese war effort, many were unprovoked.
In December 1996, Old Tai O Police Station closed, with most of its officers being redeployed to the Lung Tin Estate Report Centre. From 1996 to 2002 it was used merely as a police report post and was then disused until its recent rebirth as the Tai O Heritage Hotel.
According to the Government Gazette in 1903, the Old Tai O Police Station originally consisted of two buildings, namely the Main Building and the Outhouse. The Main Building is a two-storey building, which once contained a charge-room, two cells, dormitories for officers, three bathrooms and one storeroom. The Outhouse, partly two-storey and partly one-storey, was connected to the Main Building by a covered bridge and contained kitchens, drying-room, store, Indian officers’ bathroom, an interpreter’s room, accommodation for servants and latrines. Since 1952, various plans had been proposed for extensions or reconstruction of the buildings to resolve its overcrowded and unhygienic conditions but the final design, which was to demolish the one-storey part of the Outhouse and build a new one-storey barrack accommodation extension connected to the two-storey part of the Outhouse, was not implemented until 1961 with work being completed in 1962. Before completion of the new barrack there was no piped water to the Old Tai O Police Station and water was transported manually to the Police Station by boat.
The former charge room and holding cells, now a heritage interpretation centre and hotel reception
Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited, a local non-profit-making subsidiary of Sino Group, established for promoting local heritage conservation, was selected from five applicants and granted approval for adaptive reuse of the Old Tai O Police Station as a living heritage hotel in 2009. Renovation work has included opening up the verandahs, which were closed off by modern windows, to restore the original façade of the Main Building, and restoration of other external features including the watch towers and searchlight. The original reporting room is now the hotel reception, which along with the adjacent jail cells form a heritage interpretation and exhibition centre. A new pitched glass roof extends from the accommodation block over the outside balcony to create a rooftop restaurant. The hotel has five rooms and four suites of 200 sq ft to 400 sq ft size, each with fireplace, wooden windows and floorboards and costing from HK$1380 to HK$2300 per night. Although the two watch towers have been restored they are not accessible to the public as the access ladders are considered unsafe. An inclined glass-sided lift has been installed to enable access from Shek Tsai Po Street for people with mobility difficulties. The hotel is open to the public from 11am to 6pm daily when visitors can view the Interpretation Centre and renovated buildings and guided tours of the hotel are available twice daily at 3pm and 4pm. As well as preserving the historical heritage of Tai O it is hoped the hotel will help boost tourism to the village.
Outdoor patio area in front of the old accommodation block. The glass-roofed cafe and restaurant can be seen above and behond the parasols
Tai O Heritage Hotel website;
LEGCO COMPLEX GUIDED TOUR
The Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong was originally established under British rule in 1843 and met in the Council Chamber of the Central Government Offices until 1985 when it moved to the first Legislative Council Building, the former Supreme Court Building, dating back to 1912, on Jackson Road alongside Statue Square. Following the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (HKSAR) was established and, in 1998, in accordance with Basic Law of HKSAR, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong SAR was established, replacing the Provisional Legislative Council which had been formed in 1996 during preparation for the handover. The Legco continued to operate from the former Supreme Court Building until its final session before the 2011 summer recess. It began operating from the new LegCo Complex, adjacent to the new Central Government Offices at Tamar in Admiralty in September 2011. The former Supreme Court Building is to become home to the Court Of Final Appeal in 2013 or 2014.
The LegCo Complex (left) is part of the Tamar Development Project which includes the new Central Government Offices (right). The Lego-like bridge structure represents an "ever-open door" symbolising accessibility of the Government to its citizens
Since January 2012, free guided educational tours of the new LegCo Complex have been available to the public, as as well as schools and charitable organisations. The tours, which last about one hour and can each accommodate up to 45 visitors, are conducted mainly in Cantonese but are also available in English and Putonghua on certain days. Tickets can be booked online or, subject to availability, obtained on a “walk-in” basis on the day.
Guided Tour participants can visit the Public Gallery of the Council Chamber
The tour explains the history, structure and work of the LegCo and visits some of the facilities in the complex including the Public Gallery of the Council Chamber (when the council is not in session), Memory Lane (a display of old photographs, memorabilia and historical documents), the Viewing Gallery with panoramic views over Victoria Harbour to the Kowloon Peninsula, the observation area of Conference Rooms 2 & 3, the Educational Galleries and Educational Activities Room.
