Hong Kong Day 1: Mong Kok Wet Market

By Sister Thuan Bui:

The first day virtual program in Hong Kong was exciting to me. When Casey walks on the streets , my mind comes up with a lot of movies that I watched with Hong Kong actors when I was a teenager. 

The tour guide Ms. Casey shows us the market with many foods and the stores on the streets. The scene reminds me of markets in my country too. The stores are small but have a lot of stuff, so we have to look carefully and many times to find what we need. In Hong Kong, they do not close the doors of stores and put stuff outside of a store like in Vietnam, Especially the small street and a lot of stuff from the stores remind me of Saigon where I lived for three years. I also see some people go on the streets to sell something.  That is exactly what we do in my country. If I did not focus on the fact that I am in virtual Hong Kong, I would think that I am walking in Saigon -Vietnam.

At the market, I saw many kinds of fruit. I was so excited and the scene made me miss the tropical fruits that I rarely see in the U.S such as durian and dragon fruit.  

Through this day with Casey, I learned that the daily life of Hong Kong has some similarities with my Vietnam, such as how we go to the market every day and have a lot of the same vegetables and fruit, and how we organize the stores and markets. 

Thank you Ms. Casey for showing us the daily life of people in Hong Kong.

By Sloane Pasini:

I had a lot of fun on the first day of touring and learned a lot of new things. Mong Kok streets were very different from cities here in the states. You don’t typically see a lot of stands on the sides of the streets. I also didn’t think that all the signs would be in two different languages. One thing that stuck out to me was the wet market. This was something I was not expecting to see. This market has live chickens, where you can pick one out and they will chop it right there for you or chopping up an entire pig on the floor. It was interesting to see the prices of things and their equivalence to American dollars. There were also some vegetables that were very expensive, which I have never seen here in the states. Considering we toured a small circle of Mong Kok, I feel like we saw so much in a small area.

By Ariana Janus

(TW: Slight animal gore; graphic meat marketplace)

As we began our virtual journey, we were brought to tour Mong Kok, a part of the city of Kowloon. We were given a tour by a wonderful guide Casey, who brought us around the area and showed us what the area looked like from a local’s perspective. We began on the streets of Mong Kok, where she brought us through the streets and into different shops. There were a few chains restaurants and stores, but the majority of shops were local businesses that sold local foods and items. As we traveled with our guide, I was intrigued by the fact that most, if not all, the storefronts that she passed were open, with no doors or wall to pass to go inside. I felt like this small detail of everyday life showed how much of a trusting culture they have in Hong Kong.

Eventually Casey made her way to what is called a wet market, which sells fresh perishable goods to the public. This was certainly my favorite part of our tour today. I found it fascinating that they had a market where pieces of meat for sale weren’t just placed out, but rather, they were displayed and they weren’t always what we would see here in the states. Every part of the animal was on display and for sale and one of the stalls even featured live chickens which they would slaughter for whoever bought one! Talk about fresh! I for one am certainly glad that our guide did not feel like having chicken for dinner. That whole experience felt like a whole other world from the moment that she walked into the wet market, but when she left and went started walking through the open produce stalls outside, we entered a new world. It felt very much like a farmer’s market that we might have here, but to think that they have the access to produce that fresh every single day, it’s amazing and I could only wish for that kind of access.

It was absolutely lovely to virtually walk around with Casey today and get to ask her questions about her home. It looks like a wonderful place and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us with the rest of this trip!

By Bailey Carden:

I was very excited to learn about the culture in Hong Kong and have not been disappointed so far. Being able to partake in this experience from my own home is so much fun and immersive. Each day I have learned something new and have seen stuff from locals’ point of view. Here are some of my favorite moments from the past three days; Day 1 took us through a local wet market. While I’ve heard of these markets, I’ve never really had the chance to see inside of one. I  was shocked to see how affordable and fresh all the food, especially the produce was. It is very rare to find places like this in the US and especially have them so accessible. While I did see things that kind of took me by surprise, such as the man butchering the pig on the ground, I can understand that this is an example of how US and Hong Kong culture is different.

Experiencing Hong Kong in this virtual manner has been an experience like no other! Virtually traveling abroad sounds impossible at first glance, but our journey was so personally tailored to our class, our questions, and what interested us. I have traveled before my time at GCU and have had experiences with tour guides that were very strict, and I didn’t get to see everything I wanted. This was the total opposite experience, if anyone in the class wanted to see something like the inside of a McDonalds or go back to an area our tour guides had no problem! It truly was such an interesting experience all from the comfort of our bedrooms.

Hong Kong was nothing like I had expected, especially with the pandemic still going on. It was shocking to me how densely populated it is there, yet the sanitation overall could run laps around the United States, or at least New Jersey. The coolest concept to me was that people in Hong Kong do not stock up on food usually, everything is bought fresh, often and not in bulk. Whereas in America it is one of the biggest fads to have multiples cans of the same food, packs of paper products, and bags and bags of fruit, etc. it is more popular to buy in lesser quantities but more often from stands or shops as we learned.  Not only does this reduces the Hong Kong area’s waste products but it would make me appreciate my food more often if it wasn’t as accessible in my basement collection already. Going further the prices of food in Hong Kong was also much different than I expected. Granted the dollar values there and in the United States are different, I remember seeing a sign at a fruit stand that said “Blueberries, 70 yuan”. That is still over $10! I have never seen fruit priced so high in my life, I’m not sure what I thought Hong Kong would be like- but it certainly surprised me, especially the details.

By Jordyn Nelson:

I was given the opportunity to be transported through the streets of Hong Kong as well as shown some of the local scenes without actually physically being in Hong Kong. This virtual tour gave me an opportunity to explore another culture and see what the day in the life of someone from Hong Kong would typically be like. As she was showing us around, it reminded me a bit like New York City, but the Times Square area. There were lots of buses, cars and people walking around. She stopped to show us some street food places which also reminded me of New York, but it also reminded me of Ms. Lee from my interview. During my interview with Ms. Lee, she told me that Hong Kong was known for its street food and that she loves it because it’s cheap, easy and delicious. I found it interesting when she took us into the McDonalds because of the large computers that you could order from, the ones in America look nothing like that. The one that was shown was honestly kind of fancy. She also took us into 7/11 and mentioned that they are all over Hong Kong, we have 7/11’s all over especially up in North Jersey where I live, they have one on every other street corner.

 She mentioned that all of the road signs are in two languages and when she said that I thought of the road signs here. I honestly can’t think of a time I saw a road sign that was in English and another language. One thing that I thought was interesting was that even if people are well off most people still live in apartments and not a home. Here in America even though people do live in apartments, it is more common for people to live in houses. When she showed us all of the air conditioning units in the apartments, there were clothes hanging off the sides of railings. I know most people have dryers in their own homes in America so I thought that was interesting to see. She also mentioned that it is illegal to have your air conditioner dripping which I find to be weird because I have never heard of such a thing. Overall this experience was something that I found to be so interesting that I forgot I was doing it for a class. I learned so much more about Hong Kong and I can’t wait for what part 2 of this tour is going to be like!

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