Sneakers and Smartphones

I spent a couple hours in Mong Kok yesterday, which is basically a huge shopping district across the bay on the peninsula. On Nathan street there is block after block of high end clothing companies, while beautiful european models gaze down on you from massive billboards, begging you to just try and look as good as them. There are so many watches, that even if you put on a new one every minute, you probably would die before you wore them all. If you wander over a block or two, you find the more “real” Mong Kok: Tung Choi street is lined with booth after booth, selling everything from wigs to board games to Beats headphones to handbags to children’s toys. One section is just groceries. Behind the booths are tons of restaurants and massage parlors and tons of camera stores. The cool thing is that it’s not full of tourists like you think; locals are all over, doing their shopping like it’s no big deal.

Further up Tung Choi I stumbled upon what I have now dubbed aquarium village (creative I know); literally every shop for almost 3 blocks is an aquarium or pet shop. My personal favorite was The Techno Aquarium, which I still maintain they should make into a bangin club.techno_aquarium

How they are all still in business I have no idea. On either side of Tung Choi are streets filled with more restaurants, pharmacies, camera shops, and shoe stores. I am now beginning to think that every Hong Kong resident owns 28 pairs of shoes, half of which must be adidas. Either that or they just buy them because they are bored. Literally every street has 2, if not more, adidas shoe shops. It’s not like they are empty either; every shop is buzzing (this was a Monday, mind you). Like aquarium village, I’m unsure how every one stays in business. Pure craziness.

After finally finding this tiny little film shop that will hopefully (fingers crossed) develop my 120 film, I grabbed lunch at a local joint. The number of restaurants in Hong Kong amazes me. On every street there are usually 3 different food stalls and 7 noodle restaurants, most of which serve pretty similar things. I usually just go for one that looks clean enough to eat at. While I was waiting for my food, I looked around at the groups of locals eating next to me. Literally every single person had some sort of smartphone or tablet (or something inbetween) in their hand. I counted at least three people with headphones in, watching something while their friends sat next to them! No one was offended either, because they were all busy playing games or texting or doing who knows what. I was the only one without some sort of device in my hand and was also the only one sitting alone, but I felt more present than anyone in the restaurant. Sometimes there would be sparse conversation, but the participants wouldn’t even look up at each other. I’ve always been kind of wary about smartphones and what they’re doing to society, but the way in which people here are pugged into their devices is plain scary.

When I left the restaurant, I suddenly became aware that everyone had a smartphone in their hand; at least 15 people nearly ran into me while they were looking down at their screens. Not only that, but on every corner there was a store selling the damn things, and every bus has an ad for the newest tablet-phone! In general, the culture of Hong Kong is extremely materialistic and possession obsessed. I’ll write more about that when I have gathered my thoughts a little better.

In the meantime, horse races tomorrow, and hopefully some photos! Stay tuned in.

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