After a couple of days of serious relaxing it was time to up the pace so we headed off to Hong Kong for a ‘girlie’ weekend shopping trip.
With the finest shopping instructions Google could supply, we dumped our bags at our hotel in the rather splendid harbour view corner room (more of that later), and armed with our ‘octopus’ (HK travel) cards a fist full of small notes with the promise of bargains galore ringing in our ears we headed straight for the ‘ladies market’ on Tung Choi Street.
We were not to be disappointed.
It took a few minutes to get accustomed to the utter chaos of a proper Chinese street market, but once the senses had stopped being utterly overwhelmed the Scot in me came to the fore and the haggling began.
There was some hard bargaining done and the many hints and tips I have picked up from Hubs over the years certainly seemed to pay off as I stretched AJ’s shopping money further than she had dared to hope.
And as I am a nice sort of person I will share a few top market shopping tips with you.
1. Remember it’s a game.
2.Always haggle with a smile – you will get a much better result.
3.Ask the price, look shocked/disappointed and say no.
4.They will then ask you how much you want to pay. Go for broke and offer half.
5.They will almost always refuse your first offer, and so the game begins!
6.Bartering up and down in price is normally in $10 or $20 dollar increments
7.If you reach a happy medium it’s all good. If they are stubborn on the price and you still don’t like it, walk away, (you can usually find the same items a stall or two away).
8.This is the really fun bit – it may just happen that the stall owner follows you and tries to keep haggling. If this happens you are generally on to a winner and can name a price you want to pay and get your item.
9.If not then carry on around the market till you find another stall with the same goods, and start the process all over again.
10. When you have agreed a price pay with a smile and say thank-you. Of course this isn’t really a tip for getting a discount, just a pleasant way to end your transaction.
As there are many stalls that do carry the same goods, another bargaining tool is to tell the stall holder that you saw the item for a much cheaper price on a different stall, whether this is the whole truth or not I will leave to your own discretion, but it is a tactic that has worked on may occasions.
With our first set of purchased made it was time for a quick refreshment stop and map check to find Canton Street and the Jade markets. AJ was utterly determined to buy some jade on this trip (well it is what the J stands for after all) and found the most beautiful necklace almost the moment we stepped in.
The Market halls were beautiful and a lot less frantic than the ladies market, there was much more time to browse the beautiful and sometimes obscure objects on sale. I was sorely tempted by the 1 meter high jade relief carving of Elvis, but fortunately my sanity won out on that occasion (but not before I had enquired about shipping costs….).
More refreshments (and a rest for the feet) were needed before we ventured on to temple street for the world famous ‘night market’.
By now I was haggling like a native and secured my biggest bargain of the weekend by getting a ‘$420’ teeny bikini for just $150. (For those of you who know me I can calm your minds by assuring you that the bikini was not in fact for me but for AJ. The world is ready for a lot of things, but nothing could prepare it for the sight of me in a teeny bikini!).
I did manage to do a little shopping for myself, but it was a much more sober full length silk dressing gown for my shopping bag. And fear not our Moo was not forgotten, but she was more than content to come away from the evening with a $10 squishy black rat toy, although she did have to be talked down from the ‘musical’ rubber chicken. Out tired feet managed to drag us back to the MTR and the train whisked us back under Kowloon harbour and then it was but a short taxi ride back base camp.
The intention was to crash out early and gather our strength for the day ahead but mother nature and two ‘window walls’ had other ideas.
As we settled down to gaze out on the harbour view noticed something rather peculiar. It wasn’t there. The world famous city lights were disappearing before our eyes as one by one the mighty skyscrapers were eaten up by a wall of solid rain and in less than 3 minutes were completely blotted from the landscape. What can only be describe as an ear-splitting roar accompanied by 6 or 7 almost simultaneous forks of lightning across the bay, along with the yelps of two surprised and slightly terrified children, and I knew there was only one sensible thing to do. It was time to take full advantage of the glass walls on 2 sides of our room and the curtains were whisked aside and pillows thrown to the floor and there we sat for a couple of hours as the storm ripped the very heavens and the harbour view room came into its own. Whilst technically we could no longer actually see the harbour, wow-what a view. AJ got a real kick out of standing pressed to the glass feeling the thunder, and this from a girl who arrived in Asia frightened of storms. Pure magic.
As the harbour emerged from the rain bank and the thunder and lightning re-grouped over the mountains to gather it’s strength for a second wave, the girls drifted off to sleep leaving me sitting by the window wondering once more at the sheer awesome power of mother nature, The dazzling bright city lights of the towering shrine to the great gods of commerce obliterated in an instant and thoroughly outdone by the forces of nature.
By now it was around 2am and as the storm rolled round the bay once more I was also left wondering how on earth 2 such small people could take up so much space on a super king size bed.