Hong Kong Heritage Museum Children’s Gallery

In search of something to do on a playdate with our kids, a friend of mine suggested the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin. I’d not been before so we agreed to go and we all had a really nice morning there!

Firstly, it’s very cheap, only HK$10 (approx. £0.80) for adults and free for under 4’s so that’s always a good start (and like all museums in Hong Kong, it’s free on a Wednesday but we went on a different day). Sadly, my friend drove us so I can’t tell you how to get there! But this page on the museum’s website looks like it will do that for me :)

I have to admit that we didn’t see most of the museum, we just headed to the Children’s Gallery on the ground floor and stayed there for the morning. It’s not a huge area but they have packed a lot in and if you have older children (mine are only 2 years old!) then they could genuinely learn a lot. But even at the age of 2, my twins enjoyed looking at all the different exhibits, playing with the more hands-on ones and generally running around. It was really quiet too and we were the only people in there for most of the time we were there.

A large part of the main room was devoted to learning about local wildlife and habitats.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum Childrens Gallery

The twins enjoyed being able to look inside the fish tank!

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And this exhibit which involved posting plastic coins through slots and watching them roll down was a really big hit. But I can’t remember what the point was!

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Behind the main room was a toy museum with lots of toys from previous decades on display.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum Toy Museum

There was a large game on the floor to play with (checkers?) where our children enjoyed collecting up the pieces to make towers! There were also some educational electronic games to play with which my kids enjoyed pressing the buttons on.

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And that all kept us busy for a couple of hours! So, if you’re looking for a nice indoor activity for you and your kids (great for the hot summer!) then why not pass a morning at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum Children’s Gallery? You never know, you might learn something too!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Candid Hong Kong – unearthed cannon

Every fortnight week I share a photo that shows a little insight into Hong Kong life. Sometimes they are things that made me smile, classic Hong Kong sights or just really unusual things.

Near to where I live in Hung Hom is a very large estate called Whampoa Gardens, which was built on a shipyard run by the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company Limited. Most visitors to this area are immediately struck by the massive fake ship in the middle of the estate (the bow of which can be seen in the photo below) which was built in recognition of the area’s past. The boat houses some restaurants and part of the Aeon department store so it’s not really very boat-y at all!

But just to the side of the boat is something else, something that I didn’t notice until I had lived in Hung Hom for a while – a cannon!

160621 Candid Hong Kong Whampoa cannon

I’ve taken a photo (below) of the plaque next to the cannon which explains that the cannon was unearthed during the construction of the Whampoa Gardens estate and is thought to be from an old warship. Things in Hong Kong don’t stay the same for long, so this was a nice acknowledgement of a piece of its history.

160621 Candid Hong Kong Whampoa cannon inscription

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Building names that make me smile – part 3

I’ve written a couple of posts like this before in the past (you can find them here and here) but there are just so many great names in Hong Kong! I think sometimes they sound a little bit funny because they haven’t been translated well, or else they are something that sounds really great in Chinese but it doesn’t come across as well in English. So here is my final round up of Hong Kong building names that make me smile.

First of all, it’s good to know that your builders will never accidentally offend you…

Tactful Design and Build

 

Could there be any better place to work than this one?

Perfect Commercial Building

 

It’s not a great bar…

OK bar

 

Everyone is very pleasant and cheerful here.

Genial Manufacturing Limited

 

Whereas, they’re all after the money here…

Chasegold Tower

 

And finally, just… no… I have no idea.

Greatmany Centre

 

And also, here are a few other favourites that I haven’t managed to take pictures of:

Honest Building – no lies here

Great Smart Tower – full of clever clogs

Top Glory Tower – for the best of the best

Teehee…

Have you come across any great building names where you live? I’d love to hear more!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Clearwater Bay Second Beach

I feel like all the nicest beaches in Hong Kong take a bit of effort to get to. I guess that’s pretty unsurprising, otherwise they might end up being not so nice (i.e. overcrowded and dirty). Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung is touted as the nicest beach in Hong Kong, but it takes several buses plus a 2 hour hike to get to. Sadly, the only time I’ve ever been it was raining so I didn’t really get to enjoy the beach! Another beach that I quite like is Cheung Sha Wan on Lantau. To get there you need to get to Lantau somehow (such as a ferry to Mui Wo) and then get on one of the Lantau buses and ride them along the winding and hilly roads (which my husband really hates!) to the beach. But at least this beach has some lovely restaurants and is near a village so you don’t feel quite so in the middle of nowhere.