"Memory Lane", displays the history of the LegCo with photographs, memorabilia and historical documents
In the Main Lobby visitors can find The LegCo Souvenir Shop with a range of gifts, souvenirs, educational resources and stationery and The Cafeteria, which offers a variety of meals, light refreshments and drinks.
The spacious and light Main Lobby of the LegCo Complex. The artwork above the escalators depicts citizens from all walks of life, which the LegCo represents
Outside the Main Lobby is the LegCo Garden, an area of open space and LegCo Square, a multi-purpose venue for leisure and activities, where a national and regional flag-raising ceremony is conducted every morning and the complex is located next to Tamar Park, opened in October 2011, which is also part of the Tamar Development Project and offers green lawns and seating with views over Victoria Harbour.
The old LegCo building (the former Supreme Court Building), alongside Statue Square will become home of the Court Of Final Appeal, following the opening of the LegCo Complex at Tamar
For details of schedule of Guided Tours and booking arrangements see the LegCo website;
ASIA SOCIETY HONG KONG CENTER
THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB FORMER EXPLOSIVES MAGAZINE
Asia Society Hong Kong Center The Hong Kong Jockey Club Former Explosives Magazine on Justice Drive, Admiralty which opened in February 2012
An explosives magazine compound containing four former British military buildings which are among Hong Kong's oldest remaining colonial buildings, and forming part of the former Victoria Barracks, has been renovated and given a new lease of life as the home of the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, which opened on 9th February 2012. The heritage and conservation project has been supported by generous donations from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and other local and international donors.
The compound, located next to the British Consulate on Justice Drive was built to store explosives. Former Magazine A and the Former Laboratory were constructed between 1863 and 1868 and Former Magazine B between 1905 and 1907. All three buildings are listed Grade 1 Historical Buildings. GG Block, a later addition built in the late 1940's, is a Grade 2 Historical Building. Raw materials for ammunition production were loaded on Arsenal Street, named after the barracks, and transported up to the compound by a pulley system. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Royal Navy took over the site from the British Army and expanded the compound. The compound was later used by the government for storage until the 1970's, when it became a depot before being left vacant since the 1980's. Following the 1997 handover, the compound was transferred to the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Owing to rumours that the compound had been used to store secret documents, investigations were carried out to establish that there were no national security documents before the compound was returned to the government.
The Asia Society, which was founded in New York by John D Rockefeller 3rd in 1956, is a non-profit, non-governmental educational organisation dedicated to furthering understanding of the countries and Asian culture and global issues that affect the region. Hong Kong was chosen as the society's first overseas office as the city best facilitates the East and West culture and Asia Society Hong Kong (ASHK) was established in 1990 by a group of local community leaders, led by the then Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, Sir QW Lee. ASHK has since developed into one of the community's leading forums for discussion of regional and global affairs. However, ASHK had never had a permanent home until the derelict Former Explosives Magazine Compound site was identified in 1999. An international competition was launched for the heritage conservation and revitalisation project with the successful bidders being US based world-renowned architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.
The Entry Pavilion to the ASHK Center contains a visitor centre and multi-purpose venue, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Hall. Asia Society Store in this compound is a gift shop contains arts and crafts products and books including ASHK Center branded items and products designed by local artists. GG Block, within the pavilion is one of the administrative wings of the society alongside GG garden which leads to AMMO Cafe which offers an Asian-inspired menu. From the Entry Pavilion a double-deck elbow-shaped footbridge spans a major nullah to reach the upper Heritage Compound. The renovated Former Laboratory is now the Starr-Greenberg Building which houses the multi-purpose Lee Quo Wei Room and Credit Suisse Room and the Hinrichs Administrative Wing.
The renovated Former Laboratory now houses the Starr-Greenberg Building
The Munitions Track along which explosives were transported in trucks has been restored and connects the Former Laboratory and the two magazines and along each side of the track are berms, artificial earth mounds with granite bases, designed to contain explosions. Between the two berms is Former Magazine A, which is now the Asia Society Gallery containing four exhibition rooms, to which Former Magazine B, now the Miller Theater with over 100 seats and stage, is connected by covered walkway.
