East Hong Kong Island is full of quirky spots to explore. One of our fave bloggers and Time Out HK photographer Emilie Pavey takes you on a cultural walking tour from Shau Kei Wan to Sai Wan Ho.
Although Shau Kei Wan was once known in Chinese as ‘the bay of starving people’, today, this fishing district seems to revolve around food! Be sure to arrive at Shau Kei Wan before lunch if you want to make the most of it. If arriving by MTR, take Exit A2 and cross the road – you’ll be right near one of the most colourful sights of Shau Kei Wan – Kam Wa Street market. Many of Hong Kong’s food markets are now housed inside purpose-built facilities, but Shau Kei Wan’s lively outdoor market retains a lot of character and has wonderful fresh produce.
After exploring the market, walk over to Shau Kei Wan Main Street East to grab some lunch. This lively restaurant-lined street is the food hub of the district and you will be spoilt for choice for cheap local eats. A One’s yummy Yunnan noodles (pictured above; G/F, 30 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, 2884 1080) come heaped with chopped onions and peanuts and the little shop has lots of atmosphere. There is also the Michelin-starred Hin Ho Curry (Shop 11, G/F, East Way Tower, 59-99 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, 2560 1268), with its unique local interpretation of Indian cuisine. (I haven’t been since the contentious Michelin endorsement but it was always tasty before!)
After lunch, head down the street and follow the signs to the Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, 2569 1500). It’s about a ten-minute walk. This quirky museum is built on the site of the old Lei Yue Mun Fort, up on a hill. Inside the redoubt building are galleries with artefacts from key moments of Hong Kong’s history, such as the Opium War and World War II. However, what makes this museum truly worth a visit is the outdoor historical trail which takes you right down to the shoreline with stunning views of the east side of Victoria Harbour. It’s worth paying the $10 entrance fee for that alone (and free on Wednesdays!).
On leaving the museum, turn right and follow Tung Hei Road for about ten minutes, passing the wholesale fish market, until you see the Tam Kung Temple on the right. Take a moment to visit this grade I historical building which is over 100 years old. Tam Kung is a sea god worshipped by fishermen for his power to control the weather so why not put in a wish for good weather for the next junk trip or a T8 signal on a work day while you’re there?! The fishing heritage of the area is also apparent from the charming boat models at the entrance of the temple.
Go back to Tung Hei Road and turn right almost immediately into Oi Lai Street, then right again through a park until you reach the Aldrich Bay Promenade. From there, you can stroll along the seafront all the way to Sai Wan Ho and watch the sampans going backwards and forwards in the typhoon shelter. Just before reaching the colossal Grand Promenade development, you will pass Aldrich Bay Park on the left. This new, well-designed urban park features a pool with a full size model of a wooden fishing junk that you can actually board (photo opps galore!).
Pass the Grand Promenade bus terminus and turn left, following signs for the Hong Kong Film Archive (50 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho, 2739 2139). This resource centre is a treasure trove of old Hong Kong films and also holds temporary exhibitions. It’s worth catching a film there if you can for a bit of silver screen nostalgia. The archive is currently screening a series called ‘100 must-see Hong Kong movies’ until the end of June; remember to book in advance (via Urbtix) as screenings are often full. As night falls, star constellations light up the pavement outside. For dinner in the evening, the waterfront restaurants at nearby Soho East (including Sassy fave Tapeo) offer enough dining options to keep any hungry cultural explorer happy!
See more of Emilie’s photos on her fantastic blog, Land Of No Cheese or in Time Out Hong Kong every fortnight on the ‘Hidden Hong Kong’ page.