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Macyn's Present

Jim has a young friend in California named Macyn, who celebrated her 7th birthday about the time we were visiting Hong Kong. We decided that Hong Kong would be the perfect place to find Macyn a great birthday present, preferably some kind of traditional Chinese handicraft. We had 3 days available, and it took us all 3 days. This is the story of our search for Macyn's Present.

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Hong Kong Harbor.
1. Hong Kong Harbor
2. Streetpainter
Chinese restaurant.
3. Chinese restaurant
Early morning.
4. Early morning

Hong Kong — Day 3

It was dawn on Day 3, and we were getting worried. We had only one more day to find a birthday present, and we had been having very little luck. We left the hotel early, too early. All the shops were still closed. So we went for breakfast and made our plans for the day.

We had been too random in our search, so we went to the hotel concierge for advice. The woman there recommended a Chinese department store named Yue Wah, which specializes in traditional Chinese products. There was a Yue Wah store near the hotel.

We walked to the store, but they had not yet opened. While we waited, we walked around a bit. Everywhere we traveled in Hong Kong, we found major new buildings under construction and older buildings being renovated. The scaffolding they use is made of bamboo. The bamboo is held together with plastic strapping like that used to band boxes. Even very tall structures are surrounded by bamboo scaffolding going up dozens of floors.

After a futile search through 4 floors of traditional Chinese handicrafts, we were about to leave when Jamie found a beautiful silk scarf. It was perfect! It was a traditional design, a lovely color, and we thought we had found the ideal present. We bought it and returned to the hotel. Then Jim realized that we had no idea what the Chinese characters on the scarf meant — they might be totally inappropriate for Macyn's Present.

So, back to the concierge, with the scarf and the question, "What does it mean?" Why, it means "Happy Birthday", and the fruits in the middle of the scarf are traditionally eaten at Chinese birthdays, just like birthday cake in the US. "What kind of fruit is it?" She didn't know the word in English. Our next idea was to take the scarf to the fruit market near our hotel. The lady there spoke no English, but we showed here the scarf, and she offered us a peach. We bought it and went back to the concierge. Yes, that was it — a peach. So we ate the peach, which was great, and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

But we weren't finished yet! We still needed Chinese wrapping paper (bright red) and a way to ship our present to California. We found wrapping paper back in Mong Kok and then took our purchase to a FedEx office. Yes they could ship our scarf, but we would first need to obtain a textile export license. We didn't have the time for that, so it was back to the concierge again. She helped us fill out the paperwork to send Macyn's Present by Air Mail, with no further problems. It was now the afternoon of Day 3, and we were finally finished. We had just made it, and had run out of time. We got up at 4:00 am the next morning to catch our flight back to the Philippines. And this is the end of the story of our search for Macyn's Present. We hope she enjoys it.

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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 6/2002. All photos are © 2002 by Jim Richter.