John Harvey Photo

Hong Kong

Go to Slide Show Smaller Images Going to Visit Helen's Family

People have a lot of vision of Hong Kong - Financial center, super dense city, city of shopping.  For my girlfriend, Hong Kong was simply home and she still has a lot of family there.  For two weeks I tagged along a visit.

Star Ferry Crossing From CentralWalking On StreetGold Hello Kitty

I love markets.  Hong Kong is all about markets.  Space is at such a premium in Hong Kong that people generally don't have the option to "stock up" or buy in large quantities so there are grocery and dry goods markets repeated all over the city.  Hong Kong has a massive population in a small area so specialized markets have formed and the competition has driven further specialization.  A few of my favorites:

The Bird Market Having a dog as a pet is pretty unreasonable in small apartments with no grass parks.  Having a bird is quite possible.  Apparently, in an older era, retired men would walk around with their caged birds and rest in this park.  The bird market now takes up much of the space but there were still the odd person chatting with a caged bird beside him.

Bird MarketSocial BirdsLarge Dark Bird

The Gold Fish Market Don't like birds?  How about a fish?  Fish are much smaller investment but this Hong Kong market is actually quite a bit larger than the bird market.  Fish are displayed in plastic bags (take one down and to the cashier) and most stores have vast tanks full of fish inside.

Fish In Large TankTwo Variety Bags

We watched as stores received new shipments - large boxes with a single bag inside holding hundreds of fish.  These bags are removed and slid across the floor of the store until they get to the large tanks of a similar stock.  This is a large numbers business.

Bagged Plants SnailsBagged FishVariety Of Bagged Fish

Turtles were also quite popular.  I think they are similarly low maintenance, but you can buy accessories (plastic palm trees) for your turtles.

Turtle Swimming

Fresh Food Markets
Street Market Near Helens Grandparents
These occur all over Hong Kong, especially in denser or older parts of the city.  Most of these markets open around lunch and stay open well into the evening.  Each stall is specialized (Tofu, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish) but the same type of stall may be seen more than once in a city block (especially fruit).

There are a few constants.  The red lights over the produce seem to be common Hong Kong wide.  You often see Compact Florescent Lights under the shades but by no means a rule. 

MarketProduce MarketTofu Stall

The products in each stall is in general competitive.  Unlike our supermarkets where you have made an investment to go this big box store and the next big box store is 15 minutes away, here if you don't like the look of the banana's, you walk 4 meters to the next vendor and check his selection.  Prices vary, but not widely. 

FishLarge Block Of Tofu
For meat selection, seafood far and away dominates.   Chicken and Pork is next most common (most often cooked) with beef a distant last.  I didn't see much else but because the meat is generally cut up and hung, it's possible I was looking at goat and didn't realize it.   The selection of seafood was often a function of how far you were from the ocean but not always.


Produce selection was fantastic.  We accompanied Helen's grandfather on one minor purchasing run and I was impressed to see that after he purchased some larger produce (bok choi or something) he was given a bunch of green onions - free.  This kind of "thanks for your business" seems to be common.

VeggiesSmall CalculatorRed Chillis Green Veggies

Cooked food is similarly competitive.   It's common to see the same types of restaurants stacked up next to each other, each roughly with the same number of clients.  There is definitely some destination restaurants - we even saw the odd line up at lunch time, but for the most part, everything is busy or closed.
Street RestaurantDim Sum StallStanley Street Restaurant

Food in restaurants is dominated by seafood.  People in Hong Kong like their meat so eating Vegetarian is certainly a challenge.  We visited a family favorite Dim Sum place a number of times in our trip but I didn't bother to take pictures because Dim Sum is common in Vancouver and the menu items are very similar between the two cities.  It's sea food that really stands out as different.

  Hairy Crabs For EatingFish With OnionsShrimp With Chilli Sauce

On the vegeratian side, I had a few new things.  Cook lettuce is rare in Vancouver here - it's pretty common in Hong Kong.  The deserts in Hong Kong also stand out.  While these kinds of deserts can be found in Vancouver (especially the night market in Richmond) they are particularly dramatic in Hong Kong.

Street FoodDesert

Street Food There are two types of street food - legitimate retail offering food you can take away (the vast majority) and hawkers selling food from mobile stores that move to find customers and avoid enforcement.  Hawkers are now quite rare so finding them is actually quite a treat.

