Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mong Kok: Kernel of a City

Mong Kok is a special part of a special city.  It is the most densely populated area in the world.  It is a mixture of so many different kinds of sights and experiences it is difficult to describe.  In Mong Kok, you can walk down an alley and come upon a traditional market in full swing, complete with vegetable booths, food stands and live chickens they will carve for you on the spot.  You then suddently find yourself in front of a modern mall entrance with thick auto-sliding glass doors.

The street life is a perpetual hubbub that goes on well into the night.  I have heard that "mongkok" means busy, and I totally believe it.  The street markets close down early evening, but as night falls, activity just moves around a bit as residents are eating out or doing late shopping or just trying to get home.  You see the restaurants filling up, many of them with tables or make-do furniture out on the streets. 

Mong Kok is famous for its markets, for good reason. In some way it represents a microcosm of Asian commerce. There are traditional markets with the mobile booths and store markets with dozens of mini-malls on each block.  Many of them have a theme, such as the Ladies Market or the Tech Market.  Some are only open at night.  Some of them are just a few blocks from each other and they are all busy all the time they are open. 

I did not partake in the night life, but I did sometimes get back to my hotel quite late, and though activity does slow down after midnight, it was never completely dead.

One contrast that really struck me was with the stores.  There were a lot of hardware stores, which was itself interesting.  Interspersed with these were restaurants of all kinds, tea rooms, even massage parlours. 

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