Sai Yeung Choi Street – time in a bubble…
Sad to say, Sai Yeung Choi Street is no more!
Well, let me clarify this – the scenes featured in this post and the associated photo gallery are now no more. However, in its time. this street was a mini-mecca for the arts and street entertainment scene in Hong Kong.
Back in 2000 or so, it was decided to “pedestrianise” this street – much in the same way as the nearby Ladies market and Temple Street were. The difference being, that Sai Yeung Choi was a bigger and much broader street and one that coursed through prime shopping territory. The difference between the two aforementioned tourist spots and Sai Yeung Choi Street was that, artist and entertainers were “invited” to set up their pitches on the street to sell and promote their work. Here, the action was alive.
It was a great experiment. But, alas, all this came to a close in 2018 when the authorities, sensitive to complaints and criticism, shut down this little experiment and opened up the roadway to traffic again.
The big draw card here – entertainment
For as long as this social and cultural experiment lasted, Sai Yeung Choi Street – or to give its full name, Sai Yeung Choi Street South – became a special place to the many people who came here to either set up stalls to sell their wares, apply their crafts and skills or to entertain the passing parade. The street was a hugely popular and drew throngs of people to the area. The images presented here were taken over several years. They are presented in no particular order – more just to inform and help share the experience and now, the memory.
I really have to love this image above – it’s such a “West” meets “East” thing. The looks of credulity of the passing pedestrians immediately behind this mime artist just about says it all – almost a look of disdain – if not thinking the unfathomable. Of course, this guy is a mime artist. As such, he would strike this pose and stand dead still like this for fairly lengthy periods. And NO, he is not moving – even though it seems as though he were seemingly caught here in mid-stride. This was all part of his act.
Something like this may go down well, say in a place like Covent Garden in London, in the “Old Port” area in Montreal or, elsewhere in the “western world”. But, here in Hong Kong? Something of a long stretch amongst the local folk I would think. But yes, courage and tenacity…
OK, for something more local. Kind of crazy – that huge vase on his head I mean. They’re big – and HEAVY. He had some other interesting acts, such as using his foot to flip tea cups on to saucers and saucers on to tea cups that were balanced on his head.
Even some of Hong Kong’s better know entertainers and singers would take to Sai Yueng Choi Street to perform and promote their music. Vital for the local economy I would think.
A toy maker demonstrating and selling his wares.
While kind of everyday, there was some amazing talent out there. This street performer’s talent – skipping while bouncing a volley ball at the same time. He was pretty darn good.
Ah, the good ladies from Shanghai. OK, I’m just saying that. While I’m quite sure she was from the mainland somewhere, not too sure about Shanghai though. As entertainers, these singers were popular – for their repertoire of popular ballads and traditional folk songs.
There was a whole buzz going on here – as in nearly 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. OK, the live performances were usually an evening thing. But, people who made things, had things to sell, they set their pitches up late in the morning and remained there until the show closed down at around 10:00 in the evening. Like the Ladies Market nearby and the Jade Market and Temple Street on the other side of Nathan Road, these venues attracted foreign tourists and local residents alike.
At the time and on any given day or night, there was a little something here for everyone. Alas, all this is now no more. This particular street has now been given back the delivery trucks, cars and high performance motorbikes.
Similar events and happenings like this still take place elsewhere around Hong Kong but, they tend to be sporadic or, on weekends only and, that sort of thing.
The buzz along Sai Yueng Choi Street South [ 西洋菜街 ] was certainly different if not eclectic. In a sense, the scene along this street really had something going for it. In a way, here you could witness Hong Kong at play.
Did you learn anything from this little tour? Feel free to comment below. If you’re interested, more pictures featuring Sai Yueng Choi Street can be found at this photo gallery link – SHANGHAI STREET, HONG KONG
This post, “Discovering Sai Yeung Choi Street” is another blog story in the “Hong Kong street guides” series. If you like what you’ve found here, feel free to check out the other post in this series – I don’t think you will be disappointed.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Most of the images taken here were with a Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujifilm X-T2 capture devices and a FUJINON XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS lens.
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You can find out more about Rogan and why he does what he does here on his ‘Artist’s Statement’ page.
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