Former Magazine A had interconnected barrel-vaulted spaces which have been turned into an exhibition venue with four chambers
During the excavation of the site several old Navy Boundary Stones with a unique anchor symbol were discovered scattered around and these have been preserved and returned to their original locations. It is believed the stones were laid when the Royal Navy took over the site from the British Army. Four cannons, also unearthed, have been preserved by the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and will be displayed on either side of one of the berms.
One of the unearthed boundary stones, believed to have been laid by the Royal, with unique anchor motif
The ASHK hosts almost 100 programmes and exhibitions a year, embracing Business & Policy, Heritage & Architecture and Arts & Culture, and almost all are open to the public as well as members. It also organises educational visits and workshops.
ASHK Center is open to the public. Admission to the site is free but there is an admission charge to visit the Gallery exhibitions.
LOCATION – 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
Gallery – Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. Last Thursday of the month 11am to 8pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
Center & Asia Society Store – Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm. Last Thursday of the month 10am to 9pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
AMMO Cafe – Monday to Thursday 11am to midnight. Friday to Sunday and public holidays 11-30am to 1am
GALLERY ADMISSION – HK$30 adult, HK$15 Asia Society members, Seniors and persons with disabilities. Students and Under 18's free.
GETTING THERE – MTR Admiralty Station Exit C1. ASHK Center is next to British Consulate and opposite Conrad Hotel at the junction of Supreme Court Road and Justice Drive.
WEBSITE – www.asiasociety.org.hk
PREHISTORIC STORY ROOM
Prehistoric Story Room
Prehistoric Story Room, a small permanent exhibition depicting Earth's life history through displays of over 100 fossils and models opened in the lobby of Bank of China Tower on 3rd October 2011. The exhibition, which is sponsored by BOCHK Charitable Foundation, is an extension of Hong Kong Global Geopark of China, into the city centre. Themes of the exhibition are;
A. The Origin of Life
B. Fossil Stars - Trilobites
C. Beautiful Jewels - Cephalopods
D. Lords of the Prehistoric Oceans - Fish
E. A Whole New World - Plants
F. The Stars of Prehistoric Story - Dinosaurs G. The Mystery of Dinosaurs and Birds - Archaeopteryx
Exhibits at Prehistoric Story Room
OPENING HOURS - Mondays and Wednesdays to Sundays from 9am to 6pm. Closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year.
ADMISSION - Free
LOCATION - Lobby, Bank of China Tower, 1 Garden Road, Central
GETTING THERE - MTR Central Station, exit J2, from where building is prominent and visible, about 5 mins walk. Numerous bus routes and all tram routes passing through Central pass Bank of China Tower.
NOTE - The venue has capacity for a maximum of about 30 visitors at any one time. In the event of the venue being full, visitors may be required to queue outside the Bank of China Tower.
WEBSITE - http://www.geopark.gov.hk/phsr/
Tamar Park, which opened on 10th October 2011, was created using the concept of "Land Always Green". Located adjacent to the new Central Government Offices and Legislative Council Complex in the busy central business district, the park provides valuable green open space for residents, particularly those working in the business district, and visitors to escape from the bustling city surrounds. The 1.76-hectare park is managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and is part of the Tamar Development Project. In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme of the project, Tamar Park features large green lawns which visitors are free to stroll, sit and lie on.
Tamar Park provides a tranquil environment for relaxation in the heart of the city
The park was designed with the concept of elegant simplicity and allows visitors to appreciate the spectacular scenery of Victoria Harbour in a spacious environment. The park will also be linked up with the open space to be developed along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. The park also features a 240-seat amphitheatre which is open for booking by organisations for staging cultural and leisure activities as well as performances primarily. Other facilities in the park to be opened at a later stage upon completion of works include some water features as well as a cafe to be operated by a non-governmental organisation. Other open space at the Tamar Development, not forming part of Tamar Park, is managed by the Legislative Council (LEGCO) and is planned to include a lily pond, artwork installations and trees.
