Mong Kok is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. Sure, it’s chaotic and crowded, perhaps a little gritty if you wander into one of the narrow dimly lit streets, but it’s always throbbing with energy and I love being amidst this never-ending mass of spindly towers squeezed in between one another while a sea of people move seamlessly at their feet.
In the remarkable autobiographic book “Eating Smoke” by Chris Thrall, he summed up Mong Kok beautifully:
… it wasn’t the people that were chaotic – they moved surprisingly slowly – it was the surroundings. The sights, sounds and smells of Cantonese culture and exchamge bombarded my senses as elaborate facades sold everything from Rolex watches to dried tiger penis, steam poured out of noodle shops and a cacophony of traffic noise complemented the vivid clashing colours of signs anchored to the buildings’ lower walls. Worded in English, Chinese or both, they fought for line of sight to announce the servies on offer as well as the psychology of the mindset behind them. ‘Happy Lucky Company’ announced one optimist. ‘Golden Fortune Company, another. ‘Happy Lucky Golden Fortune Company’ could easily have stood as the next.
This was his memory of Mong Kok in 1995. Having just been back in Hong Kong in January and stayed in Mong Kok for a few days, I’m happy to say that it’s still exactly as he described!
The photo above was taken in 2011 when I happened to glance into an alley while walking around Mong Kok. “一夜情 ” literally means “one night stand”. Not difficult to guess what additional services this massage parlor offered.
More on Mong Kong and “Eating Smoke” another time…