Saturday, January 16, 2010
Buddha on the Mountain, Mao in the Market
We woke up early this morning, ate some more delicious wonton soup, and headed to the long subway ride south to Lantau Island. Lantau Island plays host to Hong Kong's International Airport, but it is also Hong Kong's most mountainous island. A number of years ago, an engineering firm designed a 3 mile long cable car ride known as the Ngong Ping 360, which takes you high in to the mountains to a Buddhist monastery. Aside from beautiful views and an elaborate temple, the monastery is now best known for its 34 meter tall bronze statue of the sitting Buddha that resides at the pinnacle of a hillside. The pictures of this adventure speak for themselves, but I can say that we enjoyed our time there immensely.
Later in the afternoon, Mariana and I took the subway to an area known as Lady's Market. The market is large and provides shoppers with the ability to purchase an array of souvenir crap. I am not much of a shopper, but I do enjoy the people watching and the shock that a walk through these types of markets provide to the system. Each vendor has their own stall filled with items ranging from picturesque paintings of Chinese landscapes to crab-shaped thong underwear. Two items in particular caught the eyes of Mariana and I; for her it was a large Chinese fan that would look "great above our bed" and for me it was a t-shirt with Mao Zedong's picture on it. There is a very important rule in Asian culture that requires the vendor and shopper to haggle, so I think this is best expressed in a dialogue.
Me: "How much do you want for that big red fan?"
Vendor: "Oh...that is very nice, yes. $200 Hong Kong Dollars."
Me: "Ok, thanks." (we try to exit)
Vendor: "Wait...for you I make deal (pulls out calculator and writes 150).
Me: "That's ok, we are just looking, but thank you"
I walk out of the tent and continue to walk down the street when I hear...
Vendor: "Wait, mister, wait." She grabs my arm and pulls me back in to the tent. "How much? You tell me."
Me: "We are just looking. We will come back."
Vendor: "You no come back....ok,ok, $90)
I once again leave the tent and begin to walk down the street when I hear...
Vendor: "I have your wife. $70."
I turn around and the vendor is physically constraining Mariana in the tent. I head back to the tent, where the vendor proceeds to hold me hostage.
Vendor: "$70 very good price. You buy. We have other colors if you like."
Me: "No, and I will drag you along with me kicking and screaming down the rest of the market if you do not let go of me."
The vendor reluctantly lets go of me and as Mariana and I move further down the street I hear a faint yell of "$OK, OK, $50!!!!!!"
On the flip side of the coin, I actually offended a vendor 3 minutes later when I offered her $21 HKD for my Mao shirt when her original asking price was $69. I hate shopping...in ALL countries.
We proceeded to have another bowl of noodle soup for less than $2 USD and we finished our day by watching a beautiful light show in the harbour from the main ferry station.