Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Last year I missed the Chinese New Year market in Victoria Park. This year, I was back again with a vengeance, making the trip two nights in a row.
Stepping out of the MTR station on the first night, the streets were literally overflowing with people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Causeway Bay more crowded.[photopress:Causeway_Bay_Chinese_New_Year.jpg,full,pp_image]
Jumping into the fray, I cut a path straight towards Victoria Park, the site of the yearly market.
What’s the attraction? Why is it worth visiting? Why go back every year?
For those of you who’ve never been, the Chinese New Year fair is a unique experience. The location runs across Victoria Park from Causeway Bay all the way to Tin Hau. It’s a crowded, chaotic atmosphere with people yelling and hawking all sorts of merchandise simultaneously.
If you’re searching for peace and quiet, this is definitely not the place![photopress:CNY_2010_year_of_tiger_Hong.jpg,full,pp_image]
The experience is almost like being in a weird sort of parade, as you wrap your way down different aisles checking out the items for sale and being enticed to either side by people shouting at the top of their lungs, waving their merchandise at you.[photopress:CNY_new_year_hong_kong_2010.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:night_market_hong_kong_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
I wouldn’t recommend the market for the claustrophobic, for very young children, or those in a rush. If you choose the wrong aisle you could easily be trapped in standstill traffic for 30 minutes, with strangers pressed up onto you. The place even proves popular after 1am in bad weather, so it’s difficult to suggest a time when it’s less hectic. If you navigate the different aisles carefully, it’s possible to work your way around to most places in the market.
This year was particularly packed, despite the rain on the final night.
Except for large plants, which are kept in the last aisle, most things for sale are inexpensive, with prices below $50 HKD. On the final night, on the eve of Chinese New Year, the prices drop as hawkers look to get rid of their inventory.
There’s a huge assortment of objects corresponding to the particular year (animal) of the Chinese zodiac. Therefore it changes every year, on a twelve-year cycle, often with creative new additions.
The items for sale fall into a few different categories: traditional, lucky, cute, and sometimes, just plain funny. An example of classic, more traditional items are things like over-sized pinwheels, small orange trees, flowers such as peach blossoms (‘to fa’,) and willows.[photopress:flower_market_chinese_new_year_HK.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:flower_market_hong_kong_HK_3.jpg,full,pp_image]
These are thought to bring luck in one form or another. Some target relationships, while others are for business or wealth. Occasionally, you also find the type of stuff sold on infomercials, such as stain-removers, shoe trees and other miscellaneous objects.[photopress:shoe_tree_hong_kong_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
Less plastic and more plush
With this being the tiger year, there was a huge assortment of tiger-themed merchandise for sale including hats, costumes, claws, paws and stuffed animals.
Most of them were created using furry plush, rather than the blow-up plastics commonly used in the last few years.
As usual there were some extraneous cute items – though nothing as standout as the giant ‘gai daan jai’, ice cream, or Chupa Chups from previous years. Maneuvering through the thick crowds I spotted a giant egg tart with a re-arrangeable face, and a nearly meter long McDonald’s pie.[photopress:egg_tart_hong_kong_HK_CNY.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:chinese_new_year_victoria_park_HK.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:blow_up_plastic_toy_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image] This camera was one of the few non-tiger blow-ups I spotted
One item that perhaps only proved popular on the final night (when it was raining,) were the ‘acid-proof’ umbrellas.[photopress:acid_attack_hong_kong_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
These reference a few unfortunate incidents of someone throwing acid from buildings onto crowded pedestrian streets over the last year. Not sure how tasteful or auspicious they are however…[photopress:year_of_tiger_2010_HK_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image]
Especially popular were the many different styles of tiger hats, as well as varieties of giant soft tiger claws. Some even made a noise (more like a monkey than a tiger actually,) when a particular spot was pressed.[photopress:Hong_Kong_Chinese_New_2010.jpg,full,pp_image]
Best wishes from Hong Kong Hustle to you in year of the tiger!