Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ladyboys of Wah Fu

WARNING: The above photo of yours truly officially becoming the 214,416th person to make an ass of himself at the Peak Mall has nothing to do with the rest of this post. Read on at your own discretion. By the way, I'm not the one in the yellow leotard.

I go about once a day to the wet market at Wah Fu Estate to buy fresh produce and sometimes fish. This is one of the two choices I have to buy groceries within walking distance. The other is to walk in the opposite direction to the International at Cyberport, which is a good supermarket but not very good for produce or fish. Getting to the wet market takes just about 15 minutes at a brisk pace.

In the year so that we've been in the HK, I've been to this wet market quite a bit. It's a very small market meant really for the residents of Wah Fu Estate, so there just aren't that many stalls. The stallkeepers recognize me and we exchange basic pleasantries in Cantonese. I try to use as much Cantonese as I can when I'm there. For instance, I ask in broken Cantonese for free scallions when I buy other produce, should the seller forget to give me this very common bonus.

"Gamyaht dimgaai mouh chong ah?"--Today why no scallions?

Anyway, one of the interesting things about going to this wet market initially was that at certain times of the day, a troupe of 10 or so transvestite performers from Thailand would descend en masse to do their grocery shopping and delight the stallkeepers and other shoppers. They were shopping, but always had their make-up and hair done and were in character. One couldn't help but enjoy the show.

I did a little research. It turns out there is a movie theater in Wah Fu Estate that is no longer in business, at least not for movies. Instead, some enterprising impresario has rounded up these Thai ladyboys to perform elaborate lip-synch performances of Mandarin and Cantonese pop songs. Busloads of Mandarin tourists come on the sly to catch these "unlicensed" performances.

I was curious and went to the theater about a month ago to see how one could go about catching a show. The place was closed, but there was some Chinese writing on the wall. I have no idea what it said, and didn't get to see the show.

It's been a while since I've seen these flamboyant ladyboys sashaying through the wet market. I wonder if their show has ended. I can't help but wonder if the lagging economy or some annoying but all-too-common HK bureaucratic legal issue is somehow responsible for their sudden disappearance from Wah Fu.

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