Saturday, March 24, 2018

Markets of Hong Kong. Fish, Flowers, and Birds.

Fish for sale at the Goldfish Market.

We spent our first full morning in Hong Kong exploring three markets - the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market and the Bird Market. All three are located within walking distance of the Prince Edward MTR station. We made our way there after having a classic Cantonese breakfast of congee at Sun Kee Congee in the Hung Hom neighborhood.

After a short stroll along the streets of Hung Hom, near the restaurant, we decided to make our way back to the Whampoa MTR and from there, rode a few stops to arrive at the Prince Edward MTR. 


Yep, everyone is on their phone.  My lame US phone does not work in the subway but it does here!

We're both very quickly appreciating the convenience of taking the subway here.  Both the stations and trains themselves are very modern.....not to mention spotlessly clean.  The trains run very frequently as well.  Additionally, we're already getting very spoiled to the convenience of the Octopus card!  We just swipe and go and to be honest, I don't even know what the fare of a ride is.  I guess that's the one bad part about having the card.

Having learned our lesson with leaving the Whampoa station without paying any attention to which exit we should take, we did pause for a few minutes to look at the map.  As you can see, I even took a photo of it in case we needed to refer back to it for navigation.  Did this help us any?  Nope, not one darn bit because we really did not pay close enough attention to the map.


So what happened?  Well, our goal was to go to the Goldfish Market first because that was the one that was located closest to the station.  The moment we got out of the station, we had no idea which way to go.  Disoriented, we tried to refer to the map but that proved useless so it was back to asking for directions.  Of course, what do we ask for?  I do know the Cantonese words for Goldfish and Market so that's what I used and surprisingly, people responded but in very general terms.  There were those people who were not helpful AT ALL pretending that they had no clue what I was talking about.  Yes, I am referring to you.....the lady that works in the shop that turned out to be just two blocks from the market.   As we somehow managed to meander our way to where we were suppose to be, a very helpful policeman pointed us to the final few steps.  I was expecting to see a building i.e., a market filled with shops selling fish.


But instead of a building the Goldfish Market is actually a collection of small shops, located along Tung Choi Street, all selling aquarium fish and everything to do with the upkeep of your fish pets.  


For those vendors who do not have a store front, they simply sell from their vans or truck.


Pre-bagged fish ready for sale!

I used to raise goldfish when I was a child.  I had no idea that they actually have a significance in feng shui.  Feng shui subscribers regard an aquarium of goldfish to be an auspicious addition to one’s home that can bring good luck.


Although the market is named the Goldfish Market, in actuality, they sell all sorts of fish (both freshwater and saltwater)  here as well as a few amphibians, reptiles, aquatic plants and of course aquariums and everything that goes with maintaining.  Plenty of fish food too - some live!


He's marking the price on the bag.


Pretty little guppies for sale.

We checked some of the fish for sale.  If I lived in Hong Kong, I would definitely have a fish tank filled with goldfish.  I have wonderful childhood memories of raising goldfish.

Just a few short blocks from the Goldfish Market is the Flower Market.  Again, it's not a single building housing vendors selling plants but rather a collection of shops along a few streets.  While I can admire a beautiful plant, Bro loves them so I knew we had to come here and spend some time.  Much of what they have for sale here was stuff we could recognize but the quality is amazing.  I have come to the quick conclusion that the wealthy Hong Kong Chinese can afford to pay for a large variety of top quality plants and flowers and so many of the shops here were very upscale and trendy in terms of what they had for sale.   I was surprised to see just how many people were carrying around bouquets of cut flowers.  I never knew the Chinese to be lovers of cut flowers though Bro did remind me that our grandmother always cut flowers from her gardens for display on her prayer altar.  I think that's still very commonly done to this day in all parts of China.   Here are some of the photos I took of the very colorful (and at times, very nice smelling) Flower Market.








The Hong Kong Bird Market also known as the Yuen Po Bird Garden is located about a 10-15 minute walk from the Flower Market.  Again, not a building housing a bunch of vendors selling birds.  Yuen Po Bird Garden is actually a small pedestrian only alley where bird vendors have taken up shop. 

In addition to raising goldfish, Bro and I also raised parakeets when we were kids.  Keeping birds as pets is a very traditional Chinese thing to do.


It wasn't hard to find the market.  We knew we had arrived when we heard the cacophony of birds chirping.  The alley is like a little secret garden, tucked into a small greenspace with plenty of trees providing shade.  Looking around, you can barely catch a glimpse of high rise buildings and the rest of the concrete jungle of Hong Kong.


Chinese love birds but especially songbirds.  In fact, if you come here, you will see prospective buyers taking a songbird, away from the store, and hanging up on a tree branch to listento it *sing*.  Bro's observation was that pretty much all the buyers as well as the sellers were men though if I lived here, I would come here to buy a bird or two or more....

If you are a bird owner, the beauty of the cage is as important as the bird.  Here, you will see literally dozens of bamboo cages hanging everywhere.  True collectors will pay very steep prices for not only a prized songbird but also for the cage that houses it.



Aside from all the bird activity here, the garden seems to be a place for locals to just gather and socialize.





By the time we were done at the Bird Market, it was barely 11:15a....too early for lunch.  So we decided to head to Lantau Island.  Time to find our way back to the MTR and continue our day!