Wandering Around

Hong Kong Harbour
* D850, 14-24@14mm, f2.8. 1/6400s. (GPS: 22° 17' 35.00" N, 114° 10' 12.41" E)

It’s been the better part of a decade since I last visited Hong Kong, so I expect to see many changes.

First on the agenda was to wander around, which is typical for me, as I walk everywhere, even in the middle of summer, on a weekend in one of the most crowded places on the planet.

As for the heat and humidity, those who know me understand I am basically immune. To me 45c with 99% humidity is comfortable, yes really.

Anyhow, the first thing I noticed was the crowds; I remember HK being crowded but not this crowded; I was walking along Canton Road in Kowloon on a Sunday lunchtime, and there was a sea of people, with queues outside some of the super high-end stores.

And no, this is not the first time I have seen these queues; I see them at home in Sydney, just not at this scale.

Not sure I would ever understand the need to queue to get into these places, nor do I really care about the brand name on clothes, but each to their own, it’s their money to do with what they wish.

There were always some high-end stores in Kowloon, but they seem to have multiplied again. I leave the decision on whether this is a positive, negative, or neutral change to you.

Having no genuine interest in those high-end stores, I headed for Nathan Road, which always was an excellent place to find the smaller, local shops and even some bargains. Again, more changes; yes, there were still some of these shops, just fewer.

* Nathan Road, Mid 1992. Scanned Faded Print.

One thing that has not changed is the “sellers” trying to sell “copy watches,” yes, fake Rolex, etc. Not that I should need to tell you, but avoid these at all costs.

I remember walking in Nathan Road back in the 90s and being followed by these people; it was very annoying, but while they were still there, at least they did not follow you anymore and seemed to actually take “no” for an answer. Yes, that’s one positive change.

Heading north along Nathan Road, things started to look more like the Kowloon I remember; the high-end stores thinned out to nothing, and old favourites became more common.

One thing to note is the iconic neon signs which is one of the things I remember well, its basically one of the things which make Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Now they are all but gone, although through wandering around I did find some which still exists. Anyhow to me anyway this is a change I do not like.

Not sure of the thinking behind this, very unwelcome change, maybe its a energy usage thing?.

After some googling, it seems its not really anything to do with energy usage, but a government regulation thing, check out this article or this one, for more details.

I took this following shot at the junction of Jordan Road and Nathan Road, and yes, for once, even the traffic cooperated, it shows some of the old Hong Kong I remember.

Just like in Singapore, if you want to see something interesting, just look up; in this case, you see the older apartment blocks with the hi-tech new high rise in the background.

Nathan Road
* SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/744s (GPS: 22° 18' 19.962" N, 114° 10' 17.688" E)

Anyhow, continuing down Nathan Road, and ended up in “Yau Ma Tei”, I made a big mistake and went into the Jade Hawker Market.

Note I said, “big mistake”, and yes, I really mean it.

Arab Street
* SM-S908E, 7.9mm, f2.4, 1/109s,
(GPS: 22° 18' 33.804" N, 114° 10' 12.864" E)

My experience with this place has been interesting, as it has a real problem with the “bane of my existence” pushy salespeople.

Back in the day, when this market was in a tent under a bridge, you used to go in, and right away, you would be swamped by sellers all pushing to “buy, buy and buy some more,” they would even physically pull you in the direction of their stalls.

Some of them would “shove” things in your face, as “You must buy this”, and get hostile when you say no.,

I even had one case where one of these people even tried to grab my wallet. And no sign of any security/police etc.

Now why did I go into this place again after those memories?

Put simply, the market has moved into a permanent building and looks more organised.

So, taking my life and wallet in my hands, in I go, and right away, it was a repeat of the bad old days; I was swamped by people pushing me to buy from them.

One thing that was different is that some even seemed to take “no” for an answer.

Anyhow, I made it further into the markets and found one stall, where the owner just said “hello,” and we had a short talk about “pushy sales,” and she seemed to understand why it was a bad thing.

Looking through this seller’s inventory, one wood carving said something to me: a small, detailed dog, which seems to draw me. The seller said her father carved it. I'm not sure if I believe it, as I see CNC tool marks, but I still like it and decided to buy it.

Negotiating with the seller, she gave me a “good” price, and money was exchanged.

Yes, that was basically my first positive experience with the Jade Markets.

Cat Street Markets
* SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/100s,
(GPS: 22° 17' 5.55" N, 114° 8' 59.01" E)

After moving on from that seller, all the positive went away, and I was swamped by pushy salespeople again. The result I bought nothing from them and left.

The outcome was that my opinion on the Jade Markets is unchanged and stays as “enter at own risk.”

A much more pleasant destination for buying Jade and other things like metal statues etc., is Cat Street, which is located on Hong Kong Island, and although not as big as the Jade Markets, I found the quality to be better.

Another place to look are the street markets in Wan Chai. Put simply you have options; if you want to avoid the Jade Markets in Yai Ma Tei, just remember they are not as dense, but for me its worth looking. And yes, I did make some purchases in both.

Having spent most of the day walking around, I decided to head for the waterfront, and as dusk was approaching, it sounded like a plan.

It was quite a hike to get from the markets to the Kowloon waterfront, so after a long walk, I arrived and yes, it was crowded, a total sea of people.

Hang on, it just hit me, it’s a Sunday, and that’s usually the day off for some of the domestic helpers, which explains the many different languages I can detect.

Back in the day, I saw these workers on the weekend, all taking it easy in the parks and on the waterfront. They work hard, so good for them for taking the time to relax on their day off.

I took this next shot from the raised walkway right on the Kowloon waterfront.

Kowloon Waterfront 1
* SM-S908E, 2.2mm, f2.2, 1/50s (GPS: 22° 17' 34.764" N, 114° 10' 14.88" E)

Moving on, I decided to head back to my accommodation, so back on “canton road” I saw something I never remember seeing before, 1881 Heritage, which looked interesting, so in I go.

* SM-S908E, 2.2mm, f2.2, 1/50s (GPS: 22° 17' 42.444" N, 114° 10' 12.342" E)

Some more research is needed, so expect more on this place.

The result of today’s walking, yes, there are changes, just as expected; some are good, others not so much. In short, mostly positive change.

So, it’s been a long day, the daily stats are: 30,735 steps, which Samsung health tells me is a little over 23km, and that’s in 33c heat with high humidity.