A Night Market in Hong Kong
That smell, raw, unadulterated, and unmistakable smell of meat. Meat that has been out in the open for more than a few hours now. Animal and primal. I feel a sense of disgust, my throat tightening in a futile attempt to keep the smell out, but it is all pervasive.
The street was mostly wet, puddles of unidentifiable brown liquid, pooling at every indentation on the ground. Everyone else seem perfectly unaware of it as they walked by, some stepping right on it with their thick rubber boots, throwing up fetid spray all around.
The market is not quite as noisy as it was earlier, there is a sense that things are winding down. Tired stall vendors were clamouring to sell off the last of the day’s produce before they could at last rest. Last minute bargain hunters prowled the scene, mentally comparing prices and casting a skeptical eye over the produce on offer. Mostly middle aged and old ladies, they clutched on to their purses tightly as they gingerly manoeuvred around the puddles on the concrete floor to call out offers of their own. Their bids were met with a either a nod or a look of disdain from the stall owners. Commerce was taking place.
“Thud, thud, thud”
The staccato sound of a cleaver on a thick wooden chopping board punctuates the atmosphere. The butcher, surrounded by cuts of meat, mechanically cleaves his way through a large slab before putting a metal tray full of meat into the industrial fridge for the next day.
The sky above was turning a deep indigo. In the flats above the street market, televisions were blaring, woks were clanging as dinner was being prepared, the smells wafting and melding with the smells of the night market below. Neighbours were chatting, life was going on.