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March 8, 2013

Sheung Wan-dering

As we hiss into the year of the Snake before the summer humidity sets in and Hong Kong gets taken over by braying rugby fans, you’re planning a few laid-back, low-key weekends enjoying your favourite city. You’re looking to revisit a couple of tried and tested haunts while also uncovering some brand new little gems. You don’t want to stray too far from home, but you want to get lost in a corner of the city that feels a bit unexplored and a world away from your daily grind. Swap your stilettos for your Converse, Ray Bans at the ready. We have the perfect itinerary for a lazy weekend meander around the streets of Sheung Wan

Sheung Wan-deringIt’s in the Sambag
You like to channel a little of Nicole Kidman’s polished, luxe look and you take more than a pinch of inspiration from Elle McPherson’s casual, urban glamour.  What better spot to start your Sheung Wan wander then, than at Hong Kong’s first Sambag boutique (6 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan, 2968 1285)?  Featured in both Elle and Nicole’s Little Black Books of shopping, Australian label, Sambag is the go to for brightly coloured ballet flats and softer than soft cashmere. With surprisingly non-A-List price tags, you’ll be sure to leave swinging more than a couple of Sambag’s duck egg blue carrier bags.

Café Society
People watching, newspapers, coffee and cake are possibly your favourite combination of little indulgences for whiling away a weekend afternoon. Sheung Wan is studded with a menagerie of coffee shops providing a caffeine fix to satisfy every whim or fancy. Seeking something a little exotic? Try the terrace at Teakha (Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, 2858 9185) for a cup of fragrant, sweet yet spicy Masala Chai. And while you’re there it would be criminal not to try a slice of the heavenly banana, caramel, cream cheese cake. Fancy something more continental? Let Café Loisl (Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan, 9179 0209) transport you to Austria. Pavement tables are plentiful but hop inside and bag a marble-topped table set under art deco ceiling lamps to really soak up the full bohemian Euro vibe. Be sure to order a Viennese coffee and a slice of cinnamon and nutmeg laced, warm Apple Strudel – yodeling optional! Craving something a little more hip? How about Deadend Café (72 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 6716 7005)? Tucked away at the end of a cul de sac next to its sister bakery, Po’s Atelier, Deadend is another alfresco coffee shop gem with a large terrace perfect for soaking up a few spring rays. Bread fresh from the bakery forms the backbone of the menu but Atkins addicts needn’t strike this from your agendas. Who needs carbs when the coffee’s this good?!

Home on the Change
Your flat may be matchbox-sized, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be filled to the brim with beautiful things. Out with the Ikea, in with the Eclectic Cool (58 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 2549 6682).  This fresh out of the box home ware and furniture store stocks a carefully curated selection of must have pieces guaranteed to lift any pad from drab to fab. Whether you’re in the market for a vintage leather armchair sourced from Paris or a piece of bespoke neon wall art (that can even be made up in your own handwriting), Eclectic Cool has you covered. Founder and creative director, Joanne Pereira, not only travels the globe to seek out the very best of quirky, unusual home ware, she also designs and produces unique lines of lighting, jewellery and furniture. In Pereira’s own words, shopping at Eclectic Cool is like, “a fabulous overseas shopping trip, without the hassle of jetlag and excess baggage charges.”

Breaking Bread
24/7 cocktails, a jaw-dropping skyline, world class shopping – there’s a lot that Hong Kong gets very, very right. But if there’s one thing that our amazing little city routinely gets very, very wrong, it’s real bread. Not the sweetened, floppy kind that lurks in the dingy corners of supermarkets but the crusty, freshly-baked kind that leaves a heap of messy crumbs when you tear into it. So if it’s real bread you want, stop by little boulangerie Tufei Pain Pain (29 Lok Ku Rd., Sheung Wan, 5488 2864), or head to new beloved bakery on the block, Po’s Atelier (62 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 6056 8005). Opt for Po’s bestselling Jambon Yunnan, which is baked with Yunanese ham or the equally popular Fromage, baked with Yunnanese goats cheese, blue cheese and Gruyere. For something a little unusual, try the Oolong Fig which includes tea seed oil, fresh Oolong tea leaves and dried figs. Or stay old school and snaffle a couple of buttery, flaky, finger-licking croissants.    Just make sure that you get there early to ensure you nab your loaf before there’s only a heap of messy crumbs remaining.

Something Old, Something You
Fashion regrets? You’ve had a few, but these days you’re pretty style savvy. You know that a head-to-toe designer look lifted straight from the runway is too try-hard (let alone wallet draining). You’ve learnt the hard way that solely filling your wardrobe with high street buys only leads to fashion twin disasters and clothes that fall apart after a couple of washes. In short you’ve wised up to the power of a touch of vintage. Your grandmother’s art deco costume brooch lifting a Zara blazer, a pair of your cool Auntie’s quirky seventies sunglasses adding some edge to your classic Chanel shift dress and the perfect carry-it-everywhere clutch from the sixties discovered in a dusty corner of your mother’s wardrobe. But what if your relatives aren’t style mavens and haven’t accumulated a pile of amazing fashion heirlooms for you to inherit? Step up Aladdin’s cave of vintage wonder, Select 18 (Shop A, 18 Bridges Street, Central, 9127 3657). Half of the fun is hunting out your spoils so let your inner magpie run wild and expect to find anything and everything from a pair of barely worn Gucci loafers to a flapper-esque, sequin embellished dress. Head through the shop to the back of the store for a mind-boggling selection of sunglasses some new, some vintage – hours and hours of optical fun. Be warned though, once you step into this vortex of retro heaven you’re unlikely to leave empty handed…

Picking Up Chicks
You’re absolutely famished but all adventured out after your day of Sheung Wan wandering. You want nothing more than to curl up on your sofa in your coziest loungewear with a huge glass of icy Chablis and a delicious feast of a dinner. However, you’re not so keen on the trip to the supermarket and the cooking part, which is going to be required to whip up said delicious feast… La Rotisserie (255 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, 2324 1898) to the rescue! Specialising in rotisserie roasted, 40-day free-range chickens imported from France, this is takeaway with a little ooh la la. Add in a couple of sides – think roast potatoes and ratatouille – and all you need is that icy cold bottle of Chablis (and perhaps a tub of Haagen Dazs). You deserve it, just think of all the calories you need to replenish after a hard day’s exploring…

*Recommendations provided by Natalie Robinson, contributor for The Guardian and co-founder of the blog 3BadMice

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