It’s just what it says on the map – a block of 3/4 streets that house, side by side, flower shops of every size, type & description. Shops overflow with crates & pots, with cut flowers & potted plants. The clusters of pink & red & white roses compete with the tall elegance of purple orchids &
with a thousand bright red poinsettia ready for Christmas displayed within & outside a fair number. Some offer bouquets already assembled & displayed whilst others house sellers cutting & arranging floral tributes for every occasion. Each shop specialises not only in the type of plant but in a certain colour of the spectrum & artists’ palette.
The customers search through the hundreds of seemingly similar plants or bunches or bouquets to find that one perfect bloom or arrangement for that special person or that special place in their home or that special festival or occasion. Their faces reflect the concentration they bring to their quest.
I head up Nathan Road, take a right then a left & walk up Tung Choice Street, home to 40 or so shops that sell all the paraphanalia required to keep tropical fish. It seems this is a popular past-time for ordinary Hong Kong folk. Some solely stock aquarium (or is it aquaria) & equipment of all descriptions; some just sell pond weed of every type but all oxyginating to keep waters clear; and then the ones that sell the livestock of all shapes & sizes & colours but basically blends of orange. Gurgling tanks hold swaying goldfish of assorted sizes. Then from metal grids hang loads & rows of small plastic bags with a couple of small feathery delicate fish, so fragile they might hurt themselves on their invisible walls. An occasional tank holds a big bruiser of a carp or some weird turtle.
I suppose once they get a home they are cared for in a nice clear, controlled environment. Keeping fish is big business in Hong Kong, almost as big as catching & eating it – all those whole fish, groupers & snappers & swordfish & catfish, and the prawns & clams & squid that feature as the basis of delicious street food, a family’s home meal or on every restaurant menu.
At the top of Tung Choi Street I rest in a small park in the shadow of the overpass along with other residents of Kowloon.
Having recharged my batteries I cross under the overpass, cross over a number of roads to find Flower Market Road. I wonder what is sold there? Find out next time.
With an early start I get the tram to Central & walk down to pier 7.
Once across the water I head up Canton Road where the rich & famous, well, not famous to me, are seen to do their labelled shopping. It seems bankers & property owners are particularly keen. All the big names are there & provide a wonderful backdrop for some interesting images. Can you guess these –
Up past the glitter & the golden reflections real Kowloon emerges with ordinary people living & working ordinary lives.
More to follow as I go deeper into the delights of busy Kowloon.
Victoria Harbour comes alive at night. As offices & shops close down & the locals rush for trams & buses & taxis, the neon comes alive, gradually at first. Then suddenly you look up and the place is ablaze on both sides of the water. Floor after floor of offices & apartments in the highrisers are lit up staring out over the water hiding all sorts of treasures behind their night lights. For a clear view I take the Star Ferry across to Kowloon. Lit up like a spotlight on a stage set we sit exposed to the world by the orange glow of naked lights on board & watch the land leave & go as the ferry crosses through the darkness. Other boats match our path & guard our sides as we plod on to safety.
Once there a short walk up to the terrace, a glass of Shiraz and an opportunity to gaze over the lights of Hong Kong.
Impressed? Up close you can see Christmas themes on some of the buildings – dancing Santa’s, neon snowflakes landing on Christmas trees, pink presents, everything is pink or neon gold, pink presents, the ubiquitous panda highlighted in glorious red & regal purple. The vessels, lit up with their own lights scurry between the shores. Can you see the dowh, its sails lit up in red?
After all it is Christmas and celebrated in every country on the planet, it seems. Here piles of enormous red baubles compete with huge teddies towering amongst giant presents in lobbies & entrances to malls, hotels & offices. Tinny musical box renditions of carols & Christmas favourites tinkle in the background everywhere. All workers in fast foodplaces have the must fashion accessory – a red Santa hat. Occasionally the real thing can be found.
I finish the evening off with a Korean bar-b-q.
On Hong Kong Island locals get about their business amongst the myriad of deep streets using trams, buses, vans & taxis. Only a very few possess & use cars. A series of tunnels & bridges link Hong Kong Island to the mainland & to Lantau Island. Hong Kong also relies on two other integrated transport systems to keep its composite elements connected – the underground Mass Transit Railway & the tentacles of ferry lines that spread to islands of all sizes from the seven piers of Central. The Octopus Card can be used to pay for journeys on all these different transport systems.
The original green vessels of Star Ferries operate from Pier 7 & chunter backwards & forwards across Victoria Harbour linking Kowloon & Hong Kong Island on their 10 minute voyage. These are the original vessels that have plied the short route for over 100 years. A journey is a matter of pence with locals using the lower decks at an even cheaper rate whilst tourists tend to hurry to the upper deck with their cameras.
Arriving from Kowloon.
Leaving Hong Kog behind & crossing Victoria HarbourHarbour.
Heading over to Kowloon.
& arrival on the mainland with crew waiting to hang on to flying ropes to tie us up.
Piers 1 to 6 are home to other lines linking the islands.
Around the harbour speed ferries race around high up on their three skies, vehicle ferries plough steadily about, old two deck passenger ferries steadily cover their distance, huge tankers lie at anchor & dredgers scoop out their debris.