Well before Tom and I left for Hong Kong, I’d played up our trip to our kids by promising something all kids love to hear: presents! Since I’ve been reading my kids books about Hong Kong since just after their birth, they were well-versed in the types of gifts found in the Fragrant Harbor.
I do love shopping, so it was a pleasure to run around Hong Kong trying to find the various items on my list. Tom was a great sport, as were the friends we met there.
First off, Martin wanted an abacus. I know Hollywood Road is touristy, but with only four days in Hong Kong, we just didn’t have time to comparison shop. So when we found this handsome case, I was already game.
And when we peeked in, it looked perfect.
Next on his list was a Hong Kong bus. Again, we ended up on the Peak, probably the ultimate in tourist trap kitsch. If I’ve learned one thing from traveling, it’s to always buy what you want or else run the risk of never finding those items again. So here’s the new and improved China Motor Bus we bought him. (The real thing was not this modern back when I lived in Hong Kong. Just saying.)
When I was Martin’s age, my grandparents bought me some fancy dragon slippers. I remembered seeing them in Stanley and even in a tourist store next to Chungking Mansions when I lived in Hong Kong. Stanley has changed and that tourist store is no longer next to the Mansions. In fact, no one I met in Hong Kong knew where to find these slippers (if you’re in the know, please leave a comment or send an e-mail). So my friend Rita bought the kids the next best thing–toy dragons.
The kids wanted these little dragons to be photographed with their larger Cathay dragon (received as part of our special Year of the Dragon Cathay airfare).
I bought myself a bunch of cheongsams and a Chinese top (if I muster up enough courage, I might blog about those, too), but was also on a mission to buy Rachel a new Chinese dress. When I found a stall in an alley off Queen’s Road, I impressed Tom with my bargaining skills and bought the kids these Shanghai Tang knock-offs. (Boy did it feel good to be back in Hong Kong!) Martin’s red shirt has an embroidered dragon and Rachel’s pink dress falls just above her knees. They love their new clothes!
For Rachel, I was commissioned by my grandmother to buy a jewelry box like the rectangular one my grandma had bought for me 30 years ago. Again, with a time constraint, I didn’t have the luxury to traipse around Hong Kong in search of an identical jewelry box. So when I found this one at the same antique shop where I bought Martin’s abacus, I bargained for both items.
It’s fashioned after a traditional Chinese pillow and has an inside similar to that of Martin’s abacus case. Incidentally, when I asked the shop owner how old these pieces were, guess what he said?
I love his honesty.
To balance Martin’s four gifts, I needed one more for Rachel. She’s into the Chinese zodiac animals, thanks to a book I read to her about this subject, so I found this colorful string of the 12 embroidered zodiac animals. It’s hanging with a scroll Jake’s grandfather in Hubei province painted last year.
It’s usually most difficult to shop for a 13 year old boy, but not in Hong Kong! Besides the requisite t-shirt (from my alma mater, The Chinese University of Hong Kong), I also bought Jake a Chinese name stamp. It’s not a traditional stone one, but a rubber one that is used all over Hong Kong these days. I also picked up a stack of 50 lucky red envelopes with his Chinese last name on it. My friend Erica gave me a Jewish mezuzah in the form of Hong Kong’s Ohel Leah synagogue. I’ll hang it next to Jake and Rachel’s bedroom door so they can enjoy it.
I also bought gifts for family and friends who helped with the kids while we were gone. Those have mostly been distributed, but I must say that tea, fans, Chinese silk jewelry cases, retro hotel drink coasters, and silk wallets have gone over quite well.
Since we’ve been back, the kids have asked me to return to Hong Kong to buy them more things. Ahh…