“You can see all there is to see around Hong Kong in a couple of days, Mr. Richter.
People really come to Hong Kong for the shopping.”
So said one of the concierges at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hong Kong island, where we had just checked in after spending a couple of days in Macao (or Macau – both appear correct spellings) and a few more days across the harbor from Hong Kong island in Kowloon back in July.
The concierge was mostly right – shopping does seem to be the big draw in Hong Kong, with high end brands offered left and right in excess beyond compare. And while fashion – ranging from Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, to Prada, Chanel, and Gucci – is ever present, even more rampant are jewelry (spelled locally as “jewellery”) stores. We thought Aruba’s dozens of jewelry stores were bad, but in Hong Kong shopping areas (which seems to be pretty much everywhere that tourists might wander), there are hundreds if not thousands of jewelry shops. Most numerous among those appear to be the chains of Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, of which there are dozens on the so-called Golden Mile of Nathan Road, Kowloon-side.
And expensive watches from Rolex, Piaget, Patek Philippe, and a host of others are easily found at either their own stores, or any of the countless jewelry stores.
While we are certainly materialists and capitalists ourselves (my weakness being technology “toys” and kitchen equipment), the sheer materialistic excess we saw in Hong Kong was beyond comprehension.
And more interesting is that the primary wealthy consumer who comes to Hong Kong to shop for jewelry and name brand couture is Asian, frequently from mainland China, a communist country. I won’t even pretend to understand the sorts of economics that would allow someone from mainland China afford one or more $20,000 Rolex watches.
The other thing we found prevalent in Kowloon (but not Hong Kong island) were touts, typically all of Indian background, offering replica watches, like Rolexes and bespoke (custom, made to order) tailoring services. It was almost impossible to walk down Nathan Road without a dozen approaches for a custom suit or a knock off watch.
In any event, not being consumers of fashion and bling, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. And we did. More on that in upcoming posts.
A small photo gallery is below. Click on the images to get slightly larger versions. Larger versions are on Flickr.