Friday, July 24, 2009

Shopping in Sham Shui Po -- Really the Dark Side?  

I am a personal fan of the “Dark Side” as many expat Hong Kongers term the Kowloon side. There’s so many new things to explore, less Western people, new smells (stinky tofu?), crowded spaces, and of course wholesale fashion shopping! Whatever, these people who choose to never leave HK Island are crazy. And I’m not exaggerating, it’s not like every once in a blue moon someone calls Kowloon the “Dark Side” and says they will never go over there. I’m talking to you Discovery Bay citizens, and you uppity Centralites – yeah I live in North Point, I get down with the Dark Side.

Anyway, this morning I woke up around 7:30am I took a shower, looked on the Internet for directions around Sham Shui Po, had some coffee and a granola bar. For those who are unfamiliar with Sham Shui Po, it’s seen as a seedy, dingy area that mostly sells electronics and is home to the Golden Computer Arcade. The computer center is nice and all, but I personally feel that if you’re located on HK side you may as well just go to the computer center in Wan Chai.

I caught the 102 bus for about an hour into the depths of Sham Shui Po and got out on Cheung Sha Wan Road, right outside of exit C1. This was my first journey on this bus, so I was really hoping I didn’t end up somewhere odd. Luckily I was let out right smack dab in the middle of the wholesale fashion street! My shopping buddy was with me and we started down one side of Cheung Sha Wan Road…

So those of you who are not afraid of a little Dark Side venturing, I’m going to break it down for you. There are literally hundreds of wholesale fashion stores, and yes there are amazing dresses hanging inside the stores… Well those are not for you. I’m sorry, not matter how cute it is, or how much you whine “Ho lengaaaa” and make sad puppy dog eyes at the owner – you are not getting that sample dress. Unless you’re a retailer, then you can order 10 of the sample dress. But for us “regular” shoppers we have to settle for the discards on the racks outside of the store. Now I’m not saying the discards are anything bad, in fact there are some really cool things there.

Sham Shui Po is entirely worth the trip, I spent $50 on a very cute gingham strapless dress with an exposed zipper up the back. The key with shopping in SSP is to have a lot of energy and prepare to delve through a lot of crap. Oh, and also if you see something you aren’t 100% sure you like – buy it anyway. Chances are you’re going to walk away from it, think about it, decide you want it, and when you come back it’ll be gone forever. So move quickly, little fashion predators!

The entire district is amazing, it’s like stepping back in time. While my posts generally focus on clothes, I have to say that if you’re in the area you may as well go over one block to Apliu Street and check out the flea market. They have endless counters of oddities, industrial magnets, LED lights, ancient mobile phones. It’s not always the most fruitful of shopping expeditions, but you won’t regret checking it out.My general shopping adventure went from the corner of Yen Chow Street to Nam Cheong Street, but I did walk down Pei Ho Street to check out Fuk Wa and Fuk Wing street. There’s not as many fashion wholesalers on those streets, but they are there. I was in Sham Shui Po for a good three hours, and during that time in the late morning trucks pulled up, dropped off giant packages full of samples and then drove off. Women would dart out of the shops, drag the packages inside and in an absolute frenzy rip them apart.

What was genuinely surprising was how diverse each wholesale shop was. In Mong Kok many of the stores have the same items of clothing over and over again, but in SSP there was a whole variety between the suppliers.

All in all, totally worth the trip. I was too tired to make it over to the fabric market, which I hear is amazing. Make a point of going out to Sham Shui Po if you can handle the Dark Side.

Sham Shui Po District Map:,114.162841&spn=0.007989,0.009699&z=17

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