Sai Ying Pun: Diversity in the orderliness
Built on the steeply sloping, Sai Ying Pun is one of the oldest communities of Hong Kong. “Sai” means “west” in Chinese, indicting its location in the western part of Hong Kong Island, while “Ying Pun” means “camp”, especially encampment. In 1841, the British Royal Navy landed on the Island at Possession Street, marking the British colonial era. Sai Ying Pun was the earliest British military camp in Hong Kong. The camps were then moved to Admiralty yet the name Sai Ying Pun remains.
A rectangular residential area stands out on the map of Sai Ying Pun – Centre Street, literally at the centre, while Western Street and Eastern Street running parallel north to south steeply. Climbing up the hill there are First Street, Second Street, Third Street and High Street. It measured approximately 300 meters on each of its four edges and formed a “perfect” square. Lives in this community can never be boring. The old shops on both sides of the streets and lanes, cottage-industries, or even the fragrance of salted fish, have given characters and vibrancies to Sai Ying Pun.
Throughout these 150 years, Sai Ying Pun has played a vital role in the development of medical, religious and education system. Its geographical advantages and compact transportation network at that time nurtured various industries. The first public hospital (Civil Hospital) in Hong Kong, the Plague Hospital for Chinese patients, the Old Mental Hospital (known as “High Street ghost house” today), education institutes and warehouses of rice and salted fish can be found in this unadorned community, which also reflects the ups and downs of Hong Kong.