Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gaai Si : 街市

yesterday i walked around wan chai (灣仔), a district on hong kong island.

it's an interesting area of hong kong as it's home to many wet markets, historic but very dilapidated buildings, loads of cheap bars and hong kong's so-called red light district.

the shops here don't interest me ($10 fake nike t-shirts etc...) but the wet markets are pretty cool. maybe "cool" is not the right word... they are very... "hong kong".

full of energy with housewives shouting this way and that all the while vocally competing with stall owners promoting their wares.

oh and can't forget the smells.

sometimes its the sweet aroma from the many stalls selling fresh cut flowers, then in a matter of seconds you can feel your stomach churn at the stench of cows innards being hung out in hong kong's humid air. a few steps further and you have to literally jump over a fish that's escaped the chop and trying to do a "free willy" (ouch that's showing my age...)

and why is it called a "wet market (街市: gaai si)"?
because it's wet.

yup, the streets are often hosed down with water. i think it's to wash away any left overs after the butcher has just slaughtered someones dinner.

one thing you can be sure of is that everything is alive fresh.
the vegetables and fruits look like they've been picked earlier in the morning, the fish, shrimp, turtles and frogs are all splashing around in their little bowls, and the meat on display is either dripping with blood or the case of chickens still squawking in their cages.

for many housewives in hong kong it's an important part of shopping to select the most healthy chicken (by blowing in the chickens ***) or seeing the fish bashed to death and then gutted before their eyes compared to pre-packed and often pre-frozen supermarket goods.

the hygiene standards freak me out a bit so i generally only buy fruits, flowers or veges.
i don't think my body would stand-up to meat that's been left dangling in hong kong's oh so clean air... maybe i should give the fish a try though.

and unfortunately because of such hygiene issues more and more of hong kong's wet markets are being forced indoors to more controlled environments or closing down altogether.
such a shame as wet markets are such a important part of hong kong, not to mention that they are just "cool"!

fresh vegetables

refrigerated meat

fish fish fish

chicken truck... no more chicken for me!

wan chai building & fishmongers

preserved eggs & dried seafood

by the way, my friend sent me a link to this site where you can make your own "wordle" like mine at the top of this post. nice huh!
if you're planning to move to amsterdam you should check out his new blog too.


Johnny said...

wow that looks amazing. I'd love to visit one day!

world of sekimachihato said...

* Johnny
thanks for the comment, you surprised me! :)
for sure, you should check out hong kong sometime... just not during summer

Luuworld said...

i love this post! cool how you described the marked- felt like i was there. nice pics too. i would love to go to hong kong one day. seems like a fun place.

world of sekimachihato said...

* Luuworld
so how did you feel steping over the free willy fish? lol
remember you have a good tour guide if you ever come here!

Kiwis In Amsterdam said...

Great pictures!

world of sekimachihato said...

i wanna see some pic of where you guys live too!

pascale said...

wow! now I miss HK...

world of sekimachihato said...

* pascale
wouldn't it be great if we could snap our fingers and swap locations for a few days since it sounds like you're having hong kong withdrawls and i'm having japan withdrawls...

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