Western District – Sex Filth and the Docks
With the opening of the West Island Line on the MTR, Western District (the area to the west of Sheung Wan) is quickly gentrifying into a swirl of new and expensive apartments as well as fancy bars and restaurants. But as it hurtles into a 21st-century facelift, do you know what this north-western edge of Hong Kong Island used to be best known for? This walk covers two parts of Western District: Shek Tong Tsui and Kennedy Town.
Wedged between Whitty Street and Kennedy Town Praya, Shek Tong Tsui – ‘stone pond spit’ – was Hong Kong’s top Chinese entertainment and nightlife district in the first half of the 20th century. For many years, it was a licensed red light district and some of the then-British colony’s most celebrated Chinese restaurants could be found here. Women, love, sex and food are an indispensable part of its history and Shek Tong Tsui’s fame spread as far as southern China and Southeast Asia. As we trace Hong Kong’s ‘sexiest’ past in this once-glamourous part of town, we’ll hear tales about how men lavished on girls as well as the lives of the Chinese in the pre-war period.
As for Kennedy Town, it used to house many ‘unwanted’ facilities like a slaughterhouse, an incineration plant and a smallpox hospital. There were also heaving docks, salty warehouses and toiling coolies, which recalled Hong Kong’s heritage as a key trade port. Traces of Kennedy Town’s ‘filthy’ past can still be found today, even if it is moving inexorably towards an upmarket future.
This walking tour will relive what used to define this storied part of the city as we try to make connections between Hong Kong’s past and present, and look at our urban surroundings differently.
"Fabulous tour filled with gritty details and humor"
"Fabulous guide who knew how to captivate her audience with her storytelling"
"Recommended tour! Will be forwarding information to friends and family who might be interested"
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