A safe haven and floating entertainment hub
Floating entertainment hub
It may hard to imagine now, but there used to be thousands of boat dwellers settled in the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter. The community was tight and developed its own subculture. From the early 1960s to the end of the 1980s, the shelter thrived as a floating nightlife hub. Every boat offered something exciting after sundown, from fresh-caught seafood and spicy crab to singers for hire or mahjong games.
Hong Kong’s first typhoon shelter
This unique lifestyle has its roots in the 19th century. Fishermen from the Pearl Delta region would arrive in Tung Lo Wan (now Tong Lo Wan Rd) or Gong-shaped Bay, selling their fresh seafood catch. In 1883, a breakwater (causeway) was constructed as a part of an early reclamation project to prevent the newly reclaimed shore from washing off during heavy storms. This is now known as Causeway Rd. The area between the shore and the breakwater became a natural refuge for boats during typhoons, and there you have it: Hong Kong’s first typhoon shelter was born!
Place of refuge
The typhoon shelter quickly became a popular place to live for the many post-war Chinese refugees who fled to Hong Kong on small sampans. The population swelled as did the floating garbage and fire hazards on the crowded wooden boats. The original typhoon shelter was reclaimed in the 1950s to build Victoria Park, and a new shelter was constructed on the shoreline beside the park. As of today, the shelter is cleaned up. Cooking is no longer allowed on board and the heydays of this floating entertainment hub are long gone.
Eat typhoon shelter style
After a spate of fires on boats and concern for the worsening water pollution in Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, cooking on boats was prohibited in 1995. Many chefs moved on to land, including Hing Kee at Tsim Sha Tsui which was awarded a Michelin Star for its ‘typhoon shelter style’ cuisine. Want to have an even more authentic experience? ‘Hoi Gor’ operates Shun Kee Typhoon Shelter cuisine. Have a floating dinner on a sampan just like in the old days.