Walking in Soho


I've been in Hong Kong for ten years now, and sometimes I tend to take it for granted. Lately I've been basically commuting between Brisbane and Hong Kong. My few weeks at home[1] tend to be spent with family and running some quick errands before heading back downunder.

Today, I wanted to see parts of HK I hadn't been in for a long time. So I went up to Mid-Levels. Really. I'm not yer standard corporate expat, with a company supplied flat. I live in North Point and scratch a living as a small businessman. A night out with the missus is usually a few happy-hour beers in Wanchai and Thai-food in one of the Dai Pai Dongs in the back streets of Wanchai.

My great-uncle (Suk-Gong for you Chinese Speakers) has a stall in the Peel Street market, so we go there frequently to meet that part of the family. As we were leaving there yesterday by taxi, we saw all these new restaurants and pubs. Normally, we'd walk down the hill and take the bus or MTR. (Or tram, if the scratching a living part isn't going too well). So today I went back to look around the area.

There was a time when I used to be around Lan Kwai Fong quite a bit. Back when the F-Stop was going, I was a regular, because of the bands. The Fringe club was always interesting, and if you were really hammered you could sing a few verses of "Let's all gob on Maggie" in Hardy's before the Black Watch kicked your head in.

That was some time ago (and the PLA don't go around picking fights in any bar I've ever been in, so that's one positive thing about the last 10 years) .

But anyway, back to Soho (the area South of Hollywood Road), which is a maze of narrow streets above the Central Business District of Hong Kong, but below the main residential blocks of the Mid-Levels. It's also a maze of little restaurants and pubs. It reminded me of certain parts of Paris or London, although it's a lot more vertical than either. Very pleasant, apart from being a lot of hard work to clamber up the vertical streets.

I have cousins who live up in that part of the world, and it certainly seems like a pleasant place to live, if you like to eat well and have a good time. (Of course, none of them do. They pay exorbitant mortgages for shoeboxes to live in a place with lifestyle they don't like. They'd be happier living like us in a larger flat which is a shorter walk from Chiu-Chow food and a short minibus ride from the place where the fishermen sell their catch in the early mornings. [There is really nothing like buying your day's fish fresh off the trawler from the South China Sea.])

It was quite weird walking through Hong Kong with lots of Europeans around. And most weren't even tourists! Very odd. I had to remember to day "excuse me, pardon, comin' through!", with the occasional "Yo!" for the larger Americans.

[1] There's a certain type of Chinese person who doesn't believe that any foreigner can consider HK as home. To that person I say: "These are my shorts. I wore them to walk up to the Peak in the August. Eat them."

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on July 7, 2007 6:33 PM.

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