China Research

Mong Kok: Produce to Prostitutes

MONG KOK, HONG KONG- Walking the streets of Mong Kok, it is not hard to validate its claims of it being the most densely populated area in the world. Traffic is nearly always at a crawl; so many locals depend on bicycles and handcarts to navigate its congested streets. Mong Kok seems to be an exception in Hong Kong, where street venders have mostly been moved to enclosed markets. Its streets are tightly zoned according to merchandise sold. Large designer stores, such as Coach and H&M, line the major streets. The touristy Lady’s Street, sells cloths and souvenirs. Fish Street, the Flower Market and Bird Garden cater to a local cliental, but attract many tourists to see exotic pets and flowers. My favorites were the produce and fish markets, where I was clearly the only tourist (rare in Hong Kong). Few young people shop at these markets anymore, preferring larger malls and groceries.

Scattered through the burrow are countless street food venders selling: fish balls, stinky tofu, egg tarts, steam buns and bubble tea. Noodle houses provide a quick and easy sit down lunch, during the workweek. But, McDonalds and KFC seem to be gaining a foothold in the neighbor hood. Hourly “hotels” and “massage parlors” are also prevalent in the area.

Mong Kok gets a bad rap for being grimy and smelly. The intoxicating / nauseating odor of stinky tofu, durian and motor oil floods the streets; punctuated with scents of designer perfume, fresh seafood and incense from doorway shrines. I fell in love with the unique mystique of Mong Kok. Its strange mix of modern and traditional; western and eastern, can only be found in Hong Kong.

Cross Walk Cross Walk, on a Slow Day

News Paper Hat Man Man in a Newspaper Hat

Fish Street Fish Street

Produce Market Produce Market

Fish Market Chinese cuisine usually serves seafood whole, to demonstrate it’s fresh. Most of the seafood is sold alive, to ensure a fresh product on the table.

Sgt. MajorsMany fish that Americans would not consider food fish are sold at the market, such as these Sergeant Majors.

Cleaning Fish Cleaning Fish

Dryed Stuff Dried shrimp, scollops, seahorse, pipefish and shark fin.

Noodle House Noodle House

Octopus Balls Japanese octopus balls

Smoke Break Smoke Break