I’m not much of a shopper at home. I’d rather read or go to a movie. But that all changes when I travel, especially to my favorite cities. Back when I lived in Hong Kong, friends and family in the US would give me shopping lists or I’d buy things for them on my own.
On my recent trip to Hong Kong, my kids put in an order for bamboo steamers and toy dim sum to put in them. From a previous trip there, I knew exactly where to go to buy the steamers.
Who could forget this gorgeous landmark across from the steamer shop? It’s one of my favorite buildings in Hong Kong.
I picked us these toy dim sum throughout that week (plus some erasers of Japanese food).
Here are more erasers.
I was determined to buy the kids this new coloring book by Eleanor McColl. One afternoon I was near a bookstore I knew, so I ducked in and found it easily. My youngest two kids have really enjoyed it so far. I almost felt like a local, going here and there without needing a map or having to ask where to find these things.
My friend Carmen gave me a little shopping list of books she’d like, so one evening I headed to Nathan Road, where I remembered a Chinese bookstore from my twenties. It was still there! I asked a saleswoman in Cantonese for this book, but then realized her name tag used pinyin and was actually quite relieved when she answered in Mandarin. She told me to go to the third floor. Up there I asked another saleswoman and voila–here it is. The cashier on the ground floor was super nice when I returned downstairs to pay for it.
I also brought Carmen a copy of my friend and agent-sister Christina Matula-Hakli’s fabulous picture book, The Shadow in the Moon, which will soon be published in the US.
For my mom, who watched the kids while I was gone, I bought some tea from the Peninsula and a cute tea egg from Goods of Desire. It’s one of my favorite stores in Hong Kong and I could get to the Hollywood Road shop in my sleep.
I’ve blogged already about the dress and skirt I had tailored there, so that was obviously a huge purchase. But I also picked up some things for myself, like these house slippers, also from Goods of Desire.
And these travel slippers. I also got my mom a pair in a HK neon sign pattern. I saw someone on my outgoing flight with a pair of these and was determined buy a pair or two!
I had a name chop made because the one I got in China a long, long time ago was lost in one move or another. I thought it would be fun to use this stamp when I sign books. Over the last several years, I’ve had chops (stone and a plastic one like this) made for my three kids, so I knew exactly where to go to order mine.
I couldn’t resist this iconic Hong Kong red, white, and blue bag. I’ve been obsessed with this pattern and material since I was an exchange student 26 years ago. This little tote is perfect for my wallet, keys, phone, and a book.
That’s enough shopping for one trip, right? But I haven’t even posted gifts from friends, not including the dozen or so meals!
My friend Terence and his wife helped me buy this beautiful Hong Kong tea pot months ago and said I could get it from them on my next trip there. It’s designed by Mariko Jesse and comes in a blue or red pattern, plus plates, dishes, cups, and saucers.
Terence also gave me this Umbrella Revolution poster, which I just had framed. If you want to learn more about the Umbrella Revolution, which is relevant to what’s going on there now, be sure to check out Jason Y. Ng‘s book, Umbrellas in Bloom (Blacksmith Books, 2016).
I was also given these fabulous bookends from Sneha and Priya at The House of Folkore. They’re so Hong Kong. When I taught English in Hong Kong while I was in college, my students all called me Missy, as they did with every youngish woman. I recently blogged for the House of Folkore here.
When I spoke at Hong Kong University during that week, the class gave me this pink journal I’m holding. I love journals and have already gotten a ton of use from this one.
My college roommate Ling gave me these pu-erh tea nuggets on my last night there. I also went shopping with my other roommate, Rita, and bought an amazing Armani suit at an outlet store, but don’t have a photo of it yet. I normally wouldn’t buy anything so fancy, but at that price I couldn’t turn it down!
I learned my lesson last year when I traveled to Shanghai (with a couple layovers in Hong Kong) with just a carryon. This year I came prepared and managed to stuff all these goods into a large suitcase.
Wait until I hit Paris this summer!