My one full day in Hong Kong consisted of cloudy weather with just bits of sun peaking through in the morning. Not a day for images of magnificent Hong Kong vistas, but there was still no shortage of photo-worthy material out there. The elderly couple here is opening their tiny locksmith business in Sheung Wan for the day. Not being too many years away from where they are now, I found myself wondering how they get by on what they earn from their little business. And whether they choose to keep working every day or have no choice but to do so.
The shop across the street buys coconuts in bulk and then prepares them to have the tops cut off and sold as beverages to tourists. Street vendors come along to buy the bags and take them to stalls that can be found all over Chiang Mai. Tasty and refreshing, especially if the vendor keeps the coconuts packed in ice so the juice is slightly chilled. It seems the street vendors pay around (US) 65 cents per coconut and then resell them to passersby for $1.30 to $1.50 each. Sit down restaurants and coffee shops are somewhat more expensive. Still, nobody is getting rich from this business.
I am rather fond of the tree which has grown through the corrugated roofing in the center of the photo.
I went on a walking tour this morning of several traditional markets in Chiang Mai. A local guy organizes the walks through Meetup. I have been on a couple of these now – fun and informative, and a great group of fellow walkers on both occasions.
Many of the shops in these markets are owned by Chinese families that came to Thailand in the past, often many years ago. Today, these Chinese-Thais are assimilated into Thai society and are largely indistinguishable from other Thais. Nonetheless, originally from southern China, Guangdong and Fujian for the most part, these families continue to be a part of the vast Chinese trading networks that have long played a major role in the business and commercial worlds of Southeast Asian countries.
This photo shows a Chinese tourist doing what Chinese do best: shopping and bargaining!
And if you stray from the Path, you get to listen to Eagles soundtracks for your entire stay at the Hotel California. A fate worse than …… well, I’m not coming up with anything off hand. Fortunately for them, these monks have nothing to worry about.
The four red characters in the yellow sign at the upper right mean, roughly, “reasonably prosperous life” or perhaps “moderately prosperous life”. Guaranteeing all Chinese a reasonably prosperous life is one of the Communist Party’s stated goals and the expression “小康生活” (xiaokang shenghuo) appears regularly in the Chinese media and Party publications. In any case, I think the expression nicely frames the Beijing street scene going on below the sign.