Hong Kong, Pearl of the Orient and...Mall Rat Paradise?
Culture shock has never been a problem for us; we're cool with whatever is the norm in a new destination and most of the time join in with gusto. But this week in Hong Kong, we've faced a huge challenge in embracing something so dear to the locals: the ubiquity of shopping malls.
In the main districts, you have something like a 95% chance of having to at least stroll through a mall to get where you are going. If you aren't inside of a mall, then you are on top of one, next to one, underneath one, or even using one as a landmark for orienting yourself in the city.
We've unwittingly hit a higher number of malls than days we've been in Hong Kong, and it doesn't look like the barrage of consumerism will be letting up soon. Since we hail from a Midwestern city that of course loves their Auntie Anne's pretzels and Abercrombie, we were at first unfazed by the shopping glut in HK.
After our fifth megaplex in two days, however, our patience with escalators and perfume counters began to wear thin and we stepped back to observe the scene.
Most striking is actually not the number of malls in central Hong Kong, but in the number of employees and shoppers filling them every day. Some malls have doormen, food concierges, and our personal favorite: greeters stationed at mall maps to answer any questions.
In this city of banks feeling the economic burn (ah hem, AIG), these temples to retail and the gajillion Chanel boutiques remain throbbing with the affluent Hong Kong locals and their colorful dollars. We don't even see this enthusiasm before Christmas on Fifth Avenue in New York City. While we don't know what it was like before the downturn, we're kind of happy this way; any more crazy consumerism is liable to turn us into coupon-clippers for life.
For those of you familiar with Hong Kong, we've found ourselves adrift in these malls thus far: IFC, Silvercord, Miramar, Harbour City, Landmark, Pacific Place, Times Square and The Peak.
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