Today I set out to explore Sheung Wan, the area immediately west of the Central business district, and one that has a lot of quirky little attractions. It starts off on Hollywood Road, the place to go for Chinese antiques and strange goods, ranging from traditional statues and furniture, to old posters for Chinese tobacco, records, books, and jewellry.
I found a lot of really weird paraphernalia here. Old terracotta status of Mongolians on horseback, and incredibly detailed wooden cabinets, hand painted with beautiful designs. But my budget does not allow me such fanciful things, and since I have not even found a place yet, I decided to wait before buying anything. I was also very amused by all the goods of ‘Chairman Mao’, the ex-leader of China. They had everything from watches where Mao’s hands point the time to bandaid tins with his face on it.
I then found a curious little item, which I think I am going to start collecting — snuff bottles. But not just normal snuff bottles… but erotic snuff bottles! Amongst the shelves of snuff bottles and containers, I saw a strange little one that was hand painted, from the INSIDE of the bottle, with one sexual position on each side of the bottle. Very cute! I simply could not resist.
I continued on Hollywood Road until I came to Man Mo Temple, the oldest one on Hong Kong island.
While not too impressive from the outside — especially after seeing the temples in Nikko — I found some amazing sights inside… can you guess what the picture below is?
These are actually massive incense coils! I took this picture looking right up at the roof. The place was thick with incense smoke, with these coils hanging from every inch of the ceiling. Inside people were lighting smaller sticks of incense, and placing offerings up onto the altar for the gods. I even saw one person put a styrofoam container of what I swear was full of char sui pork!
I left the temple reeking of incense and smoke and kept on gallavanting. Next stop was the dried foods street, where I found everything from dried squid to dried sea cucumbers and dried squid. I can’t imagine if these are for cooking, or for some kind of traditional medicine. But the people were not too happy when I pulled out my camera. ‘No picture!’ they said. I had to snap one from outside.
One street was nothing but bird’s nest stores! You can see below, one of the signs says ‘Swallow Nest Company’. Again, I can’t imagine how people started thinking it was a good idea to eat birds nests and risked life and limb to climb steep cliffs to collect these nests. But it is a delicacy all over China, and a bowl of bird nest soup can cost from US $30 to $100!
Finally, my feet were hurting, my wallet was getting a bit thin, and I stank of incense and sweat, so I hopped back onto the train and in a few minutes was back in the comfort of my hotel room. It was a fun day, and it was nice to see some interesting parts of Hong Kong, especially the area with the antiques.