I really liked the tea sets and soup bowls shown in the second picture, but was worried that they would easily break in my suitcase on the way back home.
Today being Friday, I decided to check out two of Hong Kong's markets in the evening. Hong Kong is famous for it's markets that sell fake anything you can imagine. There was everything from fake Beats, Louis Vuitton and Rolex. However, I did not get any of those things. I was looking for souvenirs to bring back to some friends and family.
The Ladies Market is located in Mong Kok, so I had to take the "Island Line" MTR to Central, get off at Central and then board the "Tseun Wan Line" to cross the water and go to the part of Hong Kong that is attached to Mainland China.
I had talked to other exchange student's and read reviews online beforehand, and they all advised to bargain hard. I had never done this kind of bargaining before, so I was a little nervous; I had also heard that some of the sellers can be very pushy and others even down right rude if someone didn't buy whatever they were selling.
The first booth I went up to played out exactly as I had imagined - awkward - and I walked away with nothing. However, after the first one was over with, I became more confident about bargaining with the sellers. The strategy I figured out was to ask how much an item was, then cut that number in half, and then start the bargaining. I got many of the items I was interested in for half the price or less than originally stated. Also, almost none of the items being sold had any sort of price tag or sign. I'm assuming that was the case so the sellers can choose whatever price they feel they can get out of you. Some of the sellers spoke better English than others, and some spoke none. However, they all knew how to use a simple calculator to type in whatever price they were asking for and to show you how much the item "usually" costs, to show you "what a great deal!" you're getting. I would normally use the calculator to throw back my counter offer, as it was much easier for communicating. If the price was still more than I wanted to pay I would say something along the lines of "ahhh too much!" and then start to walk away. 8/10 times this tactic would work and the seller would chase after you and accept your lowest price or return with another price that was significantly less than what they had previously stated was "the lowest they could go".
So, what did I get?
Luckily most of my friends from home do not read my website, so I can post what I got here for you all to see. In the first picture, the three bags are a good size for makeup or to store items in a bigger purse (such as a Longchamp) and I got those for a few of my friends back home. I thought the design was cool, and as many of the shops sold them in various sizes and colors so it was easy to bargain with the sellers. The middle picture is of the only souvenir I have purchased for myself since being here, it's a "100% silk" robe. I was hesitant to purchase it, not knowing when I would ever wear something like this, but decided it was a good souvenir and I could wear it over pajamas at home. I was able to negotiate the cost to less than half of the original price, and left with only one (the lady selling it kept insisting I needed two and that she could give me a "special low low price"). Finally the third picture is of unfortunately fake sushi magnets. My roommate from last year loves sushi (she was actually the one to get me to like it) so I thought that this would be a perfect start to a Christmas gift for her.
I purchased one other item today, but what it is and who it is for I cannot say as I know they read my posts. ; ) The Ladies Market goes on for four-five blocks, so by the time I had made my way through everything I was overwhelmed, hot and tired. Like I mentioned above I had been planning on also going to a second market, called "The Night Market"/"Temple Market" but I did not think I could make it through another couple hours of perusing the stalls and haggling prices (plus I was very hungry as I had not eaten since very early in the day).
It was definitely a new, unique experience, and I was able to manage to stay away from the counterfeit goods. I definitely plan on going to The Night Market eventually, which is located about thirty minutes walking or ten minutes taxi away from the Ladies Market (and three stops closer on the MTR!). Maybe I can even get there next weekend!
Tomorrow I have a fun afternoon planned, but you will have to wait and see until my next post! Time to go to sleep now, as it is almost midnight. I'm still getting used to how weird it is to be twelve hours ahead of home. Right now, most of you are getting ready to eat lunch and it's almost noon (middle of the day on Friday) but it's Friday night and almost Saturday for me.
I forgot to mention, I have been officially here for a month! My flight was August 23rd, and now it's September 23rd. It feels as if I've been here for so much longer though - I can barely remember what I did when I first arrived (good thing I have my website to look back on ;) ).