In Hong Kong, where the air smells of fermenting tofu and the ever-reaching skyscrapers brood over narrow streets, the tradition of the street market is still being upheld in this fast paced, fast modernising city.
Hong Kong’s street markets are places for meeting old friends and buying daily supplies for those living in small apartments with little or no storage for food. Everything can be found here from dinner ingredients to healing potions, shoes and clothing. Tourists come to take in the chaos, locals come to buy the food.
Red is the dominant colour. Red from the overhead lamp shades installed in every stall, red from the meat of the butcher’s shops and the blood on the fishmonger’s knives and aprons as they expertly descale and fillet fish that was moments ago still swimming in plastic buckets. Roasted Char Siu Pork hangs on hooks alongside chicken and duck dripping with fat.
Smells of chilli oil, dried fish and chrysanthemum tea rise with the steam of freshly made congee, while delivery boys on bicycles navigate expertly between the pressing crowds, carrying sacks of rice and baskets of eggs to local restaurants.
Shouts of “Yau pang yau lang” and “Sun seen yau shui” punctuate the air above the din of haggling as hawkers tout their wares, extoling the freshness of vegetables and fleshiness of seafood. Entreating shoppers to their stall with short, sharp sentences.
These atmospheric markets are an endangered species, with a shift by younger generations to supermarkets and convenience stores and moves by the government to either move them inside to more sanitary premises or close them completely, but for now a slice of traditional Hong Kong life is preserved.