Shun Tak Centre: Where Shopping Mall and Transport Hub Are One

Situated on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island in Sheung Wan, Shun Tak Centre is a transportation hub with ferry services to Macau and China. While some people go to Shun Tak Centre to shop, many go to Shun Tak in order to leave Hong Kong for Macau or China. Therefore, the mall is more like a departure point with some eateries and retail outlets thrown in.

Built up on a semi-open car park, the mall is not entirely shielded from the vehicle sound. Perhaps what makes the mall’s soundscape distinctive is the conjunction of car horn sounds and ferry engine sounds. Arriving at the ferry terminal concourse, you may find yourself walk right into an assault on senses on a busy day. The sonic environment is incredibly rich: loud talking of travellers waiting for ferries, many of the families which may be carrying crying babies on shoulders; children clamouring; travellers calling relatives to join them; luggage wheels sound especially when travellers hurry to board the ferry; dodgy people shouting and trying to sell tickets to Macau. The diversity of sonic components makes an incredibly rich soundscape.

Shun Tak Centre handles the in and out of countless travellers every day. Understandably, its environment is inevitably noisy. But since we have to spend time waiting for ferry and staying becomes temporarily necessary, are there ways we can make it pleasanter?

Lan Fong Yuen: Speed over Peace

Popularity of Hong Kong-style diners, or cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) endures for decades in Hong Kong because they meet the locals’ relentless demand for fast service and an eclectic and affordable menu. Are cha chaan teng places you go to when you want to grab a quick lunch? If yes, you may probably have heard of Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園). Opened since 1952, Lan Fong Yuen is one of oldest and most famous cha chaan teng in Hong Kong. It is said to be the inventor of the classic local beverage “silk stockings milk tea” (絲襪奶茶) and renowned for their delicious pork chop bun. As its business flourished, it expanded by having outlets, one of which is at Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan.

Shun Tak Centre plays two roles: it is a mall and a transportation hub with ferry services to and from Macau and China. Therefore, eateries at Shun Tak take in a lot traveller daily who either want a bite before departure or are hungry after arrival. It must be particularly so for Lan Fong Yuen which has become a symbol of Hong Kong culture and regarded as a must-eat for tourists. Given the fact that commuters make the majority of diners at Shun Tak and commuters desire speed, eateries at Shun Tak would inevitably be fast-paced. How would an environment being fast-paced affect its soundscape? In Lan Fong Yuen, it was noisy and the sonic environment is dominated by the voices of waiters taking order and customers chatting about gambling in casino or businessmen busy talking with his clients. The waiters’ tone might sound authoritative and rude to some customers, which may impart tension to the restaurant soundscape. Given the amount of sounds going on incessantly, you may not want to stay for a little longer after finishing your meal.

Cha chaan teng thrives on its high efficiency and it is the place to go for people who have a hectic day or lifestyle who want food fast and almost instant. Diners do not usually expect a pleasant environment where nice chats and some relaxing can take place. If the place is too noisy for you to want to stay longer, it is probably what they want because customers keep coming in and diners had better not loiter.