Friday, 6 August 2010

shopping areas

A funny thing about shopping Hong Kong: the shops can be very focused on just one thing. Yes, there are some department stores, and "home goods" stores, but a lot of shops sell only one thing, like this scale shop I saw earlier this week. The entire shop just sells scales, analogue and digital. I was so surprised, I had to snap a photo; a whole shop of just scales!?

And another thing I find a bit odd, where you find one shop selling one thing, you inevitably see a whole row of them. For example, here's a street (below) in the area called the flower market. The whole street (and the one parallel to it and each side street) is lined with flower shops. There are probably a hundred small flower retailers here, all in the same area. I wish I could go there to buy flowers every week, but the flower market is in Mong Kok, across the harbour from us. In my Western thinking I wonder, wouldn't it be better to have one or two flower shops in each part of Hong Kong? But at least you know where to get your flowers, it's in Mong Kog, of course! (Small amusing anecdote: there are two shops on those streets which do not sell flowers. One is a bakery [num, num] for sustenance when browsing all these flower joints. The other sells motorcycle helmets. I do not joke.)

I visited the Western Market recently ("Western" because it is on the west side of central Hong Kong). The first floor is all fabric shops, row after row of fabrics. I really liked visiting there earlier in my holiday and I bought a few half yards of fabric to use in my food photos (you can see them in this post about nut butters if you're curious!). But I have heard that the Western Market with its ten fabric stalls is not the main place to go for fabric. I don't know where it is yet (maybe my mother remembers?) but I do know that when I find it, there will be dozens of fabric sellers there.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Anna Karenina read-along

Here's today's plan:

I'm taking my guide book as I wander off to Lamma Island. My goal is to find a nice cafe and sit there, reading Anna Karenina and watching life go by. It's too hot for much walking about, but I'll have a ferry ride to enjoy and a modicum of sight-seeing on the island.

This idea has been prompted by my friend, Andrea from Inspired by Hope and Surprised by Joy. One of her 2010 goals is to read Anna Karenina, which is a rather large book, and so we have decided to do it together. And I'm here to invite you to read along, too! Neither of us has read any Tolstoy before, so we are excited to embark on this project. Two bloggers on opposite sides of the world, and YOU!

We are setting a modest pace. The book has eight parts, each of which are about a hundred pages. The plan is to read one part each month from August until next March. Even if it takes you a few days to get a copy (hello, local second hand bookstore!), you will still have plenty of time to read the first part during August.

What do you think? Who's up for joining us? In anticipation of your answer in the positive, I am posting a character list here! Unless you want the plot spoiled, don't go reading around on the web for help with Russian names. Just stick to this list!

Note: Every Russian has three names: first name, patronymic, last name. The root of the middle name is that of the father, plus a suffix meaning "son of" or "daughter of." Thus Anna's middle name is "Arkadyevna," while that of her brother is "Arkadyevitch." Russians call each other by the Christian name and patronymic, rarely by surname. For the sake of clarity, however, English translators use the characters' family names wherever possible.

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina: High society heroine

Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin: Anna's husband; he is a frigid, lonely man with an influential government position in St. Petersburg

Sergei Alexeyitch Karenin (Seriozha): Anna's son

Count Alexey Kirillovitch Vronsky: An honorable, rich, handsome aide-de-camp with a promising army career

Konstantin Dmitrich Levin (Kostya): Autobiographical hero of novel

Princess Katerina Alexandrovna Shtcherbatsky (Kitty): The eighteen year old debutante

Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky (Stiva): Anna's brother who is a pleasure-loving socialite

Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonsky (Dolly): Stiva's long-suffering wife and Kitty's older sister

Nicolai Dmitrich Levin: Levin's profligate brother

Sergei Ivanitch Koznyshev: Levin's elder half-brother who is a famous writer and intellectual