As the weeks passed, I grew bolder and – more confident in facing traffic – I traversed Nathan Road, the main artery running up the spine of Kowloon, to enter the district of Yau Ma Tei, as area that was more residential than Mong Kok. Many of the three- or four-storey buildings were old, with arcades, their balconies lined with green-glazed railings patterned to look like bamboo. The roofs of some were covered in green-glazed tiles and curved upwards at the eaves. A few bore ceramic ridge tiles of dragons and lions in faded blue, red or gold. I felt an added excitement coming upon old rusty signs at the entrance to some side streets declaring Out of Bounds to Troops. It was as if I was the first explorer of my race to tread these urban jungle paths. Even soldiers had not come this way before.
The shops here were more traditional than those in Soares Avenue. A bakery sold soft bread buns with red writing stamped on them. Dried fish shops displayed desiccated shrimps, squid, cuttlefish, scallops, mussels, sharks' fins and other unidentifiable seafood. Butchers offered raw meat hanging from hooks under 100-watt bulbs beneath red plastic shades. Poultry shops sold chickens, ducks, quail, exquisitely plumaged pheasants and geese but, whereas the butchers' fare was slaughtered, the live poultry was crammed into bamboo cages. No self-esteeming Chinese housewife bought fowl that was not still breathing and it was commonplace to see someone walking down a street with two trussed hens clucking with avian irritation.