Photo by Lucas Vallecillos
Hong Kong offers a vast array of shopping from high-end designer boutiques to the latest in electronics. But at its heart are the street markets that bring so much color to this most energetic of cities.
A sharp shower of rain has cleared the air of Central on Hong Kong Island and I plunge into streets thronging with markets and lined with shops and restaurants. Stallholders splash water over fish to keep them fresh. Scratching a living here means work never stops. A businessman in a perfect suit picks his way across the road, littered with food refuse and cardboard boxes, as laborers in singlets and plastic shoes shout at each other, the everyday conversational tone.
Mahjong tiles are banged down in a game that looks as if it has been going on since time began. A radio blares Cantonese pop. Strange odors come from a traditional medicine shop, overwhelming the background smell that is a mix of fish balls, char siu (barbecued pork) and exhaust fumes. Tiny trucks smoke past, their drivers glued to cell phones. Water drips from air conditioners lining the endless windows of the apartments blocks on each side. Generators thrum into life, powering flickering neon bulbs that light up gaudy plastic awnings. High overhead, I can just see the green hillsides at the island’s heart, turning dark and mysterious in the fading light of dusk.
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