My folks are traveling to China in September. They asked me to pick something that I would like for them to bring back. I was curious if anyone could suggest something for the naturalist, vintage inspired collector? What is something that they might easily be able to find that would fit this personality?
Posted on Aug 19, 2012
Most of the larger cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, etc.) have areas of town which are peppered with antique shops. The Chinese themselves are not all that keen on antiques, preferring instead “modern” good. (This is probably so many of the Chinese are ‘new money’ and want to live in the modern world.)
For that reason, true antique malls and areas are relatively rare but can be found. Once you locate one, however, there are usually lots of small shops grouped together. It’s probably obvious but I should point out many of the ‘antiques’ are fakes, so it’s best if your parents can take a local with them to bargain for prices. The shop owners seeming always like to claim something is “over 300 years old”... so beware.
Having said that, there are a lot of “knick-knacks” available that are cool and make great wall/table decorations at inexpensive prices. You parents should be able to find you a little-treasure if they have a local with them.
Another idea is a nice tea set. Again, most larger cities have at least one shopping mall dedicated only to tea and tea accessories. The possibilities are almost unlimited, ranging from simple tea cups to full sized tables built only for drinking tea.
One of my favorite items is a tea set that includes a special serving tray. The tray has a removable catch-tray at the bottom. The idea is that as part of the ritual the host washes the tea cups by pouring tea over them. That tea then drains down through slots in the tray into the “catch tray”. The tea cups are held in place in their own special slots in the top of the serving tray as the tea is poured over them. After the tea cups are “clean”, the host then serves his/her guests tea in the freshly cleaned cups. The who ritual has a very calming “vintage” feel to it... so you might enjoy something like this.
A lot depends on how much spare room your parents have in their suitcase(s). I’d suggest they travel as light as possible with as few bags as possible when arriving in China. Then as they accumulate gifts, they can buy an inexpensive suitcase there to transport the gifts back home again.
The big tourist-trap shopping areas are unavoidable in China. (The Chinese buy as much of their own “junk” as foreign tourists do.) I find these areas really lacking in charm, however, so would really recommend finding some antique markets and/or tea-markets. Your parents are much more likely to find something authentic there. ... But as a last reminder, if they can find a local to accompany them, they will be much better off.
Wishing your parents a great trip (from an ex-pat living in China.)
Posted Aug 20, 2012Add a comment
Thanks so much! I do love tea, how silly I didn't even think of this. They usually bring a mask back from where ever they travel, but I was trying to think of something a little different for China. I was just looking for something cultural and classic, and not touristy items. Thanks for your suggestions!
Posted on Aug 20, 2012
Oh I'm glad you liked my tea-set idea. If room in your parents suitcase allows, the set that comes with the "washing serving tra"y would be the coolest. They are really "classic and cultural".
Your parents probably won't find these tea sets in the tourist areas (which is a good thing)... but rather in areas where Chinese people themselves frequently shop... but again, a "local" could show them the way and interpret for them.
Please excuse the many typos in my original answer... I was writing early in the morning and didn't have it all together yet. ;-)
Posted on Aug 20, 2012
Vintage you say?
well around Si He Yuan in beijing, in the small alleys they'll find small shops with evrything Mao for sale: from the little red book to the cloth bag with him waving hand on. Otherwise this kind ofplace sells lots of replica of all ages.
Posted Aug 21, 2012Add a comment