Looking at the weather forecast last Saturday and seeing the outlook was for rain, rain and more rain, it seemed a good opportunity to convince David to accompany me on a day trip shopping in China. I mean, what else can you do on a rainy day in Hong Kong? So, getting up early, we set off for the MTR (Hong Kong's tube system) armed with our passports and China visas, and headed to Luohu Commercial City just across the border from Hong Kong in Shenzhen.
Luohu (or LoWu) is renowned for its wide-range of quality knock-off shoes, handbags, wallets, watches, clothes, DVDs - you name it, if it can be copied, you can find it. With 1,700 shops spread over 5 floors it is a rabbit warren of small stalls displaying Prada sunglasses, Mulberry handbags, Louboutin heels, Beats by Dre headphones and Panerai watches. It seems a little daunting on arrival and hard to know where to start but I had done a lot of research on Tripadvisor, blogs and through expats living here and had a good idea of where to head and how much we should be charged for each item. If you aren't a confident negotiator you run the risk of being ripped off, but if you know that you should be paying around 1/3 of the shopkeepers opening price, it makes it easier to stick to your guns and acquire some great bargains.
As a guide we were advised that you should be paying around the following:
Baseball hat: £3
Polo shirt: £5
Converse shoes: £8
Nike trainers: £18
T shirts: £3
AAA quality handbag: £60
Good quality handbag: £35
Business shirts: £6
This was meant to be a bit of a fact finding mission but I loved the bargaining and came home laden with shoes, handbags and scarves and spent less than £100. On our next trip we are going to get clothes copied, suits made and I will be stocking up on more handbags and shoes.... after all a girl can never have too many.
My only word of warning to anyone unfamiliar with China - is that your shopping is accompanied by the toe-curling sound of someone loudly clearing the phlegm from their throat, followed by the splat as it lands on the floor centimetres from your feet (if you are lucky)!