Hong Kong, the city of skyscrapers, divine food, and rich tradition is also a shopping paradise. Well-known actress Roop Durgapal visited this enigmatic city and discovered that the place is much more than steel and glass.
On a long-pending trip, Roop visited Hong Kong and Bali (Indonesian) for mainly two reasons – to shop and laze around. The city is a perfect fusion of East and West; modernity and tradition; the slow and the fast. A truly global financial and cultural powerhouse, Roop had no preconceived notions about the place -- all she set out for was fun and shopping.
“There was no set idea as such, although I would say that there is a huge difference between the amounts you pay for bigger brands there. Contrary to expectations, I didn’t find them cost-effective. I would get them for the same price or cheaper in India,” says Roop.
Hong Kong’s trade heritage and its obsession with image have made for an international fashion shopping destination like no other. Skyscraper malls and compartmental stalls, flagship stores and factory outlets, luxury chic and hip boutiques – even if your wardrobe doesn’t need an expansion, the sheer variety of clothes shopping there is a tempting. Getting things that are uniquely Hong Kong can mean anything from small-stall silk chinoiserie, to the world-renowned creations of local designers such as Vivienne Tam and William Tang.
“Although I was a bit disappointed, I couldn’t help but shop. I got a phone; make-up products and a Gucci bag. The colours you get there are difficult to find back here at home. People there are vibrant and multi-racial, and the feel for fashion far keener than ours. Even guys adore lively colours and its fun to look at them. We don’t see that in India,” adds Roop.
Hong Kong is famous for its malls and shopping, but you might have more fun, get a sense of the place and perhaps grab a bargain at its quirky market stalls. “Jackets, boots, and more local flea markets are some of the best. There’s the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street. There one may not find well-recognised brands but a lot of things like colourful umbrellas, which you don’t get in India, fascinate you.”
Cosmetics, skin care and hair salons, and Hong Kong’s beauty products are equally beguiling. Ranging from famous international brand names to emerging organic and herbal pioneers, the shopping experience is varied and just about every budget is catered to.
Hong Kong is famous for its restaurants and its cuisine, but it’s the variety of food that is mind-boggling. However, Roop, being a vegetarian, initially had a problem finding the right food. “I stayed on Pizza Hut food and Shin Ramyun noodles in Hong Kong for long until I found an Indian place to dine.”
She explains, “Then, one day, while I was shopping, I came across an Indian joint. Although it seemed a little shady, it proved the answer to a prayer -- dal, chawal, and roti. Later, I found yet another eatery -- a little up-market, it had ghazal nights. The singer dedicated a song to me and I felt overwhelmingly happy, as if I had discovered Little India in Hong Kong. It was my most memorable moment of the trip.”
Of the many places to visit in Hong Kong, the Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery are major attractions for Buddhists. Apart from these, some must-visit places are Disneyland, Ngong Ping, and Victoria Peak.
Roop also visited Bali during her trip and the mere mention of conjures up visions of tropical bliss and beautiful beaches. “I stayed in a cottage in Bali and I completely pampered myself. The beaches were amazing, and the Tanah Lot Temple located on a small, rocky island was astonishing. Surprisingly, it has amazing local designers who are on a par with some working with international brands. I had a wonderful time unwinding in Bali. Thousands of tourists come there to see the sunset and the old temple.”
Roop brought a bagful of memories and fashion accessories back to India.