ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “toy

MARKET BY THE NULLAH, Wanchai (灣仔), Hong Kong

North of Queen’s Road East (皇后大道東), Stone Nullah Lane (石水渠街) continues to head north until it hits Johnston Road (莊士敦道), one of the main road in Wan Chai where the tram passes back and forth. This section of Stone Nullah Lane forms the main north-south artery of the outdoor market network that extends to Cross Street (交加街) and Tai Yuen Street (太原街) to the west, and to Wanchai Road (灣仔道) and the historical Streamline Moderne Wan Chai Market Block to the east. In 1990’s, a section of Stone Nullah Lane was erased from the map of Wan Chai in 1990’s. Part of where the outdoor market of Stone Nullah Lane once stood has been roofed over and transformed into an indoor market, above which erected the Zenith (尚翹峰), three 40+ storey residential towers that signified the arrival of a new Wan Chai, an affluent neighbourhood catered for expats and young professionals. Soon after, the 1930’s Streamline Moderne historical market was also taken back by the government and became another real estate development known as One Wanchai. Despite the dramatic changes to the area and occasional threats from the government’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and real estate developers, the outdoor market at Tai Yuen Street and Cross Street somehow manage to survive, while the wet market of Wanchai Road continues to go strong. Years have passed. This 90 year old market network has become a unique feature of Wan Chai, attracting both tourists and the local community to enjoy a part of the old Wan Chai.

A decade or so ago, a community interest group did a survey of the outdoor market of Tai Yuen Street and Cross Street. Back then, they found that the average age of the market stalls was 35 years old: 1 stall even has a 70 year old history, 2 with 60 years, 9 with 50 years, 7 with 40 years, 10 with 30 years, 9 with 20 years. It is obvious that many stall owners have been in business for over a generation after the war. These stores and their owners are essentially living memories of the community. When Tai Yuen Street is mentioned, many Hongkongers would immediately associate with toy stores. Still regarded as the official street of toy stores on Hong Kong Island, the remaining toy merchants at Tai Yuen Street remind visitors of the 1970’s and 1980’s, when Hong Kong was the largest toy manufacturer and exporter in the world. Instead of toys, we often come to the wet market at Wan Chai Road and Cross Street for local produces, chicken from New Territories, shellfishes, hand sliced beef, and dried herbs for Chinese soup. We love the vibrancy and diversity of Wan Chai Market, as well as its convenient location from Downtown Hong Kong.

Marked the intersection of Queen’s Road East and Wan Chai Road, the historical Streamline Moderne Old Wan Chai Market building stands soullessly as the entrance of a luxury residential apartment. [2022]
The 1959 Wanchai House (灣仔大樓) stands as a eyecatching backdrop to wet market of Wan Chai Road. [2022]
View of the 78 storey Central Plaza (中環廣場) reminds visitors that the business district is never far away from the outdoor market. [2022]
Beyond the tranquil Stone Nullah Lane at the Blue House and Pak Tai Temple, the northern section of Stone Nullah Lane extends right from the heart of a bustling wet market. [2022]
Walking down the northern section of Stone Nullah Lane feels like going back to the Hong Kong in my childhood. [2022]
Residential blocks of the redeveloped Lee Tung Avenue tower over the skyline from the outdoor market of Cross Street. [2022]
From produces to spices, or clothing to toys, we can find most of what we need in our daily needs at Cross Street. [2022]
Some old vendors still offer traditional items like salted fish, despite demand has been greatly diminished in recent years. [2022]
Despite being the district with the second highest income in Hong Kong, the outdoor market of Cross Street reflects street scenes of Wan Chai’s humble past. [2022]
The outdoor market in Wan Chai appears like a miniature version of its counterparts in Kowloon. [2022]
Adequate lighting allow customers to choose the products after sunset. [2022]
From traditional sauces, Canton noodles to Indonesian snacks, shops at the market have evolved according to the gradual change of demography and culture. [2022]
At the intesection of Cross Street and Tai Yuen Street, a down to earth eatery is a popular venue for the community, especially during breakfast time. [2022]
There are also shops that keep on changing their merchandises according to the time of year. [2022]
Tai Yuen Street was once the official “Toy Street” on Hong Kong Island. [2022]
Many toy shops at Tai Yuen Street are remnants from the era when tiny Hong Kong was the biggest toy manufacturer in the world. [2022]
Hong Kong is still home to many toy manufacturing company headquarters, just that their factories have been relocated elsewhere in the past three decades. [2022]
Neighbourhood shops offer another option for customers other than the chains in shopping malls and department stores. [2022]
In old Hong Kong, pawn shops represented an integral part of the market street. Some still survive to the present day. [2022]
From Johnston Road, the lights and crowd in Triangle Street reveal the vibrant market scene of Wan Chai Road within. [2022]
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_8863.jpg
The intersection of Wan Chai Road and Johnston marks the entrance of the wet market from the business district to the north. [2022]
From Johnston Road, the business centre of Wan Chai and shopping district of Causeway Bay are just a stone throw away. [2022]

SIWAN CHILDREN, Siwa Oasis, Egypt


During my short stay at the oasis, the people left me with the most lasting impression were the Siwan children. No matter how hot during the day, I could still find these kids outside their homes having fun. I often stopped my bicycle and asked these kids for directions. Some would point me towards the right direction, while others might introduce me to their friends from next door or show me their self-made toys. Sometimes I would ask if I could take a photo of them, and just holding my camera towards them would make them laugh for a long long time. It was June 2006, when Siwa was still a relatively unknown travel destination except for backpackers, and the world was far less connected before the emergence of iPhone and Instagram. The kids belonged to a much simpler world back then. It is interesting to look back at their photos. For me, they represent some of the warmest memories of my Egyptian experience.

I saw this kid at the back of the donkey cart more than once at the town centre.
I spent a bit of time with these kids on my way to the Temple of Oracle.
They were chasing each other in front of their homes.
They were friendly and delightful.
Some stood by their door and couldn’t stop laughing when they saw me.
This boy was on his way to the town centre for grocery.
These kids ran behind my bike for a short distance just to say hello.
These three children spotted me on my bike from their front porch.
I waved to them and they giggled back.
It is hard to imagine how their adulthood have turned out now.
I also met these kids who made their own toys with a rope, a few plastic bottles and sand.
The kid with the Real Madrid jersey showed me how his toy work: tying the sand filled bottles to their hands and running around with the rolling bottles.