Monday, September 8, 2008

Shopping for the Soul

With its no sales tax policy and boundless shops at every corner of every street, Hong Kong is a shopper's paradise.  The locals shop, the tourists shop; everyone is constantly consuming the latest trends.  Since I'm an exchange student with no real clubs or work obligations and the term has just started which means no homework yet, what else should I do but shop?  
I headed over to MongKok, one of the more famous Hong Kong shopping districts.  The place is known for its "ladies market" where 3 or 4 blocks are filled with street merchants lined out, proudly displaying their products, which range from shampoo to fake LV purses.  

Now comes the fun part of bargaining.  The merchants know you are a tourist and even if you're not, their starting price will always be off the roof.  Most of the time, they'll name a price, say, HK$300 but almost right away, they'll tell you they're going to cut you a deal and bring it down to, say, HK$210.  This is where your bargaining skills come in.  You have to remember to not calculate these prices by US $.  You have to remember that this is (almost) China, the place where everything is made from!  Normally, for the first few shops selling a product I want, I won't buy but I will bargain just to check the average price for the product.  Then, I'll be especially ambitious the first time around and say an outrageously low price, say, HK$120.  The other person would generally beg me to raise the price, which I will slowly.  Sometimes, I'll pretend to walk away and they'll pull me back. If they really can't sell it to you for the price you offered, then they'll let you walk away. That's happened to me a few times for some things I actually really wanted but since they let me walk away, I had too much pride to return and offer to lower the price. 

Nonetheless, I still dropped a few bucks at MongKok last week.
Oooh boy, and I still have 4 months left!  Let's hope retail therapy doesn't leave me broke!

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