What’s the story behind the overlooked murals of Pacific Place Three? What inspired the celestial names of Star, Sun, and Moon streets? Why does the Hopewell Centre have a rooftop swimming pool? These are just a small number of questions that cross the mind as you get to know Wan Chai.
What was once a quiet and sandy bay pre-1842 is now famous as one of Hong Kong’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. For many, including Arnault Castel, founder of lifestyle store Kapok, Wan Chai is a place where you can feel the history of Hong Kong come alive just by walking around the neighbourhood. “I love Wan Chai because it’s messy, diverse, very alive,” he says. “It feels like the heart of Hong Kong.”
He loves it for the way it switches personality from block to block: staid office district here, seedy red light district there. “It’s the bad boy or bad girl of Hong Kong,” he says. “I love Wan Chai because it can be the busiest or calmest part of the city. Pockets of green and quiet do exist, such as our beloved Sun Street.” Castel opened Kapok on Sun Street because the quiet pedestrian lane, perched atop a historic granite retaining wall, seems to embody the shop’s eclectic, free-spirited nature.
Indeed, the entire neighbourhood is home to a unique mixture of old trades, traditional eats, tall buildings and quiet temples – a contrasting yet harmonious combination of features. It’s a place where you can find everything from ancient shrines to Hong Kong’s shortest street to cha chaan teng that serve distinct Hong Kong-style fusion cuisine.
It’s a fascinating place to explore on your own, but an even better one to discover with the help of a knowledgable neighbour. On April 1, 2017, Kapok will lead a journey through Wan Chai’s history, giving you a chance to talk with shopkeepers that have witnessed the district’s changes, and get a taste of shopping in the neighbourhood wet market. The tour includes local goodies in a beautifully crafted Kapok tote bag and a map guide filled with information on Wan Chai’s most intriguing locations.
This walk has been specially crafted by Kapok, Zolima CityMag and Walk in Hong Kong. Limited spaces are available so register now!
14:30-17:30, April 1, 2017. HK$490 per person. Meet at Kapok, 3 Sun Street, Wan Chai.