The Charms (and Scents) of Sai Ying Pun

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Dried octupi in Sai Ying Pun

Feline relaxation on dried fish (and probably other mysterious goods) in Sai Ying Pun

Living in a temporary service/furnished apartment in Sai Ying Pun, I had a chance to explore this developing area in the northwestern section of the main Hong Kong Island. Wandering the streets, I flash back to a number of my prior trips to the mainland, where similarly less modernized parts of cities retain a strong feel for the traditional.

Old men walking around virtually in their underwear without any qualms, spending hours talking to other old men. Hardware shops chaotically filled with seemingly random parts – yet they manage to whip out exactly what I need even though we don’t speak the same language. The most functional of eateries (read: a couple chairs, perhaps a table or two, ubiquitously unflattering lighting, Melmac-style plates if you’re lucky, steaming pots of who-knows-what).

And more than anything – the heady, musty, smoky smell of enormous bags of mysterious dried seafood (like the flattened octopi seen here) and traditional Chinese medicine. It must do something, as it surely induces a headache within minutes of me walking through the endless stalls of them, undoubtedly exaggerated by the sweltering heat. Some of the local fauna bask in it!

I have to admit – there is a certain charm to all this, and I’m just a bit sad we’ve moved into our regular apartment several neighborhoods east in Wan Chai…except that Wan Chai is fabulous…

MTR: Sheung Wan, and head west (a new train station is being built in Sai Ying Pun, but it is not yet completed)


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Globetrotter based in Hong Kong, travel and street photographer, Getty Images contributor, award-winning blogger of - seeking true beauty in travel and life!

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