Shopping Suggestions/HK

Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 06:45 AM
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Shopping Suggestions/HK

My daughter will be working in Hong Kong for the month of February and has nicely offered to bring me back some gifts. I was thinking maybe some jewelry, is jade inexpensive? or some silk item. Any suggestions? She may also visit Hanoi and Bangkok so if there is something nicer from these areas I'd be interested in those ideas too. Thanks!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 07:19 AM
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If you want jewelry, Bangkok is the place to buy it. Jade is not inexpensive in Hong Kong, but it may be less expensive than in the US or Europe. If your daughter wants to buy jewelry, it is very important that she buy from a reputable jewelry store. Fakes abound.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Thanks Kathie, any other suggestions for an unique memento? or are items, lke perfume, just less expensive?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 07:33 AM
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Real jade is quite expensive. In my experience, it is also very hard to find in Hong Kong in anything other than expensive jewellery shops, and even there you have to know your stuff. At tourist shops and local markets, you daughter will see a lot of items which the shopkeeper will call jade, but 95% of which won't be. They are still pretty, and they will not be expensive. They will just not be real jade. There is nothing wrong with it, but your daughter should be armed with this knowledge when she bargains for "jade" items in Asia. If she is really interested in purchasing jade, and she is working in Hong Kong, she should solicit the help of a Chinese co-worker who speaks Cantonese and has some knowledge of jade or can enlist the help of someone who does.

Silk and cashmere are readily available in Hong Kong, and usually a good buy, but again she should know what she is buying (esp with cashmere which often only makes up a small percentage of what is sold as a "cashmere" item). She should do some shopping in the US before she goes so she has an idea of value for money. Silk scarves are a usually good buy, as are quilted silk Mao jackets (see Blanc de Chine and Shanghai Tang for good quality). She can have a handbag made for you at Meyer Shoes in the Mandarin hotel (not cheap but excellent quality and you can design your own bag and line it in various materials, including red suede which is my favourite.)

My suggestion would be to let your daughter get acquainted with what Hong Kong has to offer and she can then pick out an item. There are lots of fun and kitschy things to buy in street stalls like old "little red" books of Mao quotes, or in tourist shops like watches with Chairman Mao waving, etc. (See Shanghai Tang esp). There are several shops selling blue and white porcelain china, lamps and other items which make a nice gift. She can have a Chinese seal made with your name in Chinese characters.

If she is going to Thailand and Vietnam, there are many more things on offer, IMO. In Thailand, Thai silk and jewellery are two things that leap to mind. In Vietnam, she will find interesting things like trays and tableware in lacquered bamboo, and silverwork. If she decides to include these places in her itinerary as myself and others can offer lots of suggestions.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 07:41 AM
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Good advice, Cicerone, I appreciate it. I think she may go to BKK and Hanoi on weekend visits or on her way home, so unique items from these areas are something for us to consider too. One thing she may need is another suitcase LOL!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 07:45 AM
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You are lucky becuase luggage is a very good buy in Asia generally! She can buy suitcases at virtually all markets, esp in Bangkok.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 04:02 PM
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What a great opportunity for your daughter! I can't comment on BKK or Hanoi though I agree with Kathie and Cicerone and would caution against buying fine jewelry unless you have a reputable contact. While quite touristy, we found great bargains on silk scarves, fabric, porcelain, cloisenne, arts & crafts and handcarved name seals at Stanley Market and also recommend all of the Chinese Arts & Crafts stores. There are several locations in Kowloon and HK Island though we like the Star House location near Ocean Terminal/Harbour City shopping mall best. Two of my favorite buys are a colorful silk brocade emperor-style robe that I hung on a drapery rod as "wall art" and a Chinese calligraphy wall hung on parchment with a linen backing on a bamboo rod. The only drawback is these items are fairly bulky to hand carry home. I would encourage your daughter to seek out local artisans and bring home traditional crafts rather than something she might easily buy at home.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 06:34 PM
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Here are a few things that are very "chinese"...

The snuff bottles that are handpainted on the inside make a neat gift and they are low cost and small so they are easy to transport. Typically they depict one of the themes found in Chinses art - landscapes, people, animals or plants. They can be found at places like Stanley market or at any of the billion little shops.

Another fun item is the combination locks. Although the ones you find these days are reproductions of the original item they are neat and again small and inexpensive. You will see ton of them at the stalls on Upper Lascar (Cat Street). Cat Street is known for antiques and there are quite a few upscale antiques stores in the area. However most of the items in the street stalls in the area are not antiques at all so be ware. This is a fun area to spend an afternoon prowling around and shopping for curios and odd ball items.

There is a neat tea shop called the Chinese Collection at 10 Upper Lascar. The proprietress is very gracious and will gladly pour you tea to sample. She has a lovely selection of tea sets. They are not cheap, but they are distinctive and its a nice place to take a break and sample a few soothing teas. She also sells very nice teas.

Cloisonne or semi cloisonne items also abound - anything from decorative items and ornaments to dishes and urns.

Scrolls and Chinese calligraphy are also fun and plentiful.

Sets of decorative chopsticks are fun. The domestics floor at Sogo has a great selection of them. Sogo is a large (12 stories) Japanese department store.

The Peddar Building (12 Peddar Street) houses about 35-40 small clothing shops. Some are factory outlets, others are boutiques. You can find some bargains there.

If shes going to be in HK for a month she'll have time to do some exploring and get an idea of whats around and what the prices should be and do her shopping after shes gotten to know the local market a bit.




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Old Jan 26th, 2004, 07:31 AM
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Thank you Lia andCJBryant, those are great ideas! Just what we looking for.
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Old Jan 26th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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You have gotten some excellent suggestions here!

Just a note of caution on purchasing jade: Asians make a great distinction between two kinds of jade - "fay tsway" =jadeite and "yu" = nephrite. Jadeite can be extraordinarily expensive with incomparable color.

Nephrite is, by far, the most common. You can get some really cheap stuff, like the "dirty green" jade of Taiwan. You can also get some beautiful pieces of non-green jade which doesn't even look like jade.

There is also a lot of "jade" manufactured from wax, plastics, other stones injected with color, and so on. Jade is an extraordinarily hard material and generally cannot be scratched or marred with a fingernail...ummm, altho I won't suggest making a mark on a piece of fake jade. This could freak out the merchant - LOL!

Besides the QUALITY of the stone, the CARVING is equally important. A beautiful piece of stone is nothing until it has been transformed and the different striations interpreted. Asians tend to admire the carver's skill in turning a piece of jade into a background with a sable/peach/dragon/something perched on top and which aligns well with the striations in the
stone. You HAVE to HAVE an Asian explain these carvings to you and why various animals, fruits, and other icons are used.

Finally, the matter of gold. Gold is used to wrap around earrings, pendants, and so on. Asians do not want anything less than 18K gold. If you go into an expensive store where the gold is 12K, walk away from that store as fast as you would walk away from a piece of fake jade. Part of the pricing of the entire piece is dependent on the price of the gold. The more gold and the greater the amount of carving on the gold, the more expensive.

Of gold and jade in a bracelet - this may look prettier, but it frequently means that the jade was broken and had to be attached together with gold. Jade bracelets made from one smooth, unbroken piece of jade are worth more than jade combined with gold bracelets, no matter how much gold is used.

As for the best place to get non-fake items, Singapore comes out on top in my book. In other Asian cities, the advice to get a local person to go with your daughter is absolutely essential.

Lucky you! Enjoy your daughter's gifts!
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