head.jpg
HEAD.jpg
heading.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
head copy.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
iStock-511585700 copy.jpg
season-1985856 copy.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
head copy.jpg
172352422 copy.jpg

Miscellaneous


SCROLL DOWN

Miscellaneous


head.jpg

In the Cards


It’s that time of the season – explore the traditions of the Christmas card

In the Cards


It’s that time of the season – explore the traditions of the Christmas card

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

In the Cards 

December 5, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: First Christmas card, 1843, Sir Henry Cole

  One of the earliest American Christmas cards (Philadelphia, c.1849-1853)

One of the earliest American Christmas cards (Philadelphia, c.1849-1853)

As Christmas approaches, beyond the act of giving gifts, a simple, heartfelt card can also express your gratitude and love. Though we now live in an electronic age, handwritten cards are still irreplaceable. 

The history of sending Christmas cards can be traced back to 1843 in the UK, when Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the precursor to the famed Victoria and Albert Museum, came up with the card idea with a friend, painter John Callcott Horsley. Back then, they were sold for one shilling each – due to their rarity, those originals fetch handsome prices nowadays. Since the 1860s, Christmas cards rose in popularity as the printing technology improved. By the early 1900s, the culture had spread all over Europe and was especially popular in Germany. 

In the United States, Christmas cards have circulated since the late 1840s. Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from Germany and had previously lived in the UK, was devoted to mass-producing cards in the US in the 1870s; he used chromolithography technology to lower production costs. In celebration of Prang’s contribution, he is now crowned the “father of American Christmas cards”. As time marched on, the card industry became lucrative – and competitive. In the 1920s, it’s estimated that there were more than 40 factories and 5,000 workers in the industry. Every year, each company would hire artists to design cards, with fierce competition between each other as they clawed for a piece of the market.

In modern times, many people put their received cards on the most noticeable place in their living room, such as the fireplace mantel or on ropes hung from the wall. In 2004, former US president George W Bush and his wife sent more than two million Christmas cards, breaking a record for the most cards sent.

Images: ©2016 All Rights Reserved (One of the earliest American Christmas cards);

Back to top

HEAD.jpg

Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag


Plump, rosy-cheeked and carrying a sack full of goodies – here comes Jolly Old Saint Nick

Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag


Plump, rosy-cheeked and carrying a sack full of goodies – here comes Jolly Old Saint Nick

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag

December 5, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way… As the familiar song rings throughout every public space once again, it’s obvious that Christmas is coming. Can you still remember what gift you wanted most from Santa Claus when you were a kid? The man who brings happiness and warmth is often depicted in a red suit with fluffy, white beard and a big bag full of presents. However, the jolly old fellow hasn’t always appeared the way we envision him today.

It is said that Santa’s clothes were initially green in the early 17th century, as the colour was thought to have the power to defeat the cold. Setting the stage for the modern-day depiction, in the 1860s, cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly, the famed American political magazine based in New York City, as part of a larger illustration whose title was “A Christmas Furlough”. In his work, Santa Claus was drawn complete with reindeer, a sleigh and many more of the iconic associations today. However, for a long time, the well-known red suit was not the default version. In the 1864 edition of American writer Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St Nicholas” (also known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”), Santa Claus was depicted in yellow.

The most significant turning point came in the 1920s, when the Coca-Cola Company began its Christmas advertising. It is said that Santa’s red coat appeared because of the predominant colour of Coca-Cola’s logo; however, the red clothes had already existed long before illustrator Haddon Sundblom painted him for the campaign. Due to the magical powers of advertising, the famous slogan “The Pause That Refreshes” impressed people, together with the kindly, grandfatherly man with round, rosy cheeks and a scarlet outfit. Some of Sundblom’s works depicting Santa Claus have also become valuable art pieces that have been exhibited in famous museums, such as the Louvre and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Coca-Cola solidified the image in our minds – and the marketing machine is largely responsible for our association with Santa in his big red suit.

heading.jpg

Gift-Wrapping Tips


Inspirational ideas that make for creative giving

Gift-Wrapping Tips


Inspirational ideas that make for creative giving

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Gift-Wrapping Tips

December 5, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 
 

Snowflake Toppers

If there’s one thing that embodies winter the most, it would be the snowflake. For a good-looking snowflake fit-out, you need to attach them one by one on the top of your gift with double-sided tape or glue. Various colour choices are available, so this winter can be as warm and fun as you desire.


