Mongkok, Hong Kong: Where Hidden Gems Lay

When you’ve lived in a place for too long, the things you see and experience on a day to day basis starts becoming mundane. The beauty of the area you live in that was once captivating starts to lose its appeal. It’s hard to understand why people who’ve never been to your city seems so absorbed in this dull place you are so used to. It’s hard not to want to escape to a new city, a new country to feel the excitement again…but sometimes, going back to your roots, finding hidden gems around the city can let you experience your hometown with a different point of view.

Mongkok market

I’ve recently moved back to Hong Kong, a place I never used to call home (as mentioned in my first Hong Kong featured post), but rather a place I exclaim to strangers that I was born in and come back to once every summer. Now, I work in the heart of the city, Mongkok, Hong Kong, a living juxtaposition of westernized buildings with walls made of glass crammed next to rusting old Chinese buildings.

mongkok buildings

Walking around the Mongkok market at 10 in the morning, watching Hong Kong people pack the streets with shouts of deals for fruits, vegetables and meat becomes a culture shock. These markets start at 7 in the morning and end at 7 at night. Trucks filled with buckets of water filled with seafood weave through the road as pedestrians walk alongside to avoid getting in the way. I start to wonder what it’d be like to live the life as a local, setting up shop around 5 in the morning every single day, organizing vegetables like it was a game of Jenga.

truck with seafood

stacks of vegetable

melon

I shake off that thought and continue walking in the heat, picking up fruit I had no intent on buying and getting told off by owners that I was disrupting business. Living in the city for so long, in a modernized city from both Toronto and Hong Kong, I forget that although markets are not something I would visit on a daily basis, these are locations that others call home. Looking up at buildings packed tightly together with the exterior that have weathered over decades of years, with bamboo sticks out the window hanging clothes to dry, it’s hard not to reminisce the extensive amounts of empty grass fields in Toronto.

building

seafood

tofu

The Mongkok market is definitely not a place I’d visit more of. With my anxiety of crowded places, the thought of walking through such a packed street with my skin potentially touching others sweaty skin makes me quiver. However, in the morning when the sun is peaking through buildings and the light is hitting the different parts of vegetables, seafood, and meat shops, the view and warmth is absolutely breathtaking.

[All images are my own]

Claudia Cheung