Christmas time in Hong Kong means one thing sales,yes S-A-L-E the people like a swarm of bees looking for honey move from shop to shop in search of a bargain of a lifetime. The Chinese wait in line to enter brand name shops such as Gucci, Luis Vuitton and Chanel. Closets in China must be as large as some bank accounts, if the massive bags they hold are any indication.
The people, the flashing neon lights, the traffic, the shops, the hectic hustle and bustle of the city is what has made Hong Kong so famous with people returning year after year to experience the country that until 1997 was under British control.
I’m staying in the Marco Paulo hotel, one of four Marco Paulo hotels located in the Harbour City shopping mall on Canton road which happens to be the largest mall in Hong Kong with over 700 shops and 50 restaurants. It’s so big it stretches from the Star Ferry terminal in the south to the top of Tsim Sha Tsui to the north.
Walking around the mall, you can’t help to enter some of the shops with Sale marked in big red and white signs in the window, you know, everyone knows but the shop assistant in the shop still manages to tell you that today everything in the shop is 20-50% off, just in case you hadn’t seen any of the signs announcing it. With that extra initiative shown by the assistant everything in the shop looks so much better and before I know it I’m handing over my hard earned money. The assistant smiles before handing over a bag and wishing you a Merry Christmas.
Yes, Christmas you think with a seven year old with you, Santa better come, the mall is like a maze, turning left then right, round in circles, shops blending into one another looking the same, well they are all selling clothes and accessories aren’t they but don’t tell the Chinese that.
“Lets go this way” my wife says, following her like a robot following commands before she realises she’s been here before. We turn back the way we came, then turn left and right before I say”We’ve been here before” Are you sure, my wife says looking frustrated. Yes that’s the HMV where we bought the CDS”. We turn around again before I ask a doorman in a black, sleek uniform where ToysRus is, the largest one in Hong Kong. “First go straight, down the stairs”before he breaks out in Chinese, arms flaying up and down, left and right. This place is even too big for staff to simply explain. I smiled and thanked the man.
” Chris, Chris I think it’s this way” called out my wife. ToysRus was large, sections of toys, puzzles popular character figures, mobile cars,Lego you named it they had it, a child with all his Christmas’s coming at once “I want this one, this one and this one”, cried out Rei jumping up and down.
The flight, the crowds, the shops all getting a strain on us, we joined the swarm of bees by moving to the boardwalk where Hong Kong stars names line the pavement, no names ring a bell except for the statue of Bruce Lee but we are not here for this the real reason we are here is the Lights of Symphony shown every night at 8pm.
The 20 minute show of dazzling lights flashing up and down left and right to the pulsating beats of music so cleverly synchronized to the movements of light , green lasers shoot out of building tops like a scene from Star Wars, the lasers crashes or slashes its way against the lights, first slowly then building up with rhythm and pace in the background in a faint voice I may have heard “Together we can be bigger than the empire, together we can rule the galaxy” and just like that the lights stop.
The swarm like they’ve had enough honey for one day diverse their separate ways, until the magical hour of 10am when the shops re open for another day of sales. The swarm will need their honey and the shops will be their haven.
Have you been to Hong Kong at Christmas time? Did he crowds get to you? We would love to hear at We All Travel Together.