So. Alls I gots to say is...ooooh...the shopping. The shopping. The shopping. Le sigh. There is nothing - and I mean nothing - like the shopping in Hong Kong. A close second after food, shopping is our other favourite past time and Hong Kong definitely satisfied that itch completely. Hubs and I were killing some time last Friday before meeting some friends for dinner, so were moseying through the Bay Centre in downtown Victoria. We kind of wandered around aimlessly for awhile...and finally after meandering around for what seemed like ages, we looked at each other and commented that Hong Kong has pretty much spoiled us for shopping in Victoria. Sleepy little Victoria just doesn't stack up against go-go-go Hong Kong!
Not surprisingly, Hong Kong is a very status and style conscious city - people dress up and it was cool to people watch and see what's cool or trendy. The travel books we read warned us to not dress down too much, as you'll feel out of place and it was kinda true. I wore runners and lululemon the whole time - there was no way I was dressing up esp. since I was hoofing it all over the city and hopping on and off subways - I needed to be comfortable! But I will admit I felt underdressed a few times, especially if we were going to a nicer restaurant but didn't have time to head back home to get changed. Honestly though...I could have cared less. Ha! Yep, I'm bull headed like that (must be the Taurean in me).
So - what was so great about the shopping in Hong Kong, you ask? The variety - anything your little heart desires, you can find. If you're looking for cheap knockoffs, they are everywhere. We didn't buy any though, because customs is cracking down on that kind of thing so if we were caught bringing anything back into Canada, we could have faced fines for doing so. Totally not worth it...and I'm not into fakes, no matter how good they look. However, if you're braver than we were and want your fake Prada bag, Ladies Street in Kowloon is a good place to find some fakes. Ladies Street is an outdoor market that's just off Nathan Road, one of the main streets in Kowloon. There were lots of knickknacks here, and we found a few cute souvenirs. It was really crowded and the stallkeepers were on you like white on rice...but all I did was just smile a lot and say thank you and "tay ha" (which means "just looking") and they were pretty good at leaving you alone.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hong Kong has all the high end brand names - Chanel, Burberry, Gucci, Tom Ford (oh Tom Ford....THE best dressed man I've ever seen...the fit of his suits on him is impeccable!), Armani, Rolex, YSL....the mind boggles. Any brand name you can think of, you can find it here. And not just a shop in a mall...but street front, multi-level flagship stores:
Yves St. Laurent, in Central:
And a massive Coach store:
Another reason why the shopping was so awesome...the Canadian dollar was exchanging at 7.8 Hong Kong Dollars...it took a bit to get used to seeing a t-shirt selling for $150 and not thinking that was in Canadian currency! And a hint to everyone...if you're going to Hong Kong...bring a tiny pocket calculator with you...I think Hubs and I burnt out a lot of brain cells trying to divide all the prices by 7.8! The other great thing is that the stores are open late, until at least 10 - 11pm. They open a bit later at around 10am...but we loved being able to get up, work out, get out by 10am and start our day. We were out and about in Central around 11pm one night and it was still heaving with people who were out for some late night shopping or eating.
One caveat on the shopping - sizes in Hong Kong run really, really tiny, especially the local brands and designers. I generally buy small/extra small and size 4 or 6 here at home (I'm a gargantuan 5'2'')...but I was a large/extra large or size 10 there! In some stores, they didn't make the clothes in my size...I was at this Japanese store Uniglo, looking for jeans...and they didn't make them in my size...they stopped one size short. I walked into one of the really funky local brands called Bauhaus, and everything I picked up looked like it was for kids! Yes...this gave me a bit of a complex. Ha! The girls there are so incredibly tiny, I felt like a huge sasquatch or something! The good thing though is if you are on the petite side, the stuff that I did find fit great...I have to pay a fortune at home for tailoring because nothing ever fits, so I was actually amazed to find a jacket that I could buy off the rack with no alterations. The sleeves are shorter and cut narrower, armholes are smaller, and the shoulders and the fit are cut closer to the body. For the most part, I ended up buying stuff I can get at home, but at better prices...a lot of the clothes were either too young for me (furry boots were big there...um...not in this lifetime) or had too much flair (sequins and cutesy poo details are not my thing) but there were still a lot of things that I did like.
Now if you can't find something in Hong Kong that fits, you can always go to the amazing tailors here. Hubs has a fairly big neck at around 16.5 or 17, but is slim everywhere else so his shirts always looked too big for him. And now that I've finally got him out of pants with pleats (hallelujah!), he is finally buying into the slim cut look. We went to two tailors, and they were both pretty awesome - cost for a tailor made shirt was about $40 Canadian!! You come in, they measure you up, you come back once for a fitting and wham bam, you have your shirts the next day. One of the places didn't require a fitting, but I'd recommend asking for one just to be sure. The tailors keep your measurements on hand as well, so if you ever want to re-order, you send them an email and you're all hooked up. I brought a pair of pants that fit me perfectly and had them copy it, and make it in a different material. Cool, eh?
There are a ton of malls in Hong Kong, and IFC Mall is probably the most high end. The top floor was all the chi-chi high end stores, so we just walked past....we knew we couldn't afford that stuff so we went to the mid and lower floors, where the people of meagre means like us can afford to shop. Ha ha!
Times Square Mall, which was one of my favourites as it had more stores in my price range and my taste - six floors of luscious, luscious shopping:
Drool...Furla...how I adore thee, Furla...
And the mall to end all malls in Kowloon....Harbour City Mall. This place has 700 stores....can you believe it? When you walk in, they give you a map to get around and trust me...you need it. Hubs and I got lost multiple times and kept going around in circles:
The entrance to the mall:
Toy store with a separate entrance for kids:
My jaw dropped when we saw these stores...there was a whole wing for kids, and they had Dior, Burberry and Armani for children!!! I couldn't believe it!! There's a lot of wealth in Hong Kong and especially China with the booming economy, so there's some serious people with some serious cashola there.
As we left Harbour City Mall, we walked past this huge line up at the Louis Vuitton store...I've never seen this before...probably mostly because I don't see the appeal of LV (I'm not a fan of stuff that is covered in logos - yes, that includes you, Coach) but that's just my own opinion...heh.
So...at the end of the day, Hubs and I went a little crazy. We each had to buy a suitcase to fit our purchases...and had a few panicky moments the day before we were flying out as we weren't sure about our weight restrictions (whew! we were fine). And we each went way over the amount we were allowed to bring into Canada, but we figured it was worth it because we couldn't find a lot of this stuff at home, or we saved a ton on the price. Ahhh...the shopping was truly something else - dammit, I want to go back NOW.
And...finally....the last installment of our Hong Kong foibles coming up next...the FOOD...saved the best for last!