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.
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.)
We went to the flower market on Kowloon side and saw many flowers like we had seen in Hawaii.
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.
By eliminating sparrows, the government expected to save enough grain to feed 60,000 people. However, they forgot that birds eat insects.
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.
We didn’t buy a bird, but we picked up a few flowers to decorate our 300-square-foot apartment. (Yes, that’s cozy!)
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.
More Hong Kong adventures coming up…