This is among the most favorite things I do in Hong Kong. And clearly, it is not a shopping spree at Tsim Sha Tsui. You can call it a non-doing, if you like. Because whenever I am here at Hong Kong Park – the vast 8-hectare manicured green space – I just do nothing but taking it really really easy, keeping my mind nice and quiet, strolling along the paved and upslope path, and just soaking up all the beauty and serenity of this urban wilderness that makes Hong Kong one of my all-time favorite destinations overseas.
Built on Victoria Barracks – a former garrison that used to stretch from the foot of the hill all the way down to the quay of the harbour before the series of land reclaimation that drastically narrowed down the distance between Hong Kong – Kowloon – the park is a fantastic gift from the government of Hong Kong in 1979 to the people. When they decided to abolish the old barracks and allocate the land near the foot of the hill for commercial uses and governmental buildings, they thought the mid-levels section here should be made into a public sanctuary filled with trees and ponds and animals for all the people in Hong Kong to come and relax. The result is this HK$400-million gorgeous park nestled in the middle of the bustling business district boasting a great peaceful and quiet contrast to the outside. Co-developed by former Urban Council and former Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, this park also has a museum, a restaurant (Lock Cha tea house), an aviary, and some educational and sports facilities for the public. Some of those facilities are housed in old preserved buildings such as the Flagstaff House now the Teaware Museum and the Marvell House now an educational center.
The easiest way to get to Hong Kong Park is via Admiralty’s MTR station and take the escalator at the Pacific Place out to the Supreme Court Road and right into the park. Passing a big fountain and a water garden, you will see the Teaware Museum first to your right, walk further and enjoy the park’s most photographed spot (first picture above) with a large pond of lotus, turtles and fat and colourful carps.
Uphill, you will see signs pointing to the aviary. If you are into old architecture, you can drop by at the Rawlinson House, now the park’s management office and the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage registry.
At the aviary, they have a caged section where various types of beautiful hornbills are kept. For me, this is such a sad sight and I can only hope that they take a good care of these gorgeous animals.
But then, there is Edward Youde Aviary which is a huge bird cage with elevated walkway through tree canopy that we can view the birds, trees and plants from various angles and platforms. Here, the birds are quite free and they seem to be flying about happily in this arranged abode. Some species are in big groups, chirping and chorusing in loud funny noises. This is like a themed park of a kind for they also feed the birds with fresh fruits and nuts for visitors to see the birds eating in action. Quite a fun way to get to know these birds. Great place to bring children.
There are about 600 birds from 80 species in this aviary with billboards describing some distinctive birds and information of their natures. Do not forget to look down on the ground below where steaming creek runs through rocky terrains; you might spot the beautiful peacocks, pheasants, partridges and thrushes walking around, unperturbed.
Hong Kong Park does have free bird-watching activity every Wednesday and guided-tour of the park every Saturday. But I guess you need to understand Cantonese to join.