Hong Kong Part V: Shopping

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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!

Hong Kong Shopping

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.”

Hong Kong Shopping

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!

Hong Kong Shopping

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.

Hong Kong Shopping

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.

Hong Kong Shopping

But this is the real start of the Ladies’ Market, a few blocks over.

Hong Kong Shopping

Notice the big red neon sign here.

Hong Kong Shopping

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.”

Hong Kong Shopping

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.

Hong Kong Shopping

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.

Hong Kong Shopping

Hong Kong Shopping

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 Shopping

Hong Kong Shopping

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!

Hong Kong Shopping

Hong Kong Shopping

Hong Kong Shopping

Hong Kong Skyline

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!

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline

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!


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8 comments

  1. MJ. Great pictures and story to boot. I like the sound of good reliable taxi drivers. In Bangkok I have come across so many taxi drivers that have absolutely no idea where they have been asked or shown to go.

    A few years ago I was in a taxi with friends in Bangkok, he went to a service station and filled up, he then paid the attendant at the pump jumped in the car and parked. None of us knew a lot of Thai then so we thought maybe a toilet stop.

    He went inside the 7 eleven and got some food and a drink. He returned to the car and hops into the drivers seat and starts to eat what he had just bought. Well, my friend said “are you fucking kidding, mate?” and the rest of us just pissed ourselves laughing.

    Our mate and us too were a little peeved as the meter had been ticking over all the time he had been doing this. He then drove us to our destination and actually went past it once and then backtracked. It was a classic Bangkok taxi ride.

    I dread getting a metered taxi in Bangkok as it can take 1 or 20 tries. They see a farang and instantly come up with some idiotic price. Last year I pretended to write their taxi number down and registration, as I said I was going to report them , this always came with a few words of abuse from the taxi driver.

    I am looking forward to next week and travelling to Bangkok, I will see if it has improved or is still the same.

    Hong Kong looks like a beautiful and clean city, I have seen infamous smog pictures but I didn’t see this in your last pictures, maybe that is just Beiijing.

    Is there a lot of fake goods available at the markets MJ.

    And where are the pictures of your bag?

    Brunty

    Brunty’s last blog post..A neigbourly visit. Thailand

    1. Brunty » once i stood in the road as taxis drove by – there was a line of them. i kept slamming doors until i found one that would use the meter. i refuse to pay the flat rate unless i need the car for the entire day.

      Hong Kong is rather clean, considering how crowded it is. as i say “100 years of British rule has resulted in the most orderly Chinese colony ever.” you’re probably thinking of Beijing with the smog! HK does have a lot of mist as many places in Asia seem shrouded in mist.

      virtually all of the products in those markets are fake, Brunty. nevertheless as you walk by you hear stuff like “tiffany” or “rolex” which always gives me a good laugh. this last time though, quite a number of vendors would say “copy watch” as i walked by.

      i suppose that i should do a detailed article on that bag because it’s very useful when traveling. it’s not just about convenience though, the bag is good for security purposes too.

      once i had an airport taxi take me 22 KM in the wrong direction, lying about how he knew where i wanted to go. i showed him the hotel brochure including the map, but many people can’t read maps. this guy was one of them. he took off full speed and it wasn’t until i started shouting and threatening him that he took me back to the airport. i found a cop, told him what happened and with a wave of his head he made the taxi driver leave. thanks for the comments my friend.

  2. MJ Gotta love those fakes they sell.

    The ladies market looks like some of the scenes from Rush Hour 2.

    I prefer Taiwanese food to Cantonese style. I think Cantonese food is generally greasier then Taiwanese. Don’t know why so many people bash Taiwanese food.

    I’d love to go to HK though, even for a few days on a visit to Taiwan.

    owshawng’s last blog post..CMIL IS COMING NEXT WEEK!

    1. owshawng » the problem is, when you are shopping and the store has what you need, you buy it, fake or not. some things i never stopped to think about but after i did, i concluded that i must have bought a fake. truth is, i wouldn’t know where to go to get a genuine item because the store where i bought the fake is the store i would expect to have genuine brands.

      one of the hardest parts of going back to the States for us is going out for “Chinese food.” nasty piles of slimy, dark, “fried” rice, plates of chicken wings and a Singapore Sling just don’t cut it. of course that’s not everywhere, but the last 2 places we went were real pukers.

      you really should take a hop over to HK. it’s easily less than 2 hours and cheap flights. HC and i have gone there for weekend shopping!

  3. MJ,

    I agree with you 100% on Chinese food in the US. I haven’t done any restaurant reviews recently because I can’t find any good Asian food besides the restaurants I already wrote about. We are culinary deprived over here.

    On our next trip to Taiwan we’re planning on stopping at either Tokyo or HK on the way back home. Either one would be a great time I think.

    owshawng’s last blog post..CMIL IS COMING NEXT WEEK!

    1. owshawng » my advice it to not do it that way. once you got multi-city, the ticket prices go way up! fly directly to Taiwan, and take a side trip to see these other places. example R/T prices (approximately)

      Bangkok: NT$8000
      Hong Kong: NT$7,000
      Tokyo: NT$15,000

      if you flew to Taiwan and then to HK and then returned home it would be a lot more expensive.

  4. What a great series, MJ! Thanks for posting. I am also thinking of making a stop in HK next time I go to Taiwan. I love markets like this, but I am bad at haggling. I need to grow a backbone. 😉

    Lovely photos as usual!

    Sandy’s last blog post..Review: Royal West Indies Resort

    1. Sandy » thanks! well maybe i should offer a tour package! hehe you would love it there. just smile and make the bargaining process into a game. you’ll do fine!

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