Monday, June 29, 2015

Over the Weekend: The Helena May

I was looking for new places to have afternoon tea and found a blog which introduced me to The Helena May.  Though we didn't get around to the afternoon tea, as the tour began at 11:15 am, I thought it might be nice to just check out this tour and see what it was all about.  

The Helena May Info:
35 Garden Road

Free guided tours are given once a month and need to be booked at least a month in advance.

The tour was quite limited (see below of the tour stops), but the guide told us that the entire historical building would be open on Open Day, which wasn't set in stone as of this past weekend.  The guide told us that the building was undergoing renovations for the upcoming 100th year anniversary, which would be celebrated throughout next year. 

None the less, the ground floor and garden were gorgeous to wander through.  We took the tour more of fodder for sketches than as a tour of collecting any historical factoids.  The tour guide was just one of the long standing members of The Helena May and basically just told us facts from the website.

The Blue Room (above) is the grand showcase of the tour.  It's also where we all gathered in the beginning to be introduced to the history of The Helena May.

Of what our guide told us, Lady Helena May (pictured below), wife of former Hong Kong Governor Sir Henry May, noticed that there weren't any appropriate accommodations for young ladies who ventured over to Hong Kong back in the early 1900s.  So, she was the key person who pushed to have this building built to house any young woman who needed temporary accomodations.

The Blue Room, as the guide told us, was not as beautifully ornate as it is today.  He said that a few decades ago, it was quite drab.  He told us that a wealthy Chinese woman decided to renovate the space to what we see it as today.

The tour took us out to the gardens, which were lovely and had quite a bit of shade to protect the members of The Helena May from the scorching Hong Kong sun!  This was probably my favorite part of the tour because it was so quiet and peaceful.  The Peak Tram also ran along the backside of the garden, so that was nice to see those tram riders!

Another great spot, which I think most of the tour guests enjoyed was perusing the library.  The guide told us that the space for the current library was once the ball room of The Helena May.  It was then deemed too small, so it was converted into a library.  He said that it was the largest private library in Hong Kong, housing around 26, 000 English books.

I guess that's one of the perks of becoming a member of this woman's club!

The tour ended about half an hour later at the main lobby area, next to the restaurant.  From here, we were given the wonderful option to wander around at our leisure and revisit The Blue Room.

Afterwards, we hiked over to Hong Kong Park to have lunch at L16, which is one of our favorite Thai/Japanese restaurants.  Plus, it was the closest place we could think of to find food.

Thinking back, this was a great way to spend the weekend.  We trekked all the way into Central, which is quite the distance from Yuen Long, and spent the afternoon relaxing in Hong Kong Park.  Though it's quite hot these days, it just seems cooler (temperature-wise) in the park.  Someone told me that plants give off a cooling affect…

But, the weekend was great!  We got to view one of Hong Kong's historical buildings and also people watch at the park.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hiking Lamma Island

Besides heading to the beach and shopping the Island, my favorite thing to do, especially these days, is go for a hike.  It's blistering hot, so short hikes are the most ideal!

My final blog post this week is on the hike that we took up to the Lamma Winds power station.  This is basically the huge windmill that sits atop one of the hills of Lamma Island.  This hike is:

1.  Uphill
2.  Less than an hour one way
3.  Leads to a pretty breezy windmill
4.  Is family/kid friendly
5.  Is paved all the way
6.  Harbors trees on both sides of the path for those who are looking for shade
7.  AND has a nice little tofu fa shop to visit along the way

It's pretty easy to find the trail, just follow the signs all the way up to the windmill.

The route travels through a bit of the villages and has a bunch of shops to refill on water as you meander along.

Getting away from the villages and more towards the incline, more picturesque scenes of nature are surrounding the path to Lamma Winds.

There are crazy huge spiderwebs all over the island, especially up on the hill going towards the windmill.
We headed out on this hike in the morning, so there was a lot of shade to be seen, but as noon approached, the sun got deathly.  It was probably 31 - 32 degrees at the onset of the morning!

SUGGESTION:  During the hot Hong Kong summers, bring a hat, sunglasses, loads of water, and a towel to sop up all the sweat that will be dripping from your brow!

