Hong Kong – All About Shopping?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

“You can see all there is to see around Hong Kong in a couple of days, Mr. Richter.

People really come to Hong Kong for the shopping.”

So said one of the concierges at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hong Kong island, where we had just checked in after spending a couple of days in Macao (or Macau – both appear correct spellings) and a few more days across the harbor from Hong Kong island in Kowloon back in July.

The concierge was mostly right – shopping does seem to be the big draw in Hong Kong, with high end brands offered left and right in excess beyond compare. And while fashion – ranging from Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, to Prada, Chanel, and Gucci – is ever present, even more rampant are jewelry (spelled locally as “jewellery”) stores. We thought Aruba’s dozens of jewelry stores were bad, but in Hong Kong shopping areas (which seems to be pretty much everywhere that tourists might wander), there are hundreds if not thousands of jewelry shops. Most numerous among those appear to be the chains of Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, of which there are dozens on the so-called Golden Mile of Nathan Road, Kowloon-side.

And expensive watches from Rolex, Piaget, Patek Philippe, and a host of others are easily found at either their own stores, or any of the countless jewelry stores.

While we are certainly materialists and capitalists ourselves (my weakness being technology “toys” and kitchen equipment), the sheer materialistic excess we saw in Hong Kong was beyond comprehension.

And more interesting is that the primary wealthy consumer who comes to Hong Kong to shop for jewelry and name brand couture is Asian, frequently from mainland China, a communist country. I won’t even pretend to understand the sorts of economics that would allow someone from mainland China afford one or more $20,000 Rolex watches.

The other thing we found prevalent in Kowloon (but not Hong Kong island) were touts, typically all of Indian background, offering replica watches, like Rolexes and bespoke (custom, made to order) tailoring services. It was almost impossible to walk down Nathan Road without a dozen approaches for a custom suit or a knock off watch.

In any event, not being consumers of fashion and bling, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. And we did. More on that in upcoming posts.

A small photo gallery is below. Click on the images to get slightly larger versions. Larger versions are on Flickr.


We Now Have A Facebook Fan Page

August 27th, 2010 at 8:27 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We just launched a Facebook fan page for The Traveling Richters. Come join us there and please click the “Like” button at the top of the page to become a fan:


We plan on use Facebook as our public, interactive forum for conversations on relevant topics. And, whenever we add a new post here, we’ll share news of that on our new fan page too.

Note that the creation of the new Facebook fan page doesn’t change the fact that comments are still always welcome on each of our posts here on the blog.


Advice For New Parents From The Traveling Richters

August 26th, 2010 at 10:27 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Friends of ours recently had a beautiful baby girl, and in our e-mail exchange they asked (jokingly perhaps) what lessons The Traveling Richters might have for them and for their new child.

We responded, and in retrospect, our response seems appropriate to share with everyone, so here goes:

1) Make sure that as she gets old enough to go to school you find one with liberal time-away policies so you can travel to explore the world and show her adventure and culture when it’s convenient for you. If your local schools are too rigid (all too common), contemplate homeschooling (easier said than done, though!).

2) Expose her to multiple languages early on. I’ve heard that having each parent speak a different language to a child helps with multiple language adaptation (assuming the parents can speak multiple languages, of course). We opted for the move to a different country instead to achieve the language exposure.

3) Never be afraid to show her affection, regardless of others around you (it’s always macho to hug your kids, with the occasional kiss on the head). That’s part of what’s kept us Traveling Richters very huggy and close, even as our kids become teenagers.

4) As she grows into her toddler years and beyond, explain things to her and talk to her using real people language (big words), not baby talk (although during the first couple of years, lapses into baby talk are common and acceptable, as they are just too cute to do otherwise with). If you don’t think she understands the meaning of a particular word in context, explain it to her.

5) Give her responsibilities as soon as she’s old enough to comprehend how to fulfill those responsibilities – folding laundry, drying some dishes, feeding pets, etc. Ultimately helps increase maturity earlier on, as well as make your lives easier when she’s old enough to really help out around the house and on trips.

6) Save money to pay for experiences more than saving for material things. And then make sure to spend the money on travel fantasies after you’ve saved a bit.

Do any of you agree? Disagree? Think we missed something?


Avoid Regrets, Seize Opportunities

August 9th, 2010 at 3:53 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I came across a nice quote from author, social commentator, and humorist Mark Twain today which I think perfectly reflects my journey through life:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain


Is ‘Robert’ A Girl’s Name in Hong Kong?

July 18th, 2010 at 9:50 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I was looking through some of the photos I took in the last week here in Hong Kong, and found the one below, of a movie poster for “Eclipse”, the third film in the Twilight saga.

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Either the actors now have new names, or someone creating the Chinese version of this movie poster hasn’t a clue about the gender of names like Robert and Kristen.

I shot a few other confused/amusing signs that I will try and dig up and post in the coming week or two.


The Peninsula – A Few Images

July 18th, 2010 at 4:53 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Before moving on to observations and photos of Kowloon and Hong Kong, I’d like to provide a few more photos of The Peninsula hotel we stayed in.

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

The Peninsula at night, with fountain

If you ever end up coming to Hong Kong, we can highly recommend that you spend at least a night or two at The Peninsula, and definitely splurge on a Harbour View room (see the previous post on why I think that).

Doorman at The Peninsula

Doorman at The Peninsula

Our room itself was large and comfortable, and quite quiet (with the exception of a loud neighbor one afternoon – but that was short lived). The view was exceptional, and the service quite good.

The Peninsula at night

The Peninsula at night

However, what really made our stay special was the Concierge staff, whom I peppered with dozens of questions about everything ranging from dining, street food, and public transportation, to markets, sight seeing, and getting a last minute table at the posh in-house French restaurant for only dessert one night. Most often it was Kandi at the Concierge desk who fell victim to my questions, and she handled all my queries wonderfully well.

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

Kandi - our most excellent concierge at The Peninsula

The other thing The Peninsula is known for is their afternoon tea, but we didn’t find it to be anything extraordinary compared to other afternoon teas we have enjoyed around the world. However, being a guest at the hotel, you can get a table reserved for you – something that mere pikers off the street (and there are hundreds who wait in line for the afternoon tea) cannot get.

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

The lobby at The Peninsula

(For the record, the absolute best afternoon tea we have ever had was at the Amstel hotel in Amsterdam last October. It was a veritable tea tasting and feast, with seven different types of tea served and enough finger food for a small army. Maybe I’ll get a chance to post pictures of that at some point.)