Do you know your neighbours and the rest of the “hood”? If you are living in Hong Kong in the 70s, the answer is probably “Yes” since back then, everyone knows the names of neighbours who live next door, in the same building or down the street. In those days, neighbours are simply friends who loan each other items or help each other out. But the rapid development of new commercial or residential buildings in Hong Kong has dramatically changed such friendly chemistry between people and neighbourhood. While many family-operated businesses are largely replaced by franchisees, low-rise residential buildings are transformed into upscale residential projects. Such revitalization has largely alternated the operation of many Hong Kong communities where we no longer have the luxury of being well acquainted with our neighbours.
I was told, or we believed, that the close-knitted neighbourhood relationships have vanished from the city, but we proved ourselves wrong when we moved to Shing Wong Street. Shing Wong Street is an important roadway connector to several well-known streets in Central including Gough Street, Hollywood Road, Bridges Street, Kennedy Road, and the famous Wing Lee Street where an award winning film was made. It is a vibrant little neighbourhood snuggled up between Mid-levels and Sheung Wan, where every corner has a story to tell. Be it history or new happenings, Shing Wong Street is packed with a unique collection of old and new shops, mixing eastern and western cultures.
Much of its Chinese culture was developed when Dr Sun Yat-sen was living around that area where he attended college, and later planned and stage revolutionary attempts. As for the western culture, a lot of foreigners took residence along the street and helped transform the community into a friendly hub. Currently, more than 70% of residences are foreigners who love to go out on the street and mingle. They love sunbathing or barbequing along the street during weekends. Their generosity of sharing BBQ sausages or beef to neighbours or passerby has helped recreate the long-lost street-level sociability and neighbourhood living in Hong Kong.
Other than being a mix of eastern and western cultures, Shing Wong Street also blends the old with new. Many independent businesses have moved into the neighbourhood including our shop, which sells jewellery from all around the world. The neighbourhood’s cozy friendly atmosphere has let our shop to do whatever we like and in turn allow creativity to flourish. At the same time, decades-old store like Wai Che Printing Company is still in operation, which helped preserve the local Chinese heritage and culture – a unique story that is being told again and again by media. It is located on Shing Wong Street but often mistaken for being located on the famous Wing Lee Street.
Shing Wong Street is much more than a flight of stairs in-between Central and Sheung Wan. It offers a rare glimpse of the past and present, or old and new creative collections. It is a community with friendly and hospitable spirit that allows you to experience the beauty of living in a lively neighbourhood. A stop here will enchant you. Here, at Shing Wong Street, every corner has an engaging story; every neighbor will become your friend. A truly living neighborhood, that’s something that is nearly extinct in Hong Kong.