Accompanied by Walk in Hong Kong's founder, Paul Chan, Prudence Lui is taken on a private tour to find out more about the cultural and historical side of Sham Shui Po district
For those wanting to learn about how locals live, there is no better way than stepping right into the heart of neighbourhoods. Following the success of Old Town Central walks last year, Hong Kong Tourism Board this year repackaged cultural resources of Sham Shui Po, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, to encourage visitors to explore at their own pace.
The three-hour walking tour set off from Sham Shui Po MTR station in the morning. As a local, I often visit Sham Shui Po to shop and dine, but my knowledge of the area has been confined to the Golden Computer Shopping Center and Apliu Street.
This time, as I’m on a small private group tour with Chan and our retiree tour guide William Ip, I was looking forward to gaining a deeper cultural and historical appreciation of the district.
The extensive itinerary covered Mei Ho House Museum (the first public housing in Hong Kong in 1950s), Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC; a former industrial building transformed into a hub of arts and creativity), Pei Ho Street and Tai Po Road junction, Kung Wo Soy Bean Product Shop, Ap Liu Street Market, and handcraft & lifestyle stores on Tai Nan Street.
What interested me the most was that the area is home to a tapestry of trade, taking in pawn shops, a toy street, as well as small businesses brokering umbrella repair, fabrics and audio equipment.
I particularly enjoyed the opportunities for local interaction, such as with an artist at JCCAC. Due to time constraints, however, the group did not get to catch snake queen Ms Chow while at the Shia Wong Hip Snake Soup shop. Still, the staff gave us a peek at the shop’s numerous displays, from live snakes in cages to bottles of snake wine.
I hope to make another visit to Shia Wong Hip Snake Soup to take pictures with the shop’s pet snake, named Kitty, under the supervision of Ms Chow.
Our final stop surprised me, as the shops and building in Sham Shui Po have received a facelift courtesy of HKwalls graffiti, a street art group that invited local and international graffiti artists to leave their mark.
For those wanting more insight and interaction, private tours are available upon request. Prices start from HK$1,800 (US$230), for groups of two to 18 pax. Alternatively for a big corporate groups of up to 200 pax, the company can arrange for multiple guides to be present.
I would also recommend doing the tour in the morning to avoid crowds.
There is no better way to explore the city than on foot, to soak in the ambience and rub shoulders with the locals. My knowledgeable local tour guide made a huge difference as he could easily respond to all my burning questions.
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