Here at HKH, we’re always thrilled to try to help out our readers so please feel free to email with any questions you may have about expat life, China, gift giving, cookery, domestic life… etc. We’re always happy to help and if I don’t know the answer I know a lot of ladies who probably do!
Q: I was wondering if you would be able to assist me in suggesting a good going away gift for one of my dear friends who is moving to Hong Kong at the end of the month. To put some parameters on the discussion he is a very meat and potatoes blue collar guy (he’s a mechanic by trade) who fell in love with a wonderful women from HK and is moving over there to be together with her. That being said he has a strong interest in the outdoors and cars. I am looking for the gift to be somewhat functional more than symbolic. I was trying to do some research on what American ex-pats wish they could have brought from home (if they knew it wouldn’t be available of difficult to come by) and couldn’t really find anything. I was thinking a creature comfort from home (the Boston Massachusetts) but in speaking with people familiar with HK it appears that you can get 90% of what is available in the US in Hong Kong. So any insight into the matter would be appreciated. Thanks very much!
–American TV. Offer to set up a Slingbox in your home for him so he can see all of his favorite television from Hong Kong.
–Sports on Demand. One of the things the Mr. misses most about the US is sports. Luckily, NFL.com and MLB.com both have a great subscription service. This could be a great way for your friend to stay in touch with the Pats and the Red Sox. Even if you are getting up early to watch or running a second screen at work with the game on while going through your morning email.
–A magazine subscription. While you can find most US magazines in HK, they retail at about $12 US each, which seriously curbs that habit. Lots of magazines do ship internationally, although not through Amazon. (All Conde Nast title do… Vanity Fair, for example is $68 / year.) You probably have a better idea of his favorite magazine, but simply do a little research and he’ll be thinking of you and thanking you every month!
–A New England care package. Although it is true that you can find much of the same foods and brands that you love in the U.S., that doesn’t mean they aren’t sold here at a ridiculous price. Given your New England roots, I would recommend sending your friend on his adventure with a New England care package filled with things that are expensive or hard to find here in HK. Here are my top picks: maple syrup, salt water taffy, Necco wafers, Swedish fish, and anything at all (Trail mix, granola bars, etc.) from Trader Joe’s.
–Doctor’s Kit. One of the things you just cannot find is the American brands of drugs, like Tylenol and Advil, that we’re used to back in the States so that is one thing I stock up on when I’m home.
–A Kindle. Books are tough to get a hold of in Hong Kong and expats travel a ton because it’s so easy and accessible and there is nothing better for keeping luggage compact than the Kindle. It’s also worth noting that while there are plenty of authorized Apple distribution shops around town where you can buy the iPad for instance, Hong Kong is not currently served by an Amazon distribution center. The cost of the Kindle has also come down to $130 making it a more likely gift possibility.
–Steak in his new home. You mention that your friend is a ‘guy’s guy.’ If so, it might be fun to get him a gift certificate to a great new restaurant in his new home that reminds him of the guys back at home. The Mr. can’t stop talking about the Bistecca Steakhouse in SoHo. He recommends ordering your steak Chicago style. The Steakhouse is right in the heart of LKF, the main area of the ‘going out’ area of the city and the steaks are not cheap so it would be both a good introduction to his new town as well as a special treat. The restaurant is owned by Dining Concept Ltd. And you can order a gift card here.
–Australian steaks. You could order some delicious steaks for him to cook up upon arrival from either Epicure Direct or Pacific Gourmet.
–A Gus Passport holder. We’re giving away one tomorrow morning so stay tuned!
—A HK hiking guide. Hong Kongers are all about hiking so a nice guide might be helpful.
–Key club membership. Now I have no idea how close of a friend this is, but if he is your very best friend in the world or you have a few buddies looking to go in on a gift and if he happens to like going out to classy joints, and you really want to do something special for him, I would recommend a year-long membership to the super chic Kee Club. You can apply / purchase online here.
Readers, do you have any other great ideas to add to the list?