Hong Kong market life

It’s hard to believe that I’ve not blogged in almost five months. Let’s face it, Instagram has made me lazy. After chats in recent weeks with friends who said I need to start making time for blogging again, here I am sitting in a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon. The new location seems to have done the trick to get me to focus on this post and with a mug of coffee and Spotify for company (currently blasting some old school Jamie T), it’s time to get started!

It only seems right to begin with a blog post about a city I love the most and that is of course, Hong Kong. I’m back on almost a yearly basis to see friends and family and my favourite time to visit is always November. Temperatures are in the low twenties, flights are cheaper and most importantly, the humidity is manageable and not sauna-like!

One of the places I love visiting in any country are the markets. I love the sights, sounds and smells of markets and they’re a great place to people-watch and learn about a culture.

As a child my school holidays were spent following my mum to the wholesale markets in Birmingham. I remember peering over crates of mushrooms, gawping at the pallets with huge orange sacks of onions piled up high and wait while my mum spoke to the poultry guy before one of his staff would carry several heavy boxes over to our car, each box making a huge thud as it was dropped into the boot. My favourite stop used to be the seafood market where I remember dodging all the puddles to see the boxes of shellfish, crabs and lobsters and ice-boxes full of all sorts of varieties of fish.

Hong Kong wet markets always trigger a lot of nostalgia and I’ve always associated markets with my childhood memories visiting Hong Kong. They’re really vibrant places, full of character and interactions between the local community and market stall owners.

In Hong Kong, wet markets (so-called because they sell fresh produce as opposed to regular street markets) are still popular and co-exist alongside supermarkets. I love the variety of the produce at Hong Kong markets which range from sacks of dried ingredients, fresh fish, meats and mountains of Chinese vegetables piled high. Some of the markets have ‘cooked food’ areas above the market halls and I’ve had some of my most memorable meals in those restaurants. They’re very rough and ready places to dine but the ingredients are guaranteed to be super fresh.

My initial aim for these photos was was not so much focused on the market-goers but rather the produce. However I soon realised that capturing the daily interactions really brought life to the photos. These are probably one of my favourite set of photos I’ve edited and they immediately transport me back to overhearing the conversations between the locals, the rhythmic sound of a cleaver hitting the butcher’s block and the rustling of plastic bags.

It did cross my mind that some readers may be uncomfortable with the images of the chickens in cages below. At the time of taking these photos in HK, I consciously decided not to share the image on my Instagram stories. It’s awful seeing them in cages but this is all part of wet market life. I suppose in some ways it’s not that much different to the stall next door selling a plethora of fish for you to choose from. Though I have to admit that there are a lot of things that are controversial in Hong Kong when it comes to food.

Throughout my life, my grandparents would go to the wet market every day to handpick their daily food. My granddad is no longer around but my grandma still continues the daily routine to the market and these days her domestic helper (a live-in house keeper but one to discuss another time) accompanies her so she can continue to pick the greenest, freshest vegetables for her lunch and dinner.

When she returns home, she carefully prepares them, trimming the stalks and removing the flowers. I especially love this photo I took of her at her usual vegetable stall. She constantly moans about the woman not always having the best vegetables but she still returns every single day. The photo also reminds me how very old she is now. My grandma is doing ok but having a bunch of health issues and a weak immune system has meant hospital visits have become horribly regular. It’s tough when she’s a whole 12 hours away.

I plan on heading back in November to check in on my grandma and spend some time with her. I’m returning with my sister Hailey and I’m really looking forward to it. Even though I’m back so regularly, visiting on your own (or even with my whole family in tow) really limits the plans for each day – going back with my sister means we can hang out and explore a little more. I’m envisioning a few hikes, exploring a few places I’ve been meaning to go and taking her to revisit some of my favourite places!

I had so much fun editing these photos. Every time I head back to HK, my photography has improved a little bit more and I’m learning new editing techniques each time – one day I’ll be a pro at Lightroom but even after a few years of using it, I’m still a beginner. For this set, I thought a lot about all the colours in the images. Blue, reds and greens were colours that really jumped out and taking time to edit them properly beats any quick filters on my phone for Instagram. I can’t wait to get stuck in with the next images!