Day 4 (morning) in Hong Kong: Mong Kok

We took particularly long to get ready for the fourth day, and only set off around 10.30am. Instead of walking southwards like we normally used to do, we headed northwards to Jordan station, where we got on the MTR towards Prince Edward station. It was going to be a dim sum breakfast!

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Our first choice was the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan at Sham Shui Po, within 5 minutes’ walking distance from the station. However, by the time we reached, there were groups of people waiting outside already. The staff could not quote a definitive waiting time, so we decided to turn back and look for our second choice, One Dim Sum. It didn’t take long to be found!

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Long, however, was the queue already there, despite us reaching a few minutes after opening. This time, we got a quote of 30 minutes’ waiting time. Better to know, I guess! We used the time wisely by deciding on what to order. We chose their baked barbecue pork buns, har gow (prawn dumplings), vegetable dumplings, meatballs, chee cheong fun, lotus rice, custard buns and mango rolls (for dessert), for a good balance of variety. Then, we were called to enter.

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When people speak of the dim sum experience in Hong Kong, they really mean two different kinds of experiences. One would be in a high-class restaurant with corresponding high prices, and the other would be the affordable affair in a smaller restaurant. One Dim Sum belonged to the latter, and our pockets heaved a sigh of relief. There was nothing remarkable about the interior or presentation of food, but what use were these when the focus really ought to be on the food?

We read that One Dim Sum does not have a specialty dish; rather it excels in every dish. I found it to be true. There was no standout dish, but we had a hearty meal (a bit too much, actually). If I must choose one, it would be between the custard buns and chee cheong fun.

Our plan after breakfast (brunch…?) was simply to explore the Mong Kok Fab Five – the Flower Market, Bird Market and Garden, Fa Yuen Street Market, Goldfish Market and the Ladies’ Market. That was easier said than done, for our legs were seriously worn out after blazing through all of them!

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In natural geographical progression, Flower Market had to be the first. Its name says it all – it sold flora of every kind, from Christmas trees to cacti, to flowers in a spectrum of colours. There were actually two types of shops – the retail ones were facing the main street and the wholesale ones were facing the smaller lane behind!

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From the Flower Market, we walked to the Bird Market and Garden, which was situated further from the main road and was more peaceful and quiet. The only people there were elderly men. The only sounds were the chirping of the birds.

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It was nice to be able to stroll around in the late morning around such a tranquil place, but it was sad to see the many birds kept in their cages, with no freedom 😦 Some of them were treated better, but they were still chained to poles so they couldn’t fly away. The birds seemed to be in high spirits despite their predicament, though.

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Check out this ridiculously photogenic bird!

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And these birds in love, kissing!

There was bird food sold as well, and by that I mean cockroaches and crickets – all the creepy crawlies (yikes)! There were empty cages too!

We then moved southwards, past MOKO, to the next two markets – the ones at Fa Yuen and Tung Choi Streets! Both were parallel to each other, but they sold vastly different items. Fa Yuen Street Market sold knick-knacks of every kind, while Goldfish Market sold pets and pet-related goods.

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A quick research would bring up that Fa Yuen Street Market was well-known for their sneakers, and an alternate name was Sneakers Street. However, we barely saw any sneakers there; in fact, we may have seen more in Ladies’ Street! Here is a rare photo of a rack of shoes (one of two I took in the area, I think)!

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I would say the majority of the selection of goods was mostly similar to that at Temple Street Night Market and Ladies’ Market. An advantage at this market, though, was that the space between shops was more generous, and with that came a little bit more breathing space (a little bit makes a huge difference in street markets). The crowd was better spread out, and we had a more comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience overall. This market is perfect for the people who cannot stand crowds at all, and want to take their time to browse the items on offer.

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On the adjacent street, Goldfish Market had to be our favourite market! Every shop sold either fish, dogs, rabbits or cats (with the odd shop that sold cages or tanks to house these pets)! It was cuteness galore as we went from store to store to observe the little animals behind glass windows. If only there was such a street in Singapore! Life would be a lot less boring!

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There were kindergarten kids on excursion, with adult volunteers bringing them around. It was heartwarming to watch them get intrigued by the fishes in bags; hopefully for them it was a real eye-opener! Some of them even bought these water bags!

There was a particular dog that was so lazy that it just plonked itself – face up and in such a hilarious fashion – onto its bed (while his compatriot watched on in dismay)!

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As if Rabbitland wasn’t enough, more rabbits! Technically, most of these shops had signs saying no photos, but I just sneaked a few in!

We passed a Gong Cha, and after resisting temptation the past few days, we finally succumbed and got one! It was a chocolate mint drink, and I think Gong Cha does (and should stick to doing) the traditional style of drinks better! Nevertheless, it was quite the refreshing thirst quencher!

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All that drinking made us want to go to the toilet, so we walked back to MOKO on the overhead walkways that were so iconic of Mong Kok, before continuing on our way to the final market (and arguably the most famous), Ladies’ Market!

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With Ladies’ Market, it was back to the cramped one-lane walkways reminiscent of Temple Street. Notably, it got more cramped, which dampened the shopping experience. It was very likely that the goods sold by a stall would be sold by another, so the same old items kept popping up every 3-4 stalls. Clara’s mom saw a yellow hat she fancied, and actually managed to bargain for it (with the help of Clara) by pretending to walk away! In the end, the price for the hat was slashed by roughly half.

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We saw some Molang keychains that were very adorable and there was a stall selling iconic Hong Kong street signs with a twist – some of them had funny sayings and titles in Chinese and English!

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The market was actually separated into four (if I recall correctly) stretches, and we actually walked to the end. Our legs were so tired out by then, and the advertisements of foot massages at the end of every stretch suddenly seemed so tempting (how sneaky)! We realised we had to walk back the entire stretch to get back to Bai Wei, where we wanted to have lunch, and let’s just say we weren’t exactly excited about doing that.

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It turned out that Bai Wei was not in Argyle Centre as I thought, and was actually in New Town Mall (which thankfully was nearby). Basically, one could choose the type of noodles and sides desired, and they would dump them in a plastic bag (as seen above) together with the sauce of one’s choosing. And they way to eat these noodles was with long toothpick-like sticks! Oh yes, the noodles were served cold, and they were delicious! If only the portions were larger!

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