4
4

Tai Hang

intro Tai Hang

 

When I was ‘researching’ some potential Hong Kong suburbs before I left Sydney, I got excited about one called Tai Hang. I read that this was where the famous Haw Par Mansion was located, built in 1935 by the family who developed Tiger Balm.

Exotic mansion aside, I’d also heard that Tai Hang was an interesting albeit small neighbourhood west of Central that was worth a squizz.

So off I set off this week to our fourth and final Hong Kong hood, excited to see the mansion. No go. All locked up with scary female guards hanging around.

To make up for it, the universe offered me another architectural gem in Tai Hang. A public housing estate called Lai Tak Tsuen, built in 1975 and unusual because it’s round. Guggenheim-ish type of round.

But I’m jumping ahead. Before all that happened there was Chinese New Year. Let’s go Tai Hang…

 

Part 1: Kung Hei Fat Choi

Biggest event all year in these parts and surely the smokiest. I feel like I’ve inhaled a pack of cigarettes this week with all the incense and paper offerings being burnt around the place.

But before the temple visits kicked off on Monday, we caught the tail end of the spending frenzy at Victoria Park, just around the corner from Tai Hang.

 

flowers under scrutiny

flowers under scrutiny

 

 

 

oh no Mr Dragon, don't hurt me!

oh no Mr Dragon, don't hurt me!

 

 

 

When Monday rolled around it was time for all of Hong Kong to head to both temple and family, bearing gifts in red paper curiously adorned with a Hello Kitty motif. Tai Hang’s temple, Lin Fa, was all go.

 

smokin' :: 1

smokin' :: 1

 

 

 

smokin' :: 2

smokin' :: 2

 

 

 

smokin' :: 3

smokin' :: 3

 

 

 

it's a serious business

it's a serious business

 

 

 

the offerings

the offerings

 

 

 

no thanks, I couldn't possibly eat another cookie

no thanks, I couldn't possibly eat another cookie

 

 

 

the Goddess of Mercy and er, Barry

the Goddess of Mercy and er, Barry

 

 

 

God of wealth

God of wealth

 

 

 

Santa like

Santa like

 

 

 

school's out for Chinese New Year

school's out for Chinese New Year

 

 

 

but can a dragon ever be truly happy

but can a dragon ever be truly happy?

 

 

 

Chinese New Year it may be but PJs still need washing

Chinese New Year it may be but PJs still need washing

 

 

 

Part 2: Tai Hang’s foodie side

Tai Hang is amazingly tranquil and calm considering it’s only minutes away from chaotic, crowded Causeway Bay. And it has an interesting mix of car/motorbike mechanics and local restaurants. I have no idea why but there you go. At least you can get a good feed while you’re waiting for your vehicle to be serviced.

 

the mechanic and the cafe

the mechanic and the cafe

 

 

 

pray, eat

pray, eat

 

 

 

floating fish

floating fish

 

 

 

meat and rice

meat and rice

 

 

 

I pray that the food is gluten-free

I pray that the food is gluten-free

 

 

 

and purple

and purple

 

 

 

new kid on the block

new kid on the block

 

 

 

Part 3: Lai Tak Tsuen

As I already said, I was after 1935 Renaissance style mansion and instead I got 1975 public housing estate. But Lai Tak Tsuen ain’t no characterless slab of concrete. Two of the three buildings are a bicyclindrical design – two cylinders stuck together essentially. I was completely captivated by the curvy structures, so much so that I snuck in with Coco when the guard wasn’t looking to explore. For once my risk-adverse child entered into the spirit of adventure and tip-toed around with me while I snapped.

 

home sweet home :: 1

home sweet home :: 1

 

 

 

home sweet home :: 2

home sweet home :: 2

 

 

 

Ground floor

Ground floor

 

 

 

so 70s

so 70s

 

 

 

cards at my place tonight okay?

cards at my place tonight okay?

