This is quite my favourite thoroughfare in Hong Kong; it encompasses just about everything that’s vital about the city
Oh, I do like to be beside the (former) seaside
Haiphong Road in Tsim Sha Tsui runs roughly east-west; its northern side is fringed by Kowloon Park (a British Army barracks in days gone by) and shaded by century-old Camphor trees. The southern pavement is bordered by neon-clad buildings that give the phrase higgledy-piggledy its full measure, though there is a modern shopping mall at one end, as well as a wet market and an especially charismatic cooked food centre under the bridge that is crossed by Kowloon Park Drive.
Nathan Road – the much trumpeted “Golden Mile” – lies at the eastern end of Haiphong, and Canton Road (rather ambitiously touted as “Hong Kong’s Rodeo Drive”) at the other. I have to suppress the tiniest of yawns at the thought of either. Whereas Haiphong has character in spades, and is fun just to wander along as well as shop.
Haiphong, incidentally, means “seaside” but Hong Kong’s thirst for reclamation has gobbled up what was once the waterfront.
Let the revels commence
Starting on the corner with Nathan Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, exit A1), the first of Haiphong’s offerings is Luk Fook Jewellery (2311 7887; www.lukfook.com.hk) one of Hong Kong’s premier – and trustworthy – chain jewellery shops. Yvonne Lim, one of the supervisors, is especially helpful.
At 53-55 Haiphong, on the first floor, VIP Fashion (2301 3733; www.vipfashion.com.hk) sports a large array of designer label bags and accessories. Its near neighbour, S.Culture (2367 7538) stacks up some of the world’s leading shoe labels. No need to explain Underwear (no phone), next door, which is choc-a-block with everything from leg warmers to suspender belts, but all (ostensibly) aimed at gals.
With a hop…
Crossing Lock Road leads to Myer Photo & Audio (2368 8932) at 51-52A. It’s very much a typical Tsim Sha Tsui outlet; loads of geek glitz on display – and a bunch of hoods sizing you up inside. My recommendation: look, pass the time of day, buy somewhere else.
At 51-52B, Milan Station (2366 0332 www.milanstation.com.hk) is rendered “Rice Orchid Station” in Chinese, neither of which seems to have much to do with the handbags that are its principal wares.
Things get more interesting at Hing Lung Store (47-50; 2366 2849) which is not so much a shop as a brace of alleyways lined with shelves. Oriental knick-knacks is the best catch-all phrase; the parade of statuettes featuring cheeky Chinese chappies and pliant maidens leaves little to the imagination. There’s a lot of jade here too, though I wouldn’t swear to its authenticity.
At 45, the self-explanatory Bespoke Tailors (2730 8566; www.bespoketailorshk.com) shares the first floor with Nail Me (2311 0377), which does fake finger nails that have been PhotoShopped to the other side of the rainbow.
Cross Hankow Road to reach Italy Station (2882 0522; www.italystation.com) which is obviously hoping to pinch business from Milan Station up the road. And then it’s climb the (particularly narrow) stairs again at 41, where Henderson & Co (2366 8030) sells reproduction chests and furniture. They can also arrange shipping.
Spare a thought for Ming Kee Store (no phone) at 31; no need to spend a long time browsing here, as the entire premises is confined to beneath a stairway. Watches, stockings, playing cards and cigarettes make up the eclectic albeit limited range of merchandise.
And a jump…
The Fook Tak (Old Fortune Morality) temple marks the divide between Haiphong’s outlets and the Temporary Market, which has been provisional for a good 20 years.
Beyond here lies the Silvercord mall (2735 9208, www.silvercord.hk) which stands at the junction with Canton Road. It’s a nice mix of international labels and local ones that would dearly love to join the former category. The anchor store G.O.D. (2784 5555; www.god.com.hk) is a Hong Kong success story, founded by Anglophile architects Douglas Young and Benjamin Lau. An abbreviation of Goods of Desire, it’s a lifestyle brand store that mixes East and West, and dabbles occasionally in controversy. Tee-shirts bearing the logo 14K (one of Hong Kong’s criminal triad gangs) excited the attention of the police in 2007, and selling traditional cakes shaped like human posteriors attracted everyone’s attention the following year.
“Copy watch, sir?” If there were global awards for persistence, Tsim Sha Tsui’s touts would be up on the winner’s podium every time. I can’t think why they bother, as those passers-by who do acknowledge them usually do so peevishly at best. Offering to sell a tout something usually leaves him (and they are all male) nonplussed, and he will avoid you in the future, having marked you down as a weirdo.