But a great beach that is a little more accessible is Clearwater Bay Second Beach. There are many ways to get there, such as take the MTR to Hang Hau and get a taxi, or go to Tsuen Kwan O MTR station and get the 103M minibus. Or if you are in Kowloon, you can take the 91 bus from Diamond Hill station. It still takes us about 1 1/4 hours to get there from Hung Hom though!

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The beach itself is really beautiful, set in a bay with the golf course on one side and hills on the other so all you can really see is the sea and greenery. The sand is fine and clean and the water is very clear (hence the name). Importantly, the beach doesn’t get as busy as those on the South side of Hong Kong island, although on a sunny public holiday it will still get fairly busy.

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There are the usual changing facilities with toilets and showers, and lifeguards and shark nets in summer. There isn’t a huge amount of shade and I don’t think you can hire sun umbrellas, but lots of people bring little tents to sit in! We were lucky that we arrived fairly early and were able to find a gap in the shade under the trees at the back of the beach.

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There aren’t any restaurants but there is a little refreshment kiosk selling cold drinks and dumplings so you won’t starve, but it’s still a good idea to bring your own food and drink (if you can carry it – we always end up taking huge amounts to the beach with our young children!).

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This is somewhere where I would have never thought of going myself but some friends invited us, and I’m so glad they did! So I’m sharing it with you too. It’s not exactly a secret but I don’t think that most people go there.

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What is your favourite beach in Hong Kong? I’d love to hear other people’s opinions!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Kadoorie Farm

I had heard of Kadoorie Farm a while back, but I hadn’t got round to visiting it. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much since many of the farms in Hong Kong that are open to the public are a little bit grubby looking! But my husband’s colleague wanted to take us because his girlfriend works there so we took a trip out to the New Territories to see what we would find there.

Kadoorie Farm pond

And it was actually really, really lovely! Immaculately landscaped, with lots of different animals to see and learn about. The whole place is a semi-private conservation area which aims to teach the public about the plants and animals it houses and about conservation in general. The farm extends a very long way up a very steep hill and you can take a minibus up to the top area (you have to book a place on the shuttle bus for a small fee) but we just stayed in the bottom part and spent several hours there.

So, let’s start with how to get there. The easiest way is to take the MTR to Tai Wo station and then take the 64K bus to Yuen Long. The bus stop is handily called Kadoorie Farm so you can’t miss it. It takes about 20 minutes from Tai Wo. (Alternatively, if you start your journey near Yuen Long, you could take the 64K bus in the opposite direction!) Admission to the farm is very cheap – only HK$30 for ages 12-59, half-price for 5-11 year olds and otherwise it is free.

Since we went with young children, we made sure to fit in as many of the animals as possible. They certainly have a wide range! Our friend who showed us round told us that the animals they have there are either rescue animals or have been donated for educational purposes. The pigs definitely fitted into this last category! A lot of pork is eaten in Hong Kong so I guess it’s quite important!

Kadoorie Farm pigs

They also have deer, bats, wild boar, black kites, fish, chameleons, monitor lizards, stick insects, parrots, monkeys, tortoises and flamingoes…

Kadoorie Farm flamingoes

…and those are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head! And this, which I think is a leopard cat.

Kadoorie Farm leopard cat

As a little note, I have been to Kadoorie Farm twice now, once in November and once in February. There were a lot fewer of the animals outside in February due to the colder weather. So if you have your heart set on seeing as many animals as possible I’d recommend you go at warmer times of year!

There are other educational aspects to the farm as well as the animals. We enjoyed walking through the greenhouses, for example. One greenhouse had plants that had different senses. This ‘sensitive plant’ closed its leaves when you touched it.

Kadoorie Farm sensitive plant

Outside the greenhouses there were even more flowers. One plant was full of butterflies and when the plant was disturbed, they all flew around. Magical!

Kadoorie Farm butterflies

Another flower had a few bees buzzing around which my children found fascinating.

Kadoorie Farm looking at bees

Since it’s a very educational place, if you go on a weekday (or a weekend too, for that matter) you are likely to be faced with many groups of school children. Sometimes we found it best to avoid an area and then come back to it later because it got a bit busy! But once you get away from the animals, it is much quieter. And so beautiful. I can’t remember how many gardeners our friend said that they employed but it was a LOT.

