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Wan Chai Walks

Winnie Yeung and Rick Gangwani HK-magazine.com 10/10/2008 17:18
Wan Chai Walks - Sightseeing - Tour - Wan Chai

Travel back in time, get a taste of real Hong Kong or drink your way around the district with our three tailored tours. By Winnie Yeung and Rick Gangwani.

A Walk Through History
Despite the Urban Renewal Authority’s demolition projects, Wan Chai is still home to quite a few old architectural gems. The government has just spent six months identifying these spots as part of their plan to revitalize Wan Chai, but we’ve kept it simple and singled out the top sites.

Start your tour at the tenement houses at 72-74 Stone Nullah Lane (1). The one that stands out is the much-talked-about “Blue House,” built in 1920 out of wood and bricks and complete with Western-style balconies. While you’re there, visit the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum (more on p.27) then wander around on nearby Hing Wan Street, which has four buildings with Grade II historical value (numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8). Nearby 9 Kat On Street is a white building with a European façade and a pitch-black wooden staircase.
Next, head to Queen’s Road East and admire the now-vacant Wan Chai Market (2)—a classic Bauhaus-style wet market—before its facelift when the the windows will be sealed. Continuing west, you’ll find three preserved tenement buildings at numbers 186, 188 and 190 (3) with 19th century–style balconies that project to the edge of the road to form a covered sidewalk.

Across the street is Hung Shing Temple (4) at 129-131 Queen’s Rd. East, which was built before 1847. Walking up the adjacent stairs on Ship Street leads you to number 55, Nam Koo Terrace (5), an abandoned mansion and supposedly the city’s most haunted spot.

Too scared? Walk north on Ship Street to number 18, where a 70-year-old tenement building has been preserved and renovated into Yin Yang (6), 2866-0868, by restaurateur Margaret Xu Yuan.
Finish your tour by venturing further down to The Pawn (7) at 66 Johnston Rd., 2866-3444, a British restaurant in a former pawn shop that was among a row of four tenement buildings (the first built in 1888). It has been beautifully preserved in a redevelopment project.

Neighborhood Nibbles
Wan Chai is a fine example of an old neighborhood maintaining traces of our culinary history—you just need to know where to look.
Start your food tour at 130 Johnston Road. Lung Moon (1), 2573-4066, is a 60-year-old yum cha place with golden dragons and phoenixes on the wall, one of the last two charcoal ovens for barbecued meat in town (the other’s at Yung Kee) and best of all, traditional dim sum for regular customers who arrive as early as 6am.