Yann Hui: A Long Lost Friend

Staunton Street :

It seemed not such a long time ago, but I recall Staunton Street as a local Chinese Market serving the immediate neighborhood and surrounds, the escalator, bars, pubs and restaurants absent.

It was only last night, standing at the beer shack facing the new 7-11, what was once the local butcher, an over-priced pint of beer in hand, watching people go by, typical Sunday crowd, with not a worry in mind, the night is still young.

Live chickens in bamboo baskets hauled over the shoulder of the hawker, grandparents baby-sitting toddlers in the shops, sound of mahjong shuffles, counting of notes, yesterdays loss, today’s winnings, local residents passing through at different paces attending to their day. Come late evening, not a soul in sight, except for the local cats roaming the night streets.

i-Phone in hand, shoulders hunched and head face down, uploading the latest Instagram post, crowds gather at the steps next to the bar and grill, endless chatter, positive vibes maxed, 1000 likes, what’s not to like. Past midnight, into the early hours, to the latest secret bar we go, it’s 8AM glass doors of the bar vibrating to the beats of the hippest DJ whiz, the last record played and its all over, off to the Flying Pan!

Perhaps the area was not of much interest to begin with, one could find such markets in every Hong Kong neighborhood. The small temple shrine tucked into the concrete stairway, vegetable stalls, local butcher, the road seller hawking antiques and wears, the smells of various sun-dried seafood goods and the hustle and bustle during morning hours, by late afternoon business is over.

South of Hollywood Road, the infamous SOHO, it’s midnight, bars, pubs and restaurants line up the street, no shop-lot is spared, waiters frantically promote their menus and specials. Cigar smoke and musky perfume clouds the air, with a mix of various cuisines wafting in the air and the scent of temple incense, creating a unique infusion, one gets hooked simply passing through. Overhead laughter and banter, glasses clinking whilst massage shop signs flash continuously.

Abacus in hand, food stuffs weighed and bagged, “you will not find it cheaper”, the hawker shouts.

Cocktail glass in hand, tequila shots slammed, “one more for the road”, the epat banker shouts.

It seemed not such a long time ago, but it was already 2 decades ago. Walking through Staunton Street feels like visiting a long lost Friend, feelings of reminisce and nostalgia are present, but the energy and soul of the place is different.

Time has passed, goodbye my old friend.

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