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 expat Lynn Seymour about what it’s like living in Kennedy Town.
NAME: Lynn Susan Seymour
FROM: London, UK
OCCUPATION: Volunteer work for The Helena May and SPCA’s Cat Colony Care Programme
Where do you live and why did you choose the area?
I live in Pokfield Road, Kennedy Town (“K Town”) and our closest MTR station is Sheung Wan. We bought an apartment here in 2008 because we knew that the Island Line was going to extend to Kennedy Town by 2014, and because there is a great feeling of community amongst the shopkeepers and residents.
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
A bank of trees on a slope that runs down to the construction area where the MTR station is situated.
The closest store (of any type) to your front door is:
It’s a short walk down Pokfield Path steps (where I always see some of the cats who live in a colony on the slope alongside) to our local wet market, which is always busy with K Town locals and helpers coming down the escalator carrying bags of meat, fruit and vegetables.
Tell us about your immediate neighbours:
My next-door neighbours are an elderly couple in their 90s; after seeing me around for a couple of years, the suspicious nodding acquaintance has turned into smiles and chatter in Cantonese, so I now feel accepted. Their lounge window is adjacent to my balcony and I often see the husband holding onto the windowsill swinging his legs and doing his morning exercises.
Who else lives in the area?
Six years ago, our apartment block residents were predominantly Chinese but now there are many more expats living here, mostly due to the presence of more affordable apartments and rental prices, and an extremely good transport link (which will be greatly enhanced when the Kennedy Town MTR opens). In the mornings, I see a mix of young suited professionals, helpers putting toddlers onto school buses and elderly people being assisted to and from the numerous care homes.
If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
I haven’t seen any celebrities in K Town but if there were, it would be a restaurateur as K Town is growing in the number of new restaurants opening recently. The Harbour Restaurant on the waterfront has been a fixture for quite a long time and is owned by the mother of local celebrity Cecilia Cheung.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Attend an opera, concert or play at any one of the numerous arts venues on Hong Kong Island or Tsim Sha Tsui. We recently attended Art Basel and the Asian Art Fair.
If you’re missing home, you:
I rarely miss the UK but if I feel I need open spaces and fresh air, I love to hike or browse around the villages on one of our outlying islands – Lantau, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau or Lamma. I always take my visitors to one or more of them to show them a different and slower pace of life.
You’d swap houses in a second with:
I have always wanted to live in a house by the sea but instead I am lucky to have an apartment on the 41st floor with views of the Hong Kong harbour on one side and High West and mountain views on the other.
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to involve:
Our street is quiet at night and the only reason I would wake up is due to raging winds and spectacular storms accompanied by lightning flashes that show through our window blinds. We do happen to be surrounded by student accommodation, but even the HKU students are very well behaved!
Flip through images of this SoHo-west neighbourhood in the gallery above
Best part of the neighbourhood?
One of my favourite areas of K Town is the hilly pedestrianised area around Ching Lin Terrace, at the upper end of Sands Street. Tucked away on this hillside is the 1884 Grade I-listed historic Lo Pan Temple dedicated to the patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors. Nearby are low-rise apartment blocks where residents lovingly create and tend small gardens of pot plants.
You won’t find better local food than at:
We have such an array of restaurants to choose from that we stopped going to Soho and regularly walk down the hill for dinner. Our favourites are our local pub, The Limestone Arms, and K Town Bar & Grill next door – they’re both on Forbes Street. Both the managers, Andy and Chris respectively, are very friendly and give very good service, and the food is great.
Another small eatery which never seems to get a mention in the press but whose food is consistently good is called Al Pesto. It’s tucked away on narrow Hau Wo Street off Smithfield and run by a Nepalese family.
The best bargains in your neighbourhood are:
Bargains can be found at the locally owned pharmacies and clothes shops still operating in K Town; we also have a very successful Salvation Army shop that relocated to larger premises in Belcher’s Street.
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
The many massage and beauty care stores open in K Town. I have to admit to enjoying an occasional spa treatment at Essential Spa.
One thing you’d never change is:
Progress means change but my fear for the neighbourhood is losing our small local shopkeepers to rising commercial rents and property developers. It would be sad to see the end of small independent businesses like my watch and shoe repairman, my tea supplier Kee Heung Chun Tea Company (owned by Mr and Mrs Lam and their son, Derek), my dry cleaners and my newsagent’s wife who diligently walks up the hill every day to put my South China Morning Post on my doormat! They are all special people and part of the K Town community.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing change is:
The DAB Central wants to revamp the Kennedy Town waterfront where it proposes having a promenade – “Soho West” – with dining venues. I am hoping this will happen but I would dearly like to see the kaido ferry service put back into operation as there used to be a service that ran between Pak Kok Pier (near Yung Shue Wan), Lamma and Kennedy Town.
Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook?
Kennedy Town was developed in the late 19th century and named after Sir Arthur Kennedy, Governor of Hong Kong from 1872 to 1877. It used to be an international shipping area but was regularly closed off due to the bubonic plague and disease. It’s now becoming a desirable place to live and people come here to enjoy the nightlife on offer.
Do you love your neighbourhood? Share it with others – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch!
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