Hong Kong has always been a dynamic and cosmopolitan city—a place where East meets West and old meets new. Crowned as the Pearl of the Orient, any mention of our beloved city would probably conjure up images of the iconic Victoria Harbour, modern structures soaring to the sky against a backdrop of green mountains, as well as beautiful temples and bustling street markets.
But these are just some of the things that make us proud to call the city home. The spirit of our city lies in traditional trades and practices, which are often easily forgotten but certainly key to Hong Kong’s cultural identity. From bamboo pole noodle making, mahjong carving and the unique art of sculpting sugar into magical creatures, we’ve compiled a list of local hidden gems that you should check out and support before they’re gone forever.
See also: 7 Things You Will Only Find In Hong Kong
1. Letter writing
Throwback to the days when the Internet and instant messaging didn’t exist, and one had to visit a letter writer to keep in touch with friends and relatives overseas. Letter writing was once a thriving business during the 1950s and 1960s when the city’s literacy rate was so low, where hordes of writing stalls were seen at Yunnan Lane in Yau Ma Tei to provide locals with not only personal letter writing services, but also legal documents drafting, as well as tax return and forms filling services.
Letter writing business is becoming a rare sight in today's digital age with the introduction of compulsory education, with only eight stalls remaining in Hong Kong that can be found in one of the quiet alleys in the Jade Market in Kansu Street of Yau Ma Tei—an antique treasure trove that packed with stalls selling Chinese jade, pearls, buddha figures and more. Sadly, the Jade Market has been demolished in November last year for the development of the Central Kowloon Route highway project, where existing stalls, including the letter writing booths, will be relocated to a temporary bazaar nearby, which is currently under construction.
It’s unlikely that a younger generation will want to get their letters and documents handled by those writers (such as Uncle Tsui and Uncle Tse), but you are welcome to pop in for a friendly chat with them and to take in some local history once the new site is opened.