Glad to know people got the joke in the post title. Thought it was quite fitting for the topic on hand
So continued on from yesterday’s post…
Despite the dire warnings from all and sundry, we decided to brave it in the name of Adventure and set off on Sunday morning via the MTR train service. After changing a few stops and train lines we were on our way. We had to go to the very end of the line (Lo Wu station) which is basically where most of the Shenzen shopping is located.
We were chatting away, when I remarked – “How do we know if this train goes to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau?”
My companion looked at me baffled, and then said – “Shit. Good thinking 99”.
I comforted her in the thought that we had a 50-50 chance of being right, but as we kept going on it was clear that we were heading to the wrong stop. Should have known that it would also mean a 50-50 chance of being wrong.
Getting off at the practically deserted station, we waited giggling for the train to take us back. And realised we were waiting on the wrong side of the platform. To add further insult to our stupidity, while we were giggling, the train had come and gone.
Thought I'd take a picture to capture the moment of our stupidity
We made it to the right place finally, where further glimpses of our brilliance were witnessed – going to the immigration line without a visa, waiting for said visa and commenting that it would be funny if they didn’t take $HK and then going to get our money exchanged when they told us they didn’t take $HK. By then, my friend forbade me from speaking since it seemed everything I was saying was in a twisted way coming true.
Shenzen….was muggy. And dodgy looking. We immediately held our belongings close to our bodies as people inexplicably jostled into us (pickpockets are rife there). We were suddenly accosted by young men cajoling us with -Missy! Missy! You want handbag? Shoes? Come, I take you. What you looking for? You very pretty. You must be looking for me!”
In your very vague and non-sexual dreams mister. (Don’t really want them dreaming about me )
Shenzen was not really what I was expecting. I somehow had this image in my mind that it would be like Mongkok in that it would a whole heap of open-air markets. But in reality, it’s a multi-level shopping centre filled to the brim with tiny shops selling anything and everything. People stand at each corner and each escalator landing thrusting cards promising cheap massages and manicures (to which my heart and nails were immediately enthralled by) and “good price”.
We actually had lunch at that Taste cafe as well. Not too bad...
I was actually kind of nervous bargaining. I am so not a confrontational person and having to assert myself was slightly terrifying. But the thought of getting ripped off made me determined to bring out my apparently inbred Indian bargaining side (And I don’t mean *I’m* inbred. I’m from Melbourne, not Tasmania Uh oh – I have a whole state after me now!). I couldn’t shake the images of the Russell Peters sketch (Aha! It all makes sense now! ) from my head.
We first went to a tailor as my friend wanted to get some stuff made. It was quite overwhelming and we ended up asking one of the ladies standing nearby if she knew this particular tailor that was recommended to us.
“Ohhhh…LILY! Yes, I call.”
And in two seconds a cheerful, plump woman came running down the corridor of shops and introduced herself as “Lily”.
I was kinda holding off on this, only because we will be travelling to Hoi An soon which is like THE place to get stuff tailored for cheap in Vietnam. Still, I somehow managed to fall in love with some beautiful silk material and get roped into getting a dress made. My friend will go pick that up for me in the next week or so.
Lily also mentioned that she had a good friend who sold “quality” handbags and if we liked could see and due to her influence could get a “very good price”. Shenzen’s version of mate’s rates. Lily took us down to a small shop filled with bags and wallets and to a girl who also seemed to be named “Lily”.
The shelves were lined with familiar designs but with the labels missing. So I saw a Jimmy Choo Ramona but with just a small silver bit instead of the Jimmy Choo label. Or a Prada clutch with the tell-tale triangle where the Prada label would be. The other Lily girl assured me that they had “top-quality” bags in the back and to browse through the catalogues to choose.
And boy, did they have everything. Hermés, Chloe, Burberry, Miu Miu. They refused to tell me the price so they could ‘tell me altogether’. She also showed us some watches and earrings and my friend bought some cufflinks and I wrangled myself a nice fake Gucci watch. All this time, various people were walking in and out of the stores with coloured bags – dropping them in and taking back the same bags. It was really odd – but the reason for that became obvious when one of the bags contained the Chloe bag that I had requested to view.
Apparently the police have started cracking down on the illegal fake-designer business and so the storefronts only display nondescript slightly-familiar looking goods while the actual good stuff is hidden away. So while I was looking at the admittedly lovely bag (and Lily trying to assure me of its highest quality by taking a lighter to the bag to prove it was real leather), one of the guys rushed in and took the bag from my hands. The watches were swept away under the desk, Lily stacked away the catalogues and my friend and I were left bewildered to wonder what the fuck was going on.
It turned out that the police were doing a ‘raid’ and coming around to all the stores to check that they weren’t doing anything dodgy. Um, dodgy was certainly happening. We were uncertain whether we should stay or go, but Lily continued her bargaining as if everything was normal. The bag didn’t appeal to me anymore and somehow as I insisted that I really didn’t want it anymore, Lily took that to mean I wanted a lower price. So, as I was walking out of the store I managed to bargain the Chloe bag down to $500HK from the original asking price of $1650HK Believe me, I was pretty tempted but left without it.
But my proudest acquisition was the very unsexy purchase of some glasses. Frames, lenses all done in under an hour. I was sceptical since I just rattled off my prescription to them and they assured me that they could make it perfect. Bargained it down to $650HK which converted to less than $100AU. Not a bad deal at all, but I am pretty sure I still got ripped off.
They checked our eyes with some admittedly fancy machines which only made me wonder a few times why bother going to university and doing a four-year degree in Optometry when this was so much more painless. I doubt the authenticity of the Gucci frames I chose, but if they last even 6 months it won’t be too bad
A coffee and dodgy manicure later (I had to – couldn’t resist!), I picked up my glasses and was pleasantly surprised that they managed to get my prescription right (I am one of those freaky people that have two different strengths for each eye).
Hahaha I look like a nerd. It actually took my eyes some adjusting to the glasses since I haven’t actually worn them in so long. And that’s only because the only pair I have is left over from high school and definitely has seen better days as I tend to take out my frustrations on it (it has seen many a wall) and the nosepads always end up green.
Excuse the tired eyes...buggered after work.
That smile seems to be frozen as well. Shocking photo.
So all in all Shenzen was fine. I didn’t get mugged or pickpocketed or kidnapped. I bought some nice stuff and now I have a back-up plan for when my contacts decide to roll to the back of my eyeball*.
*True story. I thought I lost it and put in another to eventually find out that I had TWO contacts in one eye. Gross.
*Edited to Add: OMG! I also totally forgot to mention the crazy lady at one of the clothing stores selling fake Karen Millen dresses who nearly chased me out of there because I got some makeup on the dress she INSISTED I try on. She gave me an obviously too-small size and it barely fit over my head so I didn’t even wear it!! I was like HELL to the NO I am not paying for that!
If you wear them- glasses or contacts – what do you prefer? Ever bought a ‘fake’ item??