 
Towel Up.jpg
 

Towel Up

A book is never a bad idea as a gift choice. If you wrap said book in a linen tea towel, the receiver can actually get two gifts. All you need to do is fold and wrap the towel, and then centre the ribbon on the front. Tie one cute and simple bow and you’ll be finished.


 
Environmentally Friendly-3.jpg
 

Environmentally Friendly

In an age when many people pursue an environmentally friendly lifestyle, vintage fabrics and paper napkins can all make great wrapping materials. If you want a cute bow, a scarf or a belt can play the part. For the artistic and creative, this wrapping method is definitely worth a try.


 
Potted Amaryllis.jpg
 

Potted Amaryllis

Decorate your gift in the shape of a potted flower for an interesting and cute touch. The idea is actually inspired by amaryllis petals. With a piece of crepe paper, you need to water down some paint slightly on the edges, and then gently stretch them. After wrapping a ribbon and tying a bow, the creative wrapping shape is done. You can also add a plant’s stem if you want to make it even more vivid.


 
From Fabric to Paper.jpg
 

From Fabric to Paper

If you have some bold prints in your house, perhaps on old clothing or vintage linens, they can be great materials to wrap your gifts in an eye-catching way. All you need to do is make colour copies on white paper, and then adjust the scale to get the pattern as you desire.


 
On the Button.jpg
 

On the Button

Besides on clothing items, buttons can also be a good accessory for wrapping gifts. You can write down some meaningful words on a piece of paper and then affix it with a button. After tying it with twine, this special and creative gift is ready to be presented.

Images: Leung Pui-yee

Back to top

head.jpg

Selling History


The Forbidden City has come to symbolise China’s rich past – and continues to stay relevant (and marketable) in contemporary times

Selling History


The Forbidden City has come to symbolise China’s rich past – and continues to stay relevant (and marketable) in contemporary times

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Selling History 

November 21, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

0.jpg

As an enduring symbol, the Forbidden City has always been a must-visit in China. In the age of e-commerce, it has also gained huge popularity among the younger generation by promoting creative products that feature “cute” elements of Imperial China. Popular products include tiny dolls (whose images usually show officials or maids), fashionable handbag tags, stationery and much more. Among these, masking tape is particularly sought-after and always sells out lightning-fast; people use it to decorate their notebooks, phones or lipstick tubes. The black lacquer pattern originates from the palace’s collection and, with the use of laser technology, shows various colours in different directions. 

With more than 900,000 followers on its online shop’s Weibo account, this stately palace has become an internet celebrity in its own right. In 2015, its sales volume surpassed RMB 1 billion and its stories attracted more than 100,000 views. Its target customers are people in their 20s or 30s who appreciate individuality and are enthusiastic about fresh topics on the internet. Unlike in the old days, when the palace focused on staid historical stories, it’s now committed to connecting famous people and anecdotes in history with cute and creative products. For one, quotations from emperors can be a great resource for designers. Emperor Yongzheng’s “I miss you a lot” was applied to a fan design, becoming a big hit. 

In August, the Forbidden City collaborated with famed Chinese bottled water brand Nongfu Shanquan on a new product. These bottled waters are covered with traditional images of emperors, concubines and empress dowagers, alongside their humorous monologues. On the eve of the Forbidden City’s 600th birthday, this magnificent work of architecture will certainly bring more surprises as it continues to stay relevant in the modern age.

Images: Weibo:@农夫山泉; gugong1925.world.taobao.com

Back to top

head.jpg

Forest Therapy


Many people have turned to the “medicine” of simply being amongst the trees

Forest Therapy


Many people have turned to the “medicine” of simply being amongst the trees

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Forest Therapy 

June 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, is a term that was first coined as part of a national public health programme in Japan in the 1980s as a practice for relaxation and preventative healthcare – by just being in the presence of trees. Inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, this green concept has been growing in global popularity. 

Numerous studies have pointed out that being in nature can bring health benefits – including lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, reducing stress hormone production and improving the overall feelings of well-being. In the 2012 book Your Brain on Nature, written by US physician Eva Selhub and biophilosopher Alan Logan, nature-based therapies are being introduced as a countermeasure to today’s technology-addicted lifestyle. 

