A Travellerspoint blog

A Stroll Back in Time.

Sheung Wan and Central

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I wasn't happy when I wrote my last blog that I did not make it to the district known as Tai Ping Shan in Western. I thought today after work I'll go there and add my visit to the previous blog. However, being me, I got carried away and went here and there and everywhere. I then decided that slotting it all into the last blog would be a pain, so I might as well start a new blog. I basically started out today in Central and wended my way over to Sheung Wan. I mainly paid attention to historical buildings and street art, but also visited markets and a couple of parks.

I started my explorations in Central with a quick visit to The Lanes. The Lanes refers to Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West. These parallel lanes are lined with shops along the sides and have rows of stalls down their centre. They sell clothing, souvenirs and lots of other goods at relatively cheap prices. There's not many positive things to say about Covid, but I must admit this visit is the quietest I have ever seen The Lanes. I could easily walk up and down them. Normally, this area is packed.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

The Lanes.

Next I walked up Pottinger Street, which is also referred to as Stone Slab Street, because it is is paved unevenly with granite stone steps and can be pretty difficult to walk on. This street was originally named after Henry Pottinger, the first Governor of Hong Kong who served here from 1843 to 1844. In the nineteenth century Pottinger Street acted as a kind of rough boundary between part of Hong Kong westerners lived in and part Chinese people lived in. Nowadays Pottinger Street is lined with stalls. Several of these were selling decorations, clothing and lucky red envelopes for Chinese New Year.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

Pottinger Street.

After looking at Pottinger Street, I walked across to Graham Street, which is home to one of the oldest street markets in Hong Kong. This market specializes in fruit, vegetables and other food stuff. It is more than one hundred and sixty years old. Unfortunately, The Urban Renewal Authority plan to demolish it and redevelop the area.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

Graham Street Market and surroundings.

My next stop was hard to find, because it isn't well signposted. It was Pak Tsz Lane Park. This is situated in a quiet square, close to the rear of 52 Gage Street. At this address, in the late nineteenth century, members of a revolutionary anti-Qing Dynasty group, called the Furen Literary Society used to meet. The building exited out onto several narrow lanes which could be used for a quick getaway from either Qing agents or the Hong Kong police. Leading members of the revolutionary group which met here were Yeung Ku-wan, Sun Yat-sen and Tse Tsan-tai. Yeung Ku-wan was eventually caught and assassinated by Qing Dynasty agents here. There's a plaque showing where he was killed. There is also a sculpture called "Cutting off the Queue." Queue is the name for the long pigtail Chinese men used to wear. Cutting it off was an act of rebellion against the emperor. As well as the sculpture, the park also has information panels about the history of the Furen Literary Society and a slatted display of Sun Yat-sen's letter of condolence to Tse Tsan-tai, after the assassination of Yeung Kui-wan.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Cutting off the queue.

Display about the Furen Literary Society.

Display about the Furen Literary Society.

Nearby street art. This one has speech bubbles and I believe people sometimes add rude comments. It was comment free when I visited.

Nearby street art. This one has speech bubbles and I believe people sometimes add rude comments. It was comment free when I visited.

Next I climbed up to Hollywood Road and began looking for the former Police Married Quarters, normally referred to as PMQ. This listed building was once the old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters. It has been totally refurbished and is now used as a venue for arts and design. Going back further in time to 1889, before this site was the police married quarters, it was the site of Victoria College (later renamed Queen's College), a prestigious school which provided a western style education. Well known former pupils of this school include: Dr Sun Yat-sen and business tycoon, Sir Robert Ho Tung. Sadly, the school was destroyed in World War II, though parts of its foundations remain and are preserved within PMQ.

PMQ.

PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

Art by Little Thunder, a popular Hong Kong cartoonist, at PMQ.

One of the reasons I did not complete the whole of this area on my first visit is because exploring the streets means constantly going up and down steep hills. After a while, it gets too sore on the knees. Sheung Wan translates as Upper District because it is mainly located on the sides of hills. Ladder Street is just one of several steep streets here.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Ladder Street.

Another reason was that I kept being constantly distracted by street art which is basically pretty much everywhere in this area. Sheung Wan has a lot of ever changing street art especially in Pu Hing Fong, Square Street, West Street and Tai Ping Shan Street.

Carp swimming by Danish artist Christian Storm.

Carp swimming by Danish artist Christian Storm.

Street Art by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Street Art by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Photo Opportunity by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Photo Opportunity by 45RPM and VOYDER.

Street art/Video Game.

Street art/Video Game.

These birds were part of a bigger art work with pretend windows, but my photo of that didn't turn out.

These birds were part of a bigger art work with pretend windows, but my photo of that didn't turn out.

Mountains, part of Hong Kong Walls Festival.

Mountains, part of Hong Kong Walls Festival.

Dragon.

Dragon.

Warli Art from West India, created by Vayeda Brothers, Mayur and Tushar.

Warli Art from West India, created by Vayeda Brothers, Mayur and Tushar.

By Zoie Lam an artist based in Hong Kong. She created the imaginary planet Zlism. Her paintings detail a world with all its residents and happenings.

