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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!

 

 

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