If ever I am feeling like I have had a bit too much of Hong Kong, or the strangeness of it gets to me, I know I can escape to Stanley. It really reminds me a little of home!
Stanley is a small town on the south-eastern corner of Hong Kong Island. You can get to it on the number 6 or 6X bus. The bus journeys are quite nice in themselves. The number 6 goes over Chung Nai Gap and has views over the valley and then round Repulse Bay. The number 6X goes through Aberdeen Tunnel and skirts Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay on its way to Stanley.
The town of Stanley straddles a peninsular (Stanley Peninsular). It has a beach on one side and a promenade on the other. The beach is nice enough, but I hear it gets very busy at weekends in summer.
The promenade is quite recently renovated and at one end is Stanley Plaza, a new shopping mall. It houses a fair number of pricier home-ware shops and similar, and is worth a look round although I’ve never bought anything there.
At the same end of the promenade are Stanley Pier and Murray House. When I was researching for this blog post, I found out that Murray House used to be barracks which were located in Central. The whole building was moved to Stanley in the 2000s! (ref) Now the building houses the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (although I think this has now moved to Central Ferry Pier 8).
At the opposite end of the promenade is Stanley Market. This is quite a fun market with a real mixture of shops. There’s all the usual tourist tat, but mixed in are quite a few more expensive shops, some selling more unusual items. My favourite is a lacquer-ware shop called Good Lacque (I also appreciate the pun there!). I’ve got a really nice wine bottle holder from there in the past. Last time I went in I saw two things that I wanted to buy but didn’t have the money for at the time. I hope they’re still there next time I go!
So why do I like Stanley so much? It has the feel of a seaside town in the UK. The majority of it is very low-rise with 3-4 storey houses lining the hills which have balconies facing out to sea. This gives is quite an open feel. Many of the bars and restaurants lining the promenade are Western-style and have big open frontages where you can sit out and see the sea. One of my favourites is a small café called Lucy’s which lies at the market end of the promenade. You can have lovely freshly made sandwiches and cakes here. And sitting out there on the promenade munching on a chocolate brownie really does make you feel like you’re not in Hong Kong any more!
…well, that is until a large group of Chinese tourists parks themselves nearby and start trying to (not-so-subtlely) take pictures of the Westerners…
Thanks for reading!