A few weekends ago I was strolling through Sham Shui Po – an area that I’m not familiar with. It is really interesting, with lots of old shops and stores, lots of street and flea markets and many local people. There were not many tourists in the area when I was walking through the streets.
Sham Shui Po is situated in the northwestern part of the Kowloon Peninsula, and it means ‘Deep Water Pier’ in Chinese. Of course, the bay is long gone and the sea is further away. Reclamation has meant that Sham Shui Po has become much larger than it originally was.
In the past some parts of it were considered New Territories, as the boundary street ran through parts of it (and the British reach stopped at the boundary street, anything North of that street was considered New Territories). This has changed now, all of Sham Shui Po is considered Kowloon.
It was one of the earliest developed areas in Hong Kong. It used to be the commercial, industrial and transportation hub of the territory – due to its pier. There were many factories and warehouses, but most of them are long gone. Textiles are now produced in mainland China and the port has also moved away. But Sham Shui Po is still a great area to find textiles, DIY supply (like beaded pearls) and other items. More about this in a future post.
There are many old buildings in Sham Shui Po and (sadly) it is known for its subdivided flats. The Hong Kong Housing Society is trying to improve the living environment of many households, but we saw many old houses with lots of postboxes – a sure sign that many people live together on small space. I’ve heard that Sham Shui Po is one of the most densely populated areas (by square metres) in the whole world. It can be true!
There are also many pawn shops in the area – a sign that it is not an affluent area.
Pawn shops in Hong Kong still use the same logo that they used many years ago: a bat holding a coin. The Chinese word for ‘bat’ fook shares the same sound as ‘luck’ in Cantonese, the coin stands for gain.
For those who are looking for electronics and accessories, Sham Shui Po is a great location. The Apliu Street market is well-known in Hong Kong. It is an open air market selling a wide variety of products and you have to bargain for them. On many of the other streets are small flea markets – great for bargain hunters.