Graham Street Market
If you think of big cities you might as well think of famous marketplaces where the hustle and bustle shows you the variety of its citizens. May be not the same as Convent Garden in London, Rue de Cler Market in Paris, Mercato di Campo dei Fiori in Rome or Convent Garden in London the scenes you can encounter where East meets West in searching pak choi, dried mushroom, mandarin, sausages or … you name it - that is like Graham Street in Central, Hong Kong.
You can find this market a few steps from Queens Road Central. It is one of the oldest markets in old Victoria City of Hong Kong, founded nearly 180 years ago, just before the British got their Colony here. The street starts from Queen's Road Central and runs uphill and south to Staunton Street, crossing Stanley Street, Wellington Street, Gage Street, Lyndhurst Terrace and Hollywood Road.
The street is narrow but allows two rows of stalls on its two sides. Fresh food like seafood, vegetables, meats and others can be found along the street. It did supply the numerous foreign ships that sheltered in Hong Kong harbour and was at this time known by the name Middle Bazaar.
All the streets which are crossed are named after British statesmen, generals or admirals. One of it is Peel Street after Sir Robert Peel, best known for creating the British police who were called Bobbies or Peelers after him.
Currently, the Urban Renewal Authority is redeveloping Graham Street and Peel Street. This will affect over 37 buildings in the process. Skyscrapers already conceal the market and streets. This ancient and picturesque Chinese market is a fascinating place for a lot of tourists. The hawker stalls in this narrow, pedestrian-only lane with high piles of delicious fresh fruit, fish and vegetables are crammed with people at certain times and has a lot of photographic possibilities.
The redevelopment site starts above Wellington Street and continues up to Gage Street. Nearby you can as well find a new refurbished Dai Pai Dong (cooked-food stall) Street. As I was told it is a Dai Pai Dong gourmet's paradise. The food is cheap and popular.
This is a unique chance for tourists to see a genuine, old-fashioned, flourishing Chinese wet market. As you stroll through the narrow lane the chatter of a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin, English and assorted European tongues are sometimes ear deafening. For many people, "yiu," or "I want," comes in handy and "ng goi," the Cantonese for "please" and "thanks" are sometimes enough to do business. It is now in the development zone, and many in the community think the authenticity and the life of the place will be lost.
If you look on old photographs you can see, that it was a crowded and a cacophonous place for spenders and vendors since early times. But going even more modern than in the 80’s it’s arguable if glass and concrete are really the way for a better tomorrow. When the project is completed - no date for this has been announced - the hawkers will be invited back to occupy the stalls the authority have designed in consultation with them. They will have proper water and electricity lines, storage space and all else those vendors now obtain in improvisational fashion.
If there is a constant thing in Graham Street district, it is the smell of a hundred odours of dried fruit, dried fish, assorted spices and seasonings, hundred-year-old eggs, half a dozen varieties of beans and as many of rice and much more ...