Amoy Street, Wan Chai

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Where it’s at

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The shy and retiring Amoy Street is sandwiched between the busy thoroughfares of Queen’s Road East and Johnston Road, running at a northeast direction between the two. However, like its sister Swatow Street the next block over, Amoy is a dead-end lane, with concrete steps leading up to Queen’s Road, and the Hopewell Centre almost directly opposite. It is precisely this lack of access that lends the street its quiet, laidback charm. However, this may soon all change.
 
Why? What’s happening?
Typically, the government is set to ruin things. According to Urban Renewal Authority plans, nearby McGregor and Lee Tung Streets will become the site for a “comprehensive commercial and residential development.” As the scheme will see Lee Tung become pedestrian-only, the URA have proposed the steps at Amoy be demolished, making way for a lay by, turnaround and through access to Queen’s Road. Naturally, residents are worried about the substantial increase in traffic this would mean.
 
Should I care?
Of course! The shophouses at 186-190 Queen’s Road East are Grade II monuments on a par with those which house The Pawn just around the corner. The area now known as Amoy Street was first established as a marine lot on the then-coastline. Later, in 1883, it was bought by a certain Dr Patrick Manson (the founder of Dairy Farm), who, coincidentally, came to Hong Kong from Amoy, where he had been serving as a medical officer in the Chinese Maritime Customs.

What is this Amoy I keep hearing about?
Aha, thought you might ask that. Amoy is the former Western name for Xiamen, a bustling port in Fujian province, situated directly across from Taiwan (in the local dialect, its old Chinese name, 下門, was pronounced as “e mui”).

I see. Anything else I should know about this street?
Loads! As well as numerous wedding-card printing shops, it has a charming vegetarian diner (Links Cafe), a local restaurant near the steps named Heart Cuisine, which serves delicious pork chop and steak with rice or noodles, a great used book club run by the very friendly Jennifer Li (The Book Attic, www.bookattic.info), and an adorable neighbourhood black Labrador named Happy– a dog with a very lucky story. His original owner bought him with the intention of eating him once he grew big enough. Outraged, the man’s neighbours intervened, and now he spends his days wandering from shop to shop, with everyone sharing responsibility for his food, water and shelter. Simon Ostheimer 

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