Monday, July 23, 2012

Jumbo Floating Restaurant - Aberdeen Harbour - Hong Kong

Pier for Embarkation
While we were in Hong Kong last time we were invited to join our daughter and a group of friends aboard the Jumbo Floating Restaurant for Sunday Brunch. A unique experience as the restaurant, designed like a classic Chinese palace, can accommodate up to 2,300 people is situated in Aberdeen harbour, the Jumbo is one of the world's largest floating restaurants. The first floating restaurants appeared in the typhoon shelter shortly after World War II.  The current two floating restaurants are moored next to each other in the harbour, Jumbo Floating Restaurant and Tai Pak Floating Restaurant which are now under the same management and collectively known as Jumbo Kingdom. 

A brainchild of Dr. Stanley Ho, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant was established in October 1976. It took four years and millions of dollars to design and build. The triple-deck Jumbo, decorated in the theme of a Chinese Imperial Palace with pagodas and gold dragons is the largest floating restaurant in the world, seating over 2000 diners. The original Jumbo was burnt down before its opening in 1971 with a loss of over 30 lives. It was rebuilt and finally opened in 1976 Over the past decades, Jumbo has been much appreciated by locals and tourists alike, and has become a scenic landmark of Hong Kong. The Jumbo Kingdom was updated in 2003 so now besides a dining experience it also is seen as a shopping, cultural and sightseeing attraction. A popular destination for visitors from overseas, it has played host to numerous international dignitaries and celebrities, including HM Queen Elizabeth II, John Wayne,Tom Cruise, plus more than 30 million other valued visitors and guests.. It has been featured in many movies including James Bond “The Man WithThe Golden Gun” and Jackie Chan’s “The Protector”. 

The port of Aberdeen is located on the south coast of Hong Kong Island as was one of the first places British troops came ashore in 1841 and was named after the 4th Earl of Aberdeen. It has a population of about 60,000 people making it the largest town on the island. The harbour is well sheltered by the densely populated island of Ap Lei Chau to which it has only been connected by a bridge since 1983.

For many generations the harbour has been a fishing port and home to the Tanka and Hoklo clans from the mainland costal areas of Guangdong and Fujan.  It is only since the early 20C that these boat dwellers, recognisable by their large brimmed hats have had equal rights with land dwellers. Till then they were forbidden to live on land or marry land people and were born, married and died aboard their sampans and junks. Nowadays most now choose to live on land but some still remain on houseboats in the harbour. Besides the fishing Aberdeeen also has shipyards, light manufacturing businesses, engineering works, textile factories and warehouses. For tourists the main attraction is the harbour and its floating restaurants. An Aberdeen Tourism Project to enhance the town as a tourist destination is under way  at tge moment  which includes improvements to the promenades along both sides of the harbour, including snack kiosks and local information boards. There are also plans to turn the Wholesale Fish Market into a tourist attraction

The Jumbo Kingdom can be reached free of charge, by a shuttle boat service from Aberdeen Promenade or from Sham Wan pier. Journey time is about ten minutes. There is no obligation to dine at the restaurants and visitors can take the opportunity to use the free shuttles to simply explore the facilities on the floating restaurants.

I am led to believe it is advisable to book as a very popular attraction.
Address: Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen
Phone: (852) 2553-9111

Location Map


From Central – Bus 70 from Exchange Square Bus Station or bus 91 from Central Ferry Piers (takes a longer route than bus 70)

From Causeway Bay (Moreton Terrace behind Hong Kong Central Library) – Bus 72 or 76

From North Point Ferry Pier – Bus 38,41A or 42

From Sheung Wan (Wing Wo Street) – Bus 71

From East Tsim Sha Tsui (1 Science Museum Road, inside Concordia Plaza) – Bus 973

From So Uk Estate, Sham Shui Po, Nathan Road (from Prince Edward via Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei to Jordan Road) – Bus 970X

From Hong Kong International Airport – Bus A10

Aberdeen is not currently served by the MTR network. The MTR South Island Line which is scheduled for completion in 2015 will have stations at Wong Chuk Hang on the eastern outskirts of Aberdeen and at Lei Tung and South Horizons on Ap Lei Chau. 

With thanks to the following sites for the background information included in this post. The links will take you directly to the pages on Jumbo Kingdom if you are interested in learning more.

Jumbo Kingdom - Wikipedia     Jumbo Kingdom Website    Discover Hong Kong     Hong Kong Extras

NB All photos can be viewed individually if you click on them or the album can be viewed on in my album entitled Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kat Hing Wai Village - Hong Kong New Territories

Another trip we made out to the New Territories while we were in Hong Kong in October last year was to visit the Kat Hing Wai Village which is a private property and the Government has not yet obtained the consent of its owners to declare it as a monument. To visit the village take the West Rail Line to Kam Sheung Road Station, then it is a short ten minute walk, which I think was signposted at the time of our visit to Kam Tin, the name of the area and the name by which the village is often called locally.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Courtesy of Wikipedia
The plan above shows that Kat Hing Wai is a rectangular (100 m × 90 m) walled village and the black and white photo is of the village in the 1920's.
The Entranceway to Village.
As a family stronghold, Kat Hing Wai has served the residents well through the centuries, protecting the residents against bandits, rival clans and wild tigers, with its five-metre high blue brick wall and four cannon towers. Today the village is still completely surrounded by 18-inch-thick walls, outside of which are the remains of a moat. There is only one narrow entrance, with a pair of iron gates. In April 1899, the residents of Kam Tin rebelled against British Colonial rule, blockading themselves within the village. After several unsuccessful attacks by British troops, the iron gates were blasted open. The gates were then shipped to London for exhibition. After the demand of the Tang Clan in 1924, the gate was eventually returned in 1925 by the 16th governor, Sir Reginald Stubbs.

