A Pleasant Interlude in a Mongkok Park
|Our Correspondent||Jun 6, 2008|
In Mongkok, as in all areas of Hong Kong, we have sitting out areas with little parks. Some of them even have exercise games for the elderly. While size, shape and seating arrangements vary from park to park they all have one thing in common a large sign at the entrance for the information of citizenry that states:
No Dog feces
No Hanging of Laundry.”
It ends with my favorite:
Of course, it is not uncommon to see people spitting on the ground, smoking directly beneath the no smoking banners and pissing into the bushes. Some of these parks are also used by drug pushers. Their customers know what time of day they will be there and it seems to be a happy little open-air business arrangement. But oddly, you will never see a prostitute in any of these parks. Apparently it is beneath their dignity.
Very occasionally I buy myself a hotdog and a drink and go and sit in one of these places during lunchtime. Normally it’s all very peaceful and pleasant, if you can ignore the spitting, smoking and urination. One day however, there was some entertainment that kept me there throughout my whole lunch hour.
Two groups of drug dealers had arrived at the same time and each apparently decided that it was their turf. Initially there were only two members of each gang. They got out their mobile phones and it wasn’t long before reinforcements turned up. All of the other park patrons looked at their watches and decided that it was time to return to the office or wander back home. One poor individual hadn’t noticed what was going on and was actually frog-marched off the premises by the dealers as he was still munching from his lunchbox. Soon the only the only non-combatant remaining was me.
Now, I have seen some heavies in my time but a couple of these fellows really did not encourage eye contact. In fact, I made a point of closely examining one of the trees just to make myself look innocent and harmless. But there was no way I was going to miss out on the impending punch up as the gangs took one another’s measure. Things got heavier as the two groups, which now consisted of about five or six people each, confronted each other. The usual swear words were exchanged about mothers and what they could do with them and then something amazing happened.
From down the street came two completely unaware police officers. The two groups fell silent but continued to snarl at each other with their eyes. Finally discretion was considered the better part of valour and they began to disperse after the two police officers spotted them. While only seconds before it was a matter of who was going to strike the first blow it now became a case of who could leave the park faster. What was amusing was that as the pushers were departing in two different directions, the two police officers were departing in a third. Apparently they also believed in avoiding any direct confrontation.
Suddenly I was left alone in the park with the birds, the laundry, and just a gentle hint of urine.