We went on another 'free' walking tour, again with Johnson as Guide, this time in Kowloon. The 'free' means there is no upfront charge but you are 'encouraged' to 'donate' to the guide as you feel appropriate. Johnson is a good guide and so we did on both tours. This tour focused on Kowloon Markets and Housing Issues. We visited Fish, Flower & Bird Markets as we walked thru the city. Low margins & expensive rents have forced many of the fish markets to move to second floor locations; though there are still many at street level. The Flower Market area smelled delicious ! Beautiful to look at also. The two best days for sales are Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. Flower vendors want the later to be during the work week so sales are better as women can display their 'gifts' in the office. Strange twist in Hong Kong demographics is that women outnumber men 56% to 44%. So, many women send themselves flowers, if the holiday is during the week so that their desk is not devoid of a flower gift from boyfriend! Bird Markets are fading away and are frequented mainly by older people who go to stay in touch with old friends. There is only one 78 year old man making bamboo bird cages by hand in the market, and he has no apprentice. Maybe Waldo can bring that industry to the U.S. & in conjunction with re-opening the coal mining industry create jobs for all those canaries on welfare ?
Hong Kong has the highest cost housing, relative to income levels, in the world. It requires 20 years of earnings, 100% spent on house purchase, to pay for a home; and these are primarily apartments. As the For Sale photo illustrated; the translation is - a 312 square foot apartment, 2 bedroom, 1 bath costs $600k U.S.; 660 Sq. ft. costs $1.2M U.S. ! AND these are 20 -30 year old buildings ! 6 of the top 10 priciest housing markets are in China; the most expensive not in China is Sydney, Australia @ # 4, while most expensive in USA is Los Angeles @ # 10.
Went Birding with Tai, an eBirding buddy Lidia made contact with online. He works at the Hong Kong Wetlands Park where we met him and spent 3 hours. Lidia, much to her delight, was rewarded with 6 or 8 new 'Life List' birds. The most special was while leaving the park Tai heard a bird sing 'differently', looked up and saw a nest with three owlets. Quite a daytime sighting; auspicious one might say as we were going to a Chinese Opera that evening !
So back on the Metro to the hotel, shower, and back on the Metro back to Kowloon for the Opera; but first a great little meal in a restaurant near the theater we found by just walking the streets.
At the theater we had good center stage seats in row 8; with a large aisle between rows 6 & 7. I saw a couple guys seated in our row with huge cameras taking pictures, so I proceeded to do likewise with my much smaller/less obvious camera. Immediately an attendant scurried up to me & indicated 'no picture taking' ! I innocently begged forgiveness with an inquisitive shrug towards the two other guys while obediently returning my camera to the hopefully confiscation-proof confines of its pouch attached to my belt. A minute later another uniformed usher approaches me and graciously extends a 'Press Card' which he indicates now allows me to take pictures ! And I thought I was going to court in Beijing ! We enjoyed the intermission-less 2.5 hour performance, and I snapped (as discreetly as possible) as many photos as I, now a card-carrying accredited photographer, should ! Although understanding nary a word, the exquisite facial expressions (& make-up), body language mannerisms, music & vocal tonalities, and the two paragraph English synopsis were more than sufficient to follow and enjoy the show.
A full day.
Tomorrow a day of doing NOTHING !
Ciao for now