Somehow, I have found myself in a rather questionable relationship and this madly discouraging affair is with time. Time so often reveals the worth of our moments and it seems I always, quite selfishly, want more of it when I am travelling. The simple yet tenuous thing with time, is that it will keep moving on whether you are ready to or not and five days in Hong Kong just wasn’t quite long enough for me.
I took hundreds of photos. Far more than I could ever share, and I walked. A lot! Sometimes these walks simply ended at a newly favoured cocktail bar or at the door of the egg custard tart shop which I swear was purely coincidence 🙂 Yet at other times, there was a destination in mind such as the Islamic Mosque in Kowloon or the markets of Hong Kong…….
Some markets in Asian countries will often challenge in some way but they are a timeless window into a world few of us venture. It is a world which refuses to conform to modern living and as such, they can be an intense sensory overload.
There are no aisles and no junk food. No refrigeration to speak of, no talkative ‘check-out chicks’ and no piped music. It is noisy and chaotic, and it makes you feel very far away from home……which is the point of travel anyway. I always feel a city like Hong Kong is revealed through its markets. Everything is less familiar and the fetid air is heavy with the combinations of sweet char sui, metallic blood, ripening fruit and exhaust fumes of which none, are easy to capture in a photograph.
Some of the markets in Hong Kong are very old school. Rabbit warrens of alleyways or shanties of entire blocks to tiny hole in the wall places. It all seems to cluster beautifully together and they sell everything from souvenirs, fresh meat, fruit, goldfish, jade and antiques to vegetables.
There are glorious blooms, fresh seafood, low cost electronics, gold, clothing, noodles, birds and plants sold to the buyer with a promise of much good luck to come.
It is an incredibly communal way to shop as these busy, rustic and very colourful markets are a huge part of everyday life for the locals. Do be respectful in how you react to what you see as often you will see things which may not sit comfortably with you. Watery blood and iced is swilled down the streets and live animals or the bodies of animals being dispatched with efficient, yet brutal precision may also be difficult to witness.
And this little piggy (really should have) stayed home…….
It can also get a little rough and tumble due to the crowds, but I don’t go for the shopping, I go for the experience. Years ago, I would buy the odd souvenir or something I had thought at the time I had dearly wanted. Perhaps in some way I thought a keepsake would tie my memory of that place to me forever but now, I just prefer to collect memories.
And sometimes your memories, your gratitude and possibly even your love of a place or of something quite wonderful are souvenir enough…….xx