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Blue and White, Big and Heavy

Why is blue and white porcelain so irresistable? Walking down Standon Street in Central during a heavy summer rainstorm, umbrella pulled down close to my head, I spotted a glimpse of blue and white plates out of the corner of my eye, and immediately backtracked. Lifting the umbrella, I could see a cubby-hole sized shop stacked from ceiling to floor with shelf after shelf of blue and white – teapots, cups, big pots, small pots, vases and ginger jars. 
I had to go in, of course, partly to shelter from the downpour, and partly to see if there was anything I couldn’t resist buying. I am well known for purchasing large, heavy impractical items on holiday, often very breakable, and carting them halfway across a country or even halfway round the globe to get them home. A mint green teaset bought for a fiver in a charity shop in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, carried as hand luggage all the way back to Australia. A set of three red and white enamel washbowls, carted by train from Yunnan to Shanghai. A leg of heavily-smoked ham, carried on my lap on the flight from Guiyang, with a fragile silver Miao head-dress perched on top. I like to think I have never let inconvenience get in the way of a truly great purchase, anywhere in the world.   
So as I walked around the tiny shop, seeing all the wonderful heavy and breakable things at absolutely bargain prices (and after living in China, hardly anything in Hong Kong is a bargain anymore), and I started to justify one or two purchases to myself. While I was flying from Hong Kong to Australia two days later, my husband was travelling back to work in Shanghai with a practically empty suitcase, wasn’t he? Surely he could be convinced to take just one or two small things carefully wrapped, and leave them in the kitchen until I got back?

Luckily I didn’t call him to ask first, because an hour later the final purchase included four blue and white condiment bottles (perfect for soy sauce, oil, and vinegar, plus a spare in case of breakage), a porcelain tea jar, a sugar pot, a salt pot with a tiny blue and white porcelain spoon, and two Chinese tea sets for gifts. Then, at the last minute, I added an oval wicker basket with a beautiful silver clasp, designed as a teapot warmer – lined with red cotton printed with peonies and dragons, and padded snugly. Pure folly, because I had been seduced by an identical one brought into our hotel room on arrival, filled with fragrant jasmine tea. I don’t even know if my own Chinese teapot will fit into it. 
Back at the hotel, my very patient and long suffering husband just asked – “suitcase or hand luggage?” as I presented him later two bulky bags filled with mysterious newspaper-wrapped packages. What a fellow. I guess after all these years he’s just come to expect it, but I’m ever so grateful to him all the same. What has been your most impractical holiday purchase?

Hing Chewng Fu Kee
17 Standon Street, Central
Hong Kong
Open 7 days from 10am
  • Leah

    I made a didgeridoo while studying Aboriginal culture in Australia… at the time I was a University student studying abroad and I didn't think about the logistics of trying to backpack around the country carrying this huge instrument along with all my clothes and school books. Ridiculous. I ended up mailing my schoolbooks home pretty quickly (they were cheap to ship and heavy to carry!) But after about a month of backpacking I happened to be in Sydney and I spotted a FedEx office. The morning before I got on another bus I took that didgeridoo in and paid an arm/leg to have it shipped back to Philadelphia where my brother was house-sitting my apartment. I address it to him and it happened to arrive on his birthday, so he assumed it was a present. I didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't, I was just glad it got home safe and I didn't have to carry it around anymore.

    And then there was the time…

    I made a large set of glass plates as a wedding gift and rather than shipping the massive set my boyfriend and I packed them in our carry-ons and carried the nearly 50lbs of glass across the country together. Whew. That was a labor of love.

    Suffice to say I feel your pain 🙂 I cannot help myself as well

  • Fiona

    Leah welcome to the club, I can see you are a fully paid up member (of the Women Who Love Large Impractical Things Enough To Transport Them Via Hand Luggage Club) 50lb of glass? I'm super impressed! Sending your membership card and excess baggage exemption forms shortly….

  • Tiina

    Hi Fiona!

    I love reading your blog but am moving back to China from Europe next week. I am wondering what VPN service do you use to blog?


  • Fiona

    Hi Tiina – thanks for reading! Are you excited about moving back?
    I currently use Strong, and it's much easier to purchase before you get back to China if possible. Once in China it's almost impossible to access any of their websites (they have multiples, under different names, but the govt seems to be on to it). Good luck!

  • Connie Lou

    Once an airport agent asked me what is so heavy..I replied Victoria's Secret, referring to all of the little lotions I was taking home to my team at work…his response: "Wow" those tiny little underwear sure weigh a lot!" LOL! I too love blue and white. I currently have the rice pattern collection. There is an old "Chinatown" in downtown Honolulu, thankfully, where I can get them at a good price too.

  • Fiona

    Very funny! I think he was imagining a suitcase stuffed to the brim with lacy frilly things – probably made his day!!