Kadoorie Farm pathways

There are many paths and steps you can choose to wander on. There is a stream running down the hill and at one point it turns into a waterfall, which is nice to sit by…

Kadoorie Farm waterfall

There are views everywhere!

Kadoorie Farm view

After all that walking, you might want to head back down to the entrance area and turn left to find the café. It’s vegetarian, and everything is freshly cooked and really delicious. Very cheap too! Even on a weekend we had no trouble finding a table, and they also had two highchairs which gives it a big thumbs up in our books (we have twins, by the way).

Just one thing to note, for those with small children, Kadoorie Farm is NOT stroller friendly! It’s very hilly and there are lots of steps. Even if you did find a step-free route around (which you may be able to, I wasn’t really taking note of this) you would be pushing the stroller up a lot of hills. We took carriers, but actually our two year old twins had a whale of a time wandering around all the paths so we barely used them.

Kadoorie Farm plants

So, to sum up, Kadoorie Farm is great and well worth a trip to the New Territories. Have you been? Did you like it as much as me?!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Candid Hong Kong – clothing labels for sale

Every fortnight I share a photo that shows a little insight into Hong Kong life. Sometimes they are things that made me smile, classic Hong Kong sights or just really unusual things.

I spotted this display in the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar in Sham Shui Po (a great place to buy fabric, but sadly due to be closed down in June). So many labels to sew into your clothes! And if you look closely, you can see that quite a few of them are counterfeit designer labels! Presumably people don’t sew them into their own clothes, but is this where people come to buy labels for the fake goods you see in markets?!

160421 Candid Hong Kong clothing labels for sale

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Little Koo’s guide to shopping in Hong Kong

I’ve posted before (a long time ago) about shopping in Hong Kong but I think it’s time to do it again! When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was so confused. I had heard that Hong Kong was a shopping mecca (and Hong Kongers certainly love to shop!) but I found that all the malls were full of designer labels, which I am not interested in and certainly must be out of the price range of many Hong Kongers. So where do they shop? Over the years (nearly 4 now) that I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve gradually found shops that I actually like shopping in and I now know where to get most things I want or need. So if you are new to Hong Kong, just visiting or looking for some inspiration, I thought I would share some of these places with you!

Little Koo's guide to shopping in Hong Kong

 

N.B. I’ve not stated where you can find any of these shops but I’ve linked to the store finder pages for their websites (where appropriate) so you can take a look for yourself.

Firstly, I should point out that nothing beats taking a walk around your local neighbourhood, or indeed any neighbourhood in Hong Kong. There are so many tiny independent shops and some of them are so handy for this or that. Whilst you may be a bit scared that the storekeeper won’t speak English (and they may well not, depending on where you are), it’s amazing how much you can get by with gesturing and if you want something specific you could try using google translate to show them the (traditional) Chinese characters! (N.B. it may be best to get a Cantonese friend to confirm the translation if possible!) My favourite shops are those little ones that sell ‘everything’ – mainly homewares, but then you discover stationery, gadgets and even (in one case) underwear! (I didn’t buy the underwear) So fascinating to look round.

I should also point out here the importance of buying something when you see it! So often I have thought about buying something later and then when I went back, it was gone. Boooo.

My favourite areas in Hong Kong to shop are Whampoa Gardens in Hung Hom (which happens to be very close to where I live) and City Plaza in Tai Koo. I feel like they have more of a range of affordable shops, of the kind that I like to shop in, rather than just miles of designer shops. Many of the shops below can be found in these areas but also in many other places in Hong Kong too.

Groceries

To start this shopping guide, if you are really new to Hong Kong then you’ll need to know where to buy groceries! Thankfully you are very likely to be near a Park N Shop or Wellcome supermarket wherever you are. Fusion, Taste, International and Great are also owned by Park N Shop. I personally prefer the Park N Shop stores over Wellcome as they have more western products, and I can buy most of the same food as in the UK here (if different brands). Market Place is owned by Wellcome but has more of a range of international products. If you like your supermarkets more upscale, then check out city’super, Oliver’s or ThreeSixty.

