History comes alive on Caine Road. Named after a colonial secretary William Caine in 1859, the street is listed with a raft of historical sites and museums, sprawling casually from Bonham Road in the west and Arbuthnot Road to Upper Albert Road in the east.
For more than a century, Caine Road has been witnessing the ups and downs of Hong Kong and has been gracefully ageing with it.
Its past can be seen everywhere from the spreading roots to decade-year-old laundry shops and food stands – the street is full of living history, yet, it is bustling with new coffee shops without losing its historic charm.
This dynamic mix of old and new is a good reason to take a day tour on a street paved with history.
12:30pm | Rosie Jean’s Café
Rosie Jean’s Café, tucked away in a quiet corner by Shing Wong Street, is one of my favourites.
A casual space adorned with vintage décor and large couches next to a massive classic façade, you can easily spend the whole afternoon in this cosy environment. Outside the coffee shop is an even larger alfresco space for bigger groups and families to host parties.
The menu is diversified and reasonable, the coffee rich and dense and the serving plates elegant. I order a full breakfast set with a homemade mocha – HK$89 – enough to fill me up throughout the day.
Shop 3, G/F., Kam Kin Mansion, 119-125 Caine Road, Mid-Levels
14:00pm | Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum
A little walk will do you good after a fulfilling meal. Two streets above Rosie Jean’s Café lies an Edwardian-style mansion Kom Tong Hall built in 1914. What used to be the home of Hong Kong tycoon Ho Kom Tong has turned into a hall of memories to commemorate the reputable revolutionary Dr Sun Yat-sen after a 29-month restoration in 2005.
The museum is now home to a raft of historical artefacts displaying an overview of the career of this revolutionary. But the architecture itself is even more interesting than the archival materials it houses.
Wrapped in red brick walls, the four-storey house has a list of original symbols of the property dating back to the Edwardian age on display – ionic columns, decorative timber finishes, gilded ceiling, floral patterns and stained glass.
7 Castle Road, Mid-Levels, Central, Hong Kong
15:30 pm | Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences
Just 15 minutes walk from Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum is another Edwardian-style construction sitting quietly on the junction between Caine Road and Ladder Street.
What started as a pathological institute built to combat the bubonic plague dating back to 1905 has turned into a monument now open to the public as the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences.
On the left side by the entrance, you can find a tucked-away staircase leading to a basement that showcases some more disturbing scenes – an empty surgery table; a range of dentistry equipment; and a sealed operating room for anatomy.
There is much more of this in the museum that will make you walk away with a heavy heart.
2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
17:00 pm | Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Time for some fresh air. At the end of Caine Road is the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens perching causally on the slope of Victoria Peak. The 5.6 hectare site is divided into two parts – eastern and western – by Albany Road.
Founded in 1871, the site was originally known as Botanic Gardens, which was renamed in 1975 as Botanical and Zoological Gardens with the addition of zoological exhibits to the garden.
The eastern part is home to a variety of reptiles and mammals, while the western part, aka the Old Garden, features a green house, a fountain terrace and aviaries.
On top of the beauty of nature is a list of historical importances, including the Memorial Arch, the Pavilion and the bronze statue of King George VI.
Albany Road, Central, Hong Kong
19:00 pm | SEPA Bacaro Veneziano
A little Italian treat at SEPA Bacaro Veneziano is the perfect way to round up the day – if you’re OK to pay a little more.
Founded by Michelin-starred Italian chef Enrico Bartolini, SEPA is a modern and posh reinterpretation of the “Bacaro” dinning concept from ancient Venice.
I settle with the Wagyu Bolognese tagliatelle, sided with a glass of Tenuta Sassoregale Sangiovese; it’s marvellous to have the acidity of the wine perfectly backed up by the rich and meaty Bolognese sauce.
But you can’t quite focus on the food here as the interior itself is also a masterpiece. Filled with a convivial vibe, the space draws inspiration from old Bacaro architectural features with the likes of alleyways and corridors on display.
Neither too much nor too little, the HK$158 dish and the HK$88 glass of red is just perfect for a moderate dinner. Bringing a friend or two means that you can try a lot more dishes without having to spend a fortune.
61 Caine Road, Central