Forest bathing is simple and has little barrier to entry – just go to the woods and open all your senses in the embrace of the trees. As follows are a couple of great places to practices in Hong Kong and, if you’d like to try it with a professional coach, Jasmine Nunns’ organisation Kembali provides such services, including guided walks into a number of local forests.


Sai Kung East Country Park

Officially designated in 1978, this country park takes up a vast area on the Sai Kung Peninsula. Two tree walks are available here: Tai Tan and Wong Shek. 

Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve

This flourishing nature reserve’s woodland is hilly, with a diversity of tree species and numerous streams and rivers. It’s also one of the best locations in the city for forest bird observation. 

head.jpg

Like a Rock


If you regularly visit plant stores, you may have seen some strange-looking stones in the planting pots. Big or small, and in a variety of textures and colours – they’re actually plants

Like a Rock


If you regularly visit plant stores, you may have seen some strange-looking stones in the planting pots. Big or small, and in a variety of textures and colours – they’re actually plants

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


Marloth-Lithops-drawing.jpg

Like a Rock

April 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Lithops – also known as flowering stones, pebble plants, living stones or butts (for visually obvious reasons) – is a genus of succulents in the Aizoaceae ice plant family. Native to southern Africa, there are numerous species, with various colours, patterns, textures and even different flowers.

Lithops doesn’t have a true stem; it usually has two leaves that regrow once a year. These taper down in a conical fashion directly to a tap root, which makes it look like a stone, split down the middle with only its immediate surface visible. Due to this, Lithops can avoid being eaten by hiding in the crevices of rocks. 

Nowadays, Lithops is one of the more popular house plants and many specialist succulent growers maintain collections, so they’re easy to buy in plant stores and on the internet. They’re also relatively easy to grow if given sufficient sun and suitable soil.

Planting tips:

  • The most important part of Lithops care is watering. They don’t need water in summer as they’re dormant at that time. 
  • In autumn, Lithops resumes growth, so full watering is required once every two weeks, though there may be a different timeframe due to the species and the environment; observation is critical. 
  • In winter, the new pair of leaves absorb water from the old ones. Once the old leaves’ water is absorbed fully, you can finally remove them and resume watering. Water slightly to encourage the new leaves to grow and then gradually increase to full waterings. 
  • A suitable temperature range is 15-25°C. Lithops starts to become dormant above 30°C or below 12°C.
  • The soil they like is mineral, with very little organic matter. It can be heavy with perlite, coarse sand, gravel, pumice and lava rocks; around one-fifth of the medium should be organic matter (soil) and the rest should be mineral. 
  • Lithops loves the sun, especially direct sunlight; a south-facing window is ideal for them. If your plant begins to grow elongated, that means there’s a lack of light or too much water.
  • It doesn’t need fertiliser unless in a soil-less medium. If that’s the case, use a very small amount once a year. 
  • Lithops usually starts blooming after three years, then you can start breeding them – another story for another time.
  • Plant them solo or with other Lithops due to the specific watering cycle.  
head copy.jpg

The Tastemakers


Food, people, stories: the magic of BrunchWith

The Tastemakers


Food, people, stories: the magic of BrunchWith

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


The Tastemakers

April 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

6K4A2799_900.jpg

For many, the magical meal between breakfast and lunch serves as a relaxing session to ease into or out of a rush-free weekend. BrunchWith is a website where conversations are initiated over – what else? – brunch. 

On the site, you’ll find a collection of intriguing interviews set in different global metropolises – from San Francisco and New York to Hong Kong and Shanghai – with a wide-ranging variety of creative minds such as independent artists, chefs, fashion editors and entrepreneurs. Inevitably, food is a key subject. As BrunchWith’s founders believe, “We are naturally connected through food.” 

“If New York were to be a food, what would that be?” The city’s premier truffle dealer, Ian Purkayastha, describes it as “$1 pizza slices”. However, for musician and native New Yorker Lenny Kaye, the answer is very specific: “A corned sandwich on rye bread, Russian dressing and coleslaw from Hudson Street, with chocolate and cream to drink.” 