Adjacent to the Central Government Offices at Tamar, Tamar Park's spacious lawn areas provide precious green open space in the bustling central business district
Tamar Park is easily accessed by public transport. It can be reached by MTR (via Admiralty Station Exit A and a short walk along the footbridge) as well as a number of bus routes. For more information on access to Tamar Park see;
HUNG HOM PROMENADE AND EXTENSION OF TSIM SHA TSUI PROMENADE
Hung Hom Promenade and an extension of Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade have been officially opened on 3rd September 2011, creating a 4km long waterfront promenade stretching from Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to Fisherman's Wharf and Laguna Verde at Hung Hom.
The 500-metre Hung Hom Promenade which links the harbour frontages of Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom has opened up a section of Hung Hom waterfront which was previously closed to the public. Hung Hom Promenade and the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade extension are connected to the existing Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade alongside Salisbury Road by the elevated footpath alongside the Hung Hom Bypass flyover in the vicinity of the International Mail Centre and the route between Star Ferry Pier and Hung Hom includes the popular Avenue of Stars tourist attraction. In addition to footpaths for walking or jogging the promenade includes a large section of undulating lawn and will also provide a new vantage point for fireworks displays during festivals.
Work on the new promenade commenced in July 2010 with the Civil Engineering and Development Department being responsible for the design and the project being supported by the Harbourfront Commission and the local district councils. The project is part of plans to provide waterfront promenades on both sides of the harbour.
Maps showing details of the new waterfront promenade from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui are available at Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centres.
TAIPINGSHAN MEDICAL HERITAGE TRAIL
Taipingshan District on Hong Kong Island was, in the 1840's, the earliest district in Hong Kong to be reserved for the Chinese population to reside in. Neighbouring Sai Ying Pun District was developed a decade later. With a rapidly expanding population, these districts quickly became overcrowded and gave rise to poor sanitation. Bubonic Plague first broke out in Taipingshan in 1894 and severely affrected the area. These two districts contain many interesting relics of efforts to provide medical services to the community, including Traditional Chinese and Western medicine, as well as attempts at improving sanitation and public health. The Taipingshan Heritage Trail, opened in March 2011, was developed by Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences and is designed to promote interest in Hong Kong's unique and valuable medical heritage.
The recommended route is about 2km in length and starts at Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences . The trail takes in Caine Lane Garden (site of the former Disinfecting Station and Ambulance Depot), Blake Garden (which includes the site of the former London Missionary Chapel and Nethersole Dispensary), Water Lane, Pound Lane Bath House, Kwong Fuk I Tsz (inside Pak Shing Temple), Tung Wah Hospital, the site of the former Government Civil Hospital (now Tsan Yuk Hospital), site of former Lock Hospital, King George V Memorial Park (site of former Civil Hospital Annex and Quarters for Medical Superintendent), former Chinese Lunatic Asylum (now Methadone Clinic), former Nurse's Quarters and Old Mental Hospital (now Community Complex), the former site of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital, Former Western District Plague Hospital and Chinese Public Dispensary (now Centre for Heritage) and Old Tsan Yak Hospital, Western Street (now Community Centre). For route map see the trail website (details below).
For full details see THE TAIPINGSHAN MEDICAL HERITAGE TRAIL
Pak Sing Temple, on Tai Ping Shan Street, within which is I Tsz, an ancestral hall which housed the dying during the plague in the late nineteenth century, containing ancestral tablets
CHINESE CALENDAR'S 24 SOLAR TERMS ON DISPLAY UNDER CANAL ROAD FLYOVER
The public space under Canal Road flyover at Causeway Bay was opened on 25th February 2011 following the official completion of the Wan Chai District Council (WCDC) beautification project. Descriptions of the Chinese calendar's 24 Solar Terms are displayed on the flyover column, enabling visitors to enhance their understanding of Chinese tradition in a prime location at the same time as enjoying the improved environment.
The project is one of the environmental improvement projects carried out by WCDC's District Works and Facilities Management Committee. Apart from repaving the pavement and installing railings and curved feature walls, the project also wrapped the 12 flyover columns in aluminum cladding on which the 24 Solar Terms and their descriptions are represented in the form of Chinese paper-cuts and illuminated by spotlights. The 24 Solar Terms denote seasonal changes during the Chinese calendar year closely related to agricultural activities in ancient China.
