A visit to Hong Kong always ignites lustful emotions of shopping and dining. From hole-in-the-wall, two-table eateries, to Michelin star restaurants, open any door and say hello to deliciousness. First we eat and then we shop. Yes, there are amazingly beautiful designer boutiques to browse through, but as a seasoned shopaholic I must spend at least a few hours inching my way through the over-flowing cabinets and counters at the Ladies Market in Mongkok. Saucer-eyed tourists and savvy locals crowd the walkways and the air is thick with the sounds of commerce. Once the headquarters of the Hong Kong Triads, today these streets are jammed full of shops and stalls selling thousands of items. Each one is something I really need. Like a kid in a candy store, wherever my eye falls, my brain responds: I want that.
Prices are fluid. The seller states the amount. “Too much,” I say and begin to walk away. “How much do you want to pay” are the next words. I name my price. “Okay,” the seller counters, “if you buy five, I will make a better price.” The deal is too sweet to refuse. I always need gifts. My grandson is in luck. There are mountains of Minions, and all the television show merchandise that stirs joy in the hearts of toddlers. I go through the stalls like a human vacuum cleaner. Stunning silk scarves in a riot of colours; wallets, handbags, tote bags, watches, T-shirts with extreme messages, electronics, belts with intricate silver buckles. Suddenly, the stalls are being dismantled. Oh dear, the market is closing and I was just getting started! Back at my hotel, I have the pleasure of emptying all my shopping bags. I survey my swag with great satisfaction. Fulfilled. First thing tomorrow I will buy another suitcase.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.