 

 

 

I'm seeing circles everywhere I look

I'm seeing circles everywhere I look

 

 

 

tropical yet cold and wet

tropical yet cold and wet

 

 

 

lonely no more

lonely no more

 

 

 

yay, we're on the top floor

yay, we're on the top floor

 

 

 

view from 26

view from 26

 

 

 

and especially no throwing globes off the roof okay kids

and especially no throwing globes off the roof okay kids

 

 

 

but they see green :: 1

but they see green :: 1

 

 

 

but they see green :: 2

but they see green :: 2

 

 

 

pink

pink

 

 

 

I wonder if Roger the cleaner guy lives here

I wonder if Roger the cleaner guy lives here

 

 

 

Guggenheim-ish

Guggenheim-ish

 

 

 

And for what it’s worth, this is what I saw of Haw Par Mansion. Better than nout I guess.

 

glorious decay

glorious decay

 

 

 

The Wrap

People talk about Tai Hang’s appeal as being a quirky little corner of Hong Kong with a handful of good restaurants, both old style and ‘now’, interspersed with greasy old mechanic shops. But what I really enjoyed was spiraling up the inner core of a public housing estate, imagining what its residents were like by examining the little bits and pieces on display. It was a fitting way to end our stay in this enigmatic city, a city that pretends to put it all out there but in reality, hides so much away.

 

Coco on 18

Coco on 18

 

On the ‘home’ front

Coco and I just want to say a huge thanks to our friends in Hong Kong, Dennis and Anna, for their input and friendship over the past four weeks. And to the wonderful Nurul, for holding Coco’s hand tight and saving her from endless hours out ‘blogging’ with boring old mum. You guys were awesome.

This suburb has been brought to you by Gavin Blue

See you next week – in New Delhi!

 

 

  1. Sharon says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your visit to Hong Kong. Looking forward to New Delhi.

  2. nirah says:

    Love, love, love this weeks suburb!! I must admit that I can’t wait for each Friday to arrive so that I can see your photos and blog … Safe journey to New Delhi…

  3. Sarah says:

    I have loved these Hong Kong pics…such a banquet for the eyes….”couldn’t possibly eat another cookie”…your comments are as golden as your photographs:) Thankyou so much for enabling this “armchair traveller”, I’m having a ball!

  4. Stephen says:

    Awesome pics as usual Louise. It’s getting better each week!

  5. D says:

    Wonderful!

  6. Me says:

    Great photos as usual. Particularly like the photos of Coco! As a fellow coeliac though, I’m wondering what on earth you eat in Hong Kong?! Soy sauce and dumplings not being a gluten free girl’s best friend …

  7. Donna says:

    I am so delighted for you and Coco that this has been made possible …it is the highlight in my inbox – a truly beautiful piece of escapism….thanks Louise and safe trip to New Delhi… :)

  8. Toni says:

    What a wonderful colourful place. I just love the ball globes in the ‘no ball’ zone! Look forward to next installment.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Particularly loved the floating fish and the ‘they see green1′ diptych. Safe travels.

  10. Sarah says:

    Not sure i’m loving the tilt camera blur fun you’re having, but then again, I’m just one of the millions, so don’t take it to heart!! Otherwise, the spiral building, was it guugenheim-esque, did they ramp all the way to the top- cause that WOULD be cool.

  11. Trish says:

    Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  12. Tatyana says:

    Lai Tak is a highlight, for sure. The whole world in a few shots. And Coco is cute as always:-) Safe trip, Louise!

  13. Wayne says:

    >and especially no throwing globes off the roof okay kids< :)
    HNY Louise.

  14. Fistrel says:

    LOVE the Guggenheim-HK photos — wow! And the Coco pic at the end. Particularly enjoyed the fresh, snappy descriptions of what you’re seeing!! You GO, girl! (Though must say I’m with Sarah on the blurry-in-places-where-it-shouldn’t-be blurry stuff — but then again, I do live in the steam age.)

