Thursday, 7 October 2010

Shopping in Kowloon

We’ve explored Sheung Wan, our area of choice on Hong Kong’s main island fairly explicitly, but over the weekend we decided to hit up Kowloon – a portion of the city which sits on the mainland. It’s a quick boat ride away which costs HK$3 (about R2.70) each way or about HK$4 on the MTR (the metro, tube, underground, whatever you wish to call it).

The first few streets of Kowloon are where the rich people shop. It’s like 5th Avenue in New York or Regent Street in London. As this catered neither for our tastes or budget, we caught the train two stops further to Mong Kok. And this is how we were greeted as we left the station:

There were more people swirling about than I have ever seen in my life. Block after block of this shopping district was just rammed with people who were peering into shops aplenty. We waded through the horde, all dispersing in different directions, only to be replaced by more and more bodies following them.

Getting used to the scale of things in Hong Kong is the process under which we’re currently going. In one of the electronic shops which wasn’t all that big in terms of area, there must have been 200-300 people wandering around, with at least 30 or 40 shop assistants helping them. And I’m not talking a big wholesaler like Makro – this shop was about the size of an average South African pharmacy.

While fitting around trying not to lose each other in the throng of spenders, we decided to pop into a restaurant for a cheap lunch. Mike ordered fish balls with noodles and I ordered black pepper beef balls with noodles. Well, the beef balls tasted so bad we’re still trying to ascertain whether they were meatballs or literally balls off of the animal that makes beef. I tend to lean toward it just being bad food, as I am sure that bull knackers would cost a lot more than the HK$32 (about R30) we paid. With our stomachs doing flik-flaks we carried on through the deluge of people and came across a proper market after browsing through a seemingly non-fake DVD store that had some movies for HK$20 and some for HK$300.

This market was the first place I thought had really cheap goods in it and two pairs of shorts and two pairs of undies later, at a cost of about HK$50 (about R45), I felt satisfied. Well, until the shorts broke the first time I wore them and the underwear turned out to be basically see-through... essence of markets and paying that sort of money, I suppose. Here's a pic of the market from a raised walkway:

We carried on ambling around and eventually, as night fell, we headed back towards Mong Kok station which was our first ever journey on the MTR (we’d ferried across the water earlier in the day). I still find it amazing that they can build tunnels under the sea through which trains can run, but nonetheless, it’s how it is. The MTR trains are much longer here than in any other city in which I’ve taken them (limited to London, Barcelona and Rome) and they are set up in far superior fashion too – it’s no surprise that over 90% of commuters use public transport here. The maps of the MTR in the trains are lit up with arrows telling you which way the train is going, which side of the train from which you’ll be exiting and all that jazz. It’s probably more flashy than useful, but it’s SO COOL! And as cheap as chips.

This arvie we’re off to look at flats to rent, so I’ll be able to inform you if real estate people are as irritating and useless as they are around the rest of the world. Recruitment agents certainly are.

‘till next post.


  1. The tallest building in Hong Kong IS the 108-story International Commerce Centre, above Kowloon Station.

    Your photo, however, is of the second tallest building, the International Finance Centre 2 (IFC2) on Hong Kong island.

  2. Hi Anon,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I asked the editor at GoTravel24 to change it. I meant Hing Kong Island. Shot for the message.

    Cheers man,