The space under Canal Road flyover has also long been home of the "devil-beating" ritual whereby, for a fee, old lady "devil-beaters" beat a paper devil with shoes whilst swearing and cursing at the image to beat away the devil or put a curse on someone. Whilst the "devil-beaters" are present every day, the tradition is most popular at Chingche or the Feast of Excited Insects which, according to the Lunar Calendar, marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Hundreds of people in the hope that beating away the devil will bring better fortune in the following year with bosses usually being the subject of curses. The ritual is believed to have its origins in rural life when women would carry paper images of the white tiger into the home to scare away rats and snakes. It was also believed that performing such rituals prevented quarrels.
STANLEY MA HANG PARK
Stanley Ma Hang Park was officially opened on 17th January 2011. The attractive 50,000 square-metre park set in a cliffside location near Murray House has been developed by the Housing Authority along with local community and District Council, environmental groups, professionals and relevant government departments.
The park has been designed to blend in with the natural landscape and features of the park include boardwalks, Butterfly Garden, Heritage Corner, Sea View Terrace, Sea Breeze Patio, Fitness Deck, Bird Watching Corner, Educational Trail and Hill Top Plaza. Also within the grounds of the park stands the tiny cliff-edge Pak Tai Temple.
Admission is free and the park is open daily from 7am to 8pm.
More visitor information about Stanley HERE
HISTORIC KOWLOON-CANTON RAILWAY BELL RETURNED TO CLOCK TOWER
The bell from the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui has been returned to the tower after 35 years. The relocation follows the donation of the bell by the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) to the Government. The bell was produced in the United Kingdom and arrived in Hong Kong in 1920. It began operation in the Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower in 1921 as part of the Tsim Sha Tsui railway terminus and chimed round the clock at 15-minute intervals. In 1975 the bell ceased operation when the railway terminus was relocated to Hung Hom. It has been moved several times since then and had been on public display at railway stations in Hung Hom and Sha Tin until 1995 when it was moved to the Railway House in Fo Tan. The bell has been a declared monument since 1990. The donation of the bell also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Kowloon-Canton Railway services. However the bell will no longer chime and sits on the ground floor level of the clock tower on a wooden frame constructed from original timber sleepers from the KCR line. The Tsim Sha Tsui terminus closed in 1978 to make way for Hong Kong Cultural Centre but the clock tower was retained. There is a possibility that the clock tower may be opened to the public in late 2010. The clock tower was previously open to the public until about 1999 but was subsequently closed as the stairs became unsafe. The stairs have since been restored but are unable to handle large numbers of visitors. Currently visitors can view the bell through an external window.
The clock tower bell which can only be viewed from an external window
LIONS NATURE EDUCATION CENTRE GEO-HUB
The Lions Nature Education Centre (LNEC) Geo-hub in Tsiu Hang, Sai Kung opened on 3rd September 2010 merging the Geopark Visitor Centre, Rock Academy, Rock Classroom and Preparation Room for rock, mineral and fossil specimens. LNEC is now a supporting site to the Hong Kong Geopark.
The visitor centre features Hong Kong's first magnetic floating earth, together with the oldest rock in the world (3.9 billion years old) and in China (3 billion years old), a placoderm fossil as well as some 300 fossil and rock specimens. Filled with interactive elements, the centre introduces earth science in an accessible manner. It also has special designs to cater for visitors of all ages. Simple text for children is presented by "Geofolks" on panels. Visitors who wish to learn more about geology can use a speaking pen to listen to in-depth information.
The Rock Academy is the first comprehensive outdoor display of large specimens of Hong Kong's major volcanic, granitic and sedimentary rocks. Visitors can see, touch and learn more about local rocks easily in one place. The interpretation panels are available in Braille to facilitate people with visual impairment. The academy is also wheelchair accessible.