With such a fascinating history a walk around the village is a great glimpse into the intriguing past of these settlers. Although many of the houses have been rebuilt there are still many very old buildings remaining. It is compact with rows of narrow houses and small temples separated by the small winding alleys. The village is still home to about 400 descendants of the Tang Clan, who built the village back in the 17th century when they were among the first to settle in Hong Kong from Southern China. 

The Main Street

Side Streets
A Family Residence
Village Temple
Front Door
Side Street
 Village Residents.
I have also made a slideshow of our visit to Kam Tim area, I was unable to embed it in the post but the link will take you directly there.
Slideshow Link
If you would like to view the photos individually the full album can be viewed at Travel Tales - Kat Hing Wai Village.

Visitors are asked to make a donation on entering the village, it is also possible to take photos of the clan women in their traditional black trousers, tunics and distinctive bamboo hats, but they will expect you to pay.

I have already mentioned that we travelled by train then walked but there are alternatives.  I have no idea if these instructions are correct, so do check thoroughly before using any of this information.
1. Take the bus No.51 to Kam Tin at the Tsuen Wan Station Exit D or the Tsuen Wan Wharf and then go straight for 5 minutes.
2.Take the bus No.64 at the Tai Po Market Station of Kowloon-Canton Railway and get off at the Kam Tin Road.
3.Take the bus No.251M at the MTR Tsing Yi Station Exit A1 and get off at Kim Tin Walled Village 

4. Alternatively take a taxi from Kam Sheung Rd MTR West Station.

Location map
With thanks to the following sites for the background information included in this post. The links will take you directly to the pages on Kat Hing Wai Village if you are interested in learning more.

Hong Kong Tourism Board    Kat Hing Wai - Wikipedia    Visit Our China

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery - Hong Kong New Territories

While we were in Hong Kong in October 2011 visiting our daughter, we took a trip out to the New Territories with her to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. By taking the MTR train to Sha Tin station, the first thing you see when leaving the station is the old village of Pai Tau, tucked in below the surrounding new developments. 

With the village on your left continue walking a short distance to the junction with Pai Tau Street, take a left into this street, then take the first right, Sheung Wo Che Road, past the local Government Offices and a multi storey car park. At the end of this road you should see the yellow direction sign for the path and steps leading up to the Monastery.

This is where the steep uphill climb of 431 steps to the lower terraces of the Monastery starts and the path is lined with the first of the many more than 10,000 Buddhas that are on display.

The Monastery was founded in 1949 by Yuet Kai who was born into a wealthy family in Kunming in southern China in 1878.  At the age of 19 he decided to dedicate his life to Buddhism and in 1933 Yuet Kai moved to Hong Kong to preach Buddhism in a local monastery and soon found many followers. He  decided to found a monastery and construction of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery began in 1949. Yuet Kai himself, although by now approaching old age, personally helped in the construction by carrying materials, with his disciples, from the foot of the mountain. The monastery buildings were completed in 1957 but it took a further ten years to complete all the miniature Buddha statues, now on display around the walls of the main temple and which actually number almost 13,000 (in Cantonese tradition “ten thousand” simply represents a figurative term for an extremely large number). Yuet Kai died in 1965 at the age of 87. 

Built on a plot of over eight hectares on two different levels on the forested hillside overlooking Sha Tin, there are five temples, four pavilions, one verandah and a pagoda. In 1968 the monastery underwent substantial renovations when many of the statues were coated with pure gold! In 1997 some of the buildings were severely damaged by landslides causing the site to be closed to the public for over two years for reconstruction, which is in fact still going on to this day.

The pagoda achieved some fame when in 2001 it was selected to appear on the HK$ 100 banknote.

In the centre of the terrace between the main hall and the Pagoda is the Kwun Yam, (Goddess of Mercy) Pavilion. My final photo is a collage is of the beautiful roof of this pavilion and the water lilies in the pool surrounding her.

If you would like to view the full set of photos taken by me at Pai Tau they can be viewed in my Flickr Album entitled Ten Thousand Buddhas 

Admission to the Monastery is free and it is open daily from 9am to 5.30pm, unless there is heavy rain or a Typhoon signal above Level 8. There is a Vegetarian Restaurant on site open every day except Thursday where we ate and enjoyed a traditional meal.

Warning, you may come across Monks begging in the area around the monastery, they are fake, do not be taken in by them. The Hong Kong Buddhist Association has confirmed that genuine monks are not allowed to beg there. The situation is being watched by the police and arrests have been made

With thanks to the Hong Kong Extras Website  for some of the information included in this post.