Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pacific Mall

More stories from my holidays - continuing on my Asian immersion experience in Toronto

I took my husband to Pacific Mall, the largest indoor Chinese mall in North America, located in Markham, of course (where else?).  The mall corridors are named after famous Hong Kong streets, and the shops are filled with huge crowds of Chinese people, and tourists who want to look at the huge crowds of Chinese people.

Like China, the mall was crowded and it was nearly impossible to find parking. Eventually after circling around and around, we just illegally parked the car in a spot that arguably could be a parking spot if you didn't look too closely, and we didn't think anyone would look too closely.

Pac Mall used to be really famous because of the way the shops would openly sell very illegal pirated copies of movies, video games and TV shows. Basically, you'd go into the shop, scan the very expansive catalogues, and indicate to the shop clerk what Korean drama you wanted to purchase. The store clerk would take your money, tell you to wait five minutes, disappear and re-emerge with a freshly burned DVD of whatever you wanted. Nowadays, in the age of Netflix, I wondered if the open-air bootleg industry was still thriving at Pacific Mall.

It seemed like despite the rise of the Internet, the pirates were still in business. We still found the "video store", with their stacks and stacks of movie selections, and angry signs that mysteriously read "No!! Sony player".  They weren't as plentiful as they used to be, though.

I am told these photos do not do the grime of Pac Mall justice

We grabbed some bubble tea from an area that seemed to be the Bubble Tea zone and checked out some of the other shops. They sold all sorts of things, but especially cell phone accessories. A few years back, these places were all about the little ornaments you could hang from your cell phones. Now that iPhones have replaced the flip phones, it's now all about iPhone covers and selfie sticks.  Each store had more angry signs that said things like "PLEASE DO NOT TRY OUT THE LIGHTS OR NAIL CLIPPERS". We did not try out the nail clippers.  I spent the majority of my money at the Korean cosmetic stores. We also bought a pair of knock-off Crocs, which to my disappointment were not called "Clocks".

Pacific Mall is a pretty magical place. Terracotta warriors guard the public bathrooms. The oddly familiar looking electronic store "Best Shop" is on the top floor. The food court is just past the "Luck" Bridge, and is like a step into Asia, with the ramen noodle stands, pig's heads and whole ducks hanging in the display cases, and a tattoo shop located right in the middle of the food court. It reminded us of shopping in Bangkok.