After a day of seeing “must-see” tourist sites, we decided to get a bit more down to earth and visit the popular markets on the Kowloon peninsula. These are interesting for tourists and important for locals and I was surprised with not only how many different markets there were, but how expansive they were in size.
The day began with a trip to the flower market – stall after stall of pristine orchids and bouquets of beautiful flowers – then through the bird market, where people were selling birds in ornate baskets for as low as $10. The flowers were lovely but the bird market was a bit unusual for me…probably because trapped birds were being sold in the open air where free birds were flying above: something you definitely wouldn’t see in America.
A few blocks over was the ladies market; about 150 clothing filled stalls, all marketing about the same things at about the same prices.
We then found ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene filled with foreign foods, busy snack carts and mystery smells.
Around the corner of a financial building we came across an old temple. Walking in, the smoking incense quickly filled my lungs and I found myself transported to more ancient times, outside of busy Hong Kong. People would walk into the temple, purchase incense sticks or papers and light them on fire as they would bow to different divinities in different parts of the temple.
Our self guided market tour ended at a jade market. Every stall owner knew eachother and they were quick to put eachother down and remark on how terrible the other persons products were if they knew it would allow them to make a sale. In my case, one woman told me that her sisters wares were cheap and would break easily, and when I began to play the haggling game and try on the sisters bracelets, the 1st woman quickly cut me a deal.
As it turns out, haggling here is pretty fun! At one of the markets I saw a bunch of Daniel Wellington watches and just for fun, Dad and I asked about any Rolex watches. We knew they were fake and would probably break in a week but we wanted to see how cheap we could get a watch. Within seconds of looking at the DW watches, the woman working the tent asks us “What you want? You like this one? Very nice. Only 100$ [HKD] very cheap!” I asked if she had any Rolex and she reached under the tables and table cloths and opened a special case- one that she probably wouldn’t have taken out unless otherwise asked. When I asked her the price she said “800.” We then mentioned the low price of 250 that her neighbor was selling them for, and that her watches were far too much money. She brought the price to 500. As we were walking away muttering about the cost we heard “Ma’am!! Sir!!! 250!!!” It was not my intention to purchase a watch but it was fun to haggle!
The rest of the day we spent at the Hong Kong Museum of History. It was set up extremely well and took you through time with interactive exhibits: houses to walk through, traditional dresses to try on and movie theatres to sit in that played old time propaganda videos.
Our day ended with a metro ride back to the hotel and a stop at a crowded restaurant for dinner. I ordered this make-your-own-soup pot that seemed to be the popular dish and it was…interesting. There was a tasty broth and udon noodles but also shrimp paste and some mystery (could be fish) meat. It was interesting to try…but I probably won’t order it again (if you catch my drift). Off to Lantua Island next!