You've got a couple of days in Hong Kong and you're a creative type - what are you going to do?
From top left, clockwise: the street corner next to PMQ shopping hub; the delicate Givres gelato flower; a city view through the porthole window of PMQ; a home in the sky Hong Kong style; art on the fire hydrants.
While the bright lights and big shops of Kowloon are impressive (and definitely worth a look) we wandered south onto Hong Kong island to explore the very 'happening' area of Wan Chai. Historically known as something of a rough area (think sailors on shore leave and houses of 'ill repute') now it's a wonderful combination of design hotels, high rise apartments and old style laneways with independent designers making the most of the (slightly) more affordable rents.
Firstly, where to stay? We loved the Indigo Hotel, right in the heart of Wan Chai. With floor to ceiling windows in each room, this was a quintessential Hong Kong experience up amongst the high rises. Even the standard rooms were spacious and beautifully decorated in a modern Chinese style.
Just outside the hotel turn left and wander down Tai Yuen Street to experience an outdoor market (lots of kids toys here). At the bottom of this street you will find the MTR (train) station giving easy access to the rest of Hong Kong.
Turn right from the hotel and you will find Lee Tung Street (which is really a mall) with some of the more upmarket shops. Do not miss the amazing Givres gelato. Served as a delicate flower made from gelato petals, each one is created to order - and delicious, not to mention essential refreshment on a hot Hong Kong day. Wander past this street and further down Queens Road East you will find the fabulous Mr Blacksmith with industrial style homewares and gadgets. I love their business card with sandpaper on one side, shop details on the other - just don't pack it next to your phone.
Just a few minutes further down Queens Road East street you will find Sun, Moon and Star streets. Tiny little streets with tiny little shops selling design wares, fashion and British ephemera. I bought a vintage red chess piece here - just the one, a queen, in the most amazing old blood red varnish - I just had to have it. Don't miss the Elephant Grounds cafe just around the corner in Gough Street, great coffee, truly delicious corned beef hash breakfast and free wifi.
For a real immersion into the design life of Hong Kong, PMQ (at 35 Aberdeen Street, Sheung Wan) is a must. Here you can shop from small designer stores, or even take some classes.
PMQ is the old housing quarters for married policemen in Hong Kong. In the 1950's the police force was having trouble finding new recruits so housing was offered as an incentive. This beautiful building did its job but by 2000 it was was no longer needed. Left vacant for more than 10 years, the building was only recently bought back to life as a creative industries hub and really is a must see. Catch the MTR train to Sheun Wah Station, head to Aberdeen street and then it's a 15 minute walk up the hill. And when I say up, I mean up - the Hong Kong hills rise steep and fast.
From left to right: classes at MakerHive; piano art installation at PMQ; one of the entries to PMQ shopping hub.
PMQ is amazing, with 4-5 levels of shops in two wings around a central courtyard with cafes and restaurants amongst the shops and galleries. Great for clothes, jewellery, stationery and art, the always changing public exhibitions and markets in the courtyard are also worth a look.
There were many beautiful independent jewellers at PMQ with several being run as a collective where a number of jewellers work out of a shared retail studio. In addition to selling their own work they also hold classes. At 'Obellery' and 'The Little Finger' you can create a ring, bangle or pendant in just a few hours, or in two days at Obellery you can even create your own wedding rings.
The team at Dust Production run classes on 3D printing and even have courses aimed at kids, helping them design their own little character that gets printed in-store. They also have a very cute Hello Kitty collaboration range.
The ABC cooking school at PMQ looked fantastic and next time I will be signing up for this. The rooms were modern and light, and had large windows. They had short and longer classes, and even classes for kids. ABC have cooking studio's all across Asia, it could be quite fun to follow them around.
If you've got tips on where to go in Hong Kong email them through: happy travels and happy making !
Where else to check out?
MakerHive: This co-working space is designed for creatives and start ups, check out the link for classes that range from coding to leatherwork. If you are on a working trip this space would be way more fun than your hotel room to work out of, plus you'll meet some great people.
Do a walking tour with Little Adventures Hong Kong : I was keen to do one of their tours (a wonton tour, could you think of anything better!) but timings just didn't work out this trip - next time for sure.
Happy Foot Reflexology: there are several of these across Hong Kong, an hour of bliss for about $50 Australian - well worth it after a day exploring around town.
If the desire for exercise hits, these looked fun and a bit different: Barre2Barre ballet inspired workouts in Central, BounceLimit mini trampoline workouts in Sheung Wan or Mindful Wing Chun meditation and martial arts in Central.
An adventure in hand embroidery with Zakka Embroidery' by Yumiko Higuchi. read on...