Given that I’ve posted about birds yesterday, let’s continue today with another post about birds. But let’s tie it in with a visit to the other side, which is Kowloon.
If you only have a short time in Hong Kong do try and fit in a visit to Kowloon – it’s so vibrant and interesting. Just walking along the streets in Yau Ma Tei is so different then taking the doubledecker tram to Sheung Wan! Anyway, I’m now digressing from my post. I was going to write about markets in Kowloon.
I recommend you start early, let’s say 9am, and take the MTR to Prince Edward, Kowloon. Take exit B1 and walk along Prince Edward Road west towards the Mongkok Stadium. That’s when you get to the flower market first. Stroll around Flower Market Road and have a look at all the orchids and flowers, it can be quite a sight – especially around Chinese New Year.
After about 10 mins walk you should get to the end of the Flower Market Road. Turn left and that’s where you see the Bird Garden. Walk through the gate and suddenly you notice that the area feels different – it’s not much quieter, but the noise is different. Rather than cars, you hear the sound of birds chirping. Hundreds of them are being sold at the market – some sit in cages together, others have a cage to themselves.
I like to stay outside of the stalls area, and watch the old people interact. Mainly elderly men gather at the market, they bring their birds along (each one in his/her own cage) and there are hooks from where they hang the birds while they chat. It’s a very interesting sight!
After I’m finished with the bird market, I usually walk back to the same exist and then walk along the Prince Edward Road West, as there are various flower shops and the rwb 330 concept store.
I could walk directly back to the Prince Edward MTR station and leave the area. But usually, before I hit the MTR station, I turn left and walk along Tung Choi Street North – which is better known as the Goldfish Market.
It is lined on either side with shops devoted to the raising of many types of fish, from weirdly shaped goldfish to colourful tropical species with gaspingly high price tags. In between, you’ll also spot a few amphibians and reptiles crawling about; not to mention some impressive saltwater aquarium setups complete with coral.
After that, you could be done with your markets and just enjoy the area – on the weekend there are lots of shops and stalls in the area around the goldfish market – or you could head back to the MTR and take the train two steps south to reach Yau Ma Tei.
In this area are two more markets – one is Jade Market where hawkers sell various shades and qualities of the precious stone. Yo get there, take exit C from MTR Yau Ma Tei Station and walk along Nathan Road to Kansu Street, then continue along Kansu Street until you reach the Jade Market.
To the Chinese, jade has a spiritual value for warding off evil. Stones carved into different shapes can represent wealth (deer), good fortune (tiger) and power (dragon). The market is open from 10am to 3.30pm, every day.
Opposite the Jade market is a new favourite of mine – the old fruit market. It consists of stone buildings one or two-storeys tall and runs along Waterloo Road between Ferry Street and Reclamation Street. Founded in 1913, it’s the oldest fruit market in the city.
In the past, this place has always been a symbol of violence and crime. There are stories of Triads and other gangsters who frequented the market, drug traffickers concealing drugs in fruit – but nowadays it is very safe to walk around the market (at least in broad daylight, at night time you will have to be careful because of the hectic business of the fruit trade). This place gets much more busy at in the early hours of the day, but even if you arrive late in the afternoon there are still a few shops that will sell you fresh fruits!
Once you’re done with the fruit market… you could take a break. Or you could continue onwards further South and visit the Temple Street night market that starts from 5pm… but by then you might be all ‘marketed’ out!