Some of the most amazing experiences can be found at the local wet markets, especially if you are a food lover, or if you are simply a photographer after the colourful products and bustling movements within.
I am both of those characters. Of course, I am also an ordinary citizen frequenting (not that often, sadly) the local wet markets to fulfill some of my grocery needs.
I grew up going to those in Hong Kong with my mother. They were amazing places. Two, three storeys high in a government building or stretched along a row of shops encroaching out onto a narrow lane. Mothers with strollers, old folk with push carts, delivery cyclists, motorbikes, lorry drivers all going about getting what they need. I used to stand outside that section selling fresh seafood waiting for my mother to get that horribly smelly fish that would go into the night’s soup or onto the grill. Not surprisingly, I hated fish when I was young; it was boney anyway.
I would happily stroll through the dried goods section, though, picking up and smelling the Chinese mushrooms from the plastic barrels–whenever my mother stopped to buy something from that stall–as if I knew how to judge the quality of the fungi. I’ve always been amazed by how these stall owners manage the goods above their heads like vines growing from the ceiling.
Eat your greens. Okay mom, just not the eggplant, it’s not green anyway. This was the most colourful section in the market. Green Chinese veggies, yams and other brown roots, bright bell peppers, and more. The best part here? Free bunch of scallions to go along with your healthy purchase, no questions asked.
The meats. Huge slabs of pork and beef hung onto hooks waiting to be sliced up by the butcher on wooden tabletops. Bloody intestines on a separate stainless steel shelf. Live chicken housed in cages like pets at a pet store waiting for someone to take home. Take your pick and come back in a bit, slaughtered and feathers plucked. That’s my childhood market, it still exists thankfully, so we can all enjoy the true freshness of food.
Visit one such market streets at Wan Chai (on a few lanes wedged between Johnston Road and Queen’s Road East, especially near the junction of Cross Street and Wan Chai Road). Actually there are many many more I can think of, let me consolidate this into a list for my next post.
Coming up: Other markets of the world