Monday, 26 November 2012

The two faces of Causeway Bay

I walked from Wanchai to Causeway Bay today. I was on a quest to get beach shoes for Prince PTT's upcoming excursion and wasn't sure where I was going. Sometimes these acidental meanderings uncover some amazing sides of Hong Kong. 

I've often watched ladies under the Goose Neck Bridge feed chunks of meat to their paper tigers. I've seen similar groups do it in Sheung Wan as well. Naturally, I had to investigate. 

According to my research, the ladies are performing a Cantonese custom called Da Sui Yan (or 'beating petty little people' ie. hostile parties). Since the White Tiger usually hides itself in damp and hidden places to hunt its prey, the favourite place for the ritual is a cross-roads or, in the case of the Goose Neck Bridge, below a bridge.  

A piece of raw pork smeared with pig’s blood is placed in the paper tiger’s mouth, symbolically feeding the tiger. When it is full, it will not hurt people.
Next, a piece of fatty meat (or pork lard) will be used to wipe the mouth of the paper tiger. By doing so, it is said that the White Tiger’s mouth is so oily that it “cannot open its mouth to gossip”.
Apparently at some point in the ritual, you then beat your petty person with your shoes... The old ladies on the right in the below photo are hence professional 'beaters' and the younger ones sitting opposite are clients holding grudges against petty people. 
Imagine the twists in the story if 'Gossip Girl' was set in Hong Kong!

Pawning is big business in Hong Kong. Note the privacy screen for the customer. So apt for the Chinese and their paranoia about 'losing face'. Imagine if your mate spotted you pawning your Rolex!  The "pawnee" has to hand their items up to be pawned. They say this is for security but I think there has to be a slight humiliation level involved.

Remind me not to go to this restaurant. Note our friend doing the washing up from the lunch service in the back alley.

Don't think I was in a back street somewhere, this was across the road!


Pseudo Tai Tai xx

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