Wednesday, February 16, 2011

breathe in the city

Today we enjoyed a trip out to Mong Kok, the Flower Markets and the Yuen Po St Bird Market. It was the coldest day so far this winter in Hong Kong, and we felt alive and immortal in our massive coats and boots out against the weather. The flower market is something I have been waiting to see, and it did not disappoint. Two entire, long streets crammed on either side with breathtaking flowers. The blooms en masse were so violently vibrant I could not believe I was seeing this much colour in the otherwise grey and drab country. 

Even more impressive than the spectacular visual presentation, was the smell. If you could manage to find yourself a spot to close your eyes and just enjoy the moment, you really realised how amazing the scent of that many flowers in such a small area can be. Especially in contrast to the smell of the rest of Mong Kok. I haven’t smelt that much nature since I arrived, and it was so much stronger than perfume, yet so much less aggressive. I could have sat down and picked out each scent from my memory as though I were picking the flowers themselves. The roses are easy to recognise, but lilies and carnations and tulips have individual scents too. It was sensory overload. Just incredible. The sounds were those that you would expect in a market – bustling, with trucks beeping reversing and packing tape going over boxes and bosses yelling commands at young workers. But there was just such immense beauty in this small backstreet of such an industrial city, I felt myself truly inspired by nature.

How could so many different flowers exist without someone to create them? There is no need for these things to be so incredibly beautiful, or varied, or scented. Their one purpose is to attract bees for pollination, but this could be achieved by means that weren’t so obviously aesthetic to humans. It baffles me how complex and endless nature is without any apparent purpose other than for us to marvel at it. I can truly say that after today, I will never underestimate the beauty of the natural world again. So much colour, and scent and texture existed in one place – brought together by humans and celebrated by humans. It was nothing short of inspirational.

After the flowers, we continued on to the bird street markets. These were considerably less populated due to the fact that the day was so cold and usually the elderly sit out with their Rens and Sparrows, and this chill factor was just too high for bones that have seen better days. But nevertheless, a little imagination and it was easy to picture the bird market in its prime. Small shops line the side of the garden walkway, selling either pretty birds as pets, or brown birds to buy and set free. Old men feed the fluttering creatures little caterpillars with chopsticks through the thin bars of their tiny bamboo cages. Seed is loose on the ground everywhere, and the noise of the free birds chirping and the caught birds singing is almost powerful enough to drown out the city bustle just meters away. It is a sanctuary, like an aviary without wire, but this place is more for the people than it is for the birds. They get together and share soup and tea and they talk and enjoy each other’s company. The birds are a common factor between these people, but nothing more. They have found a medium for connecting to others which is free and enjoyable and all about community. If only more places around the world had small birds on small bird streets to bring their small elderly people together. It was lovely.

1 comment:

  1. I remember having a conversation with you about the purpose and beauty of flowers on our walk back to Em's place one time. The markets sound so wonderful.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...