View of Hong Kong and Kowloon skylines from Victoria Peak at 428 meters above sea level.
China just celebrated a national holiday, the founding of the PRC on October 1, 1949. Our offices were closed so I took the opportunity to visit Hong Kong. There are 7 million people living on a land mass of 426 square miles. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and I believe it.
I stayed at a cozy little apartment in Kowloon. The apartment had a small living area and bedroom just large enough for a double bed. The kitchen took up one short wall of the living room and had 1 burner, a sink, and a washing machine under the counter. The dorm sized fridge served as a tv stand in the living room. Overall it was roughly 14×16 feet, including three feet of counter space. However tiny, it was cozy, clean, safe, located in the heart of Tsim Sua Tsui, and close to the Jordan MTR station.
While I made it to some of the popular tourist markets, I also explored local markets to get a feel for everyday life. One of my favorites was the Mong Kok Flower Market. There were several streets lined with fresh flower stalls.
Orchids of all shapes and sizes were blooming.
The cacti reminded me of home.
I would have loved to get some plants or an orchid.
Immediately next to the Flower Market was the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. The garden was a little oasis in the middle of the city.
Old men walked along with their song birds in wooden cages. I did feel a little sad about all those caged birds. Then I spotted this bird freely sitting at a stall. He was lunching on that cardboard box.
After enjoying the smells and sounds of the flowers and birds, it was time to exercise the sense of touch. I had mapped out several yarn stores near the markets. All were within walking distance of each other.
Double Knit Yarn & Co. is located at 179-181 Fa Yuen Street on the 1st Floor (which means you go up to the first floor from the ground floor). It’s near the Mong Kok MTR. The shop had wall to wall wools and some synthetic yarns from Italy, France and Japan. The staff spoke little English but were very helpful.
As my favorite color is purple, I picked up three balls of this 100% extra fine merino superwash by Zara Chinè.
My next find was Filo Kilo located on the ground floor at 167 Sai Yee Street. The shop is very nicely laid out, all the yarn is neatly labelled, and the staff was very helpful. They even had a sale! I took five balls of this exquisite Cashmere Queen yarn. The fiber contents are 35% cashmere, 45% merino wool, and 20% silk. Scrumptious!
The two shades of green perk up the smooth beige.
I also had to have this wispy orangey-yellow mohair. The brand is BBB and is made in Italy. It’s 70% kid mohair, 30% polyamide.
My last stop was Knitting World located in the Prosper Commercial Building at 9 Yin Chong Street, 3rd floor. There is a fresh food market on Yin Chong which distracted me with salted and fresh fish, meats, and vegetables.
The shop is rather small and has a limited selection but I liked that two customers were sitting there knitting. Thankfully, one of them spoke English and helped me communicate with the sales lady. Since I had already purchased yarn at the two other shops, I only took these two balls for a hat.
The solid is Cashmere Soft by Lana Liza. It’s 65% Cashmere, 35% bamboo and made in Turkey. The multicolor ball is Bambu Color by Nako with the same fiber content.
Below are snapshots of the business cards: top left is Double Knit Yarn & Co., the vertical card is Filo Kilo, the bottom left is Knitting World.
These blog posts from fellow fiber enthusiasts were of great help in locating these yarn stores:
After a three-month stint in Beijing, I went home for a month. It’s funny how being away makes you appreciate every little thing. Of course there is family – my husband, sons, my mom, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues. Then there are blue skies, clean air, the sound of quiet, driving my car, air conditioning, clean bathrooms, ice …
A month later, I am back in Beijing. It’s different this time. While it is still a fabulous adventure, it was much tougher leaving home. The first time, there was the mystery of Asia and the challenge of the new business venture. We still have challenging work to do but I miss the rhythms of home.
While here, I continue to explore the city. My first free day, I went to the Summer Palace. It is 20 subway stops from where I stay and took almost an hour to get there.
The property is huge like most everything else here. It covers an area of 2.9 square kilometers (720 acres), most of which are bodies of water. It is kept immaculately groomed and landscaped. I walked for five hours straight that day, up and down steep stairs and around the lake.
I enjoyed …
Being out in the fresh air on a cool day.
The rich vegetation of the gardens.
The earthy smell of the pine trees.
Seeing families camping on the grounds, having picnics and taking naps.
Watching ladies dancing under gazebos.
Listening to an old man playing his flute by the lake.
Along the corridor of the Studio of the Jade River (Yuhe Zhai), there was a series of stone carvings. According to the placard, the original scenes were painted on woven silk by the painter Cheng Qi during the Yuan Dynasty (mid-1700s). The scenes portray men farming and women weaving in ancient China. I selected the ones showing women’s work.
The stone carvings were framed and the bright day cast reflections on the glass.
It was a beautiful day but there is still no place like home.
The cacophony of car horns
Curled tongues at the end of every word
Clearing the throat of phlegm … followed by the inevitable sound of spitting … on the street … next to your foot
Where an AQI over 200 means take shallow breaths
The inviting sound of rain signaling a clear tomorrow
Toddlers peeing by the sidewalk
Grown men peeing by the sidewalk
Men baring their bellies to cool off
Old men walking their birds in the park
Animated card games
Grandmothers dancing in the park
Graceful tai chi movements
Inventing your very own form of sign language with exaggerated gestures
The joy of being understood
The frustration at understanding only every five words spoken
The din of motor bikes
Dui, dui, dui, dui, dui, dui
Sidewalk barber shops, a pile of hair neatly swept to the side
Music blaring from the mobile boot-legged CD vendor
Selling anything from the trunk of a car
Where a cloth on the floor and a few knick-knacks means you’re an entrepreneur
Avoiding going blind from looking into the green laser lights for sale at busy intersections
Fearing for your life from pedi-cabs passing by
The constant ringing of bike bells
Coming home with bruised arms from everyone who bumped into you
Carrying a small towel everywhere you go to wipe the grime from your face
Forcing your way onto the subway train
Forcing your way out of the subway train
The rancid smell of bodies huddled together on the train
Blaring unending car horns … that everyone ignores
Being accosted at the market … Lady, lady, you want a bag?
Bargaining as if your life depended on it
Wondering if it’s silk or polyester
Never feeling you got the better part of the bargain
Long distance phone calls that never connect
Carrying tissue with you at all times
Squatting and praying you don’t slip
Avoiding looking at the trash can in the ladies’ room
The joy of ice cubes
Ten dollar foot massages
Sweating in the back seat of un-air conditioned taxis
Not knowing whether its best to open the window to let air in or close the window to keep pollution out
Undistinguishable odors emanating from food vendor stalls
Contemplating ordering the jelly-like mass on the menu but deciding against it
The best soup dumplings ever
Craving sautéed bitter greens and bamboo shoots
Funky nail art
A mountain of shaved ice under condensed milk and slices of mango
~~ * ~~
Zàijiàn doesn’t mean goodbye … it means see you again