Street markets

Busy street markets in Hong Kong illustrate the intoxicating call of retail therapy complemented by delicious smells of street delicacies wafting among the makeshift stalls. The Ladies Market in Mongkok, in particular, is never without the incessant flow of human traffic.

With wares like designer knock-offs, souvenirs and children’s clothes, the Market is a veritable stockpile of bric-a-brac. It is located in Tung Choi Street, one of the busiest shopping streets in Kowloon frequented by tourists. Despite its name, the market does not only cater to women, as there are several goods for men as well.

Running parallel to Tung Choi is another shopping street closed off to vehicles called Sai Yeung Choi, which is a long stretch of establishments selling the latest electronic gadgets. There are some trendy apparel shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants joining in the fray as well. Another bargain haunt in Kowloon is Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei, which offers not only clothes for sale, but delicious food items as well.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree usually becomes awash with chatter during the Lunar New Year, when many Hong Kong people visit the ancient camphor tree to make their wishes. The famed tree is located near Tin Hau Temple, which dates back to the Qing Dynasty in the 1700s.

The Wishing Tree is part of the local traditions in Lam Tsuen, found in the New Territories, which is the area that falls between Hong Kong Island and Mainland China. Devotees write down their wishes on a piece of wish-making paper sold at the stalls nearby, and then tie them onto the wooden rack found near the trees.

It was an earlier practice to tie oranges with string to the paper, and then toss it up into the branches. Conservationists, however, were worried about the welfare of the ancient tree, more so when one of the branches fell off in 2005. To protect the tree from further wear and tear, a wooden rack was placed beside it, where the pieces of paper can be attached.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple is perhaps the most famous Taoist temple in the city because of its good track record in providing people with answered prayers and infallible predictions. Visiting the temple would leave one with a hefty serving of insights into the Chinese temple culture.

The temple was erected in honor of the monk Wong Chuping from Guangdong Province in China, who reached enlightenment and was elevated into the status of deity. In the Taoist world, he became known to possess powers that could heal ailments, reprimand wrong-doers, and fulfill wishes.

It’s no wonder then that Wong Tai Sin Temple is always filled with people kneeling in supplication in front of the Main Altar, while smoke from burning joss sticks fills the air. Devotees come here to have their fortunes told, mainly through the use of fortune sticks contained inside a bamboo tube. Each of the sticks is numbered and corresponds to a reading of one’s fortune by the soothsayer. Tourists may also have a go at finding out their fortune at the booths that offer face-reading and palm-reading as well.

Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay is an affluent residential area in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island. Renting an apartment in this serene seaside environment would typically cost a five-figure amount every month. One look at the long, broad beach and the pristine blue waters is enough to explain why living in Repulse Bay is worth the relatively high cost.

Only a 20-minute drive from Central District, Repulse Bay beckons to beach lovers with its clean sand and gentle waves, drawing multitudes during summer. The beauty of this long stretch of beach is often likened to the splendor of the Mediterranean coast, save for the fact that there are two towering statues of deities looking out at the sea.

These welcoming giant figures standing in the park facing the beach are Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven, and Kwun Yum, Goddess of Mercy. Both are believed to protect fishermen and seafarers on their journeys and provide bountiful catches. The park is a favorite spot for sunset-viewing at the end of the day, for locals and tourists alike.

 Cheung Chau Island

Cheung Chau Island has a laidback fishing village charm, making it an ideal location for a day trip away from the harsh realities of urban living. Only a ferry ride from Central Pier, Cheung Chau is one of the more popular areas of the Outlying Islands. A visit to this picturesque island often includes feasting on the freshest catch of the day from any of the local restaurants.

The island’s two notable bathing beaches, Tung Wan and Kwun Yam Wan, entice weekenders to enjoy its fair share of water sports and seaside recreation. To get the most perfect panoramic shot of the island, Beitiao Pavilion serves as the best look-out point.

Around April or May, Cheung Chau Island is abuzz with elaborate fanfare to celebrate the Bun Festival, which commemorates the riddance of the plague that befell the island more than 100 years ago.

The festival is so named because it is said that the villagers were able to cast away evil spirits by setting up a sacrificial altar and offering buns to the god, Pak Tai. It is marked by colorful parades, Taoist ceremonies, dances, and other performing arts, which usually last for a week.

 

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