Shanghai: Bargain Hunting at Laojie

Time to go bargain hunting!

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This is Shanghai Laojie (Old Street), a touristy area with lots of “specialty shops” selling various Oriental stuff.

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The light was no good (this was just after a drizzle on a really cloudy day), so my poor Olympus XA2 with Fuji Superia 800 was stretched to its limits.

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I’m probably forgiving myself too much, but some of the images have a soft-focus painterly look that nonetheless grows on me.

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Check out the goods.

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I was looking at one of the shirts in a store and the shopkeeper said to me (in English) it’s made of really exquisite material, at only 360RMB.

I nodded and said I would think about it (in Mandarin/Putonghua) and walked away, only to be told two steps later that it’s 180RMB.

I said I’ll think about it.

And she said “Ok, ok, 100RMB final offer. If you don’t believe me, go to the other shops to compare prices and you’ll see this is the best price you’ll get.”

I said I’ll indeed take a quick look at the other shops and she said, “ok, ok – 90 RMB.”

So I bought two.

I’m an expert negotiator, you see. (This was one of those rare moments when my wife was very impressed with me.)

I basically brought the price down from RMB360 to RMB90. (I now suspect the price could have been lowered further.)

I think that at this place, they’re selling generic stuff (from the same suppliers/factories) that can be found at every other shop, and they know that you know.

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Yummy traditional snacks!

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A shop specializing in chopsticks.

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Another one specializing in Oriental curios.

Thanks for stopping by, and please do check out my Saatchi Art page for open edition prints.



Village Life in Hong Kong

This is the dilemma I face whenever we have a family outing.

Should I bring along my Leica M6, my Olympus XA2, Canonet or Yashica? Do the kids look like they’re going to give trouble? Are we going shopping which means I need a high ISO film?

At this point I would once again settle on my Canon G11 over the 600D. With a family in tow, I’ll go for a compact auto focus auto exposure digital everything because there’s usually no time to focus (in both senses of the word) if you’re looking to do a bit of street photography at in-between moments. I’ll bring along my Leica when the kids are older…

My daughter’s kindergarten organised an outing last Saturday for their students and their families. There was a huge turnout. Five gigantic bus loads.

Here’s our guide:

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She sings very well.

Here’s our driver:

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I was 2 seats behind and this is a reflection of him from the driver’s rear-view mirror between two curtains.

We were at a farm at Sha Tau Kok. It was a 20-minute walk to the farm and there were fascinating ruins.

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I think some of these are occupied.

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There’s a certain socio-political economic situation to village houses in Hong Kong.

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In land-scarce Hong Kong, villagers are given a plot of land to build a three-storey house in recognition of their indigenous status. They could remain as they are but a three-storey set-up means you could lease out two floors and live on the rent alone.

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Usually the villagers in a single village are related and have the same surname.

And they would set up small businesses. This area for example is a cycling, fishing, kite-flying and bbq area combined with a vegetable farm.

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When we say Hong Kong is short of land, we are thinking of built-up areas like Kowloon or Hong Kong island.

Sha Tau Kok where we were is huge and relatively sparsely populated. But it takes a certain character to enjoy life here I suppose.

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Here’s another village. I was told it’s a traditional Hakka village. Because these are popular sites for local excursions, the villagers have set up small stalls selling traditional snacks.

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The black blobs are called errr… “tiny chicken poop” in Cantonese. Yummy! I was told it’s good for my sore throat.

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Thanks for reading!