For Star Wars fans, Nathan Road and Tsim Sha Tsui in general, may very well be Hong Kong’s Mos Eisley. Obi-Wan Kenobi could have been talking about TST when he said “…you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious…”
NATHAN ROAD SPECIAL!
I’m not sure of the success rate of the copy-watch, handbag, suit, hashish, hooker or merchandise salespeople on Nathan Road…but judging by the amount of fat, slow, pale tourists lolling around clearly out of their element…it must be a deadset kill zone.
If I was to take a guess based on what I’ve seen I’d say it’s pretty easy for Tommy Tourist to outmaneuver the roving or corner based copy-watch guys. They’re pretty harmless – even the ones who try to sell you drugs:
“Copy watch boss? Copy handbag? Take a look!?…Hashish?”
They are pretty persistent, just like the suit guys who want you to go see their shop. If I wore suits I might even look into it. Anyway, I think most tourists are pretty leery of these street sellers and they have enough common sense to be suspicious of complete strangers.
The real slaughter seems to happen in those neon signed camera shops…the ones with 4 salesmen per square meter who look like they wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. These are the guys who stand on the step of their shop and study you with cold and indifferent eyes. In their defense, maybe the sight of Mom & Pop Mudburger and their 3 humongous children waddling into the shop day after day, their eyes sparkling with the myth that Hong Kong is still a shopping paradise of cheap, cheap cameras and mind bogglingly high tech gadgets, would jade the living shit out of even the purest heart.
Be that as it may, many, many tourists don’t know they’re walking into a trap.
You read and hear it everywhere – don’t buy shit from the camera shops on Nathan Road. But do they? What do you mean ‘do they‘!?
I walked into one of these camera shops once and instantly felt cold and unwelcome, foreign and watched. It didn’t matter that it was a shop and I was a potential customer. Maybe they sensed I wasn’t there to buy their shit. I lasted no more than 20 seconds before I just had – to – get – out. Chilling. Cruel eyes. I got away…but many tourists don’t. You can smell death in those shops – tourist blood.
What about those chaps who sit on the fence outside the Chung King Mansions? Salt of the earth? Mind my suitcase while I tie up my shoe? Vultures? Unfortunate exiles? I dunno but they are almost as creepy as the bowels of the Chung King Mansions themselves.
The bottom of Nathan Road is like that part of the river where all the wilderbeast must risk a crossing…where watchful and wily crocodiles wait to take the weak under.
If you find yourself in a situation with some mustache twirling, gold toothed grifter who calls you ‘boss’ or ‘chief’…and who tells you he has a death sentence in 12 systems…
…remember Mos Eisley and the Cantina Bar…
Nathan Road isn’t that bad. You’re not going to get shanked or raped and if you’re careful you wont be sweating on STD clinic results the next day. There’s more physically dangerous places in the world, for sure. But if you like hanging out with straight up scumbags you probably couldn’t find a better place.