During a brief stay in New York City, Chinese artist Song Dong recalled his food experience – in 1986 as a student, he went to sketch in the countryside of Shaanxi Province, where he was treated to the only steamed buns in a farmer’s family because he was a guest from Beijing. It’s not about the food, but the experience, he thinks. Speaking of what kind of food Beijing would be, he replies: “Hotpot; you can put anything you want in it, make your own dipping sauce.” The help-yourself type of dining reminds him of the early 1990s, when artists had to rely on themselves as support was rarely given by friends, family or the government. 

A good meal certainly helps open the dialogue. So if you could choose anyone, who would you want to have brunch with?

Images: © 2017 BrunchWith

Back to top

head.jpg

No Soil, No Problem


Want a plant, but don’t like all that dirt? Tillandsia is the perfect choice for you

No Soil, No Problem


Want a plant, but don’t like all that dirt? Tillandsia is the perfect choice for you

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

No Soil, No Problem

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Tillandsia Funckiana.jpg

Some people have conflicting feelings about plants. They like that touch of green, but they don’t like the dirt and insects that often come with it. But that’s one reason Tillandsia has become so popular nowadays. With spring just around the corner, this resilient, easy-growing plant may get your busy life in full bloom – whether you’ve got a green thumb or you’re new to the world of plants.

Tillandsia has a common name: air plant, which is a genus with around 650 species under the Bromeliaceae family. They grow natively in the forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America, the southern United States and the West Indies. 

Uniquely, they’re evergreen and perennial-flowering plants, and normally grow without soil. Most of them are epiphytes – attached to other plants through their roots. Unlike most of the plant kingdom, they use their leaves (instead of roots) to absorb moisture and nutrients through tiny scales called trichomes. 

What you need to provide for your Tillandsia:

  • Most of them are suited to bright light or filtered sun – but avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer, as this may lead to sunburn.
  • They can survive between 5°C to 35°C, but the ideal temperature for them to grow is 15°C to 25°C. 
  • They need a well-ventilated area, as they love fresh, moving air. The movement of air dries the plants between waterings, which helps avoid diseases that result from overwatering.
  • Spray them with water around three times per week at night until the silvery leaves turn darker. You can tell if there’s a lack of water by how curly the leaves look (except for a few curly-leaved species, eg. Tillandsia streptophylla and Tillandsia duratii Visiani).
  • Fertilising isn’t necessary, but it will increase the growth of your plants and their blooms. If you do this, use fertiliser that’s specifically for Tillandsia. Don’t fertilise if it’s too hot or if you’ve just bought your plant within the past two to three weeks. 
Tillandsia xerographica.jpg
head.jpg

Pining for Tradition


From its pre-Christian roots in Europe to the modern day, the Christmas tree has been an enduring symbol of the holidays. Will your living room host one this winter?

Pining for Tradition


From its pre-Christian roots in Europe to the modern day, the Christmas tree has been an enduring symbol of the holidays. Will your living room host one this winter?

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Pining for Tradition

December 1, 2017 / by Jean Vonka

Long before the advent of Christianity, the evergreen has been the ultimate wintertime tree. Remaining green among the snowflakes, it was the symbol of everlasting life in numerous ancient cultures. Because of its strength, the Vikings thought it was the tree of the god of light, Balder. The early Romans and the Celtic Druids decorated their temples with fir tree boughs. In northern Europe, pagans used evergreen branches to decorate their homes and doors during the winter solstice as a reminder of the spring to come. Surrounded by an aura of mystery and magic, evergreens were also used to keep away witches and ghosts until the Middle Ages – but these pagan customs weren’t appreciated by the clergy. 

So how did the tree eventually become a symbol of Christianity? There are many different theories, but most agree that the tradition has its roots in Germany. One legend says that Martin Luther, the 16th-century German Protestant
reformer, was the first to bring a Christmas tree into a house. As the story goes, walking home on a cold winter night, Luther was amazed by the beauty of the stars twinkling among the evergreens. He decided to share this enchanting setting with his family and brought a small tree into his home, then put some candles on the branches to symbolise the stars. 

Initially a Germanic tradition, the Christmas tree became popular in Britain centuries later when Prince Albert (who was German) introduced a gigantic Christmas tree at Windsor Castle. He, Queen Victoria and their children were sketched standing around it. Published in The Illustrated London News in 1848, this drawing widely contributed to the fad of Christmas trees in Britain and, in syndication two years later, among the fashionable set on America’s East Coast. Thus was born the modern Christmas tree, trimmed with its flamboyant ornaments and surrounded by gifts. 

