The Sunday Streets of Hong Kong

Before I continue with my move from Hong Kong to Mainland China I must share with you the most amazing phenomenon I’ve ever seen in a big city. It was Sunday late morning and we were moving a bit slowly from several late nights.

With so many cars, double decker buses, motorcycles, scooters, taxis and pedestrians the city has gone to great lengths to make crossing streets easier and more efficient than many other cities. Pedestrians crossing streets cause traffic to stop. While there are plenty of red light intersections, there are also a number of pedestrian skyways that cross over the busiest streets. Not only to they offer congestion relief but they also provide great protection when the torrential typhoon rains rip through the city in the summer months.

I was crossing one of the busiest roads in the most congested part of Hong Kong in Causeway Bay when I first noticed them. Young girls and women sitting on cheap plastic table cloths or blankets on the sidewalk. We were on our way to the MTR to head toward SoHo for lunch and didn[base ‘]t think much of it until I saw the next group, then the next. As we walked through entrance of Victoria Park we found more. Hardly any men. Simply hundreds and hundreds of girls sitting on the concrete park benches, lingering around light posts or sitting on those makeshift blankets. Some seem to have wares scattered about as if this were some kind of swap meet. As I passed through this section the language was clearly not Cantonese nor Mandarin. It was Tagalog. Most of these women were Filipino.

We made our way to the central district to meet with Phoebe for a beer then a Thai food lunch. Walking between the steel skyscrapers and through concrete city plazas we kept running into them. Now it had to be thousands. Phoebe explained it. They are all Foreign Domestic Workers. Nearly 150,000 Filipino women are employed as maids or caretakers. They work six days a week. On Sunday, their day off, they have nowhere to go except the streets. Walking through one crowded plaza the high-pitched conversations seemed elevated to angry shouting echoed off the buildings. The sound so strong and fierce it reminded me of birds and animals in the jungles of Java or Sumatra. Rising and lowering with a dynamic that seemed prime for a chant or an upheaval chorus. But these girls were just talking. Enjoying their only day off. All on the streets of Hong Kong. On Sunday.

Photo: (1) Not the greatest shot on the blog, but a quick glimpse at the scene of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) on their Sunday day off in Hong Kong.