Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Hong Kong – All About Shopping?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

“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.


The Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine

October 22nd, 2008 at 11:40 am (AST) by Jake Richter

While we’ve not had any new adventures since we arrived in Freeport, Maine a couple of days ago – other than lots of shopping for clothing and other goods we want but probably don’t need, I wanted to mention a gem we did discover, courtesy of our travel agents at American Express.

That gem is the Harraseeket Inn on the northern end of Main Street, just two blocks from the massive L.L. Bean store. The Harraseeket Inn happens to also be the only lodging right on Main Street near all the shopping, but this exclusive situation has done nothing to diminish the quality of the service and offerings at the Inn.

The Harraseeket Inn has approximately 90 rooms, each featuring quarter canopied beds in spacious rooms with well appointed bathrooms. And, very important to us, they were able to confirm connecting rooms for us, with a king bed (and a two person jacuzzi tub) in one room and two double beds in the other. The rooms are out fitted with a variety of “green” things, including special lightbulbs in the fixtures, green bathroom products such as soap with a hole in the middle to cut down on waste (weird but true), and indeed, if you leave your towels hanging, housekeeping will not replace them.

Even though the three story inn is huge in terms of rooms, there’s a sort of quaintness one associates with smaller New England bed and breakfast properties. Part of that is due to the trim and fixtures, such as the well distributed (and lit) fireplaces (there are 23 of them throughout the property). There’s also a heated swimming pool and an exercise room.

And the best buffet breakfast of our entire trip so far was included with our stay. A nice, and unexpected, benefit.

But one of the real treats we discovered last night was the Maine Dining Room, one of the Inn’s two restaurants. The Maine Dining Room offers fine dining featuring locally produced and grown goods, from meats and cheese to produce and berries. Everything is freshly prepared in the kitchen, including the pasta for the lobster ravioli served to us. They also have a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle. Linda and I enjoyed a wonderful 2004 Marilyn Remark Marsanne from Monterey County in California.

Our meals included parsnip and celery soup, a Caesar salad made table side, red snapper, duck confit wrapped in cucumber, and scallops. And deserts sampled by the table included a relatively low-carb lemon marscapone tort and home made blueberry pie a la mode. And the service was quite good as well.

As an extra bonus, it turned out that the server who prepared our Caesar salad for us knew of Bonaire, and more interestingly, her sister and brother-in-law owned a house on our island. And, we discovered that we actually knew her brother-in-law, as he was a fellow artist (photography) on Bonaire. Small world!

We also had lunch in the Broad Arrow Tavern, a rustic looking place with creaky floors and quite tasty food. Although we must say that the lobster stew there was not nearly as good as that at Chester Pike’s Galley up in Sullivan. But the tavern’s great atmosphere, good service, and menu variety is a treat.

One other plus of staying at the Inn is being able to walk to pretty much all the hundred plus stores, many of them designer outlet stores, found in the shopping mecca that Freeport has become. That also means you have a safe and convenient place to drop off your shopping if your loads get too heavy (as happened a couple of times during our stay).

In summary The Traveling Richters highly recommend a stay at the Harrseeket Inn during your next Freeport shopping pilgrimage, or at the very least a dinner in the Inn’s Maine Dining Room, should you be in the area.

At present we’re driving to New Hampshire (and on-line thanks to a Sprint Data Dongle). We’ve just crossed the 2000 mile mark for driving on our Northeast tour. Works out to 1000 miles/week that we’ve had the vehicle. That’s about what we put on our truck on Bonaire in three months of heavy driving. Wow.