Hong Kong Trip #1 – Family, Eating, and Shopping

(originally on Blogger March 18, 2010)

Family

Baby G is ready for a sunny day of shopping
wearing Mommy’s shades

So far we’ve been here for a few days and I already feel like it’s been a good satisfying trip. I achieved the real goal of coming to Hong Kong and that is to visit my maternal grandmother who is in her mid-90s. My 4 year old has spent some time with her and hopefully he’ll remember this trip even without the photos. Writing this post actually makes me tear up a little bit. I have not spent enough time with her in recent years and all of my cousins and I have realized that there is likely little time left to enjoy her company.

I’ve always loved looking at her hands and I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

After taking my grandmother out for lunch we went back to her room at my aunts house. My grandmother took out a digital voice recorder, turned it on, and just left it running for our whole visit. We just sat around and watched TV while my son played his Nintendo DS. We chatted about random stuff, had snacks and tea, and then we left. I asked my mother later about the recorders and apparently granny has been doing this for years. She’ll recite literature or poetry for hours and then listen to it again some time later. Her eyesight has deteriorated so much in recent years I understand her motivation.

I am in awe that she does this. Listening to my own voice even on my voicemail causes me great distress. Despite the fact that I have sang in front of audiences and performed off/on for different functions over the years I cannot stand to hear myself sing. I must leave a room if people are watching a tape of my performance. This reminds me of when Rob Pattinson couldn’t watch the Twilight premiere and had to leave the theatre to go throw up. Just too embarrassed I guess.

That my grandmother can recite poetry or literature for hours really should come as no surprise to me. My great grandfather started one of the only school for girls in Hong Kong and he insisted that women should have a solid education. This is back in the early 1900’s when women were expected to shut up and have babies. I don’t know where those genes got lost but I suspect my fathers scientific engineering side won out. Hence I am in medicine and my sister is a programmer; neither of us enjoyed English lit one bit.

My grandmother’s favourite chocolate

Another thing that struck me as funny was my grandmothers statement “have some chocolate, it helps keep you full.” My son had eaten very little for lunch because he is a picky eater and was jet-lagged. She spent the whole visit back at her place plying him with cookies and sweets. Her statement about how chocolate keeps you full totally hit home.

Our family idea of what a complete meal should be

My grandmother had 5 daughters and a son. My mother and her sisters are not good at cooking everyday food. In fact, none of my cousins are either (except the boys who seem to cook much better than the girls). However, many of us are good at making dessert. I have only seen my grandmother cook rice twice in my whole life and my mother cook dinner less than twenty times ever. But my grandmother will spend painstaking hours to make awesome Chinese desserts. Sound familiar? It’s a good thing that all the women in my family have managed to find men who cook well – I think this is actually one of our minimal criteria for marriage.

Seems like a dangerous way to cook

Eating

One of the hardest things to make in Chinese cuisine are these Shanghai-ese steamed buns.

Each of these buns is actually a mini pouch of soup so that when you bite into them the soup explodes into your mouth. They are a specialty of the Nanxiang Steamed Bun people who have a location in Hong Kong. It was a perfect place to catch lunch at 12 noon before the 1pm office lunch crowd hit. It was also great because we happened to get a table by the window so baby G could look at the trams and double decker buses going by.

We ended up having a snack at McDonald’s too. Some differences in the menu include the Happy Meal being served with an option for corn instead of fries.

Happy Meals come with corn instead of fries if you want

They offer taro pie in addition to apple. It doesn’t taste like Hawaiian Poi and was very good although I’m biased because I like taro and purple food can’t be bad right?

Shopping

Causeway Bay, my favourite department store Sogo


No one can match my family in shopping. Given that a matriarch runs a family overrun with women, shopping and eating snacks are our biggest pastimes. A typical family outing is to go shopping for a minimum of 6 hours and have cookies and coffee for dinner while holding a ton of shopping bags (well, the boys hold the bags if they were brave – ahem stupid – enough to come with us.)
However, I am at a loss. Hong Kong has proven so far to offer very little Twilight stuff. The only thing I found was this.



I only knew about the existence of this Jacob doll because of the recent news about the tattoo being upside down but I have never seen it before. It quite floored me when I was surreptitiously walking through our favourite Japanese department store Sogo here in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong and I saw it. Jacob is trapped between two rows of Edward dolls on either side. Bella is nowhere to be found and long ago sold out.

I am not a Taycob fan and in fact I have been known to openly loathe him. But the collector in me couldn’t pass this up. So my mom bought it for me. It makes me feel like I’m seven again to have my mom buy me a Barbie but considering that my sister and I only had two Barbies ever it seems okay. Maybe I bought him just so that I can watch the Edward doll beat the crap out of him. Oh, that imagery makes me smile.

