May 1st being a public holiday in Hong Kong, we headed out in search of anyplace away from our empty house, the sandflies in our neighborhood, and the buckets of rain falling from the sky. We ended up at the “Tai Po Mega Mall.”
To picture the Tai Po Mega Mall, imagine the second floor of most of a town center’s buildings converted into shopping space and connected by covered pedestrian sky bridges crossing every road. But wait you say, that sounds like every shopping center in Hong Kong. Well, then imagine it as a good, but decidedly second-tier shopping complex out in the New Territories. Starbucks: yes. Designer clothing boutiques: no. So actually, it might just be the perfect mall: everything you actually need without being too fussy.
To people on Hong Kong Island itself, or Kowloon or even Shatin for that matter, it might as well be the dark side of the moon.
Despite a morning spent at a mall, my daughter learned the following (the littlest one just happily goes wherever we drag him):
Japanese grocery stores are always full of interesting snacks. We explored Yata and were delighted to find packets of weird colored gelatin, loads of “Hello Kitty” branding, and other aggressively cute snacks.
People sprawled out in the middle of pedestrian walkways are often not actually sleeping. They point at their upturned hats with spare change because they are in search of some more coins. My daughter was originally rather perplexed as to why anyone would sleep where: (1) it’s dirty; and (2) they’re likely to be stepped on.
It is not polite to point and stare especially at old, crippled people. A lesson discussed after she pointed and gawked at a poor little crunched over man walking with a cane.
Slightly off-the-beaten-track public walkways always smell of urine. Or, as she said, “my nose is full of pee smell.”
Semi-literate adults are hopeless. The disappointment was evident when I couldn’t read every sign we passed. I need to redouble my efforts.
Lesson for me: Better planning is needed before the next holiday.
Lesson for you dear reader: The Tai Po Mega Mall is probably more authentically “Hong Kong” than that shot of a fake junk with non-functioning sails bobbing in Victoria Harbor that graces every guidebook.