By Zoie Lam an artist based in Hong Kong. She created the imaginary planet Zlism. Her paintings detail a world with all its residents and happenings.

Is she a princess? Seems to advertise Oscary Art which is in PMQ.

Is she a princess? Seems to advertise Oscary Art which is in PMQ.

Square Street.

Square Street.

Street Art.

Street Art.

San Wui Commercial Society School, Tai Ping Shan.

San Wui Commercial Society School, Tai Ping Shan.

Outside a cafe.

Outside a cafe.

Dragon by MEGIC, a Canadian Chinese artist.

Dragon by MEGIC, a Canadian Chinese artist.

Art by Hong Kong artist, KS. He has a unique portrait series. His first solo exhibition was called “Random is Beautiful” in 2010.

Art by Hong Kong artist, KS. He has a unique portrait series. His first solo exhibition was called “Random is Beautiful” in 2010.

Flowers near Hollywood Road Park.

Flowers near Hollywood Road Park.

Peacock, Tai Ping Shan Road.

Peacock, Tai Ping Shan Road.

After looking at all that, I finally reached what I had set out to see - Tai Ping Shan. Tai Ping Shan means "Peace Hill". In the early years of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, Tai Ping Shan was the area where most Chinese people lived. It was a poor, crowded, dirty area filled with temples, brothels and opium dens. In May 1894, bubonic plague broke out here, causing huge numbers of deaths. This led the Government to implement a series of measures to improve living conditions in this area. Measures included cleaning streets, demolishing buildings, the creation of Blake Garden - Hong Kong's first public park and establishing the Bacteriological Institute, which is now The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences. The Tung Wah Hospital Group, a charitable organization providing health care and education for poorer members of society, was also founded here following the outbreak of plague.

Nowadays Tai Ping Shan Street is a friendly place lined with temples and colourful shops. I had a look at several of the temples and found the people there welcoming and happy for me to take photos. The first temple I visited was The Kwun Yum Temple, dedicated to the Chinese goddess of mercy.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.

The Kwun Yum Temple.



Next I saw the Shui Yuet Temple which is also dedicated to Kwun Yum, but in her pre-goddess state. Shui means water and Yuet means moon. Together these stand for tranquillity and separation from the mundane, materialistic world. A pinwheel is set up near the entrance to the temple and can be spun around for good luck.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Shui Yuet Temple.

Then I had a look at Tai Shui Temple which is dedicated to the sixty heavenly generals— the most powerful group of gods of the Taoist earth deities. A very pleasant man explained to me that this temple is not open to members of the public, but let me take a photo anyway, because I asked nicely.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

Tai Shui Temple.

I just liked the look of this hardware shop

I just liked the look of this hardware shop

Sheung Wan.

Sheung Wan.

After this I visited Hollywood Road Park which had some pretty pagodas, ponds and waterfalls. Hollywood Road Park used to be known as Possession Point, the location where the Royal Navy landed on Hong Kong Island, before the signing of the Treaty of Nanking. It was also the site of the former Tai Tat Tei which means large piece of land. In the 1960's and 1970's there was a popular bazaar market here which was famous for street entertainment, a night market and cheap street food, earning it the nickname the "poor man's nightclub".

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

Hollywood Road Park.

I passed a few interesting buildings as I descended the hill towards the MTR. On my walk there I also passed many shops which specialized in dried foods.

Buildings.

Buildings.

Travelodge Central Hollywood Road. Mural designed and painted by Stern Rockwell.

Travelodge Central Hollywood Road. Mural designed and painted by Stern Rockwell.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Chinese dried food shops.

Posted by irenevt 11:00 Archived in Hong Kong

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Comments

Lot of interesting bits and pieces of Hong Kongs history! How do you know all this about what some place use to be and why this or that park has made? :)

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna when I write my blog up I look up the places I've visited I am just learning as I go along.

by irenevt

Well you certainly had enough for an entire blog. Glad you wrote it this way.

by littlesam1

Hi Sam, thank you for visiting. Hope all good with you, or at least as good as it can be nowadays.

by irenevt

A shame they are redeveloping that charming old market. I love street markets. All the steps certainly looked intimidating. I probably would have fallen on my face. I don't care if steps are tall or low but when they aren't even, I tend to trip over them.

Do you speak and read Chinese? I'm assuming you do.

by Beausoleil

Oh dear, Sally, I'm ashamed to answer your question. I've been here 25 years. I have learned to count to ten, say good morning, thank you and rubbish (that's to tell my classroom amah what she can throw away). I can't read a single character. Cantonese is a really difficult language. As it's tonal it helps if your musical. I really think I'm tone deaf.

by irenevt

That's funny. I suspect you are not tone deaf. Very few people are. It's just experience or training. I've only met one woman who was truly tone deaf. She was my principal when I started teaching (music) and she was the most supportive administrator I've ever had. She was mystified by music. Learning a foreign language is very difficult for many people. I taught with a Chinese man (born and raised in the USA) who wanted to learn Chinese and he studied it for years and never got too far with it but he sure had fun trying. I'm sure his ancestors were proud of him!

by Beausoleil

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