Hutchison Whampoa

Whampoa Garden

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Cross Hung Hom Road away from the tight streets and oddly named buildings of Hung Hom Estate - is Jumper Mansion really an appropriate name for a high-rise residential building? - and you're in Hutchison Whampoa's 'garden city'.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Whampoa Garden, where the shopping malls are bright and the housing stacks sound arboreal: the 'mansions' are Palm, Cherry, Oak, Banyan, Bamboo, Bauhinia. Of course, they contain much more concrete than plant life - this is a forest of middle-class housing. The development of 12 estates containing 88 remarkably similar towers was completed in 1991.

Home to about 40,000 people, Whampoa Garden was built on the site of the former Kowloon dockyard. Also known as Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock, after the company that ran it, the shipyard operated from 1870 to 1984. Whampoa Garden was one of the first mega-developments in Kowloon and it conforms to a template that has been laid down all around town.

The streetscape is a miasma of mid-market high-street brands with little in the way of the mom-and-pop stores found in nearby eastern Kowloon. But a stroll around Whampoa Garden is still pleasant enough, along wide streets that could be in suburban Seoul or Tokyo.

The resemblance to Tokyo is reinforced by the many Japanese families who call the area home. As in Taikoo Shing, the Japanese have been attracted by spacious surrounds and easy access to the city centre - and there's a branch of the Japanese Jusco department store down the road.

At the Hung Hom Ferry Pier, middle-aged men and women hopefully cast fishing lines into the grey-green harbour. The last ferry from here to Wan Chai and Central cast off on March 31 and the pier that served those destinations is shuttered. First Ferry runs a service every half-hour to North Point, but for how long? Another part of the area's maritime history looks ready to set sail.

Whampoa is an English rendering of the name Huangpu, the district in Guangzhou where Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock operated another yard.

Around Whampoa Garden

1 Shipshape

The district's most curious feature is The Whampoa (Site 6, Whampoa Garden), a beached concrete 'ship' of a shopping centre berthed in the original dry dock No 1. It's the iconic image of Whampoa Garden, with a Jusco department store at its heart and a five-lane swimming pool in its belly. The second-floor 'observation deck' comes complete with fibreglass capsules for imaginary life rafts, a lifelike smokestack and control tower.

2 Gunning for it

Near the 'ship' sits a 19th-century naval gun uncovered in 1988 during construction of Lily Mansion, the block just across the road. The muzzle-loading gun, which weighs 12 tonnes and fired 110kg missiles, was probably cast off by a British ship undergoing refitting in the dockyard.

3 Going gourmet

There's a bowling alley in the guts of Whampoa Gourmet Place (Site 8, Whampoa Garden, entrance on Tak On Street) and a cinema operated by Golden Harvest next door. the four-storey food mall is all about the diversity of Chinese cuisine, with Wing Wah Cake Shop on the ground floor and a smattering of restaurants from across the Middle Kingdom upstairs. Wing Lai Yuen Sichuan Noodles (tel: 2320 6430) is worth a pit stop for its spicy mien.

Average house price HK$4 million for a 450 sq ft flat

Average rent HK$11,000 for a 450 sq ft flat

Nearest shops Along the high street of Tak On Street and in surrounding malls

Nearest ATM HSBC at the junction of Shung King and Tak Fung streets

Nearest MTR Hung Hom, a five-minute bus ride away and at the end of the East Rail and West Rail lines

Nearest restaurants Best selection is at Whampoa Gourmet Place, with four floors of Sichuan, Cantonese and Shanghainese eateries