Read More

Today, Christmas trees are all around the world, whether as a symbol of Christianity or not. But merry as it is, this tradition has its environmental consequences, especially when it comes to the artificial tree industry. Here are some ideas to create your own clever, stylish and sustainable tree.

 1

1

 2

2

 3

3

1. All About Tape

Embrace your inner child by making a graphical Christmas tree on the wall. Cut and paste with washi tape to create a colourful one – the perfect solution for tiny spaces and a great way to have fun with the children.

2. The Magical Garland

Here’s a tree that will cheer you up all winter long. Hang your favourite garland in the shape of an evergreen and arrange the decor around it to bring it to life. Opt for a LED light garland to enchant every winter evening.

3. Bookworm Tree

If you want to simultaneously declutter your living room and add some cheer, why not make a Christmas tree out of your books? Pick some of your favourite novels and arrange them in a way that instantly says “Christmas”. Wrap them with a nice garland, add a bright star on top and say hello to the most enlightened of evergreens.

Images: Brit + Co (tape tree); Downtothewoods (garland); Flickr: Tim Evanson/Creative Commons (book Christmas tree - Round Room - Stan Hywet - 2014-11-25)

Back to top

head.jpg

Feeling Hygge


The Danish word that equates to quality of cosiness has become a global definition for well-being

Feeling Hygge


The Danish word that equates to quality of cosiness has become a global definition for well-being

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Feeling Hygge

December 1, 2017 / by Ruiqi Jiang

Hygge (pronounced “hue-guh”), shortlisted for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2016, is a term that means “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture”. In essence, it’s the art of creating a warm atmosphere while enjoying life with good things and good people.

The idea of embracing the good life is certainly universal. But spreading from the Scandinavian countries to the rest of the world, hygge is now everywhere. There are more than 2.3 million posts using the hashtag on Instagram, sharing warm-hearted stories from various corners of the globe.

Though such a broad definition grants a great deal of liberty in terms of how to put this into practice, there are some key elements. For the wintry months, our checklist that follows should give you some inspiration. Remember – hygge is not meant to be translated, but felt.

Read More

 

Hygge: A Winter Checklist

  • Make a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine (see our recipe).
  • Learn how to knit a sweater – or pick one from our selection (pictured).
  • Cook dinner with family and friends.
  • Fabricate a scented lavender sachet. 
  • Read a biography of a person you admire.
  • Meditate in the solitude of home.
  • Unwind next to a wood-burning fireplace.

 

Vin Chaud (French-style Mulled Wine)

  • 750ml red wine
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • ½ orange and ½ lemon, cut into slices with white pith removed
  • ⅓ cup cognac, brandy or rum

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Add cognac, brandy or rum to a glass, and ladle the wine-and-spices mixture over it.

iStock-511585700 copy.jpg

Love to Fear


Halloween is just around the corner – care for a scary story?

Love to Fear


Halloween is just around the corner – care for a scary story?

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Love to Fear

September 29, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

“Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses,” said the English author Neil Gaiman in a discussion at the TED 2014 conference in Vancouver. After the prolific writer recited a ghost story, he read a short essay titled “Ghosts in the Machine”, in which he affectionately contemplated the psychology of why we love ghost stories: 

“You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear…”

The art of scary storytelling has been ritualised in many festive traditions during Halloween. From its ancient origins as the “dead-returning night” before the Celtic festival of Samhain some 2,000 years ago to All Hallows’ Eve in Christianity (formalised on October 31 by Pope Gregory IV in the 9th century), Halloween has evolved into a full-on party in the modern age, incorporating the nostalgia of ghost stories – and perhaps inspiring a little dread. 

This thrill of fear isn’t only something to be enjoyed during Halloween, of course. Once upon a time, we were all eager children, excitedly begging the adults in our families for a cracking story, be it a never-before-heard one or a true classic. Sometimes it’s not even about the story as much as it is sharing a memory of the storyteller’s vivid performance – and the harmless fear that’s often overcome by the overwhelming feelings of being together. 

As Gaiman concludes in his essay, fear taps into the baseless, ignoring the scariest things in our midst. “…Not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.” Thrills, chills and a bit of harmless escapism – who could argue with that?

