Mong Kok Markets and Other Impressions of Hong Kong

When I arrived in Hong Kong, my eyes were glued to the sky. Space is scarce so instead of building outwards, they build upwards. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere, and life seems like someone pressed a fast forward button. One of my coworkers described it best as, “New York City if it were shoved into a space half its size.”

 

After being picked up at the airport by my roommate (a Hong Kong native), he took me to the night markets in Mong Kok to buy a phone card and to look at whatever else they had to offer. As I walked through the aisles of shops, I was astonished at the variety and sheer quantity of the objects they had to offer. Being a sports fan, a shop with basketball jerseys immediately caught my eye.

In an instant, the small, friendlyshop owner pointed at the jersey and got it down off the hook. Urging me to take it, she held it out in my direction. After asking if I liked it, she offered me a price. After a brief period of contemplation, I declined and kept walking until over my shoulder I heard her start to lower the price. I looked back in confusion, but then continued on my way. She lowered the price once more, but I had already committed to leaving. After lowering the price for a third time, I looked back to see her standing in the aisle of the markets watching me walk away. I kept my path for a while until I thought I was out of her gaze. However, as I looked back I was captured by her stare once again. This interaction scarred me for the rest of my trip, and made me terrified of small, aggressive Mong Kok market vendors.

 

During the rest of my 8 weeks, I made some other general observations about living in Hong Kong:

Property and cars tend to be very expensive. Luckily, even though there are so many people, it is relatively easy to get around with plenty of accessible transportation. The major mode of transportation in Hong Kong is the MTR (similar to the subway). There are several connecting lines that run through most of the heavily populated areas. Due to the sheer amount of people and inevitable contact, people don’t even bother saying “excuse me” when they bump into each other because they would be spending too much of their day doing so.

 

MTR

MTR empty, a rare occurance

 

Hong Kong is quite a diverse place, and because it was previously under British rule, almost everything is written in English as well. Therefore, you could survive without knowing a word of Cantonese (I was lucky in that I had several friends who were fluent).

IMG_5422

 

The humidity of the air is incredibly high. I could feel the thickness of the air and I just felt sticky whenever I was outside. In addition, all of the buildings blast the air condition in full force, so it’s essential to carry a lightweight jacket at all times to put on when indoors. The weather was quite sporadic, and could go from being beautiful to a torrential downpour in the blink of an eye.

 

Even though the days went from scorching to freezing, dry to wet, and open to crammed between strangers in an instant, I fell in love with Hong Kong and all of its culture. I got to see the different faces and the different personalities of each MTR stop, and walk in the shoes of someone on the other side of the planet. I won’t be forgetting my experience any time soon, and I have a feeling I’ll have a hard time staying away from Hong Kong for too long.

TST at Night

 

P.S.: I ended up going back to the Mong Kok Markets toward the end of my trip and bought this sweet kimono for about 6.50 USD.

Mong Kok Market Kimono

 

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