Thursday, 30 December 2010

Shopping Pilgrimage

Across the border in Shenzhen

My office is in the New Territories, only a few stops away from Lowu where Shenzhen is. And since work isn't busy at the moment I thought I'd pop across the border to see how things are at the infamous Luohu shopping mall, five stories of gratuitous consumption.

Crossing the border was quite efficient compared to almost 10 years ago -- now like the airport and the Macau Ferry Terminal there are speedy self-service kiosks to go through Hong Kong immigration. Then I walked across the walkway to China, where there is an immediate difference in the look of the place, obviously not logistically thought out and mini ramps here and there, so you have to watch where you're going.

Off to the far left is where foreigners go and the line was quite short. I had read about Chinese customs officials slapping duties on people carrying Apple products like iPods and iPhones across the border, so I was concerned about being caught. But the Chinese customs staff didn't seem too anxious about catching people and periodically pulled people over to show them what was in their bag.

The Luohu shopping mall
Outside the station you could quickly see how much Shenzhen has developed in a decade, with lots of new buildings from hotels to office buildings. There were also lots of billboards eager to catch your attention.

I immediately headed to the Luohu shopping centre or "commercial goods city" as it says in Putonghua. Inside it hasn't changed much if at all -- shop stalls crammed next to each other, selling everything from bags to clothing, tailors and electronics, places for massages to manicures.

I thought I'd go from the top and work my way down, but I'd done most of my shopping on the fifth floor already. Haggling is a prerequisite and it was fun to use my Mandarin again. Things in general are a bit more expensive than Beijing, 10-20RMB more, but the quality on the whole is better.

When I thought I'd finished my shopping, I wandered in a store selling Paul Smith stuff and asked about prices. When I didn't show much interest (and really I thought I should be going), the sales girl immediately dropped the prices by one-third. Why didn't I feign a lack of interest earlier?

There were also Diane von Furstenberg dresses for 280RMB.

You immediately know you're in China...
Next time, I thought.

Many of the customers were Hong Kong housewives with nothing much better to do than to shop for cheap stuff in Shenzhen. Some even spent the effort to shop around before getting the best price, or were regulars to certain shops.

After two hours I was pretty much done and headed back to the train station. Again going through immigration wasn't too difficult with a slightly longer line for foreigners in the China section.

The ride back home was a bit tiring, but got back happy with my purchases.

1 comment:

  1. same here in vancouver. with the canadian dollar is approaching parity with u.s greenback canadians cross the border to shop down south in droves everyday not just on weekends.

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