The Trouble With Open Spaces in Hong Kong

Growing Up Austin

I don’t like to plan everything when I travel. Maybe plan one or two things in a day, then leave open spaces where I can walk around in whatever direction looks interesting. The trouble with this in Hong Kong is that this usually leads to shopping.

There are places to shop in every neighborhood, on every street, on both sides of the street and on multiple floors. There are flea markets, souvenir stands, huge malls and tiny boutiques. They are selling purses, purses, purses and shoes, shoes, shoes, along with watches, electronics and cosmetics, some real and some fake, at any price you prefer. No matter where you are or where you are headed or how much time you have in your open space, there is a store right there, waiting for you.

One afternoon, my friend and I were minding our own business, having a drink and getting foot massages, then taking a walk. Just for fun, we stepped into a boutique dress shop. Right away, a sales lady named Fanny started pulling dresses off the rack for me to try. She didn’t check sizes, she knew my body by looking at it and she knew her clothes. I came out of the dressing room in the first dress and she said in broken English, “Off, off with that, feet, fix it!” and she handed me a pair of high heels. Apparently, fashionable dresses cannot be tried on with socks.

I tried on a few fun dresses, then it got a little crazy with a leather mini-dress with an over-sized knit turtle neck collar, a black jump suit with gold beading on the top and a black spandex mini-skirt with a gold-sequined tank top. I might have bought it all, if the clothes were 50% off the price marked, instead of being 50% off with the price already marked. I got the fun dresses in the end, now I just need new shoes.

My very favorite shopping find was unexpected and inspired and it started when I noticed…

1. There aren’t many overweight people in Hong Kong.

2. There are more women with small breasts, like mine!

3. Hey, wait a minute! Get me to a lingerie store!

And there they were. Size 36AA. In multiple styles and colors. I can tell you from a lifetime of struggles shopping for bras that this size bra is more rare than a UFO sighting in a big city with multiple witnesses and the cameras rolling. Shopping for bras has made me cry more than once, as I asked the clerk one more time, “Is this really the smallest bra you have?”, “Can I order a smaller one on-line?” and “Maybe there is a pattern I can buy and I can sew it myself?” I bought all the bras they had in my size. Lucky for me, there was enough open space in my suitcase to get them all home.

(My trip to China started here and will finish later this week.)