07 Apr Hipster afternoon: biking through Sham Shui Po Hong Kong
Sham Shui Po Hong Kong is an old district, where it’s all about the street markets, second-hand goods, electronics, buttons, beads, and fabrics; if you can’t find it here you can’t find it anywhere. Inspired by the cheap and plentiful supplies, creative entrepreneurs are re-discovering the streets of Sham Shui Po and opening quirky guesthouses, art factories, and cool coffee shops.
Why not hop on a bike and spend a hipster afternoon exploring SSP!
By Nancy Wong
1.Wontonmeen .雲吞麵 . 135 Lai Chi Kok Road
This 11 storey old shop house has a wonderfully eclectic tenant mix: a coffee-shop, a bicycle store, vintage furniture gallery and a hostel for artistic and creative spirits. Wontonmeen also rents out vintage Shanghai-brand bicycles so why not rent a bike for HK$120 a day to make this hipster tour more fun.
2. Brothers Leathercraft . 兄弟皮藝 . 208 Tai Nan Street
Love leather? This is DIY leathercraft heaven: leathers in different textures and colours, all the tools you need and most importantly: expert advice. If you prefer the experts to do the work, ride your bike to the end of Tai Nan Street, turn right at the corner and visit 22°N (88 Nam Cheong Street) a stylish boutique with unique handcrafted products by local designers.
Note: many of the craft shops are closed on the weekend. Make sure you visit Sham Shui Po on weekdays; otherwise you will miss a lot!
Let’s continue with the shopping at Apliu Street. A street market with the all-time hipsters favourite- VINTAGE! Along Apliu Street you can find antique watches, old coins, birdcages and an amazing selection of vintage cameras. You will soon discover it’s also a true tech-geeks mecca! Looking for any type of electronic gadgets, light bulb, binoculars or a water gun? This is where to find it at the best price in town. Apliu Street has some unique shops:
#237 . Paul’s Record Shop, where every inch of this 600 square foot space is crammed with his collection of over 30,000 vinyl records.
#98 . Things that can Happen. a hidden gem on the first floor of an old shop house is the alternative art space. The gallery’s white washed walls, floors and ceilings act as a blanc canvas, waiting for things to happen…
4. Mei Ho House . 美荷樓 . Block 41 . Shek Kip Mei Estate
Ride a few blocks away and you can reach Mei Ho House, a former public housing estate turned youth hostel. The cafe on site is momentarily closed due to renovation, but from the end of May it will again be a nice spot to have a bite. In the mean time, do chill out on the rooftop. Don’t miss the on-site heritage museum. This is what life was like in the crowded squatters Sham Shui Po of the 1950s when they built the first public housing estates.
5. JCCAC . 賽馬會創藝中心的中庭花園 . 30 Pak Tin Street
Around the corner of Mei Ho House is the ultimate hipster hangout The Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, another revitalised building. What once was a typical industrial factory building is now buzzing with creative energy. Over 100 artists and designers have taken up residence at the JCCAC, where they hold weekend craft markets by local designers and even have a rooftop cinema!
Wander around to discover JCACC’s creative spirit. My favourites are:
Heritage Tea House . L1-06 . I like this small tranquil tea shop on the ground floor. You can easily spend hours here: do a tea tasting, browse the tea bookstore or have a dim sum lunch with tea inspired desserts.
Knitwear Expostore BYY.B . L2-02 . Feel like bringing back some stylish hand-made souvenirs? Find them at BYY.B. Interested in DIY? Sign up for a knitting or crochet course.
HK Street Culture Museum . L2-06 . This is the personal collection of the founders of quirky local fashion and lifestyle brand Goods of Desire (GOD): memorabilia, artefacts, furniture, miniature street scenes, vintage posters and the quintessential HK post boxes that have fuelled many of GOD’s iconic designs. Get a glimpse of the city’s rich cultural past and get inspired!!
Note: the museum welcomes visitors, but is also a workspace for GOD designers, so best to book. Simply send a quick e-mail to email@example.com.
6. TOOLSS . 38 Wai Chi Street
Time for coffee! Tucked away between a hardware store and a car repair shop is this charming cafe. Customers chill out with coffee, laptops and friends at the open bar or folding chairs perched between the flowerpots on the pavement. TOOLSS is not just an ordinary café; it doubles as a stationary shop. So with a hot cappuccino in hand you can browse an impressive collection of one-of-a-kind stationary imported from Taiwan, Japan and Korea, which are hard to find elsewhere in Hong Kong.
Kecoj, the shop owner, is no stranger to Shep Kip Mei: “I was born and raised here, that’s why I started my first coffee shop here.” Though he moved to the New Territories when he was in secondary school, he never forgot the smells and sounds of the place where most of his childhood was spent. It was Kecoj’s dream to own a café and when he found that perfect street corner, he knew this was the place to start his business.
Suggested route: Wontonmeen → Brothers Leathercraft → 22N → Mei Ho House → JCCAC → Toolss
Want to explore more in Sham Shui Po Hong Kong? Download the free iDiscover Hong Kong app to get more information!
Guest blogger, Geography student at Hong Kong Baptist University
Unlike typical Geography students, I love cities more than nature. In my spare time I like to explore neighbourhoods: from observing the interaction between shop owners and residents, to the way buildings are organised and just enjoying surprising local street food.
Let me bring you these fascinating sides of the city through words & photos.