Back to Hong Kong in 2024

The Covid-19 pandemic might have got in the way but I’m finally headed back to Hong Kong – I managed to score one of the 6,020 “free” tickets in Cathay Pacific’s “World of Winners” giveaway.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER B-KQT parked on the taxiway on Sierra taxiway at Melbourne Airport

The tickets weren’t actually “free” – I still had to pay AU$363 in carrier surcharges, and AU$171 being government taxes, fees and charges. Plus I’m also still on the hook for two extra seats so my kids can some and join in the fun!

My ticket is booked for 2024 – now I just have to decide what we’re going to do on our visit.


The header photo is of Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER B-KQT sitting on the taxiway at Melbourne Airport – I was lucky enough to score an airside tour back in 2022.

Carbridge bus #43 BS04UB waiting on taxiway Sierra while us planespotters are busy photographing the parked planes up ahead

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Hong Kong’s big orange ashtrays

Hong Kong’s round orange bins are an iconic sight on city streets.

Traffic Warden heads along 'Stop Illegal Dumping - Someone is Watching' banner and CCTV cameras beside a rubbish bin on Hollywood Road

And in the countryside.

Hong Kong's distinctive round rubbish bins

They also double as ashtrays.

Government quitting smoking promotion on a street ashtray

Except in no smoking areas.

Map showing no smoking areas at the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier

But old habits die hard – instead of heading to the nearest smoking areas.

Directions to the Kowloon Park smoking area

Smokers stub out their cigarettes where the ashtrays used to be found.

This is a no smoking area so the ashtray was covered over, plus plenty of smokers don't care


Orange rectangular “cigarette butt containers” also appear on the streets of Hong Kong.

Overflowing rubbish bin on Nathan Road

While the orange fibreglass rubbish bins are officially designed “130 litre litter container“.

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History of the Lo Wo railway bridge

This is the story of the Lo Wo railway bridge, which has carried trains from Hong Kong into China since 1910.

Hulton Archive

Work on the first railway bridge at Lo Wu commenced in 1906 and was completed in 1909, opening in 1910 together with the British Section of Kowloon-Canton Railway, but did not form a connection through to Canton until the opening of the Chinese Section to traffic in 1911. The three span bridge had a central 100 foot (30 metre) steel truss, flanked by a pair of 20 foot (6 metre) steel girder spans at either end.

KCRC photo

The bridge was heavily defended in World War II, after the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Shenzhen and Guangzhou after landing in Daya Bay in October 1938.

Through train services being stopped, and barbed wire crossing the bridge.

Hong Kong Government photo

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in the early morning of December 8, 1941 and the Japanese declaration of war against the British Empire, the Royal Engineers were instructed to immediately demolish the Lo Wu Bridge in order to slow down the Japanese invasion, but with little effect.

Reaching Kowloon a few days later. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the railway bridge was rebuilt, but destroyed by the Imperial Japanese Army following their surrender in 1945.

After the British retook control of Hong Kong, a temporary bailey bridge was built at Lo Wu.

Harrison Forman Collection

But only for the use of passengers crossing on foot.

Harrison Forman Collection

By 1950 a permanent steel bridge had been built, 32 metres long and 12 metres wide.

Harrison Forman Collection

For the use of trains.

PA Images photo

But passengers still needed to cross the bridge on foot, thanks to the suspension of through passenger train services to the mainland in October 1949, after the Communists took control after the Chinese Civil War.

The first improvement to be made to the crossing was the enclosure of the steel trusses in December 1950 in an attempt to protect passengers from thieves.

In December, at the request of the Police Department, which provided the necessary funds, the Railway Border Bridge was totally enclosed with steel plates in order to afford protection to foot passengers who were robbed by gangs operating from Chinese Territory. The thieves climbed up on to the under-girders of the bridge and slashed baggage with razor blades while others snatched wrist watches and jewellery openly. On one occasion when the British Police endeavoured to stop them they were pelted with stones, bottles and nightsoil.

A larger station at Lo Wu was opened in 1952 to handle the growth in passengers crossing the border, with further expansion occurring in 1954 and 1957, and in 1962 the curved roof was added over the bridge to shelter crossing passengers.

In 1966 the station was rebuilt a second time, as cross-border traffic continued to grow, with further expansion continuing through the 1970s.

