Hong Kong Park is a tranquil oasis surrounded by skyscrapers and the slopes of VictoriaPeak in the neighbourhood of Central.
On a stopover between Southeast Asia and home last January, my husband Rick and I stumbled upon a charming refuge quite by accident. Hong KongPark was a wonderful place to take a break from the crowded sidewalks and relentless traffic of this island city. At the time, the park was resplendent with ribbons of potted daffodils and hyacinths planted in the water of a shallow artificial lake.
A flowing waterway of manmade streams, ponds and waterfalls runs through the park, linking many of its unexpected features. These include a conservatory, a bird aviary, a tai chi garden, a sports centre, a squash centre, a children’s playground, an amphitheatre that seats 880 and a 30-metre high tower offering a panoramic view of the park.
The conservatory houses more than 2,000 rare plant species including orchids, anthuriums, bromeliads and more. A colourful conservation corner is home to more than 200 butterfly and 100 dragonfly species amid such brightly hued flowering plants as lantana, red Ixora and banana shrub (Michelia figo), which despite its name is a member of the magnolia family with a flower that has a banana-like scent.
The elevated walkway in the aviary allows visitors to stroll through the tree canopy where they can see some 600 birds in a tropical rain forest, including pheasants, partridges, thrushes, barbets, fairy bluebirds, bulbuls, leaf birds and more. Tree species include various figs, pond spice, tree cotton, kapok and candlenut as well as palms and tree ferns.
Built on the site of a British garrison known as Victoria Barracks, the park opened in 1991 and encompasses many historic buildings which have been repurposed as everything from the charmingMuseumofTea Wareto the local marriage registry.
So far from home, we were surprised to come across a statue of Company Sergeant-Major John Robert Osborn of the Winnipeg Grenadiers. The first Canadian to be awarded a Victoria Cross in World War II, he received the medal for the many lives he saved by throwing himself on a live grenade during the battle for Hong Kong in December 1941.
If You Go
Hong KongPark is open daily from6 a.m.to11 p.m.
Free bird watching sessions, Wednesday mornings from8to10 a.m.
Three food areas, including one sit-down restaurant, two smaller eateries and kiosks offering snacks.
If You Can’t Go…
Enjoy a slideshow of Hong Kong Park
Photos by Rick Matsumoto