Streets of Hong Kong Premium Private Tours--Dispatch #0015: THE PENINSULA

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The Peninsula Hotel,  2018

The Peninsula Hotel,  2018

I just received a message from someone with the Peninsula Hotel. As you can see, they liked the above image (posted to Instagram) that I snapped during one of my many quick passes through the lobby of the hotel.

I first stayed in the Peninsula Hotel in the early 1970s because that was my Dad's "go to" business hotel in Hong Kong. Needless to say, he put many of his visiting business guests and colleagues in that hotel. His Kowloon office was literally minutes away and that building is still standing although it now houses the Hang Seng Bank. The hotel as it stands today has a slightly different exterior owing to the subsequent height extension. But the lobby is still as I remembered it. Back then I was  already playing music in my own bands and you can imagine what I thought arriving in the hotel and hearing a string orchestra playing the Beatles Eleanor Rigby in the lobby! I had already stayed in such upscale hotels as the Okura in Tokyo, so I was already a seasoned young traveler. I was suitably impressed by the Peninsula Hotel! My first real watch and tailored suit were purchased in the streets surrounding the hotel and I remember doing that vividly.  Naturally my parents were on the hotel's A-List and my Dad continued to receive the Peninsula magazine many years afterwards. There is still a pile of them sitting in the basement of the family house.

In any event, I consider the Peninsula Hotel to be a historic Hong Kong landmark and it is one of my regular stops on tour as well as during the Christmas holidays. My wife and I still enjoy having high tea there, we take pictures of the annual Christmas tree and I have a bunch of stories about the notables we have met there (the exiled former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Sinawatra, being the most famous/infamous).

Naturally, I was touched when I received this message for the sentimental reasons recounted above.

To view more of my images of Hong Kong and Macau, please visit my Flickr Stream or visit me on Instagram: @williambanzai7.

Hope to see you soon on the Streets of Hong Kong or Macau!

WB7

End of Dispatch


ABOUT STREETS OF HONG KONG PREMIUM WALKING TOURS

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I am an American of Asian descent from NYC who has spent many years living and working throughout Asia, most recently based from a very old Chinese neighborhood called To Kwa Wan in Old Kowloon for 15 years. I am also a retired international lawyer with strong Asian roots and I have reinvented myself as a professional artist, photographer and street savvy Hong Kong premium tour guide.

I specialize in premium private walking tours with an emphasis on street culture, local history and, for those so inclined, all levels of photography. My private tours are personalized to match your unique interests. Inasmuch as I am a professional photographer, all of the points of interest covered in my repertoire have a very strong visual appeal coupled with a well informed narrative adding dimension and context to your images.

Whether you are into simple travel snapshots, social media image sharing or serious landscape, architectural or urban street photography or just enjoying the Hong Kong experience, I am in a position to maximize your time spent in Hong Kong and its surrounding locales to the fullest.      

Hence, my mission can be encapsulated as follows: To provide all of my clients with an entertaining, deeply informative and street savvy premium travel experience ultimately leading to cherished memories, a portfolio of stunning on-tour photographs, an urge for further investigation and a strong desire to navigate your way back to this wonderfully engaging city.

My premium walking tours are ideal for acclimating and orienting first time visitors to Hong Kong as well as for returning visitors eager for a new experience.

I accept engagements up to one year in advance or, subject to my availability, last minute and/or same day. Families with children are always welcome and children 16 years and under are free of charge. Special needs clients are also welcome.

You can book a tour or send me an inquiry now by going to my Contact/Booking Page.

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VIEWS FROM THE STREETS OF HONG KONG


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Streets of Hong Kong Premium Private Tours--Dispatch #0014: TAI KWUN, THE HISTORIC CENTRAL POLICE STATION RE-OPENS...

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TAI KWUN (All Rights Reserved, WilliamBanzai7, 2018)

Tai Kwun ("Big Station"), the Former Central Police Station Compound, was built between 1864 and 1925, comprises 16 historic building grouped under the former Central Police Station, the Former Central Magistracy and the Victoria Prison. Most of the Hong Kong's historic colonial architecture was demolished for development before the British government handed Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories back to China in 1997.  After the first building in the Former Central Police Station Compound was built in the 1860s,  the site underwent numerous expansions and reconstruction over the next century.

In 2008, the Hong Kong SAR Government partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club to conserve the and revitalise the complex. Tai Kwun partially reopened to the public in May 2018. 

Tai Kwun once seen by certain elements of the local populace as a symbol of colonial oppression, has been recast as an arts centre. Tai Kwun was built on the edge of Hong Kong Island’s fast-growing downtown in the early 1860s. It is where Ho Chi Minh was imprisoned in the 1930s, where the Japanese army established a base during the second world war, where war crimes trials were subsequently held and where the military units that quashed the 1967 riots were stationed. During the course of Colonial Hong Kong's history, many a rogue spent time quartered in Tai Kwun.