Markets

Supermarket fruit and veg isn’t the greatest, so you might want to head to your nearest wet market. These sell mostly fresh produce (although some of it may be a little fresher than you’re used to!). including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and are generally housed in government centres in each area (try googling ‘wet market <area name>’ to find one in a specific area). Many also have stalls selling local ingredients (great if you like to cook Chinese food!), dried seafood (smelly!) and a cooked food centre on the top floor. The cooked food centres are like low budget food courts, with cheap (mostly) local food. The few times I have been, the food has been pretty good although they can be a little confusing if you are new to Hong Kong. Some have table service, and often this means that if you sit at a specific table you are tied to the food from a specific vendor. It’s all good fun though, and if you’re not feeling that adventurous get a friend to take you!

While we’re talking about markets, there are street markets as well as the wet markets. My favourite is the one in Wanchai, on Tai Yuen St and Cross St, just south of the MTR. It’s not huge but it has a nice range of stalls. I go there to buy plastic shoes for myself (useful in spring!) and swimsuits for the kids but I always leave with at least one other thing! The Lanes in Central (on Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West), has mainly clothes and accessories. Stanley Market (between the bus terminus and the sea) is quite touristy but has a mix of clothes (including cheap children’s clothes), toys, Chinese art and crafts and tourist items. Sham Shui Po street market (next to exit A of the MTR, on Pei Ho Street and Apliu Street) is a real local market with a mix of cheap clothes, second hand electronics, tools and much more.

The most famous markets in Hong Kong are the Ladies’ Market (Tung Hoi Street, Mongkok) and Temple Street Night Market (Temple Street, Jordan/Yau Ma Tei). These are pretty touristy but are quite a fun experience if you just want to browse or buy some tourist tat. They can get quite busy though! Temple Street Night Market has lots of restaurants and food stalls around too so you can make a night out of it. I think it opens at around 6pm.

Convenience stores

I can’t go much further without mentioning 7-Eleven. These little convenience stores are everywhere and they are so handy. As well as selling snacks and the all-important cold drinks (essential in summer), you can buy milk (useful if the supermarket is shut) and a few toiletries, top up your Octopus card, get cashback with an EPS card, pay bills and buy stamps. This last tip I only learned recently! There are alternatives to 7-Eleven, which include Circle K and V>nGo, which have similar services but I don’t know if they do everything that 7-Eleven does.

Clothes

H&M – I love this shop so much, even when I was in the UK I used to buy almost all of my clothes here and that hasn’t changed in Hong Kong. It helps that the price is about the same as in the UK too. And since I’ve had children (my twins are two and a half now) it’s my go-to place for kids’ clothes. They have some great designs and it’s reasonably priced too.

Uniqlo – another reasonably priced clothing store. Mostly the clothing isn’t to my taste but I’ve bought a few pieces there, and when my kids are a bit bigger I’ll start getting them the cute children’s clothing they have there too!

Marks & Spencer – I feel like this store is a little ‘old’ for me (I’m in my mid thirties) but the clothes are high quality and it’s good to take a look every now and again. The price of the clothes sold here is significantly higher than in the UK so I baulk a bit at the price! But if you really love M&S, you can shop from the UK site (with UK prices) and get it shipped here for £15. Marks and Spencer Food is taking off in Hong Kong (as it is in the UK) with new stores springing up all over the time. The food is expensive but really good!

Zara – another shop where I baulk a bit at the price but love to look around every now and again. It’s not designer prices though, and they have some beautiful clothes.

Gap – slightly overpriced in my opinion, but I’m not sure if the price is different to the stores in the UK. I do like their jeans though! The website is in Chinese but you can zoom in on the map to see where stores are in HK.

Forever 21 – cheap and cheerful fashion clothing. I think there is just one store in Hong Kong, in Causeway Bay, but it is enormous! It’s located opposite Exit F1 of Causeway Bay MTR, at Capitol Center, 5-19 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay.

Bossini – good for cheap casual clothes.

Baleno – more cheap casual clothes. And some very cute children’s clothes! (click the box in the right hand corner of the website and choose ‘International’ to see the site in English)

G2000 – reasonably priced suits and work wear

If you prefer independent clothing shops, these are everywhere so take a walk around and see what you find. I quite like the shops on Wan Chai Road, there is a real mix of styles there!

I took a look around here Elgin Street and Staunton Street in Mid Levels for a dress to wear to a wedding at the recommendation of a friend and I wasn’t short of options! If you are looking for a party dress or something for wedding or a black tie event, this area is great, there are loads of shops and a real range in price so hunt for a bargain or splurge on something amazing!