Cooking Chestnuts
Helen's Mom quite enjoys fresh roasted chestnuts.  These chestnuts are roasted in a fire heated work and have a sweet coating.  You get a small bag full (and often another bag for the shells) and you crack them open yourself and eat the steaming hot contents.  The Hawkers aren't keen on you taking there photos because they aren't really supposed to be doing this.

Chestnut And Potato CartChestnuts In Hand

Street Food For Sale
The more conventional retail food is common all over Hong Kong.  It's often deep fried and almost all of it has fish or meat in it.  Helen's stinky tofu (stinky in a way they can't make it in Vancouver) is so bad you can smell it from half a block away.  The tofu is almost green.  Apparently it's fantastic. 

Stinky TofuMister Softee

Mai Po Marshes
When you think of Hong Kong, you rarely think of wildlife.  The city does actually have a few wildlife areas and of the hightlights is the Mai Po Marshes.  These marshes on the Northern border of Hong Kong used to be shrimp farms but have been retired for conservation purposes.  The area is now an important stop over place for migratory birds and one of the few areas that wildlife comes first.
Floating WalkwaysFiddler Crab In MudHigh End Lenses

The park has open houses on Saturdays and we booked ourselves a tour.  We were lucky that our tour coincided with a low tide so we got a pretty good bird viewing of the mud flats.  If you are a local, you can get permits to enter this area outside of a group and take photos at your leisure but this is too much to organize for a tourist.

Birds With Shenzen BehindMore Birds

When we got inside the blind, I was quite simply amazed to see Shenzhen on the other side of the estuary.  This Chinese city is Hong Kong's partner in China and to see the skyline, it's growing in much the same mold.  Between that city and the blind was a large mud flat dotted with birds feeding on animal life in the mud.  While very few birds got close to the blind, they didn't seem to mind the occasional noise.

Chinese Pond HeronCormorant Flying ByEgret Flying

Walking In SwampWalking In Tall GrassLotus Flower

Dolphin Watching Tour
Another one of those "Found on the internet" things, I wanted to see think pink dolphins.  We booked ahead of time (the tours go three days a week) and we got to the hotel downtown to await our pickup.  We were whisked out to near the airport and when we got on the boat, Helen commented it didn't feel like Hong Kong any more - almost everyone was a white westerner or Japanese.  The tour was run bilingual - English, Japanese. 

One BlowingOne On Surface
Pair DivingPair On Surface

We toured the harbour looking for dolphins and when they were spotted, we slowly followed.

Lantau Island - Giant Buddha
When you arrive at the international airport in Hong Kong, the first island you visit (after the airport which is on a man made island) is Lantau Island.  While Lantau seems like just a prelude to Hong Kong proper, it actually has a few attractions that make it a good destination.  One day we took the MTR to central and then hopped on a ferry to visit Lantau.  Our first destination was the Po Lin Monastery and the Giant Buddha - Tian Tan Buddha.
Looking To Buddha On HillStairs Up To Giant Buddha

We had vegetarian lunch in the restaurant at the monistary and then went for the walk up the 268 steps to the Buddha.  It was a very bright day (not great for photography) but seeing such a large piece of metal up close is quite impressive.  There is a museum inside (no photos) with some really nice pieces of art that have been donated to go with the buddha.

Buddha HeadUs in front of the Giant Buddha

There is also a large bell inside.  More so than other parts of Hong Kong, here I felt a connection with China.  There were a number of donations specifically from the Chineese government and there were a lot of mainland chineese around.

Lantau Island - Tai O
Our second destination on Lantau was Tai O, a small fishing community on the western side of the island.   When you get off the bus you are funneled into the market and the small retail area.  Fish markets here are terrific (most things are sold live) and Helen's mom were quite disappointed when we didn't have anything we need to take home with us.

Baskets Of SeafoodSelling Fish From BoatFlat Fish For Roasting

Walking past the market you come to the older village area.  This place is pretty quite. This village is still hanging onto it's traditional labour (fishing) and accommodations (houses on stilts over the mud banks) but you don't get the feeling it's going to last much longer.

Boats Boats Docked

Egret Fishing
What surprised me was the wildlife living with the people.  Looking into the water you could see small fish in the water.  At one point we saw an egret fishing from a sunken boat and at another place I watched a king fisher feeding from another boat sunk in the mangroves.  I was really impressed.