The Rock Academy is the first comprehensive outdoor display of large specimens of Hong Kong's major volcanic, granitic and sedimentary rock
The Geopark Visitor Centre which now forms part of the Lions Nature Education Centre Geo-hub opened in September 2009 and more information about the visitor centre can be found lower down this page. The visitor centre opens daily 9-30am to 4-30pm except on Tuesdays (closed). See also the Geopark website;
Ngong Ping Piazza on Lantau Island was officially opened on 2nd August 2010. The piazza covers an area of about 1.5 hectares and links Ngong Ping Village and the Ngong Ping 360 cable car with other tourist attractions at Ngong Ping including Po Lin Monastery, the Giant Buddha and Wisdom Path. Construction work began in November 2008 and the project has cost HK$77.5 million. The piazza is designed to have a strong Buddhist character and blend with the religious ambience of Ngong Ping.
The piazza has four components, namely the new Pai Lau, Bodhi Path, Di Tan with four lotus ponds around the perimeter and a Chinese landscaped garden. At the entrance to the piazza is the new Pai Lau. It is built in the Northern architectural style of the Qing Dynasty to match the style used by Po Lin Monastery, characterised by tranquility and solemnity. The new Pai Lau which is 14.1 metres tall and 19.1 metres wide leads to the 122.1-metre Bodhi Path which is flanked by statues of the “12 Divine Generals” and 40 lotus-shaped stone lanterns on both sides. At the end of the Bodhi Path are the piazza centre and the Di Tan, where four lotus ponds have been built around the perimeter to provide a spacious venue for religious ceremonies held by Po Lin Monastery. Nearby is the 1,980 sq metre Chinese landscaped garden, also built in the Northern architectural style.
The Astropark established by the Hong Kong Government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department was opened to the public on 30th January 2010. Situated at Chong Hing Water Sports Centre, West Sea Cofferdam, High Island Reservoir in Sai Kung (East) Country Park the Astropark, which cost HK$3 million to build, is equipped with stargazing facilities and managed by the Hong Kong Space Museum. Although Hong Kong is affected by light pollution, there are still some places in remote areas like Sai Kung and Lantau which are good enough for stargazing. After collecting opinions from astronomy groups, the Government decided to set up the Astropark in Chong Hing Water Sports Centre to promote the stargazing culture in Hong Kong and to arouse public awareness of preserving the dark night sky as a natural resource for future generations. It will also be a convenient stargazing park with recreational, educational and astronomical facilities for the benefit, use and enjoyment of the public and star lovers. Occupying a site of about 1,200 square metres, the Astropark is divided into three zones: the Educational Zone, Naked-eye Observation Area and Telescopic Observation Area.
Installed in the Educational Zone are eight replicas of ancient Chinese astronomical instruments, including an exact replica of the armillary sphere, star dial, moon dial, upward looking bowl sundial, gnomon, equatorial sundial, horizontal sundial and direction determining table. In addition, a shadow sundial there allows visitors to tell the time by using their own shadows projected on the ground. The pavilion in which a simulated night sky will be projected allows visitors to learn about the constellations even when the weather does not allow stargazing.
In the Naked-eye Observation Area visitors can enjoy stargazing by lying comfortably on specially designed, reclining stargazing benches.
The Telescopic Observation Area has four sets of 20 x 80 binoculars (with magnification of 20 and aperture of 80mm) specially designed for viewing any direction in the sky with ease are installed so that visitors can use the binoculars to view celestial objects at nighttime.
The park also provides amateur astronomers with 10 telescope piers to spare them the effort of carrying heavy tripods when they bring along their own telescopes for observation. Visitors can also use the two star trackers to take astrophotographs with ordinary cameras by manually offsetting the diurnal motion of celestial objects. To enhance public interest in and knowledge of astronomy the Space Museum will organise different stargazing activities and guided tours in the park.
The Astropark is open 24 hours and throughout the year. Admission is free. However, those who want to get a power supply should make prior bookings as campers at Chong Hing Water Sports Centre and pay the camp fee. For details of the booking of camping facilities in Chong Hing Water Sports Centre see;
Visitors can take KMB routes 94 and 96R*, or Citybus route 698R*, or Green Minibus routes 7 or 9 to Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung, and then take a taxi to the Astropark.
* Note -bus services 96R and 698R operate on Sundays and public holidays only.
Visitors can also hire a "kaito" at Sai Kung Pier to and from the Astropark.