Photos by MJ Klein
Hui-chen went on a business trip to China with our friend Jeff McMahon, owner of the RealSeat. On the way back we stopped in Hong Kong and went shopping of course!
This time we went towards the south end of the main shopping area, known as the Ladies’ Market.
We hopped a cab from the train station. What we found interesting is that on that very day all taxi meter fares had increased by 1 Hong Kong dollar. None of the taxi meters had been re-calibrated so all the taxis has these charts showing that the increase was “offical.”
Believe it or not, the government of Hong Kong went to the trouble of printing this chart showing the difference of a single Hong Kong dollar. I understand the need for something “official” so taxi customers won’t think the driver is jacking them up for more money, but was listing every fare range and showing the addition of one dollar really necessary? Someone thought so!
Some taxi drivers in Hong Kong can speak Mandarin. If you find one who can’t, try speaking English. Maps of Hong Kong are free and available just about everywhere. When we find a taxi driver with whom we can’t communicate, we just point to the map. That works every time.
Before we show you anything else, I want to make sure you understand how confusing Hong Kong can be. In reality, these photos were taken on Kowloon which is confusing enough. Kowloon is part of the region known as Hong Kong, and if you want to refer to Hong Kong exclusively you say Hong Kong Island. Notice the overhead banner welcoming you to the Ladies’ Market.
But this is the real start of the Ladies’ Market, a few blocks over.
Notice the big red neon sign here.
Same exact red neon sign, totally different block, and yet within walking distance of each other. Sure, the signs are in significantly different looking areas, but it leads to confusion. Travelers use signs as landmarks and most travelers make mental notes of such landmarks as they go along so they can backtrack if necessary. Now you understand one reason by people say “it all looks the same.”
But it’s all worth it. Keep your map handy and make a note of where you are. Hui-chen went to the bank and when she was finished it was a relatively simple matter to tell her where we were, because I had a map with street names on it.
I was looking for a bag of the same type that I had bought there several years ago. I had to look for some time before I could find one identical to it. The boss lady spoke Mandarin and I was able to communicate with her completely in Mandarin. I haggled the price from HK$ 138 down to HK$ 100 (I should have bought 2!) The color of the new bag was exactly what I wanted and as I’m writing this I think I might do a quick article on the bag as part of my Diary of a Professional Traveler series as I originally selected this bag for it’s convenience when traveling. Hong Kong people are very sophisticated (much like Taiwanese), and very nice. The sellers in the markets can be very aggressive however, so don’t let that put you off too badly. Just keep smiling.
An interesting side note is that based on my language skills, the boss lady where I bought my bag tried to guess where I live. She named a number of cities in China, then went onto other places where they speak Chinese such as Singapore, but it never dawned on her that I live in Taiwan. When she finally gave up and I told her that I live in Taiwan it was clear that Taiwan is off her personal radar for some reason. She and her helper were both standing there mouths agape after I said that.
After the Ladies’ Market we walked around the surrounding blocks. The term Ladies’ Market is a bit misleading because it conjures up visions of bras, pocketbooks and other stuff hanging from the stalls. Sure there are items exclusive to women, but (think about this) since women typically make purchases for the entire family, the Ladies’ Market has lots of stuff you might not expect.
Tons of shoe stores. Also, if you are a large person, Hong Kong does have shops that specialize in big sizes. I bought blue jeans in my size.
Hong Kong cuisine is Cantonese, basically. Walking thorough Hong Kong, I smelled restaurants that smelled exactly like Boston’s Chinatown. Personally I prefer northern Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine but don’t let my opinion stop you from sampling the local cuisine!
When the sun is going down, Hong Kong can become a magical place!
As the sun was setting, we hopped a cab and asked the driver to take us to a place where we could view the Hong Kong island skyline. He dropped us off at the Cultural Center and I think the drive chose the best possible place!
Immediately after these skyline photographs were taken, we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Taiwan. Hong Kong is close enough to Taiwan to make it a great weekend destination for shopping, sightseeing and dining.
We hope you have enjoyed this article on Hong Kong, and that just maybe you might be encouraged to visit this fascinating place!