  15. Aimée says:

    Thank you! The new year’s pix patched a hole for me. :) Tai Hang is a quiet, intriguing neighbourhood; the spirals added a lot to my impressions of that area. Cheers and safe travels onward.

  16. JENNY says:

    Many thanks for your colourful and interesting photos from Hong Kong. It’s always of intrigue to this armchair traveller!

  17. Beachtropic says:

    Awesome again Lou. Safe travels, see you from India.
    Di xx

  18. MelG says:

    My sis used to live in this suburb. btw your section photos in the SMH album has the wrong chinese for Tai Hang… may account for the few dislikes.

  19. Louise says:

    Thanks all. Forgive me not replying to each of you individually – I was up until 4.30am this morning processing images and putting the post together and now busy packing etc for jetting off to Delhi tomorrow. Thanks so much for your great comments, they’re so appreciated.

    But just to say to Melg, thanks for letting me know. I’ll see if they can fix it.

  20. Donna says:

    hi again louise..just wanted to say that was a lovely article in SMH on you this afternoon… :)

  21. Sharon57 says:

    Wonderful pictures such an interesting place – looking forward now to New Delhi.

  22. Kylie says:

    It looks like you really like the tilt-shift lens…love receiving your posts Louise. Have a safe trip to Delhi

  23. JESS says:

    Amazing pictures, I currently live in Hong Kong and you’ve inspired me to get out and see it in a different light. I actually visited Sham Shui Po streets in depth yesterday! Just wanted to ask, how do you get people to allow you to take their photos?

  24. manman says:

    THANK YOU so much for going to “Tai Hang”, reading your blog is like going home ( as I am from that area). Hope you have enjoyed your stay in Hong Kong, have a great trip to New Delhi! Thanks for bringing me home again!!!!!

  25. Abigail says:

    I read about your project in the age newspaper this morning. The photographs featured on The Age online are superb. I immediately went looking for your site. I am captivated by the blog. Am loving the photography and the narrative. Thanks for showing this world to me! Can’t wait to see more. :)

  26. Gabrielle says:

    really nice project and amazing pictures ! but can I ask, what lenses you use ?

  27. jenny bosse says:

    How fantastic to find the only part of Hong Kong we managed to visit on our one day stopover there a couple of years ago so faithfully reproduced. We loved it and the people there.

  28. Louise says:

    Hey all, just arrived in Delhi! To Gabrielle who asked what lenses I use, well, 99% of the time my faithful old 16-35mm Canon L series, but for the last few posts have played with the Canon 24mm tilt shift lens. But had to surrender that one back to my friend when we left Hong Kong. And to Jess who asked, how do I get people to allow me to take their photos – I pay them. No, just joking. I ask nicely and use hand gestures when we don’t speak eachother’s language. And I smile, a lot. It really helps. But it has been really tough in HK – not only the language barrier but the culture, they’re just not into it. Fair enough. But frustrating when you see all these great faces and great shots and you can’t take them.
    Will be interesting to see how that goes in India…

  29. Claire says:

    Hey there lovely girl….. can’t believe you’ve done Hong Kong already – the photos were amazing as usual.. and as someone else said, the comments are just as good. How’s New Delhi so far?

  30. Louise says:

    Claire – Yes, in Delhi now! First post tomorrow so stay tuned. x

  31. Claire says:

    Hello my love. The first post from Delhi is simply amazing Louise – the photos are incredible and the writing is so wonderful… Would love a longer chat – what’s the best way?

  32. Ellen says:

    Wow

Comment

*

52 Suburbs Around the World Book

52 Suburbs Around the World Book

The 52 Suburbs Around the World Book has arrived! Click here to buy it!

Order my first book online

Buy the 52 Suburbs Book online

Find out more about the Sydney book here

Sponsors

Momento_180x150 copy

Advertisers