I visited Tai Kwun one fine sunny day in May with a few of my guide colleagues, Amy of Hong Kong Greeters and Lorena of Vive Hong  Kong Tours. Lorena was kind enough to have arranged entry passes--Thank you Lorena!

It was early days and not everything to be featured in Tai Kwun was yet in full swing. However, my initial impression was that this is truly a world class heritage site revitalization and given the diversity of buildings and space on the site, a great venue for capturing great architectural images and unusual city views. The juxtaposition of law and order with arts is intriguing as well (Old Bailey meets modernism).

I was a bit pressed for time, but managed to capture the following images. I have no doubt that Tai Kwun will wind up high on many Hong Kong visitor bucket lists.  Please note that entry is not open and it is necessary to book entry passes online, here.

To view more of my images of Hong Kong and Macau, please visit my Flickr Stream or visit me on Instagram: @williambanzai7.

Hope to see you soon on the Streets of Hong Kong or Macau!

WB7

End of Dispatch


ABOUT STREETS OF HONG KONG PREMIUM WALKING TOURS

HK_Map_1841header.jpg
American-Flag-Yin-Yang copy.jpg

I am an American of Asian descent from NYC who has spent many years living and working throughout Asia, most recently based from a very old Chinese neighborhood called To Kwa Wan in Old Kowloon for 15 years. I am also a retired international lawyer with strong Asian roots and I have reinvented myself as a professional artist, photographer and street savvy Hong Kong premium tour guide.

I specialize in premium private walking tours with an emphasis on street culture, local history and, for those so inclined, all levels of photography. My private tours are personalized to match your unique interests. Inasmuch as I am a professional photographer, all of the points of interest covered in my repertoire have a very strong visual appeal coupled with a well informed narrative adding dimension and context to your images.

Whether you are into simple travel snapshots, social media image sharing or serious landscape, architectural or urban street photography or just enjoying the Hong Kong experience, I am in a position to maximize your time spent in Hong Kong and its surrounding locales to the fullest.      

Hence, my mission can be encapsulated as follows: To provide all of my clients with an entertaining, deeply informative and street savvy premium travel experience ultimately leading to cherished memories, a portfolio of stunning on-tour photographs, an urge for further investigation and a strong desire to navigate your way back to this wonderfully engaging city.

My premium walking tours are ideal for acclimating and orienting first time visitors to Hong Kong as well as for returning visitors eager for a new experience.

I accept engagements up to one year in advance or, subject to my availability, last minute and/or same day. Families with children are always welcome and children 16 years and under are free of charge. Special needs clients are also welcome.

You can book a tour or send me an inquiry now by going to my Contact/Booking Page.

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VIEWS FROM THE STREETS OF HONG KONG


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Streets of Hong Kong Premium Private Tours--Dispatch #0013: HONG KONG'S FLAME OF THE FOREST TREES

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HONG KONG HISTORY MUSEUM FLAME OF THE FOREST TREE (All Rights Reserved, WilliamBanzai7, 2018)

Delonix regia, the flame tree, is a species of flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. In many tropical parts of the world it is grown as an ornamental tree and in English it is given the name royal poinciana or flamboyant. It is also one of several trees known as "flame tree". [Source: Wikipedia]

Among the great early summer joys in Hong Kong is the sight of magnificent flame of the forest trees coming into flower along Hong Kong's roadsides. Throughout May and June, this spectacular, showy tree becomes immediately recognisable for the vivid red blossoms covering its spreading canopy.

Hong Kong Island’s southern coast has numerous mature specimens in surviving old gardens, especially around Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay and Stanley. For decades, the Repulse Bay Hotel was internationally famed for its flame of the forest trees, which featured prominently on postcards and the hotel’s own advertising material. [Source: Jason Wordie SCMP]

Photographically, these magnificent brightly colored trees provide a wonderful visual enhancement whenever in image proximity.

To view more of my images of Hong Kong and Macau, please visit my Flickr Stream or visit me on Instagram: @williambanzai7.

Hope to see you soon on the Streets of Hong Kong or Macau!

WB7

End of Dispatch

Flame of Forest Trees at Old Repulse Bay Hotel

To Kwa Wan's Flame of the Forest (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)

To Kwa Wan's Flame of the Forest (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)

Yuen Po Bird Garden Flame of the Forest (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)

Yuen Po Bird Garden Flame of the Forest (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)

Flame of the Forest Close Up (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)

Flame of the Forest Close Up (All Rights Reserved, William Banzai7 2018)


ABOUT STREETS OF HONG KONG PREMIUM WALKING TOURS

HK_Map_1841header.jpg
American-Flag-Yin-Yang copy.jpg

I am an American of Asian descent from NYC who has spent many years living and working throughout Asia, most recently based from a very old Chinese neighborhood called To Kwa Wan in Old Kowloon for 15 years. I am also a retired international lawyer with strong Asian roots and I have reinvented myself as a professional artist, photographer and street savvy Hong Kong premium tour guide.

