North Point, on the east side of Hong Kong Island and where I grew up, has a special charm. This is especially true of Chun Yeung Street. It’s one big wet market, with lots going on: shoppers haggling over fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, sold from stalls squeezed along both sides of the street, with a tramline running through the middle.
As a child, I walked through it on my way to school. After school, my grandma would pick me up and we’d go to the wet market.
The area around Chun Yeung Street was settled by
migrants from Shanghai and Fujian province, where my parents are from. So as well as Cantonese – and now the native languages of domestic helpers – you hear lots of the Fujian dialect. My grandma still hasn’t mastered Cantonese. She never had to: she spoke to all the shopkeepers in her native tongue.
From 2009 until last year, I taught sound art at City University. Every year I would take students to the wet market to make recordings. You can hear the sound of the tram clattering by at the same time as the sounds of the market: the haggling, the TVs and transistor radios playing in the stalls – and snippets of Fujian.
The buildings on either side look exactly the way they did when I was a child. That’s not something that can be said of many places in Hong Kong.
Samson Young is a sound artist from Hong Kong. His radio show, One of Two Stories, or Both (Field Bagatelles), is being performed this month at the Manchester International Festival