Markets, beach towns and a red light district

I’ve nearly turned vegetarian multiple times since arriving in Hong Kong.

It all started at the wet market, where I noticed the live chickens being cooped up in small cages, waiting for the prospective buyers to come and pick which one they liked before it was taken through the back door. As we, and all of its fellow chickens in the cage knew, the back door meant it was dinner time.

Then there’s the seafood, which is kept in pools of water which barely covers the surface of the fish and the prawns are continuously jumping off the trays and into the street trying to escape (they must have watched Finding Nemo), as the shop keepers swoop them back up onto the table.

But they’re all kept live because, well fresh is best.

While to me this is quite confronting because I don’t think it’s a socially responsible way to keep the animals, it does create an understanding of something we have been trying to for so long in Australia – from farm to plate. The meat isn’t concealed in packaging and labels in the supermarket, but staring right back at you.

And I literally mean staring back at you. At the meat stores there are entire pig heads on sale, or if you don’t fancy the whole thing, you could opt for the snout or hoof. While I am uneasy about how some of these animals are kept, I do value how locals will use every part of the animal. No waste, no part of the animal goes untouched.

Still, it doesn’t make it easier walking through the meat markets. I’ll stick to the produce sections for now.

Spice Market

Trying to promote that Lan Kwai Fong has more to offer than the party scene, this weekend the streets were full of street food stalls as a part of ‘Spice Market’. Open for two days, there was everything you could think of from a food festival in one place. From burgers, to craft beer, and yes, even some spices, it was nice to see the streets being used as a family friendly day out. We didn’t stay for long, we were feeling the repercussions of walking the exact same streets the night beforehand, and the bongo performance wasn’t helping with the beating in our heads!

Cheng Chau Beach

Another outlying island, Chen Chau was bustling this weekend as it was preparing for the bun festival. We didn’t head there for the buns though, but wanted to check out the harbour town and relax on the beach. We were pushed to the second beach because the first was so overcrowded it would have been a task for five of us to fit in one space. It was a pebble beach which meant sunbaking wasn’t really an option, so we all headed straight for the water. It was very refreshing, and quite relaxing, but I could smell the fuel from the boats and felt a bit sticky from the water so didn’t let loose and dive under like I would have loved to. The others swam out to the floating platoons and had a great time relaxing in the sun, watching the flying fish, and absorbing the surroundings. I headed back to the beach and sat watching them, relaxing with a beer from the local canteen, similarly absorbing the atmosphere.

Other than the beautiful ferry ride, a main highlight was the huge iced watermelon slice which helped cool me down before I even headed for the water!

Wan Chai Red Light District

Wan Chai is famous for its red light district. Imagine going into a bar and most, if not all, of the women were working girls trying to find a client for the evening. It’s a fascinating dynamic.

The first bar we went to, I sat back and people watched. The next one made it a little harder to hide, and had a very different vibe, which led us to singing along and dancing to the house band. Anywhere else this would have been fine. But never have I felt so many death stares beaming at me. I tried smiling and said sorry when I bumped into someone, but most of the girls didn’t want to know me – it was as if they were trying to give me the hint that I didn’t belong there. This didn’t stop me, in fact it made me more curious. I clearly wasn’t there as a professional, I was in double the amount of clothes, and had half the amount of makeup on. Perhaps it because I was with a group of guys and they thought I was interfering, or perhaps they aren’t very good at interacting with other women. I’m not sure, but it was a fun night out, and definitely an insightful one!


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