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Unloading a container of fruit near the wholesale fruit market, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 26 September 2021.

Daily, from the late afternoon until the early hours of the following morning, the streets surrounding the wholesale fruit market in the old district of Yau Ma Tei are transformed. Large containers arrive from just-unloaded ships or across the mainland border. Teams of workmen quickly unload the contents onto pallets that are trundled on trolleys through the streets, with cars and minibuses weaving in between. The newly arrived fruit is temporarily held in the market’s warehouses or on roadsides before being distributed throughout Hong Kong to independent fruit vendors, restaurants, suppliers and other outlets.

The historic market is a labyrinth of alleys linking small wholesale businesses, including a row of 1930s shophouses converted into a warehouse. The site’s heritage extends onto the streets, as the physicality of loading and unloading under darkness amid moving, torch-like car headlights has a timeless, gothic ambience. 

However, all this could go; the Hong Kong government has just announced the future removal of the market and its conversion into a place “for tourists” – no doubt, the business plan will involve high-price and/or tacky restaurants, bars and shops. Again, faux heritage replaces the efficiently functioning real.


 歷史悠久的果欄猶如迷宮,集結不同小型批發生意,包括一排30 年代的下舖上居樓宇已改建為倉庫。該址的歷史意義伸延到街道,黑暗中,裝卸在移動、火炬般的車頭燈下進行,形成一個永恆、歌德式的氣氛。然而,這一切可以消失。香港政府剛剛宣佈,未來將清拆果欄,改為「遊客景點」。毫無疑問,商業計劃將涉及高價和/或俗氣的餐廳、酒吧和商店。再一次,有效運作的真實被虛假的遺產所取代。

Photo: John Batten

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