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.