Saturday, July 21, 2007

#3: Street Markets

Overlooking a local market on Fa Yuen Street

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.

Cheap Stuff

More cheap stuff

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.

Chinese Charms

Kittens, Anyone?

In the last year I've really had a good chance to scour the city for the best bargains and I know if I'm being overcharged or not. The best street markets to hit up are those that are primarily frequented by the locals. You always get the best deals, and the starting bids tend to be much lower than at the markets which are notorious tourist hot-spots. At the end of the day, the shopper is happy because they scored a great deal, and the hawker is happy because they just conned you into buying some cheap, Chinese crap. All's well that ends well. (I feel like I should end that with an Amen.)

Statues of Mao at an "antiques" market


erin evans said...

I LOVE your top 10! It gives such great insight into living in Hong Kong. I'm glad you took all the pictures for memories later in life :)

Crabby Rangoon said...

Thanks, erin! It's been fun for me, too--and a good way to enjoy it before having to say goodbye.