Hong Kong Shopping Festival
Lucky reader Silvia Vanderliek won a trip to Hong Kong to attend the city's incredible Shopping Festival. Check out her online travel diary and find out what she bought, where she stayed and where you must shop!
1. How did you react when you found out you’ve won?
Joe and I never win anything. We were so excited to find out that we won the
trip to Hong Kong. At first it was almost disbelief.
2. What did you think Hong Kong it would be like?
Neither Joe nor I have ever been to the Far East. We have seen pictures when other friends and family traveled there and knew that the geography of China was quite beautiful. I also teach many students from Hong Kong and they tell me how lovely it is.
However, we had no idea how lovely the people are. It was such a treat talking to some of the local people in the shops and markets. They were very personable and made every effort to speak English. We came to realize how multicultural Hong Kong is; very much like Vancouver. It was easy to become familiar with the transportation system and people were always willing to help out if we were unsure of where we were. In fact, Joe and I discussed (hypothetically) the idea of living there for one year, if we could both leave our jobs, just to really experience life there.
3. Can you give us your comments about the contest (shopper of the year) from an entertainment and organizational point of view? How strategic it is for tourists in order to get acquainted with the city?
I believe that the objectives of the contest made in necessary for contestants to familiarize themselves with the city. Fortunately Joe and I were on a prearranged tour the day before and had an idea of the various markets and tourist attractions in Hong Kong. It is different than just being a tourist; we feel as though we saw the sights in six days when normally, visitors would take two weeks to explore the area.
The contest itself was amazing. The work and effort that went into the
preparations must have been incredible. We were very impressed with how available people were to answer questions and explain procedures to us. We had a lot of fun with the other contestants and the people associated to the “Canada team”. We were constantly amazed at the amount of press present
at the event, and all of the attention we recieved.
4. Can you describe your four assignments and challenges and how did you accomplished them all? And why did you get what you got?
We were required to purchase something for a colleague for the first challenge. The previous day, when we were on the tour, the guide told us
that parents buy their infants jade bracelets, to protect them from evil spirits, and ensure a healthy life. One of the teachers at work just had a
baby in July, so we thought it would be a nice gift for her new born son.
The second challenge was to buy an item for a relative. Joe’s son is trying out for the Canadian Wushu team in the Spring, and wanted a new out
fit. We found a Martial Arts supply store, and purchased the outfit, a broad sword, and shoes. The shop keeper gave us a carrying bag for free.
The third item was to be a meaningful keep-sake to remind us of our trip to Hong Kong. On the tour the day before the guide had told us that in five
years the “Junks” (fishing boats) would not be seen in the harbour, as the fishermen could no longer make a living, and that the younger generation is looking for employment in the city. Joe and I thought that a carving or painting of a junk would be a memorable souvenier. It took us about an hour and a half, and after searching in a variety of stores we found a crystal junk at the Hong Kong Tourism Board gift shop. We have had so many compliments on it from our friends.
The fourth item was to purchase something for ourselves, so we bought a digital camera. You can’t go to Hong Kong and not buy some type of
technology.5. What was your favorite memory from the trip?
It is so hard to choose a favorite memory. It was like a fantasy vacation. We both felt that we had so many wonderful experiences. Taking the tour of the harbour on a “junk” was very memorable. That was something very distinct to the Hong Kong experience. A close second would be the lazer and water show down by the clock tower.
6. What was your favorite memory from the contest?
Watching the contestants from Bangkok do their presentation. They were
terrific; very entertaining.
7. Can you mention some other fond memories with the other contestants?
What teams caused an impression on you and why?
We went on the tour the day before the contest, with the team from Mexico
and New Zealand. It was fun to exchange experiences and learn about life in their countries. We were also able to spend some time with the U.S. team. We found everyone to be very friendly.
7. What places would you recommend people to visit?
A) One shop-spot — David Fashions. We both had suits made. The quality is incredible, and the service excellent. We are very pleased with both of the suits, and Joe will likely order shirts for himself this fall.
B) One place to eat – The German Schnitzel House near the Star Ferry landing on the Mong Kok side. Best schnitzel I have ever eaten. We were also very impressed with the food at the Langham Hotel. We were told that many renowned chefs train in Hong Kong.
C) One place to chill out – The lounge at the Langham Hotel. We were there every night, enjoying the singing acts, eating great food, and drinking excellent wine. We also did enjoy some Chinese Karaoke at a local bar.
8. What are three things you recommend to pack in your suitcase if you are going back to Hong Kong? Or even for the first time?
Comfortable shoes, lots of money and collapsable travel bags, to bring back
all the new purchases. Hong Kong is a shopping haven.
9. Can you mention some of the highlights of your trip?
Stanley Market, Victoria Peak — the view was breathtaking, the tour on a
“junk”, the temples we visited, and the market at Shen-Zen.
10. What would you say to someone who is going for the first time to Hong Kong to visit?
How welcoming and friendly the people are. Every where we went, from the
smallest shop to the malls, the taxi drivers, the employees at the hotel and the people at the market, people were eager to engage in conversation, and to help. We were often approached and assisted when we were looking for a specific shopping destination or at a bus station or train station.