From the Travel Journal: Arriving in Hong Kong and CN Square Stationery Store

I’m sort of jumping around a bit as I backtrack from last summer’s trip but I’m still hoping to share more of these snippets of our adventure.

Hong Kong in the summer is, shall we say, tropical, but after a week or two you do get used to the heat. We landed in Hong Kong from Tokyo at the end of July, and made it to our hotel, recovering from the shock of the sweltering heat in the luxury of quasi-functioning air conditioning. 95% of the photos of Caleb in Hong Kong involve him sweating profusely, and the other 5% are pictures of him indoors. We had plans to stay in a few other places over the next several weeks, but our first stop was this hotel in north Tsim Sha Tsui, a bit of a higher end, central neighbourhood, as we acclimated to the climate and geography of the city.

We couldn’t afford to stay in this area for too long, but it was nice to explore it from a local hotel room, rather than having to make a day trip in the heat and with two melting children.

While Hong Kong doesn’t have the traditional polish and fastidious cleanliness of Tokyo, it is by all means a truly cosmopolitan city: vibrant, loud, full of smells and street food and high end shopping and throngs of people everywhere and an amazing transit system.

And, also, with a surprising number of both higher profile and tiny mom-and-pop stationery shops. Tokyo and Japan in general are known for their plenitude of marvellous stationery shops, but Hong Kong has its fair share, many of them corner shop bodega-esque types with notebooks and boxes of labels crammed from floor to ceiling.

In this area in particular, Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the best discoveries of wandering around was a stationery store called CN Square, which was literally just around the corner. CN Square is a massive multi floor stationery and office supplies shop, with everything from gel pens and a small selection of fountain pens to notebooks and binders and various kinds of tape and enormous staplers to games and toys and arts and crafts supplies. I visited twice and both times left with arms full of interesting new supplies.

Pins and clips.
Stamps. I got an Airmail stamp for our Letter Writing Club.
Given the limited space in our suitcase situation, I got this metal tin of rolls of cellulose tape.

It was a relief to take a few days to get used to Hong Kong. The time change from Tokyo is nominal (one hour), but it really was as though we’d entered a different world: oppressive heat, horns blaring and traffic, crowds of people everywhere. As much as I loved Japan and was in thrall of the traditions and cleanliness and efficiency and incredible stationery shops, my family is Cantonese and from Hong Kong, so Hong Kong is a bit more like returning to a motherland (that had recently returned to the original motherland).

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In other news, I’m feeling very domestic these days: I finally caved and got a cast iron skillet. I’ve been hearing about it for years, and after one ill-fated fried egg situation too many, we now have one.

It’s interesting though, how these seemingly innocuous home kitchen situations really bring out a lot of varying and very strong opinions: flaxseed oil, flaxseed oil is a myth don’t be fooled, canola, any sort of vegetable oil at all, coconut oil gives it a nice fruity flavour, Martha Stewart says to use lard and you want your pan to be a good thing don’t you, use whatever you like oil butter hand lotion It’s Your Pan Own It, 500 degrees, 250 degrees, 350 degrees, 450 degrees, 500 then 200 then turn it off and turn it back on, turn in a circle and pull on your ear twice.

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