I specialize in premium private walking tours with an emphasis on street culture, local history and, for those so inclined, all levels of photography. My private tours are personalized to match your unique interests. Inasmuch as I am a professional photographer, all of the points of interest covered in my repertoire have a very strong visual appeal coupled with a well informed narrative adding dimension and context to your images.

Whether you are into simple travel snapshots, social media image sharing or serious landscape, architectural or urban street photography or just enjoying the Hong Kong experience, I am in a position to maximize your time spent in Hong Kong and its surrounding locales to the fullest.      

Hence, my mission can be encapsulated as follows: To provide all of my clients with an entertaining, deeply informative and street savvy premium travel experience ultimately leading to cherished memories, a portfolio of stunning on-tour photographs, an urge for further investigation and a strong desire to navigate your way back to this wonderfully engaging city.

My premium walking tours are ideal for acclimating and orienting first time visitors to Hong Kong as well as for returning visitors eager for a new experience.

I accept engagements up to one year in advance or, subject to my availability, last minute and/or same day. Families with children are always welcome and children 16 years and under are free of charge. Special needs clients are also welcome.

You can book a tour or send me an inquiry now by going to my Contact/Booking Page.

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VIEWS FROM THE STREETS OF HONG KONG


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Streets of Hong Kong Premium Private Tours--Dispatch #0012: ROOF SQUATTERS OF TO KWA WAN

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ROOF TOP SQUATTERS OF TO KWA WAN (All Rights Reserved, WilliamBanzai7, 2018)

I often point out illegal roof top dwellings occupied by so called roof squatters. There are still more than a few old neighborhoods located in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island with older Chinese style walk up tenement buildings occupied on the top floor by roof squatters who are primarily of  Mainland Chinese origin (dating back to various social dislocations on the Mainland) as well as refugees from certain South and South East Asian countries. These are people who for a number of technical/legal reasons do not have access to or are not entitled to public housing. There has been a concerted government campaign to eliminate these structures and many have disappeared since 2001. As you can see, many of the rooftops once densely occupied have been cleared.

There was a time dating back to the 1950s when these prominent examples of messy urbanism were ubiquitous on the Hong Kong and Kowloon skyline. The examples you see above are already set to disappear in the very near future as the entire area falls within a planned urban renewal project.

The problem is relocating those who are not fully entitled to obtain the benefit of Hong Kong's social safety net. In any event, these types of impermanent structures have a permanent place in the history and culture of modern day Hong Kong. All of this is covered in further detail on my walking tours.

To view more of my images of Hong Kong and Macau, please visit my Flickr Stream or visit me on Instagram: @williambanzai7.

Hope to see you soon on the Streets of Hong Kong or Macau!

WB7

End of Dispatch

  (All Rights Reserved WilliamBanzai7)

 (All Rights Reserved WilliamBanzai7)

(All Rights Reserved, WilliamBanzai7)

(All Rights Reserved, WilliamBanzai7)


ABOUT STREETS OF HONG KONG PREMIUM WALKING TOURS

HK_Map_1841header.jpg
American-Flag-Yin-Yang copy.jpg

I am an American of Asian descent from NYC who has spent many years living and working throughout Asia, most recently based from a very old Chinese neighborhood called To Kwa Wan in Old Kowloon for 15 years. I am also a retired international lawyer with strong Asian roots and I have reinvented myself as a professional artist, photographer and street savvy Hong Kong premium tour guide.

I specialize in premium private walking tours with an emphasis on street culture, local history and, for those so inclined, all levels of photography. My private tours are personalized to match your unique interests. Inasmuch as I am a professional photographer, all of the points of interest covered in my repertoire have a very strong visual appeal coupled with a well informed narrative adding dimension and context to your images.

Whether you are into simple travel snapshots, social media image sharing or serious landscape, architectural or urban street photography or just enjoying the Hong Kong experience, I am in a position to maximize your time spent in Hong Kong and its surrounding locales to the fullest.      

Hence, my mission can be encapsulated as follows: To provide all of my clients with an entertaining, deeply informative and street savvy premium travel experience ultimately leading to cherished memories, a portfolio of stunning on-tour photographs, an urge for further investigation and a strong desire to navigate your way back to this wonderfully engaging city.

My premium walking tours are ideal for acclimating and orienting first time visitors to Hong Kong as well as for returning visitors eager for a new experience.

I accept engagements up to one year in advance or, subject to my availability, last minute and/or same day. Families with children are always welcome and children 16 years and under are free of charge. Special needs clients are also welcome.

You can book a tour or send me an inquiry now by going to my Contact/Booking Page.

SAlutation 2.jpg

VIEWS FROM THE STREETS OF HONG KONG


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