Thursday 10 November 2011

My Favourite Travel Shopping Find

On the second Wednesday of each month The Travel Belles invite bloggers to to participate  in the “Across the Café Table”  series. A travel-related question is asked and answered as a way to get to know one another, sharing answers “across the virtual café table,”

Living here in Seoul, and being allowed only 20KG baggage allowance when I came over (thanks Korean Air!) I wasn't able to bring everything I would have liked to. Essentials included clothes and toiletries only! So things to make me feel at home in my new house out here had to be easily packed. That's why, if you ever come to my apartment there aren't many trinkets from my travels over the years, just photos of family and friends, and maps from every place I've lived (which it has been commented on more than one occasion make my place look like a classroom). So when I read the latest 'Across the Cafe table' question on Travel Belles, 'What's your favourite travel shopping find?' I had to really think about what I had bought while away. When I travel I tend to take a lot of pictures, and always walk around markets but rarely buy much.

The one thing popped into my head, and that I know I will treasure for a long time is the Traditional Tea set I bought in China. It was one of the first things that I bought to send home.

We'd only been in China for a couple of weeks when the National Day holiday allowed us 5 days off (plus 2 weekends). A few friends and I braved the 48 hour train down to Hainan Island. Looking around the small array of stalls on the way to the beach everyday I saw lots of traditional generic Chinese souvenirs. There were lots of tea sets with various patterns on them. I saw one that I liked, it was a little unusual, blue and decorated with figures rather than simply patterns. One night, aided by a couple of friends I asked the stall owner how much she wanted for it. I can't remember the price, but I wasn't happy with it, and she wasn't interested in barganning. I was disappointed, but as has happened so many times since, I walked off, certain that I would easily find another place selling the same thing where I'd be able to bargain.

Of course that didn't happen and by the end of the week I had to go back to the first lady, tail between my legs and pay the price she'd originally quoted. Thankfully she didn't demand more! The funny thing about this shopping find is that I'd originally thought to give it to my brother as a present and later find another set for myself. Here's the thing: I didn't actually get paid a lot when I worked in China and saved all the money I could for travels. I never did buy another tea set, and after finally being reunited with it when my year away had finished (a friend had taken it back earlier to the UK for me) I never mentioned it to my brother and kept it for myself... It now sits in my bedroom in Essex, awaiting my return!

Similar-ish Chinese set from shutterstock...

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  1. What a lovely idea for a souvenir! :-) My brother brought me one home from Russia and I absolutely treasure it. :-)

  2. Yes, writing about it makes me sad that I can't go and take a look at it now! Might have to get my mum to send me a picture! :-)

  3. Sounds like a find worth paying for! And I'm sure you appreciate it more than your brother would have...