That’s right, I’ve been to the dark side and no there were no cookies. Kowloon is an urban area in Hong Kong, it’s also the less touristy, less international side of Hong Kong and so is called by the expats the “dark side”. My Mother and I ventured there yesterday to go to the Jade market and maybe have a look around the night market as well. I have to admit that I was a little uneasy when I got there, just because it looked dodgy, strange smelling back streets and run down shops, that sort of thing. I have to remind myself that Hong Kong is actually one of the safest cities I’ve ever been and that strange smelling back streets don’t always equate to hoodlums wanting my money or my life…. As it turns out, Kowloon was absolutely fine, I felt just as comfortable there as I was in Time square, once I got used to the new sights and smells that is.
Once we arrived at the Jade market there were many other tourists wandering around and bargaining. It was an amazing sight, rows of stalls full of different trinkets usually with strings of jade, agate and pearls hanging from them. There were good luck charms, antique stalls, lots and lots of jewelry (some exquisite and others very cheap.) It’s easy to find a bargain here and although most of the items in the stalls are priced you can bargain them down. I received a small lesson in the different qualities of jade and agate from a woman in the first stall we visited, she showed how you can tell the difference between jade and agate by looking at the pattern in the gem through the light. The different sounds the bangles make depending the stone. It was very educational, after 15 minutes she also managed to convince my Mother and I to buy matching bracelets…
my Mother’s broke on the way home. I had my first experience in bargaining when I came across a fake antique Omega pocket watch, although I was aware it was a fake, I found it pretty but I was unwilling to pay the 150 dollars it was going for so I started to walk away. The owner of the stall stopped me and offered it for 130 but by this point I had decided that I really didn’t need a watch I wouldn’t wear so I politely declined. He was having none of it and offered an even lower price so I explained that I just didn’t want the watch, so he lowered his price even more, this back on fourth went on for about 5 minutes. I finally thought he’d gotten the message as I walked away until he groaned and called out “50 dollars!” I laughed and decided that after all that I had to buy the watch as a keepsake of the trip. I handed him the money to the now beaming man and went off to show my Mom the watch I got for a third of its original price.
The Jade market is a must for any visitor to Hong Kong, it’s an experience as well as a great shopping destination and the people
are very friendly (not to mention very persuasive). Since you’re at the Jade market it would be well worth your while to pay a visit to the Night market, as it’s only open from 4pm to midnight we arrived just as they were setting up. The night market has amazingly diverse selections of inexpensive items, we only walked through half of the market and found handbags, suitcases, clothes, electronics, Jewelry, souvenirs and more. There are also some shops open along the sides of the street that have some higher quality (and more expensive) goods. I definitely plan to go back there again, you could find a present for every single person you know in that market. We would have stayed longer if it hadn’t rained on our parade.
So if you’re ever in Hong Kong, be sure to give the markets a go, you’ll be sorry you missed it.