Read More

So it’s about that time of the year to dust off some of those classic Halloween stories. Here’s a long-beloved one:

Long ago, there was a girl who always tied a yellow ribbon around her neck. A curious boy saw her and couldn’t help asking: “Why do you wear that ribbon?” “Someday, maybe I’ll tell you,” the girl said with a smile. They became best friends; one day, he asked again. “Maybe I’ll tell you another time,” the girl said. 

When they finished secondary school together, he asked her yet again. “Maybe I’ll tell you if we get married,” she replied. On the day he proposed, the man asked her the question. “Maybe I’ll tell you when we have kids,” the girl insisted. 

They raised two children and lived very happily for many years. But the man always had the question on his mind. “If you really love me, please don’t ask,” said the man’s wife. “Someday, I promise you’ll know.”

The man dropped the question, though deep in his heart he kept wondering. As they grew old together, the woman became ill and, on her deathbed, the man asked her the question for the last time. “Take the ribbon off, honey, and you’ll finally find out the answer,” she replied. 

The old man did – and his wife’s head fell off.

Back to top

season-1985856 copy.jpg

Taobao Tips


If you’re too busy to purchase goods in person, online shopping is an ideal choice. As China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao has just about everything you could imagine. Make your shopping that much easier with these top tips

Taobao Tips


If you’re too busy to purchase goods in person, online shopping is an ideal choice. As China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao has just about everything you could imagine. Make your shopping that much easier with these top tips

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Taobao Tips

August 25, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

General

  • First and foremost, keep your expectations in check. The quality tends to match the price, so if you only look for products with the cheapest price tag, you probably won’t get a satisfactory purchase.


  • When you find your desired product, be patient and keep searching, because you can generally find the same products in different Taobao shops. If you don’t know which one to choose, select one at an average price – usually it will help you weed out poor-quality products.

Language

  • Taobao is only in Chinese and most of the sellers don’t speak English. If Chinese isn’t your forte, ask a friend for help or use a translation tool, although the latter may cause more confusion than is worthwhile.

Sizing

  • Prepare a ruler and pay attention to the size, quality, colour, stock and shipping information provided by the seller. If you can’t find the information or it isn’t clear enough, you’ll have to contact the seller through Aliwangwang – a live-chat program for Taobao.

Read More

Images

  • Check if what’s shown is an image of the actual product. Some sellers will make it clear that it is, but for others, you’ll be able to tell from the photography style and the models. If there are detailed images, you can see the level of quality and craftsmanship.

  • Other images are just for reference. The real product won’t be as good as the images.

  • You can go to the “Feedback” section to see images posted by other buyers.

Payment

  • Hong Kong buyers can pay by Visa, Mastercard, Tap & Go, Octopus, Alipay Purchase Card, PPS and more.

Shipping

  • In urgent cases, or if the product is fragile or expensive and has a seven-day return policy, you can use a courier such as SF Express to ship to Hong Kong.

  • If it’s not a rush and you don’t have plans to return the product, it’s best to use the group shipping option. By combining all your purchases from Taobao together and shipping to Hong Kong in one go, it’s much cheaper than SF Express.

Tools

  • Use the “Find Similar” and “Find Same Design” functions. Through these, you’ll find different shops using the same product images and that are located close to each other, which likely means they have the same vendor. Then, you can choose the shop with the highest rating and the best feedback.

  • Detailed seller ratings over the past six months should have lots of red words and red arrows – that means the shop’s rating is better than its counterparts.

  • Use Aliwangwang to communicate with the sellers and keep records of your dealings. If there’s any disagreement or problems in future, Taobao officials will only acknowledge the Aliwangwang record.

  • Check feedback from previous buyers. Start with the bad and average reviews, and then go to the good ones. Chinese buyers generally leave very direct reviews; sometimes you can even find them arguing in the feedback section about the product quality. If there are no reviews, check the seller’s overall rating and make your decision based on that.

  • View questions or concerns left by previous buyers about a particular product in the “Ask Others” section. You can even ask your own questions and see if you can get replies from previous buyers.

