A place where I find the soul of Hong Kong most evident is on one of the historic markets. Join me on a tour through the Northern borders of the Mongkok district in Kowloon and explore the true nature of Chinese trademan´s culture.
Just a few minutes away from Prince Edward metro station (Kwung Tong Line green/ Tsuen Wan Line – red) lie four of the city´s most authentic public markets that you can find in Hong Kong. Most frequented by locals, the Goldfish Market, Fa Yuen Street Market, Flower Market and Yuen Po Street Bird Market will absolutely make you experience an authentic insight into the local lifestyle of people living and working in Hong Kong.
Particularly the Goldfish and the Bird market may cause some irritation to people having strong emotions about species-appropriate attitudes, but once you simply concentrate on the cultural differences, a visit to both will provide you with a highly interesting and colorful experience.
Being located rather close to each other, all four markets can well be discovered in one day and are easy to reach by foot from Exit B1 and B2 from Prince Edward station.
I decided to begin at the Goldfish Market which is actually more an entire street with lots of small shops selling fishes, frogs, turtles and all sorts of creates living in and around the water. While larger fishes are showcased in aquariums, the smaller ones hang in bulging transparent plastic bags outside the shops in many forms and colors. Some even hold crabs or scorpions.
The area extends over two blocks and there are also pet shops that have cute little puppies, rodents and cats on offer.
Fa Yuen Street Market runs actually parallel, so after having completed my visit to the Goldfishes, it was time for a little odds and ends.
Hundreds of small little booths group next to each other on this busy residential street market where locals (I hardly noticed any Western visitors) stroll for groceries, household goods and clothes. A colorful and lively hood which can get quite busy in the evenings after work.
Only a few minutes down Prince Edward St West to the East lies the cockaigne for every lover of flowers and gardening: The Flower Market.
Whatever you are searching for in terms of greenery, you will find it here. From lush vegetation to beautifully arranged bouquets. An explosion of colors and floral scents, absolutely beautiful!
My heart though was lost at the Yuen Po Street Bird Market just off the Eastern end of the Flower Market Road. While late afternoon might already be the time where most merchants begin to remove their stands, it was still an experience to see all these different kinds of singing birds and parrots waiting for a new owner in their cages.
For an animal lover like me, I have to admit that it was a bit controversial to see them being held in this kind of environment, but on the other hand this is a deeply rooted cultural aspect that has been part of the Hong Kong lifestyle for centuries.
So I tried to concentrate on the beautiful birds of which some were either quite excited to present themselves to my curious eyes, and others could not care less.
And here it was where I lost my heart to a macaw. The feathered friend had already spotted me from a distance and had followed my path ever since. I had noticed his stare earlier and it followed me wherever I was going. I could feel the connection between the two of us from the moment that your eyes met. And the beautiful bird could not hide his excitement as I finally made my way towards his stand. It first seemed like it was trying to smell me and then reached out its claw to my forearm. I began to tickle underneath which the macaw apparently seemed to like a lot. It was wagging up and down and formed a sound that came pretty close to laughter.
I could see in his eyes that there was something between the two of us. I have always been a dog lover, but to be honest, I have never considered a macaw as a pet for home. In this moment, I seriously came up with the idea to take him with me. But in my job, having a pet is almost as difficult to handle as having kids, so there was no chance that I could give him the settled lifestyle that he would need.
So I enjoyed the short moment of intimacy and closeness that I felt and promised, that I would come back to visit the next time I came to Hong Kong.
So I gave Mister Doolittle a last tickle and we saluted each other, hoping that this bright fella would find someone soon to take him to a warm nest that he deserved.
A little heartbroken, I found myself heading back to the hotel a bit later. Completely exhausted by the overwhelming humidity, the night was already falling and it was time to re-energize on a delicious dinner. What a fantastic day this had been! Letting the images pass again in my mind, I dreamed of Mister Doolittle, the red macaw, who I hopefully get to see sometimes again soon…