  King Fisher Fishing

Walking around the village you would often see trays of food left out drying.   It seems that seafood that doesn't get sold immediately in the market gets dried and sold as dried products. 

ShrimpFish Drying With FliesDrying Fish Hanging

Drying FishFish Drying From BelowFatty Sausages

Being in the village as the sun set, I really enjoyed this place.  Tai O is on my list of places in Hong Kong you really want to visit.

Central (Peak) 
If you had only one day in Hong Kong, going to visit the peak in Central would probably be one of the things you would do.  We didn't visit the peak until quite late in our trip because we were hoping for a day of rain to wash away (or at least reduce) the air pollution.

Smog Sunset

Hong Kong is down stream from China and while Hong Kong does generate pollution, much of it's pollution is inherited from upstream China.  This smog over the city is constant and sunsets happen well before the sun hits the horizon because the pollution is so thick. 

City View At Night

  Star Ferry At Night

That said, the visit to central and the peak is well worth it.  The light shows put on each night by the buildings that dominate the skyline isn't coordinated but it is dramatic. 

Hong Kong At Night
Shek O
Lounging On Deck Chairs
For a day trip we decided to go to Shek O.  Helen's Mom used to swim here when she was younger and we had our swimming stuff with us (in Hong Kong) so why not?  The water was quite nice (even though it's late fall here) and the beach (which in the summer would be covered in people) was pretty open.

Beach At Shek O

Lamma Island

For a day trip we decided to go out to Lamma Island.   We took the ferry from central  to Yung Shue Wan on the North Western end of the island.

Bikes Parked On Pier

From there, there is a nice walk down and across the island.  You pass by beaches, rise over the peak and then come down into a bay on the eastern side of the island.  We picked a pretty warm day so we were happy to buy a popsicle on the top of the island.

Lovely Beach Where Is The Power PlantFlying Kite In Front Of Power PlantView On Lamma Island
When you get down into the far bay you find Sok Kwu Wan - a smaller town filled with seafood restaurants.  After a bit searching we had a very enjoyable lunch while looking over the harbour.  We concluded the day with a nice ferry ride back to Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island and then a bus ride home.