For a longer hike and additional exploration, there are forks in the road that lead to villages around the area.  Those might be nice to check out the next time I'm on Lamma.

The main trek up to the windmill has a pretty good incline.  It gets steeper the higher up you go.

You'll be able to spot the windmill on the last leg of the uphill hike.

It's definitely a great sight to see!  It isn't as breezy as you would think it would be up here, but there was a slight breeze when we got to the top, where we were able to cool off for about half an hour.

Lamma Winds, according to Wikipedia, is a wind farm of just one windmill!  It provides some 100 kW of power to Lamma and Hong Kong Island.

The meter on the windmill recorded ABSOLUTELY no wind as we sat there, but it did output 18 kW of power to the Island.

It's quite a nice little area to rest and maybe picnic on a cooler day.

There are also a lot of facts around the entire area about the technical particulars of the wind turbine (generator, wind vane, gear box, etc), the history of this wind turbine, and also some environmental projects that the locals had participated in.

On the way back, we stopped at the local tofu fa place.  I swear, every hiking trail that I've been on has one of these…

Tofu fa is a sweet tofu dish that is like a refreshingly cool dessert.  It was about $12 HKD and you get a dollop of syrup to make it sweeter.

It's a nice way to reward yourself after an arduous hike uphill in the blistering sun!!!

Our landmark for finding this particular tofu fa place is the painted mural opposite the outdoor shop.

The entrance is here, which may be difficult to find, but it is along the path that leads straight from the main shopping area to Hung Shing Yeh Beach.  I feel like it's a popular rest stop for a lot of people.

If you are looking for a little getaway, venturing over to Lamma for a little hike, a little exploration, and a little bit of Island cuisine is the peeeerfect way to reenergize!  It's also a great way to see a different part and view of Hong Kong!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Swimming Lamma Island

One of the popular attractions of Lamma Island is Hung Shing Yeh Beach.  It's where you go when you want to spend time relaxing, picnicking with family, or just want to get in a refreshing swim after a long hike.

It's an easy beach to find, just follow the signs and it'll lead you to the beach.

You know, you've hit Hung Shing Yeh Beach, when you see this snack and beverage kiosk on the right.  It's a great place to pick up some honey glazed barbecue corn!  (This is probably my favorite thing to get at Hong Kong Disneyland too.)

The corn is 18 HKD, but they also have barbecued pineapples, which I might try on another day.

I don't know what it is about corn, but it's just always heavenly to bite into.


At the back of the kiosk is a little sitting area, where you can also rent space to barbecue your own lunch.  It also leads to Hung Shing Yeh Beach. 

Before you actually get to the beach, there are kiosks where you can pick up some beach gear:  sunscreen, straw hats, umbrellas, swim suits, and beach toys.

We actually went on a hike before we headed down to the beach for a quick swim.  This beach has the usually Hong Kong beach facilities:

1.  Shower stalls
2.  Changing rooms
3.  Bathroom area
4.  Lifeguard stations
5.  First aid station
6.  Snack and Beverage kiosks
7.  Nearby picnic/bbq areas

There are also a few little spots of shade for those who prefer to be out of the sun.

The sand is a lithe grainy, but that's normal, I feel.  I think the most rocky sand I've ever walked on was probably up in Tuen Mun.

The beach sort of rests alongside the power station/treatment facilities.

There are areas of the beach that kids might find nice to explore, like this little river that lets out to the ocean.

There is also a bit of rocks and boulders that can be climbed on both sides of the beach.  They're great areas to explore as well.

To the side of the beach, which also heads over to Sok Kwu Wan, there is a little barbecue area, with really nice tables and benches.

Here's another view of the power station from the rocks to the side of the beach.

It's pretty hot these days.  So, it's always a great idea to head down to the beach and splash around in the water.  It's especially great to be able to have water and cold drinks accessible through out the day at this beach!

Right now, since school is still in session, it seems like Lamma Island isn't as crowded as usual.  So, I would take full advantage of taking a trip out here, if not to chill on the beach, perhaps to take a little hike and explore the island!