Welcome Year of the Tiger! (in photos!)

Chinese_new_year_hong_kong_tiger

Chinese_new_year_hong_kong_tiger
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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Have a look at photos from previous Chinese New Year posts: 2006, 2007, 2008, (also from 2008), and 2009.

Best wishes from Hong Kong Hustle to you in year of the tiger!

3 Comments

  • Happy New Year to you too! We had our own New Year celebration in Chinatown here in New York City, but I’m sure it was nothing compared to the streets of Hong Kong!

    I work in Community Outreach at an organization in NYC called World Up, and I stumbled upon your website in my search for interesting blogs around SE Asia. I really enjoy your website. Please feel free to check out what I do at http://www.worldup.org. Here’s a little blurb about us:

    World Up is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about international politics, and issues that affect the global community through Hip-Hop and socially progressive culture. Since our fruition in 2004, we have been fostering diversity, cross-cultural understanding, and social change with educational programming and events, like our music festivals and conferences. Helmed by a diverse set of volunteers, we are united by a deep love for music, and our faith in its power as a tool for social and political change. This website is an ongoing exploration of what World Up is and what it can be.

    We write blogs about music, global issues and worldwide events. Check us out! We’d love to hear from you.

    Take care!

  • Hi, amazing photos and great info here. I wonder if you could assist me as I need to know what time normally the market start business. How many days will they operate there? We will be visiting this amazing event next year with 2 young kids, is the crowd lesser during early hours? Thanks.

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