As the next day was Sunday we acquired Octopus cards (Hong Kong’s version of the Oyster card) and took the metro to Kowloon’s colourful flower market. The volume and variety was staggering but, understandably, some vendors seemed a bit exasperated by non-buying photographers impeding the narrow pavement in front of their premises!
Beyond the flower market was the Yuen Po Street bird garden, a small park where owners (mostly men) took their pet birds to air and show off to each other. Some of the birds were very pretty, but I don’t really like seeing birds caged.
We’d hoped to find a bus from there to the Jade Market, but there were no maps at the bus stops and the list of stops in the route lists meant nothing to me, so we walked back to Prince Edward metro station to travel two stops down to Yau Ma Tei. After a quick and cheap lunch of a 7-Eleven tuna sandwich in a small park, we found the Jade Market. Some of the stuff was obvious tourist tat – far too bright a green to be real jade, and the price was too low. Some of the pieces were very expensive – but you’d need to be an expert to know whether they were worth it.
Walking south, the street was lined with fruit and veg stalls, many with produce that I couldn’t identify. It all looked top quality though, much better than we normally saw in Thailand.
Eventually we arrived at Kowloon Park, and found ourselves surrounded by large statues of cartoon characters, most of which (being Chinese) I’d never heard of. Cutting around a small lake, we came across a knot of people with tripods and cameras sporting improbably long lenses, all aimed at a seemingly uninteresting patch of grass around a tree. A similar knot had set up camp on the far side. There was a bird, apparently. One of the birders showed me a picture of it – it didn’t look anything special to me, but I suppose it must have been.
The bird in question failed to show in the few minutes that we lingered, so we pressed on to where a martial arts display was taking place. It was being run karaoke style, so you gave your name to the compère and waited your turn to perform in a little arena to an audience of perhaps 150 people. Most performances were of the tai chi or dance-around-twirling-a-weapon variety, and they were quite good.
Sunday is the day off for many of Hong Kong’s domestic workers, and the park was busy with strollers from all parts of south and south-east Asia. Near the southern gate, next to the Kowloon Mosque, a large number of Muslim women sat in groups chatting, picnicking, and reading from the Qu’ran.
After our frugal lunch we splurged a little at dinner, and went to Genki Sushi. This was the same chain that we’d visited in Tokyo, but this time it was a conventional kaiten conveyor rather than the whizzy track system, which lessened the fun factor a bit. It was still good though – I’m surprised at how partial I’ve become to raw fish!