THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT HK STREET NAMES
Wan King Path
Starting off strong with the infamous Wan King Path, the subject of many giggles and Instagram pics. In Chinese, the name is tame compared to its English counterpart, literally meaning Bayview Street. So, how did this name come about? The British government used phonetics instead of the direct translation, and even after the government set up a board to correct inaccurate street name translations, this one remained. Seems the government might have a sense of humour after all.
Before much of Hong Kong’s reclamation, Tin Hau was once front row to the waterfront, and Yacht Street got its name as it was the original site of Hong Kong’s Royal Yacht Club.
This one’s a no brainer right? High Street is named for it’s steep and literally breathtaking walk. Wrong! Once a upon a time, this street was named ‘Fourth Street’, in keeping with the theme of First, Second and Third Street. However, due to superstitions and because the word four in Cantonese sounds similar to the word ‘death’, folks petitioned the government to change it.
Throwback to colonial times, you’ll see a lot of streets around Hong Kong that reference its British past! This street was named Jubilee in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
Sai Yeung Choi Street South
Watercress is certainly a delicious vegetable, but why is a street in Mong Kok named after it?
It’s hard to imagine it now, but Hong Kong’s densest part of the city used to be sprawling watercress fields. In 1924, Mong Kong was nothing but another farming village, and, well, look at it now!
Lan Kwai Fong
The party strip of Hong Kong has many stories to tell, but this one you may not have heard. Lan Kwai Fong translates to ‘orchid cinnamon square’ in Cantonese, apparently before World War 2, LKF was lined with hawkers and flower stores, hence the reference to fragrant smells. Though, some say the reference to flowers and tantalising smells may actually refer to ladies of the night. LKF may well have been an area for prostitutes to pick up potential clientele.
Chalk this one up to cultural misunderstandings. Rednaxela Terrace was originally to be named Alexander Terrace, but because Chinese is usually read from left to right, the clerk registered the wrong name by spelling it backwards. Oops! But hey, it’s memorable.
Tsat Tsz Mui Road
Tsat Tsz Mui, translates to ‘seven sisters’ in Cantonese. There is a legend about seven girls who drowned themselves in the nearby bay. The legend goes, seven girls made a pact never to get married. However, tragedy struck when one day, one of the seven girls was forced to marry a man. In the act of defiance and true to their pact, the girls took their lives by drowning themselves. *shudders*
Queen Victoria Street
There are many references to Queen Victoria all about Hong Kong, along with this road, there’s Victoria Park and Victoria Peak. No surprises here, just colonial officials falling back on the good old monarchy when they lacked inspiration.