Monday, July 27, 2009

Flea or Spree?

Hong Kong is synonymous with fashion shopping and designer boutiques, but the real deals get made in the busy market places. The city boasts every single kind of market imaginable, from clothes, handbags and accessories to birds, flowers and even fish.

Stanley Market, on the southern tip of Hong Kong Island, is a typical tourist trap, with a myriad of narrow alleyways lined with tiny stalls manned by pint-sized vendors. Daniel and I quickly got lost in the labyrinth of shops, but remained unimpressed by the slightly-too-grubby flea market vibe. We passed up the opportunity to buy “discounted labels” and miniature Chinese dragons in favour of watching the Lions-Springboks match.

I was equally disappointed with the Ladies’ Market in Kowloon, but the heat and the smell of frying noodles in the roadside kitchens may have contributed to my unwillingness to navigate the rows of stalls. I have been called into question several times for not purchasing fake handbags, but it’s not really my style.

I was particularly delighted by the Flower Market, with shop after shop boasting beautiful bonsais and spectacular blooms, and I bought a small contribution for Daniel’s growing bonsai collection. The Bird Market succeeded in freaking me out more than amazing me, and I beat a hasty retreat after I discovered the bags of live crickets for sale. I enjoyed the unusual Goldfish Market, especially the shelves of Siamese Fighter Fish in soy sauce containers.

Markets are undeniably a part of the Hong Kong culture and lifestyle, and while we appreciated them from a tourist perspective, they were a just a bit too local for our taste.

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