Saturday, July 21, 2007
#3: Street Markets
I love to shop. I love a bargain. And I do a special little dance when those two loves collide. HK certainly offers the best of both worlds! This city is rampant with street markets, each with it's own unique bargains calling out my name. The one nearest (to my house) and dearest (to my wallet) is Temple Street Night market, just a few blocks down the street. It's a tourist-magnet, but I don't really mind. Sometimes it a real pleasure to mingle with other foreigners and I always get a kick out of watching them bargain for whatever small treasure they have their heart set on buying.
The Ladies' Market in Mong Kok is another favorite tourist spot, selling lots of designer knock-off purses, over-priced Rolex wanna-bes, and tons of other useless trinkets. The "shop keepers" in each stall are especially zealous and are very talented at over-charging for their cheaply made goods. If you're feeling brave, the best knock-off stalls will have someone designated to lead you down a dark alley and up several flights of dingy staircases to a purse paradise--usually an apartment off the beaten path lined with shelves and tables full of more genuine looking knock-offs. You're almost always worth much more to them alive and eager to buy purses than mugged and drawing attention to their secret purse-lair, so there's not much danger in it. Oh, except for those Communist police patrolling the area. You need to keep a keen eye out for them. It's taken me awhile to really hone my bargaining technique, but I think I've gotten to the point that I can haggle with the best of them. It felt a bit awkward at first, especially when I would find myself negotiating the price difference of only a dollar or two, but once I came to understand that's its just a game (and to not take part makes you a party-pooper or a complete sucker), I learned to enjoy it.