Sham Sui Po
The plan is to visit both, but first, its breakfast time, then head for the MTR, so fuelled up, its time to venture out into the heat, followed by the train.
And yes, I am well aware that these are not the only places for tech shopping in HK, but as the largest, its first on the list to visit. Some of the other ones that I know about are located in Mong Kok and Wan Chai on HK Island.
For those who do not know, the MTR is the Hong Kong subway system, which basically goes everywhere, costs little to ride, and the trains are fully air conditioned.
And even after 30 years since my first visit, the MTR is still as good as it ever was, yes, a little more crowded, but still not even close to some of the other subway systems I have used.
I started my trip at Tsim Sha Tsui station, which is an interesting station, as you must walk for miles and miles to get to the trains, then as I did today, you can end up at the wrong station, as “East Tsim Sha Tsui” is linked via underground walkways.
Again, the signage could be better, but at least there is AC and moving walk ways.
Anyhow, I made it to the right platform, and as expected just missed a train, but no need to worry as another was 3 minutes away.
Five stops later, it’s time to exit, which was interesting, and more proof my memory needs an upgrade, and I went out the wrong exit, oops, I really needed to actually, look at the map in the station.
Anyhow the plan was to explore the “Apliu Street” markets, and the exit from the station brought me right into the middle of the action.
For those who have never experienced this sort of market, its total chaos, people everywhere, the odd car trying to get between the stalls. And no this is not a new thing; it was just like this when I first visited back in the 90s.
I like to think of it as organised chaos, not that I would have it any other way.
Back when I first visited, most of the stalls where selling tech “bits and pieces” all mixed in with knock off DVD and CDs.
And before anyone asks, the knock offs are still there, just not in the open, and as I have no interest in this stuff, I did not really look, I just saw some being moved around.
One change I did notice over the old days, was the volume of tools being sold, with many stalls selling secondhand power tools, before there was some of this, just not at this level.
Wandering around, I found a stall which stood out from the rest, this one was selling nothing but magnets, yes really, just about every type of magnet you would want, they had it.
The owner of this stall was kind enough to allow me to take this photo, even though I did not buy anything. So, anyone in HK, needing magnets, head for “Apliu Street”, and support this stall holder.
I spent a few hours wandering around checking out the stalls, and making some small purchases, talking to some of the stall holders.
While on the subject of talking, based on many visits over the years, I have never had any issues communicating, and no, I do not speak Cantonese. All it takes is some pointing, and keep things simple, you can make yourself understood and a smile usually helps.
I did witness an incident about 10 years ago, when I was in a shop, and a tourist was having all sorts of issues communicating, and stated yelling “Why don’t you people, just speak English”, and then looked at me for symphony, which realty rubbed me the wrong way. My comment to her, was I would rather be with these people, than you. Life is too short of that sort of racist BS.
Now one thing to be aware of, is the market stalls are not the only thing to see, but behind the stalls there are shops, which usually are not linked to the stalls, but are well worth checking out.
One thing I did notice was these shops behind the market stalls, where very heavy with LED lighting, which is interesting, as its just the same change I noted in Singapores Sim Lim Square.
As for me, I started at one end of the street, and decided to do each side of the street, checking out the shops.
That may sound easy, and yes it should be, however it’s very easy to get turned around when leaving the shops, and yes this happened to me several times. Back in the day, you could find shops selling all sorts of electronic test equipment, ranging from the consumer to the very specialist type of thing, but today, that’s all changed. Yes, you can still find it, just not as much or easy to find as it used to be.
While I am not really looking for anything specific, I did checkout some of the prices, and unlike years past, they were not in general much cheaper than back home. I am sure bargains can still be found; you just need to hunt.
One of my big weaknesses is a tool store, and there where plenty of those for me to check out, and check them out I did, and found the prices for some hand tools were much cheaper than back home.
The result, I picked up some “Made in Japan” tools which I had had my eye on for a while and saved a truck load of money.
I am looking for some Mitutoyo, callipers and micrometers for a friend, and had issues finding any store which had them. Although some that I did find looked very much less than real, and others where way more expensive than back home.
Almost at the point of giving up, one of the shops I visited actually had “Original” Mitutoyo, complete with the prices on display. I did ask them if I could take a photo, to allow me to compare the prices, and they said no, and pointed to the “no photos” sign.
While annoying not being able to take photos, it’s not the end of the world, as I did take notes, with model numbers and prices.
Another of the stores I spent way too much time/money in, was one which sold all sorts of embedded technology, things like Arduino’s, and more sensors than I have seen in one place outside of eBay, plus all sorts of “bits and pieces”, in short, a geeks dream, and a place to revisit.
Just check out this photo, and yes they were happy with me taking it, and that was before I spent any money.
At this point, I had finished my first pass through the marks and the stores behind them, so now it was time to head for the “Golden Computer Arcade”.
Thankfully it’s not far away, so in I go, and the first thing that gets me is the air conditioning, which was like walking into a wall of ice. Oh well, it’s better than the heat outside.
Now, back when I was first taken by a work colleague to this place, I was shocked as it was basically full of pirate software and knockoff movies, all mixed in with the usual PC hardware.
All this went away many years ago, with the illegal stuff, pushed under the counter, not that it’s a problem for me, as these days I have no interest in this stuff.
In place of this, during my last visit about 10 years ago, it was full of PC parts, with some electronic components in the mix. Today, when I ventured in, it seems to be mainly laptops, plus the usual PC parts. But mainly laptops, and with a selection that to me, must include just about every vendor there is.
What I am not seeing is the “bits and pieces” or the electronic components of the old days, however after much wandering around, I did find one store which had just about every cable adapter in existence.
Anyhow, after a quite a while looking around, I ended up picking up a small mountain of adapters at some killer prices.
There are two floors packed full of stores, and just like the markets, it’s very easy to get turned around, which yes, I managed to do many times.
One thing which is a major improvement over my previous visits is the total lack of pushy sales people, whereas before you would walk into this place and be swamped by people trying to sell you things. Yes, it was almost as bad as the Jade Markets
This time, I went in, and none of this, a few sellers said hello, and asked if they could help me. WOW, this will make me want to come back, rather than follow the jade market and avoid at all costs.
So, if you are in HK, and am in the market for anything related to PCs, then head to Sham Sui Po, and bargain hunt. One thing to note, is if you visit on the weekend, it can get very crowded, as for me, my first visit was mid week and late morning, so yes it was busy, but not even close to the weekends.
Remember, this is HK, and most places do not open until late morning and stay open until quite late in the evening, so visiting early in the day is not a good idea. Even late in the morning, many of the stalls were only just opening up.
As for me, it’s been a very long half day wandering around, and spending way too much money, it’s time to head back to my accommodation for food and a rest.
But me being me, I could not just get back on the MTR like any sane person would, no chance of that, I decided to walk back, and yes it maybe later in the day, but it’s still hot and humid.
Talking of the walk back, its just a case of finding Nathan Road and following it until it hits Tsim Sha Tsui, its only a few km, mostly shaded, and totally flat, so an easy walk for just about anyone.
And yes, during the walk back, I took lots of photos, which will end up in several other pages, so watch this space.
Daily stats: 35,870 steps, which as always Samsung health tells me around 26km.