A big change came in April 1979, when the Guangzhou-Kowloon through train service was restored.

KCRC photo

And the usage of the railway bridge by pedestrians ended in 1981, with the completion of a pedestrian-only bridge.

However expansion of Lo Wu station continued, with electrification of the railway completed in 1982, and a new six story railway station and border crossing complex in 1986.

And the final change came in 2004, when works to widen the Shenzhen River saw the need to replace the second-generation bridge with a longer span.

Hong Kong Government photo

The second-generation bridge was retained for preservation, being relocated to a site on Hong Kong bank of the river.

Drainage Services Department photo

Allowing the current bridge to be slid into place.

深圳新时速 photo, via

Today’s bridge is 44 meters long, 20 meters wide and 11 meters high.

Footnote: on second-generation bridge today

The completion date of the second-generation bridge is a little hazy – some sources say it was completed in 1957, but that doesn’t fit the photos I found online which show it being in place during the early 1950s.

Despite being nominally ‘preserved’, the second-generation bridge is being reclaimed by nature.

舊羅湖橋 Old Lo Wu bridge
無人之境 Abandoned HK

Inaccessible to the public.

Google Maps

Further reading


Special events:

Bridge relocation:

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Modernising the MTR M-Train fleet

Hong Kong’s fleet of Metro Cammell build ‘M-Train’ EMUs formed the core of the Mass Transit Railway system from opening in 1979, but after two decades in service they were looking dated, so in 1996 the decision was made to modernise them.

Artists impression by Chris Barrett

A noticeable change in the days before platform screen doors was the new front end.

Design drawings by Chris Barrett

The other being the upgraded interior.

Design drawings by Chris Barrett

Along with a United Group badge inside the train.

'MTR train modernisation by Goninan' plaque onboard a MTR train

The full list of changes include:

Redesigning of the train’s front which originally featured a red stripe and a white fairing. The refurbished front has a silver and black coating with new electronic destination and train running number displays.

The interior changes include the replacement of lighting and seats, along with installation of new dot-matrix display showing news and weather information, and flashing system maps indicating the station and line that the train is running on.

The old black ball-shaped strap hangers were replaced with new red handles. The grab poles are now marked with red in the middle.

Some other changes included altering the fibreglass facade on the exterior ends to modernise their appearance, as well as the installation of the advanced digital voice announcement (DVA) and passenger information systems.

The first batch of ‘Phase 1’ trains were delivered by British firm Metro Cammell between 1979–1982, followed by phase 2A trains in 1982–1985, phase 2B trains in 1985–1986, phase 2C in 1988–1989, and the final phase 3 trains in 1994–1998.

The modernisation program commenced in August 1998 at Kowloon Bay Depot, with the first train entering service in December 1998.

Photo by Oliver Tsang/South China Morning Post

To farewell the last of the non-refurbished trains, on 19 August 2001 the MTR operated a special “Charity Ride on the Last First-Generation MTR Train” (第一代地鐵列車榮休之旅列車) with local railfans being out in force.

'Charity Ride on the Last First-Generation MTR Train' headboard - photo by HKRail.Net/John Shum, licensed under under CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo by HKRail.Net/John Shum, licensed under under CC BY-SA 4.0

All refurbishment works were completed in September 2001.

Running along a viaduct, a northbound train arrives into Kwai Fong station


Unlike the Metro Cammell EMUs used by the KCR on the East Rail line, I don’t believe any ‘spare’ carriages avoided the refurbishment program.

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More on my Hong Kong model railway

I’ve spent the past few months working on my Hong Kong themed N scale model railway, and last week it made it’s first ‘proper’ public outing at Melbourne’s 2023 Easter Model Train Expo.

The layout is in 1:160 N scale and is made up of a number of T-Trak modules joined together to form a layout. Features on the layout include a typical Hong Kong street with operating pedestrian crossing, and the Beacon Hill Tunnel beneath the Kowloon Hills.

The buses and the Hong Kong-style buildings are by 80M Bus Model Shop, and the China Railways trains by a variety of manufacturers.

I’ve still got plenty more ideas on Hong Kong scenes include on the layout, which will eventually be twice as long as present, as well as a collection of Kowloon Canton Railway rolling stock to finish building to run on the tracks.

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