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Archive for the 'Hong Kong' Category

Black Rain

HK Flooding 2

The other week in Hong Kong there was a Black Rain warning. We didn’t hear about it until we’d reached Tsim Sha Tsui, so we were in for a surprise.

Basically, Black Rain means that there’s going to be thunderstorms that dump so much rain that no drainage system in the world will be able to cope. That means localised flash flooding, lots of debris and all the Insurance companies take a holiday for the day.

HK Flooding 1

We arrived in Central, on Hong Kong island, surfaced and found the streets awash with drains that looked more like geysers, motionless traffic and roads that looked like rivers.

In any case, we had a destination to get to so, after a quick re-route through the MTR to a different exit, surfaced and braved the rain and the waters. With nothing for it, we rolled up pants, de-shod ourselves and plunged across the street at what looked like a good spot, despite a nearby hotel concierge’s kind advice that it wasn’t such a good idea. We waded between the motionless traffic that was bubbling away in the 8″ of rushing water and emerged on the other side, still huddling together under our solitary brollie. At least our heads were dry…

The rest of the morning was spent drying out, making our way around HK in bare feet, much to the amusement of more than a few locals, who knew better and were sticking underground or indoors.

HK Flooding 3

We took the MTR to the Festival Walk shopping centre and holed up in the AMC cinema where we could dry out in the over-zealous air conditioning in front of the latest Chronicles of Narnia movie, with dripping socks neatly laid out on the vacant chair next to us. We warmed ourselves afterwards with a tasty pork curry from the food court.

The effects of the Black Rain were quite widespread, with the highway to the airport being flooded and a few cars flooded up to their windows. The proprietors at the Landmark hotel were having a tough time dealing with water flooding onto a staircase from a cracked marble panel on an internal wall.

Plover Cove

View across the wall

With winter’s tail firmly between it’s legs, Gail & I ventured out today to enjoy the sunshine. We decided to go to Plover Cove, a reservoir in Hong Kong’s north western corner near a village called Tai Mei Tuk. To get there we had to cross the border to Hong Kong, take the KCR train 4 stops to Tai Po Market and then take a 75K bus for 30 minutes to Tai Mei Tuk, the end of the line.

First stop was lunch at a local eatery, where we enjoyed a mix of seafood and chicken, cooked in Thai style. Very nice, but a little sweet.

Plover Cove boats

Plover Cove was the first ever reservoir that was built using the sea as part of the reservoir. Engineers dammed up the inlet, pumped out the sea water and then filled it with fresh water. It was built during the 60’s, back when China and Hong Kong weren’t such good neighbours. Hong Kong needed more water and the reservoir now holds 230 million cubic metres of water, the second largest reservoir in Hong Kong.

Dog Latrine

This area is obviously a popular outing for the locals. We saw people walking, jogging, cycling or just out taking the dog for a walk. To ensure the latter of those didn’t interfere with the former, a special place for ‘Fifi’ to do her ‘number 2’s’ was set up just prior to setting off across the 2Km long dam wall.

Wall maintenance work

Out on the wall we took in the serenity of a wonderfully quiet and pleasant afternoon, seemingly oblivious to the noise and chaos of Hong Kong central or the squealing brakes of buses in Shenzhen. This was briefly interrupted by the smashing of rocks as repair crews worked on the wall loading in an extra layer of rocks against the fresh water side of the wall. Ahhh, I love seeing machinery at work.

There’s a pretty picture.

The far side of the dam wall was the start of a 6 hour trek right around the reservoir. Not feeling that keen we took the short way back - across the wall. The wide open spaces and the gentle breeze drifting across the water ensured we had a most enjoyable day. A few deep lungfuls of cleaner air had put a little more spring in our steps.

Stolen Childhood

One of my Hong Kong colleagues came to work in casual clothes yesterday. He was taking 1 1/2 days leave so that he could help prepare his daughter for her school examinations. Another colleague from Hong Kong was doing the same. These examinations last for a full week and cover English, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Maths, Science and a few other things.

When I asked what year she was in at school I got the shock of my life when he said that she was in grade 2! What on earth is a 7 year old going through a solid week of examinations for? Isn’t she supposed to be running around playing with dolls, making necklaces out of daisies and reading stories about princesses in castles?

I wonder how many of these children will grow up wondering what happened to their childhood.



On the way to voting in last year’s Australian election in Hong Kong we came across this most amusing piece of vandalism on an add for a food court that contained a McDonalds. It summed things up quite succinctly.

Keep your cool

Tsim Sha Tsui construction

One of the unforeseen consequences of living in high-rise apartment buildings is the constant presence of air conditioners running on hot days.

What's the consequence of all this, you may ask?

Well, all these compressors mounted on the walls results in a steady column of hot rising air passing over the surfaces of the buildings. This means that any attempt to open the window for some fresh air on an even mildly warm day results in nothing but hot air. The only thing to do is to join the fray and turn on the air con in an attempt to get some respite from the oppressive heat.

Whilst it's not much of an issue for us here in Shenzhen it's a much bigger problem for our colleagues across the border in Hong Kong. Our apartment building is fairly new, fortunately, and it has a semi-centralised air conditioning system with the hottest bits on the roof. In Hong Kong, however, the apartment buildings are generally older and the air conditioning systems are usually retro-fitted split-system units with external wall-mounted heat exchangers.

Headless men beware!


This was taken in Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui, in a McDonald's entry way that was under renovation. Righto, I've got it. I'll keep an eye out for my head. )  

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