No, it’s not yet the end of my Hong Kong Diaries – how could I not share all these adorable animals with you? If there was one thing I loved about Hong Kong (OK, there were actually 5000 things I loved) it was seeing plenty of animals walk around freely in the villages – one of the highlights was a cow wandering around and investigating the rubbish bins in Ngong Ping (giant Buddha’s home).
Just like in Beyond Retro’s Brick Lane store, many small shops seemed to have a resident cat peacefully watching over the shop and customers. These animals never felt like a threat – dogs can be vicious but the many that I came across were friendly, tame and not the least bit over-excited. A few of the villages I visited also had ponds full of beautiful fish and even tortoise – what a pleasure to witness!
Moments like these contrasted heavily with seeing frogs or toads (I’m not going to pretend I knew exactly what they were) caged in food markets, as well as eels chopped in two (and pretty much still alive) in buckets full of water and traces of blood. Even though I’m not a vegetarian I am very sensitive when it comes to animals suffering and couldn’t help but feel saddened to see something that for most people is the most normal thing in the world. I also felt sorry for all those fish condemned to a new life and trapped in small plastic bags whilst unknowingly waiting to be purchased – they may be small creatures but will they be treated with the respect a living creature deserves?
Animals have a strong and symbolic presence in Chinese beliefs and this is obvious in popular culture. One of the most beautiful things about Chinese new year was seeing many amazing installations in streets, shopping centres and essentially anywhere public. I ended up falling head over heels for the icon that is the Lucky Cat, who up until my trip to Hong Kong I had found ever so slightly annoying. I also couldn’t get enough of all the beautiful horse figures (it’s year of the horse, y’all) – my favourite was, naturally the adorably huge pink one me and my friends spotted in the rather lush shopping centre Langham Place. It was inevitable for me to get into the spirit of things – I know it’s a little late but happy year of the horse!