Back to top

head.jpg

Alsobia Dianthiflora: The Lace Flower


Don’t have a balcony, but still want some cute plants to brighten up your space? No gardening experience? No problem. Discover the alluring lace flower known as alsobia dianthiflora. You can hang it or put it on your desk – it’s beautiful and, best of all, easy to maintain

Alsobia Dianthiflora: The Lace Flower


Don’t have a balcony, but still want some cute plants to brighten up your space? No gardening experience? No problem. Discover the alluring lace flower known as alsobia dianthiflora. You can hang it or put it on your desk – it’s beautiful and, best of all, easy to maintain

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Alsobia Dianthiflora: The Lace Flower

June 30, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Soil

Between sandy and clay (air should be able to get to the roots)

light 拷貝.jpg

Light

Indoors, next to the window; bright, but no direct sunlight

Water

Normal to moist (pour until it comes out the hole at the bottom, at least once per week)

Pot

Plastic, pottery, porcelain, glass, etc. If there’s a hole at the bottom, it’s fine. 

head.jpg

Romance in the Air


With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, explore the widely varied rituals of courtship across different cultures – and species

Romance in the Air


With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, explore the widely varied rituals of courtship across different cultures – and species

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Romance in the Air

February 3, 2017 / by China Daily

Courtship rituals have been practiced in many forms over the years. These behaviours aren’t exclusive to humans – there are similarities with mating rituals in the animal kingdom. For example, when a man attempts to gain the attention of a romantic partner, he might put on charming clothing and “flaunt his feathers” – just like a male peacock shows his ornamental feathers to attract a female peahen. Two people hold hands to convey a message of their close relationship, while African elephants caress each other and intertwine their trunks in the courtship phase. Couples have dinner together on a date, while many birds also share food in the name of romance. 

Numerous rituals showcase the basic instincts of all living creatures; for humans, however, the approaches tend to be a bit less clinical and a bit more fun. During the Victorian era, a pocket-sized calling card became part of the romance of courting. This custom began in France in the 1800s, and quickly spread across Europe and the US as a formal means to maintain social contacts. 

For a Victorian gentleman who aimed to start a conversation with a lovely lady, or simply wanted to walk her home, he would often use an acquaintance card. According to the Encyclopedia of Ephemera, the acquaintance card was “used by the less formal male in approaches to the less formal female. Given also as an ‘escort card’ or ‘invitation card’, the device commonly carried a brief message and a simple illustration. Flirtatious and fun, the acquaintance card brought levity to what otherwise might have seemed a more formal proposal. A common means of introduction, it was never taken too seriously.” 

Read More

With gentle humour and directness, this romantic icebreaker was quite attractive to young women. Men would present a card with a cheeky message, such as “I am Sam Kahn. Who the devil are you?” Or he might just get straight to the point, asking “May I C U Home?” For those less restrained by convention, he might have put those heart-melting words in poetic form. “My heart to you is given / Oh! Do give yours to me / We’ll lock them up together / And throw away the key.” Or, perhaps you’d prefer the more suggestive approach: “Come and see our new lamp – you can turn it down so low that there is scarcely any light at all.” 

Interesting courtship rituals aren’t restricted to Victorian couples, either. In the 17th century, a Welshman would hand-carve a wooden spoon (called a “lovespoon”) as a sign of affection for his potential bride; the woman would wear the spoon around her neck if she felt the same way. In 19th-century rural Austria, young women would perform a ritual dance with apple slices lodged in their armpits – after the dance, she would give a slice to the man of her choice and, if interested in her, he would eat it. 

Even today, a variety of intriguing customs continue in Asia. For example, in southwest China, young singles of the Dai ethnic minority gather by the village bonfire at night; the men each choose a woman to serenade and, if she’s impressed, the woman will pull a small seat out from under her billowing skirt and invite him to sit down. And in one rural village in northwest Cambodia, the unmarried teenage daughters of the Kreung tribe are encouraged to explore sex with a variety of partners as they search for true love – in a “love hut” built by their parents behind their house.

While nowadays it seems the size of your bouquet or the value of your Valentine’s Day gift is all that matters, it certainly seems trite compared to those old-fashioned rituals. These fascinating customs laid the foundation for today’s romance – and some of them are still going strong. 

