Sai Ying Pun neighborhood is two subway stations West from Central, center of Hong Kong. This area is in a slope shape with one side right by the Victoria harbour and other up to mid part of the Victoria Peak.
The name “Sai Ying Pun” means “West Camp” in Cantonese. Indeed, Sai Ying Pun was a British Military Camp back in 1880s. The military force was the first to settle in this area. This neighborhood is charming for its historical old-school aura but it’s also brimming with more and more chic cafes, restaurants, wine shops, etc.
Here is what this dynamic neighborhood has to offer for a young man to spend his day. In particular, during a digital detox day.
Eddie is one of the many Expats who live here. His average screen time of 8 hours per day led him to his digital detox Saturday. On 8 a.m, Eddie switches off his phone on his way out.
Eddie passes the old facade of the community complex on High Street. Built in 1892, the building had a colonial architecture. Rumor has it that Japanese military used it as an execution place during the war. After the war, it became a mental hospital. Abandoned in 1970s. Reports of ghost sighting had since spread for a long time. Now that the building was reconstructed in the early 2000s, the stories have long faded away. High street is no longer linked with strange stories either, but earns the title of mini-soho with many quality eateries.
He starts with a morning exercise to boost his energy. Eddie pushes open the door of Ursus fitness. During the next hour, the instructors here challenge him with sledgehammers, tractor ties and other unexpected equipments. Soon he focuses on nothing other but the training. What Eddie secretly loves is that people here never avoid eye contact but instead, they’d exchange a knowingly “You are here too” smile, as if to grant a silent form of acceptance in a community. Eddie finds such an intimacy that he shares with strangers a necessary balance in his high-tech, indifferent urban life.
Eddie craves some quality food after his morning exercise. Surrounded by automobile repairers and industrial goods he’s decided for the Winery Kitchen. This three-floor restaurant is spacious, which is a rare find in the heart of this 7 million people city. Eddie picks a window seat to enjoy his eggs Benedict. The chairs are comfy for him to drink his coffee as slowly as he wants to resist the thought of Facebook as long as he can.
In the afternoon, Eddie goes to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park. The idea of it on a reclamation area is new to Eddie, but he finds this park a bliss. Jubilant shouts of kids. Runners are always on the trails by the sea. Grass always green. Bas-reliefs always there but no one cares to read the captions. Eddie though this time against his urge of checking the messages. It reads “The Four Desperados”, in tribute to Dr Sun Yat-sen and three others.
Eddie can almost hear the buzzing nightlife uphill around 8 p.m. This neighborhood has earned a nickname of mini-SOHO (which is Hong Kong’s main nightlife spot) in recent years. Plenty choices for everyone from underground hipster Ping Pong bar, to lovely wine places by the escalator. Tonight, Eddie goes to Potato Head. His friends love it for stylish drinks, the nice crowd, but most importantly, this music room. It’s hidden within the building and on the wall has Eddie found, to his great surprise, an authentic vintage sound system that worked just perfectly. He closes his eyes.
Graffitis and street fruit shops share the same bright color at this late night. Eddie felt more than satisfied and finally switched his phone back on.
A few missed calls. Messages flood in. The bottom one was from his girlfriend and it reads:
“Where are you? I left the key at home. Cold here in running clothes. Let me know when you are back.” 10:30 am.
Eddie inhaled sharply.
Note: Best way to go to Sai Ying Pun for all above and much more: take the Hong Kong MTR. Transfer in Central / Admiralty / North point to the Hong Kong Island Line heading Kennedy Town. Get off the train at Sai Ying Pun Station.
Words by our newest correspondent Fanny Wang - Correspondent covering Ballet, Theatre, Figure Skating and occasionally indie music. All beauty is useless and vice versa.
All imagery by Jimi Chiu.