Asia is King of the markets… street stalls, makeshift markets and neighbourhoods catering to specific items pop up everywhere from the steps leading into the metro, along the sidewalks and pedestrian walkways. Hong Kong probably has the best markets and most organised I have seen. Years ago a friend of mine had travelled to Hong Kong and raved about the street markets and cheap wares you could buy. Last trip to Hong Kong we missed the markets as we were in the wrong area. We did happen upon a jade market and kitchen street where you could buy any kitchen gadget imaginable.
This trip we stayed in MongKok not far from the ladies market and another un-named street market. The markets were along narrow streets and thin tarps and pipes were set up and seemingly taken down and dismantled each day. We wandered some of the street markets and the vendors didn’t seem keen to bargain so we moved on. The quality of items were so-so and there was nothing that was a ‘must have’ so we did the walk away. No one called after us, so we continued on.
We learned about a few unique markets and on the last day we left the hotel early in search of the interesting places. Last trip we also tried to find them, but to no avail. This time we were more successful and discovered the fish markets, or should I say ‘fish street’. This street was lined with small shops selling various koi, goldfish and even expensive tropical fish. The fish were taken out of tanks where I am guessing they were housed for the night. Since we got there early most vendors were just setting up for the day. We saw them place some fish in these plastic bags, add some oxygen (from a dive style tank) then tie them up and place them on a row of hooks along walls, over door entrances and any other available space. The endless row of colourful fish was a delight for the senses and very interesting to watch. I am not sure how much the poor little fish enjoyed their temporary housing though.
Around the corner there was a bird market and next we went in search of it. We passed numerous flower stands and stalls and thought maybe we went the wrong way when we came to a park. From the posted signs I thought maybe this was it. Inside there were a few stalls selling bird cages and men walking with birds in little bamboo cages and we still weren’t sure we were in the correct location. We continued deeper into the park and came across more stalls with numerous tiny little boxes with birds housed in each one. One stall had more exotic birds including a variety of parrots and even a toucan. The bird of choice was this smaller bird that flitted and flew quickly from perch to perch.
Hooks around the park all held a nice decorative cages and housed a little bird. Nearby an older gentleman sat and read the paper or chatted to a friend. We giggled and thought that maybe these were the bird owners and they were taking their birds for a walk. After researching and reading up on this park more we discovered we were not far off the truth. It seems that locals do go to the park to visit with friends and give their feathered friend a chance for fresh air and be with nature.
Our location was perfect this time and the busy streets were always filled with passing tourists and locals. Street performers were out occasionally, and markets lined the streets and narrow alleys until late. Street stalls sold a variety of foods, the ultimate in fast food. One night we even found a fruit and vegetable market around the corner from our hotel.
Wandering the streets of Hong Kong was always an adventure and interesting amongst the bright neon signs all competing for your attention. The sounds of the city and energy of the hustle and bustle were not only interesting, but surreal at times. I felt like I was a part of a movie set, transported through my TV into a different world. Hong Kong lived up to my expectations of a world class city and more.
This is the last post of our small trip to Hong Kong and Macau. Be sure to check out the others if you haven’t already.