This is the kind of entry I was sort of dreading writing, but I hope this travelogue account is actually interesting. This post is 1 of 2 concerning my exploration of the neighborhood of Sheun Wan.
Today I decided to “trawl” (As the guide book says, love that word.) through Sheun Wan’s backstreet antique markets on Upper Lascar Row – aka Cat Street. Most of the bigger, more popular markets in Hong Kong cater to tourists with mountains of cheap, reproduced Asian goods. This is incredibly disappointing to me, as I love Asian religious and mythological art and statuary and hate to see it commercialized in such a way. Exploring Sheun Wan was just the thing I needed as an antidote.
One of the most interesting things to me was how so many of the stalls have stacks of Mao’s Little Red Book. There are also a lot of kitschy, Mao themed goods. (Perhaps I’m missing something cultural here, but that seems to me like a great disrespect to the millions who died in the Cultural Revolution.) I wasn’t paying much attention to the Red Books until I encountered a stall with a careworn first edition of the Little Red Book in English. It had the owner’s name in it and everything – I was so excited – an actual piece of history!!! Something to add to my growing collection of memoirs by people who lived through the cultural revolution! (Unlike the majority of my books, I have actually read all of these.)
It seems the shopkeeper and I both missed each other by a mile in our assumptions. I figured it would be priced cheaply, as to the untrained eye it would look like a dusty, old, rather unremarkable book (completely forgetting I wasn’t in an area that is as geared towards tourists). He didn’t seem to understand why I would want such a thing, pointing to the mass produced one and saying I would want it more because “this one is new.” In the end, we both laughed over the fact that $1250 HKD (approximately $140 USD) was way out of my price range and I purchased the new Little Red Book for $40 HKD ($6ish USD).
Regardless, the find made my day and the mistaken assumptions amused me greatly. And now I have a Little Red Book to reference alongside the cultural revolution memoirs I read.