The gaping maw of a sun-dried lizard. A hipster boutique window bust of Sun Yat Sen in a polka-dotted bow tie. A samfu-clad elderly gent sitting just inside the weathered shutters of his shop, reading the newspapers in soft evening light. It might just have been one of those times when the novelty of being on holiday somehow opens your eyes to the sort of things you’re blind to when you’re at home, but I really enjoyed the day we spent wandering around Sheung Wan.
(Yes, these are from the trip to Hong Kong we took, oh, nearly six months ago. No, I will never be as good at this travel blogging thing as The Everywhereist.)
The route we took around Sheung Wan was breathtakingly inefficient but I’ll set things out here in a sequence that roughly matches the route of this self-guided walk from National Geographic instead, because following that would be way smarter. The Frommer’s walk also gives plenty of details of other interesting things you can see in the area beyond what I’ve included in this more photo-centric post.
Snakes on a Pavement
If you start off from Sheung Wan MTR, walk west along Wing Lok Street, which specializes in ginseng, bird’s nest, deer and shark’s fin products. Also shirtless uncles dashing around with trolleys, and unorthodox methods of reserving a parking space.
Around Ko Shing Street, lizards were drying in the sun. I was told they were good for respiratory ailments, but I decided that the Ventolin tablets I occasionally take for asthma would fit better into my bathroom cabinet.
I’m not sure what these were. Snakes?
Apart from dried reptiles, the area also sells lots of dried seafood and has a smell and stray cat population to match.
From here, go to the shops on Queens Road West which specialize in Chinese funerary offerings. I rather enjoyed them.
Snacks on a Plate
There’s nothing quite like the scent of dried cuttlefish and contemplating your own mortality to work up an appetite, is there? Obviously, someone knowledgeable could recommend an abundance of options in the area, but we were just clueless tourists relying on the Internet.
OpenRice steered us to For Kee (Shop J-K, 200 Hollywood Road, but check the OpenRice map carefully rather than just walking along and counting off numbers) for pork chop buns and milk tea. We had no com(nomnom)plaints.
Tea on Tai Ping Shan Street
Just outside For Kee, a flight of stairs takes you up to Tai Ping Shan Street, which is one of those rapidly gentrifying streets where old businesses like junk shops and mechanics now find themselves cheek by jowl with achingly hip boutiques and artisanal blah-blah-blah cafes. And tourists like us, of course.
Despite our probable contributions to ruining this neighbourhood, it’s still a rather charming street. I assure you this guy’s facial hair and vintage tee are wholly unironic.
In a mechanic’s shop down the road, two boys were watching TV in an old car body mounted high off the ground, kind of like an urban treehouse. My childhood immediately seemed less happy in comparison.
Teakha (Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street) is a tiny cafe/bakery full of delicious smells.
Walking eastwards on Tai Ping Shan Street to get to Hollywood Road, this shopfront (on Square Street, I think) caught my eye.
In general, HK shop window dressers seem to have fun with Asian iconography.
Ash and Architecture
I have to admit that I didn’t find Man Mo Temple very absorbing, but pop in anyway because it’s the oldest temple on Hong Kong Island, and it’s slightly thrilling to walk under the huge incense coils and wonder when the next fragment of burning ash is going to fall on you. (It doesn’t hurt…much.)
Despite not finding the temple that interesting on its own, I do find its relationship to its surroundings striking. Hemmed in by taller buildings on every side, its stonework blackened by exposure to years of pollution, it isn’t very pretty to look at, but it’s clearly a survivor.