(Camera: Sony A55)
Pai Dongs, or literally "Row Kiosks", refer to kiosks flanking the street in a long, single rows as one can see in any local open-air market. The emergence of these rectangular boxes was as much about facilitating as regulating the haphazard hawking activities on the street which went rampant in the colonial days of Hong Kong. The open-air markets in existence are mostly the remaining so-called hawker control areas thought out by the British administrators, where the Pai Dongs were first erected.
Obviously, the tiny space provided within the kiosk made little sense for doing proper business. The result is the shop operators illegally extending the business areas around the kiosks which gives the crowded open-air markets their special atmosphere. If one looks closely, one will be able to see that each of the kiosks is fitted with a electricity meter by the power company.
Some usual readers may recall that we have published posts about Dai Pai Dongs, the open-air makeshift eateries which are disappearing in Hong Kong. Here, Dai means "extensive" or "big" because of the large size of such food-serving Pai Dongs. This is not because the British administrators were more serious about eating, but just that Dai Pai Dongs had existed long before the hawker control areas came into existence. Without regulating at first, Dai Pai Dongs usually sat in groups on a large piece of area astride the sidewalk and the road, hence the title Dai.