Two days in Sham Shui Po

6 03 2017

 

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I spent the weekend in Sham Shui Po, eating delicious bread at the Xinjiang Muslim restaurant and shopping for toys and vinyl at Paul’s Records.
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Along the way I stumbled upon a local recreation of the Sistine Chapel, worshippers making offerings of fatty pork to the White Tiger Spirit at a local shrine, a pawn store, herbalists selling dried snakes and turtles, a woman sitting on the subway with acupuncture needles stuck in her head, street vendors selling floppy discs and 80s porn outside the Dragon Centre and a bizarre rundown mall in neighbouring Mongkok selling only coins and stamps.

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But the highlight was undoubtedly the musty and cramped Paul’s Records, where local icon and former street market seller Paul presides over his precious stash of “musical orphans.” We spent an hour or two in the cramped one-room store listening to Paul’s thoughts on Wong Kar Wai and Hong Kong’s historic resistance to Latin music, his memories of a Jackson 5 cover band being killed in the Vietnam War and his complaints about mainland money inflating the value of Teresa Teng records. Amazing stuff.

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4 05 2016

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Sham Shui Po, home to a teeming street market, snake restaurants and “cage houses” is now also home to some of the city’s best-developed street art, thanks to this year’s HK Walls initiative.

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Its also the site of Wontonmeen, an interesting hostel/ residential project for “creatives” with onsite cafe, bicycle rentals and a photography ‘zine/ art-book store which I stumbled onto quite randomly while wandering the neighbourhood.

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HK Walls

4 05 2016





Sham Shui Po Food safari!

26 02 2014

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Sham Shui Po, discussed previously on the blog here and here is one of the most rewarding areas of Hong Kong for exploring on foot, at least for those interested in the gritty, grimy “old Hong Kong” of bustling street markets, cheap and exotic restaurants (and cramped, slummy housing blocks).

One of the city’s poorest and old neighbourhoods (as in, it has the highest median age), it has resisted the glitz and glamour that has swept up much of the island and increasingly, Kowloon, in the wake of the continuing Chinese mainlander tourist boom. Instead it offers blocks of hawkers selling underwear, electrical cables, jade, pirated mainlander DVDs from the 1980s, tatty T-shirts and much else. Stores sell beads or zippers or costume jewellery. The pavements hum with jostling crowds. This is where working class locals,the unemployed and the retired, impoverished new arrivals and  maids on their day off come to shop and eat.

Not surprisingly then, it is home to some of the city’s best loved “street food”. This weekend I went on a tour of some of SSP’s most famous eating establishments – all cheap, no-nonsense, plastic stool-and-formica joints with queues running out the door.

Foremost of these is the Wai Kee noodle cafe, famed for its French toast and its pork-liver-with-ginger noodles (above, unappetizing looking but tasty).

We also stopped by another store, around the corner for its locally esteemed handmade, bamboo-pressed noodles with pork knuckle.

The area is also a stronghold of snake restaurants, like the female-helmed Snake King Yip and Snake King Shan, decked out in stuffed reptiles and snakeskin handbags for sale.

All of this was topped off with a local dessert of hot sesame soup, almond milk and kiwi-juice, although I skipped the frog’s ovaries.