While discussing my Hong Kong holiday package with the very professional, friendly and helpful Emirates Holidays agent, I was advised not to go to one particular area of Hong Kong: Mongkok. When I asked her about the reason that she didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to go there, she explained that Mongkok was the equivalent to the Red Light District area in Amsterdam, and that I should avoid it since I’m travelling alone.
I took my lovely agent’s note into consideration and was strolling down the different streets of Hong Kong when I got there, without paying much attention to where I was really! No, I’m joking. I was relatively aware of the names of the areas and streets that I walked in. I was basically my own tour guide!
On most evenings (and sometimes mornings or afternoons!), you could see me sitting in front of one of the computers at the lobby doing my research on the top tourist attractions and things to do in the bustling city of Hong Kong. My search on the best street markets in Hong Kong resulted in a good number of options. Some of them were in the Kowloon side, and others in the Hong Kong Island side. I ended up with a list of three markets that I would like to visit. And since I had already been to the not so easy to find “Jardine’s Crescent Market” (see here if you still haven’t read that post), I was down to two markets: Jade Market and the Ladies’ Market.
I asked my local friend - who lives an hour away from the city in the harbor-side town of Sai Kung – which street market we should check out, and she suggested that we go to the Ladies’ Market upon telling her that I wasn’t interested in buying any jade ring or other jade jewelry. So off we went to Tung Choi street in Mongkok which is home to the famous Ladies’ Market. On our way to Mongkok, I explained to my friend the words of advise that my Emirates Holidays agent had given me about the area…and we had a small chat about it but we didn’t have anything to worry about especially since we were visiting the area in the afternoon time and are going to a particular place there.
Little did I know that what I would experience at the Ladies’ Market that afternoon would have nothing to do with the agent’s warnings, who was herself surprised when I told her my unbelievable story. We had just started our journey through the busy market and were having a look at some colorful beaded bracelets at one of the stalls. Since we were in a street market, I decided to practice my not so great bargaining skills with the sales lady…I was asking her to lower the price as I wanted to get a couple of bracelets. But deep inside, I just wanted to have an idea of the price range in the market before I continued my stroll down the market stalls. Mainly because I wasn’t that fond of the bracelets that she was selling and I wanted to have a look at other stalls before I made up my mind on anything. To my surprise, she did lower the price by a good amount…but I still didn’t like the bracelets that much and didn’t want to rush into buying from the first place that I had a look at. When I was about to leave, the middle-aged woman held on to my hand so strongly and wouldn’t let go! I explained to her that I will just have a look and come back, but she still wouldn’t let me go! After a few attempts to convince her that I will be back and her not letting go of my hand, I pulled myself away only to receive the strongest pinch on my arm that I have ever experienced in my entire life! That pinch caused me strong pain on the spot and a bruise that left a dark mark on my skin. The pain and bruise associated with that lady’s aggressive pinch lasted until a while after I was back in Dubai! Yes, it was that strong!
After our purely abusive encounter at the accessories stall, we continued our walk through the market, and I came across another stall selling similar beaded bracelets. The patterns and colors were nicer and the lady gave me an even lower price…and she didn’t need to use her aggressive powers in convincing me to make a purchase! I was glad that I didn’t buy anything from the previous lady and that I waited till I found something that I actually liked.
Walking down the notoriously busy streets of Mongkok on a Sunday evening meant that we would be witnessing all sorts of street activities…from political protests to Chinese dance performances and juggling acts. And even an old Chinese guy who was writing a message to the passers by in white chalk, asking for financial help in sympathy for his sick daughter.
I wasn’t surprised to read on Wikipedia that “According to the Guinness World Records, Mongkok has the highest population density in the world.”
Honestly, after my personal bad-mannered experience at the Ladies’ Market, I suggest that they change its name to the Brutal Market and have a sign that reads: Beware of Pinching Lady at the First Beaded Bracelets Stall