Images: Alan Mays; Getty Images

Back to top

head copy.jpg

Naughty or Nice


You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry – or you may get an unwanted visit from Krampus, the Christmas demon

Naughty or Nice


You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry – or you may get an unwanted visit from Krampus, the Christmas demon

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Naughty or Nice

December 9, 2016 / by Jon Braun

All around the world at Christmastime, children gleefully await the arrival of Santa Claus and a windfall of presents under the Christmas tree. Of course, that’s all well and good if you’ve been nice – but what if you were a naughty boy or girl this year? In the regions of Alpine Austria and southern Bavaria, that adds up to a terrifying visit from Krampus, the half-goat, half-demon sidekick to Saint Nick whose mission is to punish the misbehaved.

Krampus – whose name is derived from the Old High German word krampen, which means “claw” – is said to be the son of Hel, the god of the underworld in Norse mythology. Emerging from European pagan traditions, Krampus is a figure you’d be right to be scared of – no matter your age. With his flaming-coal eyes, matted fur, cloven hooves, snarled horns, long pointed tongue and jagged fangs, this “Evil Santa” appears on Krampusnacht, occurring the night before the Feast of Saint Nicholas.

Looks aren’t everything, of course.Krampus carries a basket or a sack, a set of shackles, a whip and a bundle of branches for the purpose of swatting naughty children. Sometimes alongside Saint Nick and sometimes solo, Krampus visits the local homes and businesses, handing out lumps of coal and birch bundles – a sobering reminder of the dire results of being naughty.

What’s that ominous basket for, you may ask? Why, it’s for carrying the bad children back to the pits of hell for all manner of torture. Adults, you’d be right to be scared out of your wits, too – in those particularly egregious cases of naughtiness, parent-napping is included in his repertoire as well.

Krampus has recently spread his reach around the world. He’s a frightening reminder to children everywhere that they’d better be on their best behaviour, no matter the season – because you never know when he’s going to show up on your doorstep. So which list are you on this year? Better check it twice…

Back to top

172352422 copy.jpg

Top Dogs


More than just a friendly companion, the loyal dog has saved more human lives than we will ever know

Top Dogs


More than just a friendly companion, the loyal dog has saved more human lives than we will ever know

Lifestyle > Miscellaneous


 

Top Dogs

October 28, 2016 / by Peter Brown

From the family terrier frantically barking when a fire breaks out in the middle of the night to the rescue dogs who uncover earthquake survivors, our canine friends have saved countless lives over the centuries.

Search dogs play a vital role in rescue operations at disaster sites as they scamper through the rubble, their noses twitching as they try to pick up the scents of trapped victims. Historically, perhaps the most famous breed of heroic dog is the Saint Bernard, which for more than 150 years was used by Augustine monks to locate travellers buried in avalanches as they crossed the treacherous Alpine passes between Switzerland and Italy.

Not only trained rescue dogs save lives. Stories abound of pets who have saved family members from fires, drowning, snakes, aggressive animals, intruders and other kinds of threats. Of course, medical detection dogs are trained to be lifesavers – one British poodle named Nora is trained to alert her severely allergic owner if there is even the slightest trace of nuts in the air.

One of the most remarkable feats of canine heroism was carried out by a guide dog in the wake of the New York City attacks on September 11, 2001. Roselle, a Labrador, led her blind owner Michael Hingson and his coworkers through the smoke and chaos of a stairwell, down 78 floors of the World Trade Center North Tower; they reached the street just as the building collapsed.

So why do dogs want to save our lives? As members of rescue team Texas Task Force 1, K9 search specialist Bob Deeds and his Labrador Retriever, Kinsey, were part of the search operations at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. “Search dogs are trained to treat it as a game – once they locate the victim, they get play time with their handler as a reward, which is a great motivation for them,” he explains.

And what about pets? “Self-preservation is a big part of how they react in dangerous situations, but many dogs also overcome their instinct to flee and stay to protect their owners. So there are clearly strong feelings of attachment – even love – that make them do it.”

Next time your adorable pup is curled up next to you on the sofa, remember that they’re much more than a loving companion – they just might save your life one day.

Putting the bling and all the other luxuries aside, what would really make a dog happy if you wanted to spoil him? “Dogs appreciate interaction with humans, whether it is retrieving or finding something that is hidden, or learning behaviour like giving paw,” he says. “Anything that you can teach the dog that lets them interact with you in a positive way is definitely the best treat.”

Getty Images

Back to top