It’s Not Sai Ying Pun Without…

typically sai ying pun

It’s Not Sai Ying Pun Without…

After spending a couple of days exploring Sai Ying Pun, I created a list of what I think makes the area unique. Without these things, Sai Ying Pun would not be Sai Ying Pun. I chose to present my findings through an animated video because I thought it would be fun to put a spin on the typical lists you usually see online. If you’re wondering why I chose what I chose, scroll down!

1. Tong Lau

These two-legged 19th-century buildings were once seen all over Hong Kong, but now, these species are on the decline. Thankfully there are two of them left in the SYP area, and hopefully, we can see these magnificent beasts roam the streets of HK once again.

2. Fruit Vendors

Yes, fruit vendors are everywhere in Hong Kong, however, what would Sai Ying Pun be without them? Sometimes you even see a fruit or two rolling down the hill…

3. Haunted House

Perhaps the best-known haunted building in SYP is the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, which used to a mental hospital. Spooky! My dormitory was a mental hospital as well. That’s why the entrance doors were so heavy… to prevent the ill from escaping…

4. Salted Fish

I don’t like eating fish, but I do like salt. If I didn’t like salt, I wouldn’t have put salted fish on the list. But because it’s a Sai Ying Pun staple, I am forced to add it… plus, salted fish is also a very old delicacy which roots back to our heritage.

5. Dim Sum

Ok, hear me out on this one. I know Dim Sum restaurants are everywhere in Hong Kong, but this restaurant is over 30 years old and quite cheap. Between my friend and me, we spent 99 HKD for 5 dishes, which we ate while seated next to a fuse box. “If the fuse box looks like it is about to explode, then you know the food is good,” my friend advised. The fuse box looked like it was going to explode… and the food was good, so his claim is now a fact I live by

6. Fuk Tak Temple

This temple used to give out free rice during the Ghost Festival, and I think that is more than enough to make it onto this list. It’s free rice, I cannot stress that enough.

7. Craftsmanship

There are a lot of old masters who have been perfecting their craft for decades. They’re a rarity nowadays and need to be cherished and preserved, like an endangered species.

8. Community

To end my list off on a warm note, and a typical one. The local community is what really shapes a neighbourhood. Sai Ying Pun used to be a place where everyone seemed to know everyone. Today, the community is a bit scattered. Still, while eating in the Dim Sum restaurant, I saw how very friendly everyone was to each other, sitting close together, having good banter. I placed my bag down on the floor, and a customer gave me an extra chair so my bag wouldn’t get dirty. That’s when I knew this place was special…




Gordon is a second-year Parsons student studying Fine Arts and has been living in HK for 20 years. He values public transport and is an avid NUMTOT. He’s always down for McDonald’s Shake Shake BBQ fries even though the price increase on meals has made him displeased. He can be seen frequenting meme pages, laughing at dumb images, and is dangerously ironic.



iDiscover Neighbourhood Mapping & Storytelling Internship Project

iDiscover Internship

This story is part of a 2-week iDiscover Internship Project. Under our mentorship, a group of recent high school graduates and undergraduate students unveiled the historical layers in three old Hong Kong neighbourhoods: Kennedy Town, Shek Tong Tsui and Sai Ying Pun. They learnt the stories of old streets, long-time residents and popular shopkeepers, and dived deep into the local culture and living heritage. Zooming in to neighbourhood level, the student interns set out to discover and analyse what makes this city unique, and published their observations in the form of blogs, vlogs, an app route, and a place identity report.


Want to do this at your school, university, or in your community?

You can with iDiscover Academy! We now offer tailored toolkits for school teachers, university educators, community leaders, planners and place-makers. We want to enable you to map what matters in your neighbourhood together with your students/community members, and help you share it on our digital publishing platform. Consolidating what we have learnt mapping over 50 neighbourhoods across Asia in the past six years, we have designed a streamlined 6-step methodology that is inclusive, fast and fun, with easy-to-use templates, a clean interface and instructional videos. Our hope is to share our experiences and learnings, empower like-minded organisations and individuals to #keepheritagealive. Head to the iDiscover Academy website to have a look at the different packages available and check out case studies across Asia. 

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