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Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong - souvenirs?

Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong - souvenirs?

Old Nov 5th, 2010, 11:48 AM
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Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong - souvenirs?

We are NOT buyers (other than tchotchkes)-- both of us actually love to window shop more than the actually buying. However, the thread on Yixing teapots got me to thinking. In Egypt we bought papyruses and love the reminder of our trip hanging on our walls. I have a beautiful ceramic plate from Antibes (every time I use it it reminds of the motorcycle mishap I had that day, an otherwise great day!). I have an urn that I bought in Athens in 1972 (broken now, but since it's a "genuine antiquity" it just adds to the charm ).

So, besides the Yixing teapots in Hong Kong, what would be special souvenirs to bring home from Vietnam, Cambodia and Hong Kong? I prefer things that hang on the wall or can be put on a shelf, as opposed to clothing, for example.
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Old Nov 5th, 2010, 11:43 PM
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In Vietnam, you can find things like trays, jars/vases and tableware in lacquered bamboo, as well as silverwork boxes and frames. Many people like the modern Vietnamese art, and galleries are all over the place in HCM and Hanoi. Cambodia would also offer similar items, as well as silk and ceramics. Jewelry may be a good buy in Cambodia (I have no personal experience with it.) You should also be able to buy spirit houses, which make very nice mementos, IMO.

In Hong Kong, we don’t really have any native handicrafts, but personally I would have shoes or a bag made (or your favourite shoes or bag copied). Otherwise, I like the inexpensive artwork, most of which is already framed; pieces like Chinese zodiac signs or paper cuttings. The smaller framed pieces generally cost less than US$25 and make great gifts or souvenirs (you couldn't even begin to get anything framed in the US for that price). My favourite are the wonderful "peasant paintings" which are brightly colored primitive-style folk art paintings of Chinese village life. You can find these in Stanley and often in other markets as well, as well as along Queen’s Road East in Wan Chai and some shops in Hollywood Road. Very whimsical and charming and a good memento of your trip.

If you like things to hang on a wall, there is a good selection of ephemera, colonial and otherwise, like antique maps, vintage movie or travel posters, postcards and hotel labels. These include Hong Kong items as well as items from the PRC and other parts of SE Asia generally. Black and white photos of old Hong Kong are widely available as well. A great series of new photos are the ones taken by Nick Gleitzmen’s from 100th floor lobby of the soon-to-be-opened Ritz-Carlton Kowloon. See http://www.nickgleitzman.com/hkpanorama/index.htm. I can recco a place to buy these in Hong Kong if you want, I believe you can also buy them on-line.

Certainly stroll Cat Street and Ladder Street along Hollywood Road for fun inexpensive souvenirs and kitschy items like old Chinese coins, editions of Mao’s little red book and other Communist paraphernalia. Hollywood Road generally is a good place to stroll, lots of antique shops and modern art galleries (bring money). Most are closed Sunday, so perhaps a better day to browse as you aren’t tempted to go inside…

Having a “chop” or seal made is easy and not expensive and another good memento or gift. These are small marble or stone squares which are carved with a Chinese characters on the bottom. The seal is pressed into an ink pad to leave a mark or seal on a letter or other document. In many places in Asia, no document is considered officially executed until a “chop” has been affixed to it. Many people have a phonetic rendering of their name carved for the chop, but using characters for double happiness, good luck, long life are other good options. They come with a little ink pad and usually in a nice presentation box. I have not priced them in a while, but I would be very surprised if you would pay more than US$10-15 for one, including a nice little silk box case, and a small pot of red ink paste. A good place to look to have a chop made is on Man Wa Lane, which is a small pedestrian-only lane off Bonham Road in Sheung Wan. This is a bit less frequented by tourists. You can also have chops made in Stanley. (Chops are used widely in Asia, and you may be able to get them made in Vietnam or Cambodia as well.)

If you go to the Po Lin Buddha, or someplace like Wong Tai Sin temple or the Chi Lin Nunnery, they have gift shops selling good luck amulets, CDs of Buddhist chanting, tea, sandalwood (bring money) and other unusual items.

Jewelry is a fairly good buy, especially the rather inexpensive Chinese pearls. Not the quality of Mikimoto, but something you can wear everyday and don’t have to keep in a bank vault. The Jade Market is quite fun, virtually all of it is fake, but certainly worth a stroll and you can get some nice costume items.

A stop at Shanghai Tang or Chinese Arts and Crafts would offer lots of interesting items. Shanghai Tang is on the pricey side; Chinese Arts and Crafts has a large selection of many items at fixed prices. From silks to tea pots, and all sorts of Chinese tchotchkes.

If you want to consider more unusual options, you can design your own china pattern and have china made (this would have to be shipped to you as it take 4-6 weeks to complete). Try Overjoy Porcelain, they have a small shop in the Fleet Arcade on Hong Kong Island, and a larger factory shop in the New Territories (I can provide info if you are interested).
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 03:04 PM
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Last year in Vietnam I bought silk scarves, hand made silk purses, a silk table runner (8 feet long and $20!) and had a winter wool coat made and lined with silk for $50. I also brought home some Vietnamese coffee and the little metal single cup coffee filters as gifts.

This year from Cambodia I brought home hand woven scarves in both raw silk and cotton, palm sugar, Cambodian spices (they grow pepper there), and bamboo placemats. Also silk wallets and some inexpensive shirts.

Textiles are very beautiful and inexpensive in SEA and you should have no problem finding something to hang on your wall there.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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We bought some really great laquerware from http://www.artisansdangkor.com/ in Sien Reap. I believe they also have a place in Phnom Penh
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 05:45 PM
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Kids?

If it's good enough for Brad and Angelina...
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Old Nov 8th, 2010, 03:51 AM
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Kristina, Can you recommend any of the silk shops? Did you have the coat made in Hoi An? Which tailor? Thanks.
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Old Nov 8th, 2010, 04:13 AM
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CFW, I can't recommend any silk shops, but the coat I had made was in Hoi An at small tailor called Hoi An Cloth Shop. It's at 154 Tran Phu St. You can see a photo here; http://www.wired2theworld.com/vietnam2009Day8hoian.html
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Old Nov 9th, 2010, 04:10 AM
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Kristina, Thank you for the link to your blog! Absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to read through it all.
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Old Nov 9th, 2010, 09:07 AM
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I did read through it (at least the Vietnam part) and it is great -- I sent it to my DH as "prep" for our trip!
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Old Nov 9th, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Here is some info on the tailoring experience in Hoi An. That town comes about midway through the report:



http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...rip-report.cfm
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Old Nov 9th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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Ekscrunchy, Thanks so much for re-posting. Lots of great recommendations. We're going to be staying at the Hilton in Hanoi -- would have stayed elsewhere but we have lots of Hilton points from business travel and it seemed like a convenient location and comfortable, so I was glad to read your review. Also staying at the Park Hyatt in Saigon, which I know will be very nice, and glad to hear how much you liked it. Loved all of your details about shopping and restaurants and have taken lots of notes.
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