Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hong Kong IX: Times Square and Kowloon

Times Square!

We made one last stop before lunch, however: Causeway Bay is also home to Hong Kong's "Times Square," a bit farther from our hostel than the Harbour, but too close to pass up on our last day. Surprisingly, Times Square turned out to be not a square at all, but a gigantic shopping mall filled with upscale stores and housing several art exhibits. I really enjoyed the art exhibits and the architecture of nearby buildings (did you know that the price of commercial real estate in Causeway Bay is second in only to 5th Avenue in NYC?), although there was obviously no way students like us would be buying anything in a ritzy district like that!

After this brief detour, we met up with our faithful comrades and found (eventually) some lunch in Wan Chai, one of the wilder districts on Kowloon. After that, we hopped back on the MRT and popped out again near the Ladies' Market, but with different shopping goals in mind. Kowloon is also home to the famous Goldfish Market, in which store after store sells dazzlingly colored fish and other marine animals, often displayed on the street in tiers of little water-filled plastic bags. The fish were pretty, and the turtles (above) were cute, but I'm always a little uncomfortable with the sight of so many animals in cramped captivity. I was glad -- especially after Manuel identified one captive turtle as an endangered Hawaiian species which had no business being sold in a tiny plastic bag for a pittance in HK Dollars -- to move on.

Turtles at the Goldfish Market.

We next found our way to another market Gabe's girlfriend had apprised us of: this one without a fancy name, but featuring a wide selection of "irregular" merchandise from a variety of respected (American, European, and Asian) brands. It was not much different from shopping at a factory or outlet store in the States, except that the brands were mixed, some of the stuff was fake, and all of it was dirt cheap.

We shopped there for quite some time -- Gabe was off with his girlfriend, Sheila with a friend who lives in Hong Kong, and before long the other guys had to go back to their hostel to retrieve their luggage for our evening flight. Kevin and I, who had (I forgot to mention) checked our baggage at the "Airport Express" MRT terminal earlier in the day, had no such time constraints, and happily shopped away the remainder of our HK currency before boarding the MRT once more to take us to the airport.