My nights sleeping in Hong Kong were spent at the Harbour Hotel, which was in conveniently close walking distance to the Mongkok Ladies Market. Within moments of disembarking the hotel elevator and stepping foot into the street, I'd find myself surrounded by a cacophony of sensory overload. Practically anything you could possibly want or need could be found somewhere among the winding, crowded streets, whether it be a baby carriage, seafood so fresh it still wriggles upon the tables or inside bins, clothing, traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and poultices, live chickens, American candy, booze, movies, etc. Vendor's carts, tables, vehicles and pedestrians all crowd the streets, moving at times like a singular entity. People buy, butcher and bargain together in the open air.
Navigating the winding corridors, crowded with vendors and items for sale, could be confusing at times. I figured it was easiest to just go with the flow, for the most part, and take in the sights and sounds as I went. Occasionally a small bit of respite would be found in a quieter alleyway off to the side, where I could more clearly see the merchants going about their day unobstructed. Many of the vendors get an early start and will keep working late in the afternoon and even into the evening hours. The market is still bustling with vibrancy and crackling energy late into the night, when neon signs blink into life and cast their odd illuminations into the midst.
I can only imagine that some of these vendors have been doing this their entire lives, starting in early childhood. Perhaps they were perched upon their grandpapa's lap as he rang up sales, or were given chores to keep them busy as their once clumsy childish hands grew more deft and capable with age.
There was truly so much to see, many of it unrecognisable to me. Oceanic creatures of all shapes and sizes commingled upon tables or in buckets and bins. Tablescapes were coloured with brilliant shades of a wide variety of different vegetables and herbs, fruits and trinkets. This market, this place, has tainted my views of American Chinatowns ever since. While I can still appreciate and enjoy a visit to San Francisco's Chinatown, or Oakland's, it's hard not to compare it to the experience of walking through these streets, taking in the sheer volume of things available...only these original markets, overflowing into the streets, can fully satisfy me now.
More photos after the cut!
Onward and out!
Next post will feature my journey to Downtown Hong Kong followed by my hike across the small fishing island of Lamma, a brief ferry ride from Hong Kong Pier. Check back soon!