Beauty/Health

There are a few options if you’re looking for high street beauty products, including Sasa, Colormix and Bonjour. They have both western and Asian brands. Great if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, but the skin whitening products do freak me out a little bit.

Watsons and Mannings are a great place to shop if you are looking for health-related products (the kind of things you would go to Boots or Superdrug for in the UK). They have lots of stores too, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. Many Mannings also have pharmacy counters, and the pharmacists generally speak good English so they can help you if you are looking for something specific!

Household items

If you’re setting up a household (i.e. you’ve just moved to Hong Kong) and looking for all those little bits you need for your kitchen or bathroom then Japan Home Centre (which also calls itself JHC) is a great first port of call (unless you happen to have found one of those shops that has everything that I mentioned above!). It has a pretty wide range of stuff and it’s all quite cheap. They are everywhere too, so you shouldn’t have to go far to find one! Just a note of caution: I have heard that the electronics they sell aren’t great. Maybe look elsewhere for those things!

Similar to Japan Home Centre (but with a more limited range of small items) is Price Rite. They also sell furniture, but they have a good range of storage and sell most kitchen items. Similar price to Japan Home Centre. The website is in Chinese but you can look at the maps to see which store is nearest to you.

Aeon (which used to be called Jusco) is another one of my first ports of call, mainly because there is a large store very close to me. It’s got a good range of baby items which has been invaluable for me. The price is not that cheap but it’s not expensive either. And it’s a department store so it has a wide range of goods including clothing, shoes, toys, kitchenware and household appliances. I like to shop in their kitchenware department too. My friend likes to shop in the supermarket there, but I’ve not used it that often.

A subsidiary of Aeon is Living Plaza (click the Aeon link above and scroll down to see the Living Plaza shops), another one of my favourite shops! Almost everything in the store is $12 (approx. £1) and they have a really wide range of things in there! I always go in looking for one thing and come out with five!

Ikea – beloved of almost every country and Hong Kong is no exception. Definitely one of the most affordable places to get homewares and furniture. Don’t go on a Sunday though, the queues for the tills are horrendous!

Fortress – I mentioned above that Japan Home Centre is not a great place to buy electronics so you might want to head to Fortress instead. They have a wide range of electrical items from TVs to dehumidifiers (the latter is pretty necessary in HK) at pretty standard prices.

Baby & Children’s

I find that most baby and children’s items are a bit pricey in Hong Kong, but maybe that’s because I’m coming at it as a westerner who is looking for certain types of products. Anyway, I buy many things from Park N Shop – especially nappies, wipes and baby food. You can find these things in most supermarkets I think, and also in Watsons or Mannings (see above). I already mentioned above that I go to Aeon for many baby items, and Ikea has a surprising (to me) and affordable range of baby equipment and toys. Toys R Us (especially the bigger ones which have a Baby R Us section) is another useful place to look. Other baby shops include Mothercare, Bumps To Babes and Tiny Footprints but I don’t shop there often as I find the price is quite expensive and they are not close to me. Many bookshops (see below) have toys and gifts for children.

Books & stationery

For English language books, check out Popular Books, Page One, Eslite or Bookazine. Many of these shops also have cards, wrapping paper, gifts and a selection of stationery and craft supplies. For even more places to find books, check out these posts by HK Hub and Sassy.

For stationery supplies, you can’t beat the little independent stationery stores that are everywhere. Take a walk around your local area and you should come across one. If you’re very lucky you might find one with craft supplies and other bits and bobs too! I loved the one that I used to go to on Sing Woo Road in Happy Valley (when I lived there) – it had everything!

Art & craft supplies

Please check out my previous post with a comprehensive list of places where you can shop for art and craft supplies in Hong Kong.

And there’s more…

There are many other articles on other websites about shopping in Hong Kong, so take a look at the links below for even more places to shop!

Speciality shops in Hong Kong

Lonely Planet guide to shopping in Hong Kong

Sassy’s top five gift stores in Hong Kong

Guide to small malls on HK Magazine

Time Out’s list of Hong Kong’s best secret shops

Bagging a bargain from HK Hub

Finally, if you would rather shop from the comfort of your own home, I have written two useful guides about online shopping in Hong Kong, and overseas shops that deliver to Hong Kong.

Where do you like to shop? If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel