Colorful Hong Kong (January 2015)

On our first couple days in Hong Kong we rushed around to some of our favorite spots: Stanley (via the #6 bus), the Flower Market, the Bird Market, Bowen Road (for running).

We arrived in Hong Kong about a month before Chinese New Year (CNY), but festivities are already being planned.


Lanterns and banners will soon be appearing everywhere. Buy your red “lai see” packets now for gifts of good luck money for the kids and your servants and subordinates.

This is the year of the Goat (or Sheep or Ram), specifically, the wooden goat. If you were born in 1929, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 (both Pats), or 2003, this is your year. Sheep people are tender, clever, kind-hearted, and economical. They generally have symmetrical features, a good thing! All that sounds just like our Pats. (For any readers who are not O’Connells, the story is that we had a kid named Pat on the East Coast, not realizing that Kathy and Stephen on the West Coast had already reserved the name. Nine months later West Coast Pat was born. They have no resentment; they’re great friends. Because we’re a bit lazy, we call them “the Pats” when plural.)


This sheep is in Elements, a very upscale shopping mall built in Kowloon after we left Hong Kong. Although it’s a high-end mall, it still has an ice rink, with ice time for hockey. Chris and Michael both played hockey in three malls when we lived here. Chris also played in the multi-story parking lot of Aberdeen Marina Club. It had a ceiling support 2/3 of the way across the icy. Tricky skating.

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Not a goat. Maybe they pull this very large CNY figure out every year, regardless of animal year.

We went to the flower market on Kowloon side and saw many flowers like we had seen in Hawaii.


Single orchids suit Hong Kong homes because they take up little space, but brighten a whole room.


These colorful bouquets were about $10 (US).


Lots of exotic blossoms too.

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Of course, bamboo is here in all shapes and sizes. Good feng shui (lucky for you) as long as you keep it alive and don’t buy a group of four.


We had a satsuma tree on our balcony one year for CNY. The very small fruit is deliciously sweet and fragrant.


Even petunias look particularly festive with Hong Kong-style presentation. $15HK is just under $2 US.


Endless color

Nearby is the bird market filled with birds and their food for sale. Some of these are sparrows, noted for their songs. In 1958 when China faced agricultural challenges, Mao Tse Tung classified sparrows as pests (along with mosquitoes, flies, and rats) and set about to eradicate the Four Pests. Villagers shot at them with rifles and slingshots and made noise so that they could not land in trees. Many birds simply fell from the sky from exhaustion. Experts estimate that hundreds of millions of birds died.


This little bird misses his friends “in the pen.” Apparently he’s never heard of high-density agriculture.

By eliminating sparrows, the government expected to save enough grain to feed 60,000 people. However, they forgot that birds eat insects.

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Maggots and crickets and grasshoppers, oh my! Living food you can buy for your pet birds.

Within two years, with China’s locust population expanding dynamically and the insects eating far more grain than the birds once did, Mao removed birds from the pest category and replaced them with bed bugs as the fourth pest. (Imagine the work that Sunny and Sherlock could have had!) Too late. The sparrow was nearly extinct in China.

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Song birds (as a hobby) might be going away in Hong Kong too. These rungs should be full of birds just visiting, not for sale. The old folks with birds who used to bring them here to see their friends are dying off and young people don’t seem to be taking up the hobby.

We didn’t buy a bird, but we picked up a few flowers to decorate our 300-square-foot apartment. (Yes, that’s cozy!)

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A live hyacinth for good luck and a nice smell. Some dyed orchids for extra color and long life. Our favorite fruits: satsuma and Philippine mangoes (well bananas too).

Although we’re not at the height of the Christmas or CNY season for colorful light shows on the buildings, we did still have some good viewings.


Looking from Kowloon side to Hong Kong. The very tall phallic building is the IMF Center. The next tallest building is The Center, with lights that ululate in different colors all evening.

More Hong Kong adventures coming up…


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3 Responses to Colorful Hong Kong (January 2015)

  1. Marcia OConnell says:

    I may have commented on this already on the iPad. Worth a second round. The story about the Pats is good to hear again. I remember Budweiser Beer had a slogan that year that said Patrick was a Saint – you ain’t. It was everywhere! Kathy picked up on that. I still remember a gasp with That’s our name!! when she heard you were naming your baby Patrick. I think we were at Thomas’ wedding. They measure up to the characteristics of the goat that you mentioned. These pictures from HK remind me of an expression from Michael the first Christmas you were there – Nothing succeeds like excess in HK. They seem to be living up to that measure. Enjoy New Zealand. It looks a bit more subdued.


  2. Cindy Hamilton says:

    More, more, more!!!


  3. Betsy Beyersdorf says:

    Enjoying the virtual tour. You are a wonderful travel guide, Nancy.


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