[happy tourist] furniture shopping

When packing for Hong Kong we intentionally left a few gaps in our furniture shipment, with the plan of filling those gaps with Chinese furniture awesomeness.

Well, believe it or not, not all Chinese furniture is awesome.

So the hunt continues. This time I joined a shopping group, hosted by Home Redesign HK, on a 70 minute ferry ride into Zhu Hai, China to go direct to the source – the factories. Five factories to be exact.

Our tour guide, Jeni, kept reminding us that the factories weren’t controlled environments. Basically meaning that almost everything is built, sanded, stained, lacquered, etc. in a raw space with natural ventilation, natural lighting, and lots of dust. These were not sweatshops. There were no child laborers. It was totally perfect for their needs, and the furniture is great (if you’re into Chinese style).

Although I didn’t buy anything, I still have my eye on a few pieces…and it was an amazing look into Chinese life/work. And furniture.



[happy tourist] beijing the second time

Almost 12 years to the day, Hubs and I honeymooned in Beijing. This week we went back for more. Of course this time we had a few tag-a-longs.

In 2000, Beijing was a highly populated city (12.8M +/-), even more so now (20M +/-). And we could feel the population difference at every attraction. So. Many. People. Sight-seeing quickly became more about getting through the hoards (and I do mean hoards), and less about discovery and reflection. Not to mention that we actually had a “if you get lost” plan in place for the girls – because, you know, there are So. Many. People.

Part of Project Chinese History/Culture,  included going against every traveling instinct that Hubs has – and hire a guide. Turned out to be a solid plan. Frank, our guide, was/is well informed about the city and its history. He filled us in on Chinese symbolism, customs and more. We heart Frank.

Here’s a look at thousands of years of history, covered in four days in Beijing.

An art district called 798, this was a great place to walk around, see some art, finds some crafts, and enjoy a variety of foods.

The Great Wall of China
makes for a great workout with its multitude of steep steps and slopes.

About 150,000 tourists visit The Forbidden City each day. That’s about 1/4 the number of people that the ceremonial courtyard was built to host.

We enjoyed a very nice lunch at a traditional Chinese themed restaurant. It was a beautiful place that created an authentic dining experience. The iPad menus and Coke cans were the only clues that we weren’t in the Ming dynasty.

Manmade mountains surround this manmade lake which makes up the Summer Palace, used only a few days out the year by the emperors.

Before going to the airport, we went back to the hutong neighborhood that Hubby and I had visited twelve years ago. Although it’s still a genuine look into how the Chinese have lived for hundreds of years, it was certainly a less quiet and intimate peek into the past.

Just a little more.

[sweet girls] tea for two

Perry’s Hong Kong wish list item number one. To have a traditional Chinese tea. I know, totally sweet, right? Today we started our search with Lock Cha Tea House.

We cut through the Admiralty MTR station to get to Hong Kong Park (our version of Central park). Just after entering the Park, we reached the tea house, a very sweet building, with a tea museum next door. Jealous? We enjoyed vegetarian dim sum with our White Rose White Tea.

Lock Cha is on the tourist maps. But don’t let that hinder your tea time. You can learn about tea and tea service, or enjoy traditional Chinese music with your tea and dim sum (schedule). Charming traditional setting with ornate, dark wood dividers and screens. And of course you can buy blocks of tea, tins of tea, banana leave wraps of tea, etc. Everything reasonably priced.

And yes, we did walk through the museum too. Lots of tiny tea pots to be seen.

It was wonderful. Mostly because of Perry.

Lock Cha Tea House
Main Shop  //  UG/F, 290B, Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong  //  t: 2805-1360
Tea House  //  G/F, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty, Hong Kong  //  t: 2801-7177

[again] move no. 1.5

Even the taxi drivers call them “the chopsticks.” Two residential high-rises, side-by-side, sticking straight up from the mountainside. Like two chopsticks in a bowl of rice (which you should only do at funerals). Ours is the one on the left.

We move for the final time on Monday. We’ve been living in convenience-served-on-a-platter-ville for the past three months. Hong Kong Parkview. As you approach, it consumes the space between green mountains. It’s kinda weird. And thousands of people call it home. And hundreds more call it temporary-home.

Our new little rice bowl in Hong Kong is closer to the city without being in the heart of it. The girls are excited that it’s two stories. Who woulda thought a flight of stairs would make them so happy.

My inner interior designer is having a tough time focusing as we try to fill in furniture gaps. Not exactly a blank canvas, the apartment comes equipped with a certain style. Tasteful, but ‘expression’ will take some thoughtful work.

Here are some shots of a similar apartment.

Parkview image via Wikipedia.

[love it] our first public holiday, more

So two weeks later. I, for one, enjoyed the Fire Dragon Festival in Tai Hang. Teddy thought it was okay. Ava was wary of the burning incense. Perry didn’t like all the smoke.

Here are some additional observations and activities from that night.

Public sidewalks. aka place to sort through your loot. aka backyard grill. aka designated public walking path, remember?

Chilly bliss. We grew tired (and hot) of waiting for the festivities to begin (45 minutes of ceremonial blah blah, in Chinese). So we mosey’d around the corner and found a ‘smoothie’ shop called Xiao Tian Gu (address at end of post). Chinese style. Cool, refreshing and cool and refreshing. Blended ice fruit concoctions, sweet red bean–pure chilly bliss.

I just love a marching band. Just before scrambling to follow the winding dragon through the streets, the crowd moves and gets excited. And then without really knowing it, the people part to make way for a marching bagpipe band. Yep. Kilts. Furry, tall hats. Knee-high socks. Bagpipes. And all Chinese, except for one guy. It was A W E S O M E!

smoothie+ shop:
Xiao Tian Gu, G/F, 10-11B School Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong  //  t: 2882 6133

[love it] mask-animo

Scissors, tape, glue, paper, hole punch, string, paint, markers, more tape? Aka Crafts? Count the girls in.

Hub and I went a wanderin’ again last night. And found an amazing, I’ll say it again, amazing, shop neatly filled to the brim with kid stuff. Self-proclaimed “babies and kid concept store”, petit bazaar* has found a place in my heart. Little too gooey?

Now, I’m not sure what they mean by ‘concept store’ because everything was in full production and ready for a cash transaction. But it was all cute. And unique. And special. We bought the girls a mask making craft, Mask-Animo made in France (oui) by Mitik. Simple design, easy to assemble, and fun.


Ava and Teddy’s pal, Nicole, joined for some craft time.

petit bazaar*
9 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong // 852.2544. 2255 // m-sat 11.00-21.00, sun+pub 12.00-19.00
80 Queen’s Road East, Hong Kong // 852.2528.0229 // m-sat 10.00-20.00, sun 11.30-18.30