How is it possible that in a destination like Hong Kong, there are places that are still for discovery?! Judy Atha was amazed to come across one in the bustling city.
It was during a walking tour when we tripped into Sham Shui Po for snake soup, mice wine and a… black chicken?
It’s a hot and sticky Saturday afternoon in Hong Kong, and I’m part of a 2.5-hour walking tour of Sham Shui Po, which is an area of Hong Kong located on the northwestern part of Kowloon.
Sham Shui Po isn’t known to the average tourist, but here is where you will find the local Honkernese, shopping, eating and going about their day to day lives. You are more than likely going to be the only western face in the crowd, (other than the group) but no one seems to be taking any notice of us or really cares.
We first discover the history of the area and Mei Ho House which originally formed part of the oldest public housing estate in Hong Kong. The building is ‘H’ shaped and was built to re-house thousands of locals that lost their original homes to a fire in 1954. It is currently a Youth Hostel and also contains a museum exhibiting artefacts from the period and showcases how people use to live in such confined spaces.
We then head to the Wet Market which is not for the faint-hearted. This, is not just any old Wet Market but a Hong Kong Wet Market. I discovered there is such a thing as a black chicken and apparently, it has additional benefits not found in a white one! The black chicken doesn’t look very appetising, and at first, I thought it looked like a white chicken gone off!
Apparently, it’s full of antioxidants helping to prevent sickness, the common cold, maintain good muscles and a healthy nervous system, who’d have thought! The shop owners are more than happy to show you their produce, but I’m feeling a little distressed watching the fish flapping about while being dissected. I move quickly and politely to the exit and decide this is one experience that isn’t for me.
There are many restaurants and food stalls in this neck of the woods and morning tea are at a place called Hop Yik Tai. I’m told it is here where they serve the best rice noodles covered in sesame and soy sauce. When I see the queue, I know that the food must be good but is it really that good that we need to queue for something to eat?
Our tour guide is happy to join the queue while we wait by the side of the road watching the throng of people waiting patiently for their turn. I’m relieved to report that this establishment is quick and professional at getting through the orders, they know their stuff and you actually don’t have to wait that long, and “yes” the noodles are that good!
With the noodles to fuel me through ’till lunchtime, we wander around the maze of streets that make up this vibrant area of Hong Kong. It offers many, many market stalls and shop fronts where you can buy anything from electronics, accessories, fabric to toys. There are many neon lights offering foot massages, and it’s here I discover that a foot massage shop displaying a happy face within the foot means you can have more than just a foot massage, if you know what I mean!! And no, I didn’t bother to find out if it was true!
As it gets closer to lunch, it’s time to think about food again, and when in Hong Kong……!! We are taken to a little shop offering snake soup. I’m told snake soup has a high level of protein and can cure some pretty major diseases. I was finally sold when they said it was extremely good for your skin and I could look 10 years younger! Bring on a second bowl!!
To be honest, the soup has a similar texture to chicken and sweet corn and tastes just the same, I actually really enjoyed it. The snakes are kept in several drawers on the premises, and the owner is way too eager to take them out of their warm and cozy environment to let you hold them.
I’m not afraid of snakes, so I’m happy to oblige. I was also game to try snake wine which is green in colour and tastes more like petrol, not that I’ve ever tasted petrol. The wine has left a glow on my cheeks and a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach, let’s hope that’s all it does!
I think the Chinese lady serving me thought I was game for anything and tried to get me to taste mice wine but that’s where I draw the line!!
For more information on Sham Shui Po visit www.discoverhongkong.com/au/se
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What strange dish have you eaten in Hong Kong?
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