Boat In Aberdeen

Star Ferry Crossing From Central
Tags: boat, city, ferry, Hong Kong
Street Food For Sale
Tags: Hong Kong, street food
Lounging On Deck Chairs
Person: Helen, Jennie
Tags: beach, Hong Kong, Shek O
More Birds
Species: Ardea alba (Great Egret)
Tags: beach, bird, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve
View On Lamma Island
Location: Go To...
Tags: Hong Kong, vista
Social Birds
Tags: bird, Hong Kong, market
Tofu Stall
Tags: Hong Kong, market
Pair On Surface
Species: Sousa chinensis (Chinese white dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, marine mammal, safari, whale
Us in front of the Giant Buddha
Person: Helen, John
Drying Fish Hanging
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, market, seafood
Bagged Plants Snails
Tags: Hong Kong, shopping
Boats Docked
Altitude: 25m (82 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: boat, elevated home, Hong Kong, house, Tai O
Street Market Near Helens Grandparents
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Tags: Hong Kong, market
City View At Night
Altitude: 416m (1364 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: city, Hong Kong, long exposure
Fish In Large Tank
Tags: aquarium, fish, Hong Kong
Tags: Hong Kong, market
Baskets Of Seafood
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, market, seafood, Tai O
Hong Kong At Night
Tags: city, Hong Kong
Buddha Head
Tags: art, Buddha, place of worship, statue
Egret Fishing
Species: Egretta garzetta (Little Egret)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bird, fishing, Tai O
Pair Diving
Species: Sousa chinensis (Chinese white dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, marine mammal, safari, whale
Cormorant Flying By
Species: Phalacrocorax carbo (Great Cormorant)
Tags: bird, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Walking In Tall Grass
Location: Go To...
Tags: boardwalk, grass, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Bikes Parked On Pier
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: biking, boat, Hong Kong, panorama
Egret Flying
Species: Egretta garzetta (Little Egret)
Tags: bird, bird in flight, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Boat In Aberdeen
Tags: boat, Hong Kong
Chestnuts In Hand
Tags: Hong Kong, roast chestnut, street food
Altitude: 12m (39 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: boat, elevated home, Hong Kong, house, Tai O
Drying Fish
Tags: fish, market, seafood
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, seafood, Tai O
Cooking Chestnuts
Tags: roast chestnut, street food
Fish Drying With Flies
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, seafood
Produce Market
Altitude: 17m (55 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Hong Kong, market, produce
Floating Walkways
Tags: bridge, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve, swamp
Red Chillis Green Veggies
Tags: Hong Kong, market, produce, twin
Fish Drying From Below
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, seafood
Fish With Onions
Tags: fish, food porn, seafood
Stairs Up To Giant Buddha
Altitude: 444m (1456 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: art, Buddha, Hong Kong, place of worship
Hairy Crabs For Eating
Tags: food porn, seafood
Fiddler Crab In Mud
Species: Uca arcuata (Fiddler crab)
Tags: crab, Mai Po Nature Reserve, mud
Flying Kite In Front Of Power Plant
Location: Go To...
Tags: Hong Kong
Small Calculator
Tags: market, produce
Selling Fish From Boat
Tags: boat, fish, Hong Kong, seafood, Tai O
Walking On Street
Tags: Hong Kong, road, sign
Variety Of Bagged Fish
Tags: fish, shopping
Fatty Sausages
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: food porn, market
Looking To Buddha On Hill
Altitude: 441m (1446 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Hong Kong, place of worship
Street Restaurant
Tags: Hong Kong, neon, restaurant, sign
Large Dark Bird
Tags: bird, Hong Kong, market
Tags: Hong Kong, market, seafood
One On Surface
Species: Sousa chinensis (Chinese white dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, marine mammal, safari, whale
Chestnut And Potato Cart
Tags: Hong Kong, roast chestnut, street food
Bagged Fish
Tags: fish, shopping
Beach At Shek O
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Hong Kong, Shek O
Walking In Swamp
Tags: boardwalk, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve, swamp
Two Variety Bags
Tags: fish, shopping
High End Lenses
Tags: camera gear, Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Stanley Street Restaurant
Tags: alley, Hong Kong, restaurant, street photography
Chinese Pond Heron
Species: Ardeola bacchus (Chinese Pond Heron)
Tags: beach, bird, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Street Food
Tags: street food
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, market, seafood
King Fisher Fishing
Species: Alcedo atthis (European Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bird, bird in flight, fishing, Hong Kong, multiple frame image, Tai O
Turtle Swimming
Tags: turtle
Large Block Of Tofu
Tags: market, produce
Tags: food porn, Hong Kong
Birds With Shenzen Behind
Tags: bird, city, Mai Po Nature Reserve
Stinky Tofu
Tags: street food
Mister Softee
Tags: food truck, Hong Kong
Bird Market
Altitude: 22m (72 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bird, Hong Kong, market, twin
Star Ferry At Night
Tags: city, ferry, Hong Kong, night
Shrimp With Chilli Sauce
Tags: Hong Kong, lunch, restaurant, seafood
One Blowing
Species: Sousa chinensis (Chinese white dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, Hong Kong, marine mammal, safari, whale
Gold Hello Kitty
Tags: gold, Hong Kong, shopping
Smog Sunset
Altitude: 416m (1364 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: freighter, Hong Kong, ship, sunset
Tags: Hong Kong, market
Lovely Beach Where Is The Power Plant
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Hong Kong
Dim Sum Stall
Tags: bamboo steamer, Hong Kong, restaurant
Flat Fish For Roasting
Tags: fish, Hong Kong, seafood, street food, Tai O
Lotus Flower
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: flower, Mai Po Nature Reserve, swamp
Tags: Hong Kong(55), market(17), fish(14), seafood(13), Mai Po Nature Reserve(11), bird(10)
People: Helen(2), John(1), Jennie(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Hong Kong

The pictures taken are excellent!! Very very nice pictures
Thursday, August 21st, 2008 at 09:35:44

what is the adress of the Gold Fish Market?? Can you help?? Thanks Isabel
Isabel Brogsitter-Finck
Sunday, September 28th, 2008 at 03:15:15

The Gold fish market is in Mongkok, which is on the mainland side (not Hong Kong Island). It's on Tung Choi Street (says my guide book), but it kind of spills out from the street. If you find the ladies street, you need to go North. The Prince Edward MTR station is closest.
John Harvey
Saturday, November 1st, 2008 at 17:26:38

Amazing pics, thanks for giving me a temporary elixir for curing my nostalgia. Hopefully, I'll back to hk this X'mas...
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 10:04:56

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