Yau Ma Tai / Yaumati, Kowloon
Yau Ma Tei (Yaumati) is a district on the western edge of Kowloon. The former typhoon shelter has recently been filled in and reclaimed. Previously it provided a home for large numbers of Chinese boat dwellers, some 8000 of whom lived on 1000 boats; they have now either sailed away elsewhere or been housed in proper dwellings.The reclaimed land was needed for the construction of part of the expressway (completed in 1997) linking the new airport on the island of Chek Lap Kok with Hong Kong Island.In Yau Ma Tei, which is bounded on the east by Nathan Road, on the north by Public Square Street, on the west by Temple Street and on the south by Market Street, are four Chinese temples - Tin Hau, Fook Tak Tse, Shing Wong and Shea Tam.The well-known Jade Market is held every day at the junction of Kansu Street and Reclamation Street, a little way to the west.
Tin Hau Temple
The Tin Hau Temple, together with the Fook Tak Tse, Shing Wong and Shea Tam Temples, forms part of a temple complex in the Yau Ma Tai district of Kowloon. The temples were originally built about 1870 on another site but were transferred to their present position in 1876; they were last renovated in 1972.The Tin Hau Temple is dedicated to the goddess of that name, queen of heaven and patroness of seafarers. She was born about AD 960, the daughter of a fisherman, and legend relates that when her family's junk was sinking during a violent storm she saved it by exercising her supernatural powers. She is also said to have healed the sick and to have walked over the surface of the water on a straw mat. Associated with her in the temple are statues of other divinities.
During the day Temple Street, which runs north from Jordan Road on a line roughly parallel with Nathan Road, is a perfectly normal street in western Kowloon, but in the evening it becomes a giant "night market". Street traders offer an endless variety of wares, soothsayers and palmists attempt to read the future, and steam-kitchens serve simple but tasty dishes, which are perfectly safe to eat, since Chinese food is always well cooked.On the other hand you should be careful when buying audio cassettes and CDs. Many of these are either illegal pirated copies or are by little-known musicians "in the style of" the original.
Hong Kong is by far the largest market center for jade in the world. Most of the items now offered for sale are reproductions. Generally speaking, there are three qualities of crude jade. The top grade stones are emerald-like in appearance and of superb purity and strength of color, and are used for very valuable jewelry; normal decorative jade is that found in most jewelry shops; while basic jade is offered by street-traders. So-called "finger jade" is very popular; these are symbolic figures and fruits, once buried with the dead because it was thought they would protect the body from decay.