We’ve been exploring the local market centre to find out where the locals shop. Previously, Renee and Craig have been frequenting the well-stocked local supermarkets which — although not that expensive — probably don’t provide the best prices on local produce.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
The market building looks like any swish government facility — lots of shiny glass and metal. Inside, escalators take you to the various levels.

Today (after exploring the local library), we wandered through Tai Po Central Market, which is within easy walking distance of Keegan’s school. The market was a very clean, well organised market across three stories. The bottom floor was meat, the second floor was clothes and fresh produce, and a food court was located on the top floor.

If I hadn’t lived in West Africa, the baskets of live prawns or snails may have grossed me out if the smells didn’t drive me out of the market in the first place. However, in contrast to African markets, we didn’t have to contend with slimy mud between our toes, persistent flies, snotty toddlers crawling between wooden tables or aggresive hawkers (“veddy good price for you!”). Rather, the market had a clean, tiled floor, with uniformly-sized stalls clearly marked and organised according to their kind.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Meet Renee's new butcher. We were pleased to find local beef at reasonable prices.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Sometimes it was possible to tell the kind of meat for sale by the display of obvious body parts.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Something, something, tongue, something and four trotters.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Fancy escargots for dinner?

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Or chicken claw soup?

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Perhaps there's a biology major out there who can identify these guts.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
The local fishmonger.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Fresh fish.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Live eels await your dinner decision.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
A variety of crustaceans, shellfish and other seafood.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
David speared flat fish (flounder) like this in New Zealand.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
The bags of live turtles are about the only thing that made me feel sick.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Bags of dried goods open on the floor, boxes on the tables, shelves stacked high and produce hanging from every available option.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Dried octopus, fish and squid.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Haberdashery on display, just like in the African markets I grew up visiting.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Some of the market stalls were lit by the typical Chinese lanterns.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
The roses are wrapped in individual cases, protecting them until they're after they've been bought.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
Many HK residents buy their food fresh each day from places like Tai Po Market.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
I know this fruit -- a lillypilly (syzygium) -- as "pomme d'eau" from my childhood in West Africa. I bought several and ate them all up very quickly. Now I'm keen to go back for more.

In the produce section, we spent a lot of time trying to decipher which Chinese characters meant “item”, “dollar”, “pound”, “bag”, “kilo” or “pile” as fruit and vegies are sold in different quantities, and it often wasn’t clear which number meant which value. Most vendors had basic English and could help us with some explanations.

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
If someone knows what these are, can you please let me know?

Tai Po Market, Hong Kong, October 2009
These were little curled up bits of jute string wrapped around some substance... perhaps sap?

Tai Po, Hong Kong, October 2009
Apartment skyscrapers in Tai Po are connected to one another by a series of shopping malls. Most locals buy food every day, and shops are usually within easy walking distance of their homes.

For all the things that we forgot to buy at the market, there’s always the supermarket. The Harveys are blessed to have a small supermarket very close to their apartment. It’s open until 10pm and easily walkable, although you have to climb 133 stairs across 12 flights of stairs. Thankfully, after you’re laden down with shopping, the trip back home is mostly downhill.

I find it odd that a supermarket is located down two flights of stairs. Here’s a brief introduction to Renee’s local supermarket: