Wondering where to live in Hong Kong? It’s always good to talk to the neighbours! In our regular Street Talk feature, we get the inside scoop from residents of different areas. Here, we chat to QUENTIN POYET about living at Ting Kau Beach in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.
Who: Quentin Poyet
From: Lyon, France
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Where do you live? Ting Kau Beach, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.
How long have you been here? We moved here in December 2021, after five years living in different places on Hong Kong Island.
Why this suburb? My wife and I decided to move here in the middle of the pandemic, when the impact of COVID and its restrictions really disrupted our habits and made us tire of city life. We went through a period of deeply questioning what we wanted to do next and what kind of lifestyle we needed. Part of the answer was tranquillity and peace, while having an outdoor space which is such a rarity here.
My wife’s family has a lovely little flat in Ting Kau village, which was empty at the time, facing the beach and surrounded by amazing hiking trails. So we decided to take the leap and move here. We don’t regret it.
What transport is available in your suburb? There are quite a number of buses and minibuses going to Tsuen Wan, from where we can take the MTR or other buses to anywhere in Hong Kong. Alternatively, we’re 25 minutes by car from Central.
When you walk out of your house, what’s the first thing you see? The village beach and Ting Kau Bridge over the Rambler Channel.
What’s the closest store to your front door? Living in Ting Kau Beach is also about choosing to live a bit secluded from the world – it’s a more peaceful lifestyle over here. But it also means we don’t have a lot of stores, so Deliveroo and HKTVMall are our best friends for groceries or food deliveries!
Until very recently, we had Yin Yang restaurant, a private kitchen by the iconic chef Margaret Xu Yuan located in a local beach house, as our neighbour. We’re also within walking distance of July Coffee & Co where we work from sometimes.
What’s the unofficial uniform of your suburb? Shorts, loose T-shirts and flip flops or water-sport attire.
Where do you go when you’re in need of a dose of culture? We are five minutes by bus (or a 15-minute run) from The Mills, which is an exhibition and art space located in a former textile factory; it’s pet-friendly too so it’s a perfect place for bringing our Jack Russell!
I’ve also developed a strong interest in local history through the stories of the local community of villagers and my wife’s family here. And there are tons of things to discover: for example, Ting Kau is home to the colonial style Homi Villa (recently added to the Grade 3 heritage building list), which was the residence of Jehangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee in the 1930s.
We’re close to the Dragon Garden where some scenes of the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun were shot. There is also the underrated Sam Tung Uk Museum in Tsuen Wan, which is a traditional Hakka walled village turned into an Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre. And this is without mentioning Ting Kau village itself, with a history dating back to the 18th century!
What’s a mandatory stop for taking out-of-town guests? The beach! You can even rent paddle boards or kayaks for an afternoon excursion on the Rambler Channel. The beach is also the favourite digging/ treasure-hunting spot for our curious explorer dog, Coby!
There are many hikes starting in Ting Kau and going up to Shek Lung Kung mountain. Our favourite is the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail – and we recently stumbled upon a secretive bamboo forest with a peaceful stream where we spent our Sunday.
What’s a common myth about your area? That it’s far away! In fact, the super efficient and always-on-time bus network gets us to Central in less than 40 minutes, or it’s 25 minutes by taxi or Uber.
What’s most likely to disturb you in the middle of the night in your neighbourhood? A bird walking next to our bedroom window or our dog whining to be allowed to jump up on our bed.
What might a massive late-night rager in your suburb involve? The craziest late-night happenings, Ting Kau-style, involve … a pack of beers on the beach with close friends! More seriously, this isn’t really a place for party-goers, but Peel Street on a Friday night is always relatively close when we feel too secluded!
What’s your hands-down favourite neighbourhood spot? Being in the water, either on a paddle board or swimming. This is the best place to admire Ting Kau Bridge, Ting Kau village and the green mountains behind. This is also my favourite place to re-energise while doing an outdoor physical activity!
Where is the best local food? Sham Tseng, very close to Ting Kau village – it’s the best place to eat roasted goose in Hong Kong. You can find plenty of restaurants specialising in cooking this dish, with local flavour and an “old school” feeling guaranteed!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in your neighbourhood? The strangest – and funniest – was when I saw a lost baby wild boar frightening a group of Instagrammers trying to take the perfect photo of the bridge on the jetty while some fishermen were laughing at them on their boats. When I passed by again five minutes later, the Instagrammers were trying to take pictures with the boar this time! Something that’s more amazing than strange is the uniqueness of Ting Kau Beach, with the reflections of the Ting Kau Bridge in the water of the channel, which always attracts many people in the evening.
What’s one thing you’d never change? The tranquillity and beach vibe of the area, coupled with the unique traditional village atmosphere and people. It’s a mix of friendly local villagers, a lively community of fishermen and tourists coming to enjoy the beach on the weekend!
If the city gave you five million bucks to soup up your area, what would you do? I would support the development of a local convenience store and speed up the project of a cycling track linking Ting Kau and Tsuen Wan West – with free bikes all the way!
Some Ting Kau-related trivia…
Jehangir Hormus jee Ruttonjee (1880-1960) was an Indian Parsi merchant who came to Hong Kong at the age of 12 to join his father who was based here. After studying at St Joseph’s College, he went into business, including brewing beer – he established the Hong Kong Brewers and Distillers Ltd, and also sold one of his breweries to Philippines’ beer giant San Miguel.
After his daughter died of tuberculosis, Ruttonjee turned his attention to fighting the disease, financing the construction of Ruttonjee Sanatorium (now Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai) and founding the Hong Kong AntiTuberculosis Association. His home in the 1930s, Homi Villa in Ting Kau, went on to become the residence of former Financial Secretary Sir Philip HaddonCave; today, it serves as the Airport Core Programme Exhibition Centre
We’ve been told that Ting Kau’s Royal View Hotel has an amazing pool and that the views of the village from the rooms are incredible!
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This article first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.