Monday, May 10, 2010

Hong Kong, Day 6: The Finale

Today the weather was a bit less than exceptional - which killed my plan of going to the observation deck on the top of the Bank of China building. But no worries.

Hong Kong is a very exceptional place. One of the highest population density areas on earth, it can almost feel claustrophobic at times. It then is almost a strange feeling from going from feeling like you're living in a sardine can to walking in a park, with hardly a soul in sight.

This happened twice today. As I was walking north up Nathan Road I noticed up on a hill a green tiled roof. So I decided to walk up and see what was up there. It happened to be, almost hidden in the city, a Rest Garden. It was an interesting sight to see a group of older men, huddled together praying, very similar to what you might see in a Christian church.

But it obviously wasn't - since there were several men dressed in traditional Buddahist attire. But it was interesting to see. There were other things in the park too, like cast wall murals, bridges blocked by plants, and potted plants submerged in water. All in all, it was a nice place - but sometimes I just don't get why things are done in a certain way.

Afterwards, I walked back down Nathan Road towards where I'm staying. I had been planning on dropping by Kowloon Park since I got here, but kept pushing it back. I am very glad I made a stop there today.

The park is very large, and it includes a Monument Walk, a Bush Maze, birds on exhibit and a traditional Chinese garden (among other things). The park is flanked on all sides by skyscrapers, but inside this bubble it is like a world away from Hong Kong: very peaceful, very quiet, very unique.

After the park, I decided to finally hit up one of the night markets in Hong Kong. Now, I have heard a lot about these (as in, this is where you go if you want your bootleg stuff) so I pushed back going to it until tonight - because I knew I would spend all of my money whenever I went to it. And that I did.

Now for those of you who have been to a night market in Taiwan, you know that you can get some good deals. But the Hong Kong night markets take that to a whole new level! This one night market was at least a mile long, packed with people peddling their stuff, and almost all of it was fake (of varying quality).

At these night markets - and if you plan to go to Hong Kong, you better read this part - the people want to sell you their stuff. The key for them to know you're interested is when you say "How much is this?" Just a forewarning, once you say that, you LITERALLY will not be able to leave until you either buy it or you pry your hand away from the lady that is trying to sell you the item (and they will literally hold you until you buy it).

But haggling is the way to go. When you ask how much something is, their original price is going to almost be 30 - 50% more than what you can talk them down to. There are a few exceptions though: Designer bags and (of all things) lasers, you won't be able to haggle much because everyone wants to buy these things (so sorry Susan and Will...).

Here is a good example of what happened to me tonight. I had asked the lady how much something was. She said, $360. I said, OK thanks, I'll think about it. She then grabbed my hand and was like, (and I heard this a lot tonight) "But for you, I'll make you a special price...$320.

Again, I was like, "I'll think about it."

Still holding onto my hand, "$300".

I then said to her, "Let go of my hand."


"Let go of my hand", and I started to try to get her to let go, but she really had an iron grip on me.


I finally got her to let go, and as I was walking away she said, "Fine, $200".

And we had a deal. So I talked her down (if you can call it that) from $360 to $200 in less than a minute. And I was able to get other similar deals tonight on other things too by pretty much taking their inital offer down 40% and haggling from there.

So now you know. Also, a few other tips: 1. Prices do vary quite a bit in nightmarkets for the same items. So keep that in mind. 2. Alley dealers that are not in nightmarkets charge MUCH more for the same items. So unless you find something very unique, I would wait to buy it at a real night market where there is more selection and ability to haggle.

Well, I leave tomorrow back to Taiwan. I must say I have had a great time here in Hong Kong. Maybe I'll visit again before I head back to the States in August.

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