I was out on the hunt that day as well for a new camera for Mr. TC.

Canon S90
Wan Chai Computer City mecca

The price is the same as at home but without the tax and you’re more likely to get freebies thrown in. We usually shop in Wan Chai away from all the tourists of Tsim Sha Tsui and go to big shopping complexes called Computer City. It’s multiple floors of very small shops all competing for your business. Some of there stuff is legal and lots of it is not. My dad, like any regular guy, loves these places and so he was happy to have an excuse to take me without my mom harassing him for wasting time in an area where they don’t sell clothes and purses.

My dad has “a guy” at Power Smart that he buys cameras from – these are direct imports from Japan and not authorized dealers so there is no Canon warranty. But “the guy” will fix your camera for you. Once I brought home a camera from Hawaii that had stopped working completely. Canon said it was cheaper to just buy a new one because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My mom brought it to “the guy” and he opened it up and found a 1/4 tsp of sand inside it! It cost 50 bucks Cdn and I got my camera back in good shape.

I was also on the search for an R4 card for my kids Nintendo DSi machines.

If you don’t know, these are cards that have a micro SD card in them that you can upload multiple games onto that you find on bit torrent. Of course Nintendo doesn’t approve of these devices and in fact the R4 cards we bought this time stopped working after a day. They work fine in the old style Nintendo DS but the new DSi machines seem to be smart enough to block these illegal devices. It’s my fault for not realizing they have something called an R4i which should get around the roadblocks Nintendo has built in. My father endeavours to go back and get the R4i – another excuse for him to go back to the video and computer game megaplex.

Other things I’ve found while shopping (I was too afraid to take out my camera in these places since most of them weren’t entirely legal so I ended up finding stock photos but you get the idea)

The prettiest Hello Kitty Mahjong set I’ve seen
Almost bought Transformer Mickey for Mr. TC who loves both cultural icons
They sell a lot of different iphone cases for $5-15 bucks Cdn each. My favourites ones:
The yummiest iphone case ever! It even smells like chocolate
Pretty soft case costing $16 Cdn each
Matching iphone wallpapers it comes with for free

Even though toy capsule machines are an old concept we still enjoy them. My son loves these things. Instead of capsules we nickname them Egg Machines in Chinese.

Toy capsule machines
Mini working replicas of these machines to baby G can play his own

Along the way we also stopped in a shop that sells pirated music and movies. These stories often aren’t as seedy feeling as they sound and I’m always surprised they are allowed to exist at all. The quality is very good and the only thing that gives away the pirate nature is the totally f*cked up spelling on the box. What do you expect for 5 bucks USD each?

It’s pretty and perfect as long as you can’t read the English.

I have to recount a funny story of how much stuff we bought today. First of all, the department stores here split up their merchandise by brand, not type of apparel. For example all the jeans aren’t together but instead there is a Levi’s section with all Levi clothing and then another Calvin Klein jeans section with all types of CK Jean apparel. It’s annoying because you have to pay for everything in the section where you found it. Totally different from shopping in North America where you can wander around a store and pay for it all at one counter. Hence I had to pay at six different counters all on the kids toy and clothing floor today. I only bought one or two items at each section but that’s six times I took out my money and six different bags they insisted on giving me.

This is also how I didn’t realize we had forgotten a bag at the store. A middle aged man suddenly stopped us and asked if we were the women who forgot their purchases back at one of the counters. People make it a point of not talking to strangers in Asia – usually if you do you’re either crazy or a criminal. So we ignored him of course. Then my cousin, who is such a crazy Hello Kitty fan that the store clerk has her cell number on file in case they get new exclusive stock, called me and said that indeed we had forgotten something back at the store. Mortifying that I had forgotten something and even worse that I had thought that man was crazy. He did the most un-Hong Kong thing and went out of his way to help us and we totally brushed him off. I’ll have to make this one up in karma somehow by being a super good girl.

So my favourite purchase for the day?

This Nintendo DS case comes in third place
Hong Kong dimsum Hello Kitty card case comes in second
Hello Kitty Cupcake bus pass holder is the Winner!

Of course I couldn’t pass up the pussy and cupcake together šŸ™‚ Aw, it makes me think of the fanfic Clipped Wings and Inked Armor’s Tattward who love cupcakes almost as much as I do.

Okay, we’re off to Hong Kong Disneyland tomorrow. Should be wonderful fun!

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Comments
One Response to “Hong Kong Trip #1 – Family, Eating, and Shopping”
  1. beautifull baby honestly especially like his awesome glasses,anyways for how long did you stay in hongkong? was it worth a trip? hah

    hot baby

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