There’s a shop in Sai Kung called Shun Kee City Homewares. British expats call it Harrods because it sells everything. It’s kind of like Kmart or Target, with the same inventory as one of those massive ones at Highpoint or Chadstone, but squashed into a 1200sq.f shop. The aisles are 8cm wide, but if you can bear to squish boobs against your neighbours (the beautiful lady from the bakery, fine; the minibus driver, not fine), you will find there’s not much it doesn’t stock. When we first moved to Sai Kung we went to Shun Kee with HK$15,000 and bought everything we needed to set up a house here – cutlery, crockery, sheets, brooms, buckets, Hello Kitty bathroom receptacles, long sheets of plastic with embroidery printed on to use as “tablecloths”. They also do a big trade in tat lanterns, cheap tea sets, and other Chinoiserie to help the gweilo feel they’ve assimilated.
The dragon dance outside Shun Kee last Chinese New Year.
Thanks in part to Shun Kee and their affordable “props”, we’re so used to flailing about offensively during local celebrations, it’s almost become comfortable. So thank god Halloween came along last week for a bit of a culture shock. I never went trick’or’treating as a kid. I don’t remember any kids knocking on our door trick’or’treating either. I can’t even imagine it. Mum would have opened the door and the kids would’ve been like “Trick or treat!” and she would have been like “You what? Er…here, have this Salada. No, that’s not a trick! What about if I put some peanut butter on it…”
Halloween seems to be a big deal here. Lots of shops went all-out with decorating. I don’t get it. Sitting in the hairdresser last week getting a blowdry while an ugly plastic witch stared me down (not the receptionist, an actual ugly plastic witch sitting on the counter) – it didn’t enhance the experience. And you can buy pumpkin-flavoured coffee at Starbucks…what? Is that a flavour you’d ever think of drinking? I haven’t had it, maybe it’s an unrivalled taste sensation. But if it was, wouldn’t we drink it all year round? Does anyone know anyone who can’t function without their morning pumpkincino? Are there beloved folk tales of the original connoisseurs kicking back in Ottoman Turkey going, “So I was thinking, we could probably improve this drink. I mean it’s pretty good, you can’t deny it’s exotic to be sipping a liquid black as burnt ink, to say nothing of its intoxicating fragrance and its PEP! and ZING!, but seriously you guys, what if we flavour it with…that giant winter gourd over there?” “Why Emir, that’s genius!”
I doubt it.
Anyway, all the kids around this and surrounding villages were going trick’or’treating so we took our little mates along too. Here they are in their stereotypical yet adorable costumes:
The best photo ever taken of
Rufus Jox-timus Prime. We were in tears.
They had no idea what to do. They’d see other kids getting lollies, and then just run over and hold their hands out, then marvel in disbelief at what had just happened. After a while they worked it out, except Zadie was saying “Bucket treat” instead of “Trick or treat”, which was actually pretty logical as she watched her plastic tub overflowing with loot.
It was the best and most unexpected night of their lives. Look at Zadie here. She’s dressed as Belle, but she’s more like a zombie than any of the undead we saw on the night: “It’s 45 minutes past my bedtime but must…get…to the next house…so I can say ‘Bucket treat’ and…get another Chupa-Chup…”
Oh and here’s our pumpkin. Joel carved it. Since we’re here on my work visa, I’m not allowed to do things that might injure my hands. Like use knives and shit. I regret not using the pumpkin guts to make an invigorating latte – because, you know, I can’t function without my pumpkin! (Starbucks’ marketing team Halloween 2012 – you’re welcome).