Monday, March 3, 2014

Caught in a different kind of claustrophobia

From high end designer haute couture and quaint boutique stores to traditional eateries and budget street shops, the Causeway Bay, is rightfully termed the shopping Mecca of Hong Kong


By Aswathy Kumar

A shopoholics paradise, a one-stop shopping destination, a must-visit and what not! These where a few cliches I had heard before I decided to head out to the highly recommended and popular Causeway Bay. It was my first day in Hong Kong and my husband was busy attending a work meeting. I was left with a fussy 6 year old, a wallet stuffed with Hong Kong dollars and a view of a fabulous city skyline waiting to be explored. I was a writer (or so I'd like to say just cos it sounds so much cooler than a stay-at-home mom) and I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to tread the jam packed and pleasantly claustrophobic streets of Hong Kong.


   

As always, this time too I hadn't done my homework. I was in a city I knew nothing about; only seen pictures of it in fancy postcards and heard stories from globe trotting friends and there was now way I was going to spoil any element of surprise that came along with it. So you can imagine my astonishment when i mentioned Causeway Bay and my driver replied in two terms, 'Sogo' or 'Times Square.' I had no idea what he was talking about? 'Times square,' I hesitated. They name sounded familiar, option, a little safer. 

Now I had expected jam packed crowds, haphazard traffic and monstrous skyscrapers. My husband had prepared me well. What I did not expect was to walk into an enormous confusing and never ending maze of shopping malls, street bazaars, food markets and boutique stores. If you ever wondered how a shopoholics idea of heaven would look like? This was it, all stretched out mockingly in front of me. It was overwhelming, even for a pro like me. 'Hold onto mommy'' I told my daughter. 'We can do this.'

Though for a hassle free shopping experience, I could have stuck to Times Square (but I was in no mood to empty my bank account) or the more budget friendly Japanese departmental store Sogo, I decided to stick to the streets. 'Thats where all the city charm lies' I convinced my six year old as I dragged her little frame through the less crowded Paterson street that housed a few expensive, yet quaint and definitely worth exploring boutique stores in the city.

 A hidden treasure, The Jardine's Crescent houses a number of cheap street bazaars



One of the highlights of my trip to Causeway Bay was finding a hidden treasure called Jardine's Crescent, an array of cheap street shops lying hidden amidst the snootiness, glitz and glamour of the surrounding fancy malls. I had just finished a sumptuous Singaporean meal of Char Kway Teow at a food court in the nearby Hysan Place. I was a couple of hundreds down and was about to hail a taxi back to the hotel when I treaded upon this hidden wonder. 'Just what I needed,' I thought as I entered into the neatly packed roadside bazaar selling a variety of goods ranging from women's clothing, accessories to electronics and household items at incredibly low prices. Even though I hardly bought anything, it was sheer fun watching the enthusiasm in the shop owners faces as they displayed their products with great √©lan or watch a buyer trying his best to strike a good bargain. The market also had some decent street eats and an inexpensive flower market at the end of the road. 

From seafood, meats to spices and fresh veggies, the Causeway Food Market has it all 


One of my other favorite part of my entire visit was when I finally managed to land up in the Causeway Bay food market. I was a tourist here, my stay limited to just three days but being a homemaker, a food enthusiast and an expat wife who could shift base and land up in a home kitchen of any new country at any point in time, I get a strange sense of joy in seeing a food bazaar packed with different kinds of seafood, meats, spices and fresh veggies. 

  A prayer before the day begins

It was my first time at Causeway Bay and it was everything I had imagined it to be? Crazy, crowded and absolutely chaotic. But with all it's hidden treasures and charm, this was a kind of claustrophobia, I didn't mind getting trapped in over and over again. 

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