Shopping demons and things that make my heart flutter / by Jessica Lee

You know it's time to go home from the mall when you feel guilty after making a purchase.

The day started innocently enough. I woke up around 8 am and went for breakfast at TOASTBOX, a cha chaan teng at Olympian City.

I ordered instant noodles with spicy pork and an egg, a cold Horlick drink, which tastes sort of like malt and milk for those of you who haven't had it before, and a Pandan cake- which as I'm learning now from Wikipedia, has Malaysian origins and is made with Pandanus amarylifolius (a tropical plant) leaves. It is a green cake which gets its colour from the chlorophyll in the leaf juice. The cake was okay- tasted just like regular sponge cake.

After breakfast, I headed over to the International Finance Centre, which thankfully is more interesting than the name suggests. The IFC is a HUGE mall with brand names like Burberry, Coach and the like. It also has non-designer brands like Club Monaco and Zara.

I didn't really shop much, instead, I went around and explored. The architecture of the building is incredible. Here are some photos taken by yours truly that showcase its spectacular structure:

Here is the entrance
This here is one of the shopping levels


More levels

This is the roof top. It is so pretty! The business people eat their lunches here. I hope they know how lucky they are. I would LOVE to have lunch here every day. It would make me feel like a million bucks. It's such a nice environment. There are free-for-all tables (they are nice tables) where you can bring your own food or buy something like McDonalds and just eat and have a good time with your co-workers.

And last but not least, fancy restaurant on the roof top!

I also found a really nice grocery store in this mall and almost bought a $3 CAD Kit Kat Cookies and Cream chocolate bar. It was my first time seeing such a bar and I was fascinated. Except $3 is a bit steep for a Kit Kat, which is why I didn't get it.

I also went to a bookstore in the mall and found a paperback copy of Timothy Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week! I almost bought this too, except I did calculations and the paperback copy is almost as expensive as the hard cover copy. It's weird how in HK, you can find paperback releases of books that they are still selling hardcovers in North America. I had been waiting for a paperback version of Timothy Ferriss' books back in Toronto. (For anyone who doesn't know, Tim Ferriss is a genius, and you should read his books!)

For the Hunger Games fans, I also found paperback versions of all three books here. In Toronto, only the first book is in paperback right now!

I'm sure there's some method to this madness. I think publishers keep popular books in hardcover because then they can charge more to readers who can't wait until the softcover version comes out. But if this is the case, why does HK get a break? If anyone can explain this to me, please let me know!

After the mall, I went exploring in the Central region and I got hungry so I walked into Cafe de Coral, which is a fast food place that serves cha chaan teng dishes.

I had a mashed potato and chicken wing combo. It cost $3 CAD, and was delicious-though a bit cold when I got the food, and it didn't fill me up.

So I pulled out my handy dandy guide book and it led me to Lan Fong Yuen, which is a cha chaan teng that claims they invented the first milk tea! This is probably as authentic as it gets. It is a hole in the wall where the locals eat and share tables together.

I ordered the french toast (which translates loosely in English to "western toast") and a lai cha (milk tea). I don't usually drink milk tea, but I figured I might as well have it if I was at the place that invented it. It was good, but it hasn't converted me into someone who has to have one every time at a cha chaan teng. The french toast was amazing though.

I then wandered to Tai Cheong Bakery for egg tarts.

I am in love with egg tarts. When I bought my egg tarts, they were still hot from the oven. In Toronto, whenever I'm near Chinatown, I make it a point to go buy egg tarts. Usually, they are sold out unless you go really early (before noon).

I then made a trip to Causeway Bay and shopped at SOGO, which is a huge department store (think Sears, but with 16 floors). I went up to the 11th floor and then I couldn't go further because the 12th floor is wedding dresses and it felt awkward going to that floor since I'm not getting married anytime soon- at least not that I'm aware of. The floors after that were cooking classes and a spa and some other things that had no relevance to my life, so there weren't any excuses for me to go poking around up there.

However, I am pleased to report that I bought a hair straightener!

I wasn't actively looking for one, but it caught my eye and now we are happily together. It's one of those fancy little Asian technology jobs and it cost only $20 CAD. The only issue with it is that the plug is Asian and I have to find a travel adapter for it to use it in Canada. Oh yeah, and it's pink!

This is how small it is. I put a camera lens lid in the picture for comparison purposes. Asian technology is crazy! I've never seen such a small straightener before. I plan to use it on my (relatively) new bangs.

And then I wandered around and saw MUJI!!!

I nearly had an orgasm.

This store is pretty much my favourite store in any Asian country (and the sad part is they only exist in Asian countries as far as I know).

Here is a little context for those of you who don't know: Muji is a Japanese lifestyle store. They sell clothing, shoes, food, stationary, beauty products, bath products, beds, luggage, storage items, and other random things you didn't think you needed but realized you desperately did after seeing how cool they are.

Their "brand" is minimalist design.

About two years ago when I was visiting Taiwan, I bought flats at Muji for about $56 CAD and they have lasted me up until now. And this is with regular wearing!

I also buy a lot of notebooks and pens whenever I'm at Muji. Their stuff is simple and the paper is good quality.

Here is a picture of inside the store so you can see the wide range of its products: (see the stationary on the left, the scarves in the middle, the storage section in the back...)

Today I bought lounge pants (because it's much colder in HK than it appears to be- they are lying when they say 20 degrees, it feels more like 15), a cute backpack (not that I needed any more, but I really do have an obsession with buying backpacks and I think this is an okay obsession to have because it's not like I have an obsession with buying $60,000 designer purses- that would be bad for my financial health- and backpacks usually don't go over $100 so it's fine to indulge once in a while), some notebooks and a bag of chocolate cream-filled strawberry marshmallows.

I was happy with these purchases. Everything was sunshine and rainbows. Everything was lovely.

And then this is the part where it gets murky.

I went to Times Square (because the guidebook told me to, since it was in the area anyway). And I happened to walk INTO the Times Square mall. Curiosity always kills the cat.

And then I saw this store I absolutely adore. And it was downhill from there.

I won't reveal anymore, except that I look hot in this hoodie, it's keeping me warm and that I needed it anyway since I am running out of fresh laundry. So pretty much it's a matter of life or death. I would clearly freeze to death if I weren't wearing this hoodie right now. And who cares if they are now selling it for almost half the price at The Bay this week since I won't be back in Canada for the next six months?

If anything, this guilty feeling is coming from the fact that I charged my credit card (because I didn't have enough cash at that point in the day), which means that the purchase will have conversion rates added on to the already high price. Also, I just read from the receipt that they don't do refunds. Bummer.

Oh well. I am reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma and he says "there are no mistakes in life, only lessons". So this must be my lesson: always bring more cash. And no more impulse purchases! Except when the deal is too good to pass up.

Tomorrow, I am staying away from the shopping malls. It's museum day for me. Until then, readers!