Tai Po was settled early on about 1,000 years ago during the Song Dynasty. So the area has a lot of history, but the population never really boomed in the area until the 1970’s when the Hong Kong government started to develop “satellite cities” in the New Territories. One of the early areas of development in Tai Po, though, is the Tai Po Market.
Even the railway stop in Tai Po is at the Tai Po Market. The buildings in the area are shorter and older. The streets and laneways are narrower. The shops are clustered more closely together. The market area has an more urban and organic feel to its fabric.
We were walking through Tai Po Market on this New Year’s Eve afternoon. We had come in search of some food. The last time I was here, my mother-in-law took us to a great noodle place. My favourite at this place is the crispy fish skin soup noodle.
Those familiar with this restaurant will wonder why the milk tea is in paper cups and why the noodles were in a styrofoam bowl. Well, it turns out a water main had broken in the area and they were unable to wash the dishes. Later on, my sister-in-law asked how they cooked the food. That’s when we started to wonder ourselves what we had just eaten. Oh well. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right?
In Hong Kong, there’s plenty of what my uncle calls “cheap bum-bum” places. This Cheapy store over in Tai Po Market is a great example. However, they do seem to carry authentic, not so “cheap bum-bum” stuff too.
We walked further over to the even older part of Tai Po Market. The streets were even narrower and the actual market was open-air in the laneway. No cars here, either. Just a lot of wet and dry goods and people! Anyone have issues buying meat that’s hanging right out in the open?
One of the highlights of Old Tai Po Market is the Man Mo Temple. There are at least a couple of Man Mo Temple’s in Hong Kong. This tiny street temple is situated just at the end of the busy market stretch. However, for such a tiny temple, the smell and smoke of incense permeated every nook and cranny surrounding the temple. No wonder. Look at how large the incense rings in the temple are!
There was no shortage of idol imagery in this temple. After about a minute in the temple, I had to go. The incense was starting to burn my eyes and some of the giant rings of incense were starting to drop their ash on my head. However, if you are looking for “authentic China” stuff in Hong Kong, then these little street temples are the perfect places to explore.
I really enjoyed walking through the Tai Po Market area because it was less tidy and less sanitized like many of shopping malls in Hong Kong. Shopping malls are all the same the world over, but these street markets have a local, organic feel to them. It’s more real and authentic to walk through these little places in Hong Kong.
Plus, you can sometimes spy on some store owner’s pet cat napping in the afternoon sunshine. 🙂