ISLAND'S new frontier
Sheung Wan may be the end of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) line - for the moment - but together with Western district, it's the shape of things to come on Hong Kong Island. The extension of the Island line is due to open in 2014, extending further west to Kennedy Town, and will link with a new interchange at University. From there, in time, the MTR will run south to Aberdeen and South Horizons, and then loop back to Admiralty via the Happy Valley racecourse.
Western and Sheung Wan ('above the bay' in Cantonese) have already been absorbing the overflow from Central. This is the new frontier of Hong Kong Island - and the extension to the MTR line is going to join the dots.
Both areas have grown up organically; a major highway runs parallel with the coast while, inland, an intriguing mix of retail, commercial and residential gives Sheung Wan and Western its distinct character.
Sheung Wan hosts the ferry port for Macau, with vessels serving the former Portuguese colony 24 hours a day; helicopter transfers are also available. Just beside the terminal, the Western Harbour Tunnel leads to Kowloon, and to the international airport at Chek Lap Kok.
Amid all the dashing to and fro, there is some opportunity for respite. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park - originally called Western Park - is one of the city's most pleasant oases centred around a statue of the Father of Modern China, who studied at what was then called the Hong Kong College of Medicine, one of the forerunners of the University of Hong Kong.
Right above the MTR station, Wing On ('forever peaceful') was started by two brothers from Zhonghan in 1907.
Sheung Wan's other traditional retail operations are extensive. Along Des Voeux Road West, dried seafood shops display their wares in abundance. Ko Shing Street is the centre for the thriving herbal medicine trade, while Wing Lok Street and Bonham Strand West are renowned for ginseng and bird's nest.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Lost in time
Despite the fact that Possession Street marks the place where the British first raised the Union Flag in January 1841, little has been done to commemorate the event.
Century of service
The western end of the island tram line terminates at Whitty Street; trams have been serving Hong Kong since 1904.
One of Hong Kong's most distinctive skyscrapers, The Center (346 metres) on Queen's Road Central is festooned with neon lights which provide an attractive display at Christmas and on other festive occasions.
Western Market dates from the mid 19th century, and hosts mainly cloth merchants. Its top-floor salon, The Grand Stage, is a mecca for old-time dance fans.
Step out in style
Ladder Street in Sheung Wan, which runs between Hollywood Road and Queen's Road, is one of Hong Kong's most photogenic, consisting only of stone steps.
Wealthy Chinese merchants provided much of the finance to build Tung Wah Hospital on Po Yan Street in 1870, and it granted them great political clout.