Today was our last day in China. We decided to spend most if our day touring the city of Hong Kong itself. We spent a large majority of our time here in the city of Kowloon, just across the water from HK (which is actually an Island).
We were both awake by 630am local time, I’m guessing due to jet lag. We left the Guest House for the last time around 745ish, bags packed and nothing on the agenda.
We started our day by heading to Starbucks. We had almost 2 hours to kill before anything opened up, and by anything, I mean anything. The city is pretty much dead until 10-11am, with the exception if coffee shops and a few places to get food.
At 845am we started our ventured toward the Hong Kong Museum of History. Along the way we took a stroll through the Kowloon Park. In the middle of a large metropolis city, they have a walled park (one of many) which is open from 5am to midnight. This one contains a mosque, water fountain, a large public outdoor swimming pool, and bird avairy (not sure how to spell this) along with a few other things.
While my father used the free government provided wifi to call home using skype (I signed up for their pay service, $3/month to call any phone [cell or landline] in north america, more the worth it) on my iPhone, I was taking pictures of some fairly exotic looking birds. While I’m video taping a ‘rhinoceros’ named bird (had a huge single horn in the top of it’s beek) I thought I heard a Chinese women down the path calling to me.
‘Hello, hello, hello’ the voice repeated. ‘goodbye’ the same voice says even before I can end my video clip and see what is going on. Turns out it’s a large green parrot/macau with an amazing vocal ability. I attempted to communicate with the bird but unfortunately my attempts went unanswered. As my father walks over to figure out why I’m talking to myself, I explain this amazing animals ability. ‘hello’ my father says, no reply. ‘wanna get stuffed’ he calls next, ‘goodbye’ replies the bird. As we break out in laughter, the bird continues speaking to us. ‘oh no, ok, hello, goodbye’ it says in a matter of seconds. Simply amazing!
We leave the park and make our way over to the museum. Wednesday is free admission, so we are joined by 300 elementary aged kids… Oh goodie!
As we wander the halls and exhibits of the museum I learned more in 2 hours about the history China then I have in my previous 28years. From pottery styles of the Ming dynasty, to the evolution of the banking system from silver/bullion to paper notes. Some of the most interesting stuff was about the Japanese intrusion and hostile take over of Hong Kong during the early 40s, by interesting I mean it’s something I figured I would know about by now.
Heading over to Hong Kong, we decide to tour the central district. Markets and shops for the locals, no more tourist areas for us. As we wander up and down the cobblestone paved hills, we find some very unique vendors.
We walked through a costume section where you can buy different masks and outfits from Richard Nixxon to Chinese parade dragons.
Following that we enter the local food markets. From fruit and vegetables, noodles of every variety, to nuts out the yang, they have a shop/stand for everything. Naturally they have meat markets, and these things are not for the squimish.
First I notice the bbq’d ducks and chickens hanging in the windows, bodies fully intact, golden brown on the outside. As I take a closer look, I see numerous other animals all prepared in a different manner. I see pigs hung from hooks in the back, legs and feet displayed on the front shelves as if to trigger an impulse buy. As I pull out my camera I notice beside the feet/legs they have the livers, yummy! They seem to be a favorite of the flies, which I can see swarming the freshly hung organs. ‘What else do the flies like’ I think to myself, as I look a little farther down the chain, I see a pair of hearts. Now as I’m sure many of you know a pigs heart looks a lot like a humans, well I’m going to tell you it looks exactly like one. I’ve never seen a live human heart in person, but I’ve watched enough National Geographic channel and Greys Anatomy that I think I can tell you how close it really is. The valves, ventricles, and everything is exactly like the diagram you’ve all seen at one time or another.
Ok ok, enough about pigs and chickens, let’s go check out some seafood.
As we walk a short distance down the street (15feet), there it is. What looks like a flower at first, as my eyes begin to focus I realize it isn’t. What I am looking at is the fanned out gills of a very large salmon. These colourful red gills stretch about 10inches across, I got a sweet picture of it. Nothing else on this guys table seems picture worthy, we move on.
The next shop is a fruit shop and there is nothing entertaining to write about there, however the one following is the inspiration for the title of this post. It took me a while to get here, but we pack a lot of things into our days.
A filet fish lay on the front display counter of this shop. Not a north american style filet, but a HK market style filet. This two and a half foot fish was pulled from the water and split down the middle. If it was his lucky day he would have been knocked out first, but chances are no. As I stair at this fish, I notice his heart is still beating inside his headless split in half carcus. I can’t believe it. It’s like a car accident, you don’t want to see it, but you can’t seem to look away. The only thing that was able to draw my attention away from beating heart is the head which is 6inches away. I see it convulse out of the corner of my eye, I begin to watch it intently, it happens again. The bodyless head is still gasping for air, eyes and gills still moving. It was time to leave this part of town, and so we did.
As we travel farther away from the mainstream, I see the 2nd most disturbing boutique of the trip. In a 20×20 shop on the west side of the central area of HK, I see 50+ shark fins on the wall of a barely decorated storefront. As I take a closer look, rice bags full of them fill the floor of the store. It makes my heart sink. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on long-lining and shark-fining, you will understand.
I walk up the two steps to take a closer look, and picture, the attendant ushers me away. We are in a part of town where I wouldn’t press my luck, or expect anyone besides my father to step in if something were to go down, we walk away.
I’ll apologize now for the R rating of this article. I’d write a disclaimer at the top of it, but what fun would that be :)
You’re reading this to follow me in my adventure… Well there you are.