Temple Street

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Web photo of the Temple Street Market at night

Article and picture about Temple Street Market during the day

At the Hong Kong's Temple Street market you have to detour around the fish being cut open, the chickens being killed, the frogs trying to escape. It is crucial that there is no back space for this metabolism, no invisible loading dock for trucks -- no purification or reification of the finished object. Nor is it like those the traveling European markets that circulate from town to town with vans of finished goods.

Many of the foreigners at Temple Street were walking for bargains, maximizing profit, not life -- one dimensional relations with cold eyes. Later at night, further into Kowloon, there was a street market without many foreigners. First I found a sad collection of stalls with old items and no customers. Then groups doing Chinese opera acts on the square and collecting contributions. Then a community center in the square, with food, urine smells, people doing tai chi, playing music, card games, sleeping, public life, old people half naked, fortune tellers. This is the street life that malls simulate but do not fully provide. Will it disappear? It's already mostly older Chinese. You need a density of habit and habitation to keep up this kind of mixed street life that does not depend on tourists. You need a willingness to forego private space to keep this going. Maybe you need crowded living quarters that have to be escaped out into the street.