[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.

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[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.

[love it] holiday bust

Our first official Chinese New Year in all it’s authenticity is over. A bit of a bust. Crummy weather topped with Hub’s ‘this-is-why-I-try-not-to-breath-on-airplanes’ flu really put a damper on our cultural exploration.

FYI, HK is a ghost town during CNY. Many shops are closed for at least three days, while almost all of China travels to spend time with relatives. “No way,” and “are you kidding,” and “maaan,” were my replies to repeated media reports about the number of travelers and trains crossing China during the ten day holiday. Make no mistake, there are a lot of people in China my friends.

Meanwhile, HK’s Tourist Board lined up all sorts of city-wide festivities. Open-air gift markets–didn’t attend. Traditional lion dance parades–we snoozed and loosed. And an international New Year festival with dance and float entries from all over Asia–maybe next year. Our first and biggest Chinese holiday of the year, and we stayed home watching re-runs of the re-make of Battlestar Galactica.

Frack.

Thankfully our building ended the 10 day holiday with a party. Here’s the breakdown.

Waiting for the Lion Dance to begin (with a friend in the building).

We were thrilled with the traditional Lion Dance!

The building staff grilled Chinese treats for everyone.

Building maintenance helped hang the offering for the Lion.

The Lion dances in your apartment bringing good health and prosperity for the new year. He takes the veggie and Lai See offering and ‘eats’ it, while you’re supposed to catch any vegetables that fall from his mouth for additional good luck.

Drummers helped with the excitement, and then it was time for pics with our friends.

KUNG HAI FAT CHOI!

[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