Everyone likes to stock up on their favorite home comforts when preparing to return to China. I stock up on lotion, toothpaste, and organic baby products. Here’s a quick list of items to bring if you find yourself heading the opposite direction, either heading back for a summer holiday or moving back home for good. There are lots of Chinese treasures to give as gifts or to remind you of your time here.
One thing we know China does well is silk tailored clothing. If you don’t have yourself a qipao, think about getting one! They are great for weddings and parties, costume or not. Given our long-term ties to China, I wore one for my wedding rehearsal dinner. My favorite tailor is Yu Feng, and his small shop is in an alley on Dongzhong Jie. He only speaks Chinese, and charges RMB 600-1,000 per dress. (135 5238 1894) If you don’t have the time to have one custom made, consider buying some small pre-made ones for your own children or as gifts for friends. The best value pre-made qipaos are on Taobao, (see these blog posts for help ordering). If you haven’t got the time or the energy to figure out Taobao, you can buy qipao at the Pearl Market, Silk Market or my favorite, the small, random market under the McDonalds right beside Dongsishitiao subway station.
Cheap, fun, and light to carry, everyone loves them as gifts, especially for summer! RMB 20-40 is a decent price. I buy them at the little market under McDonalds at Dongsishitiao Qiao mentioned above.
Sesame Seed Oil
You can get sesame oil at home but it’s more expensive and for me, it’s just not the same quality. Sesame oil makes an amazing salad dressing, mixed with a little soy sauce or wasabi. Also, it makes a great natural moisturizer for your baby. You can find good sesame oil at any grocery store local or foreign. Just ask for xiang you and get ready for some lip smacking flavor.
This is obviously not for everyone, but plastic wrapped chicken feet are just the treat for some carnivorous and adventurous friends. That is if you can manage to smuggle yours past the sniffer dogs once you’ve landed at your final destination. One year I was busted with four in my bag: but they could only find three…
China is world renowned for its tea, returning home without some would be a crime. My favorites are the green tea balls which bloom in the pot. Serving this tea in a clear glass teapot is pretty, elegant, and delicious. If green tea isn’t your thing, consider as a gift! Try Alisa or Andy at Yu Yun tea shop no. 248 on the first floor of the Pearl Market. Prices range from RMB 20 for a bag up to RMB 2,000 depending on the quantity and quality of the tea you’d like to buy. If you want super cheap loose leaf, just buy a bag at any grocery store.
Theresa Pauline is a yoga teacher, social entrepreneur, momma, wife, and beijingkids contributor. You can find out more about her at www.taozitreeyoga.com
Photos: Theresa Pauline