I bought 21 things in Asia, over 15 weeks. Sure, I could’ve bought a lot more. The shops of Japan were filled with futuristic things I never knew had been invented, let alone that I needed. In Taiwan there was cheap tatorama with knock off stuff bulging from the shelves. Next time I go to Indonesia I’ll need to hire a crate for all the housewares and boho beachwear I wanted and in India, the choice of leather goods and jewellery was endless. If you’re planning on shopping in Asia any time soon, just take a suitcase and plenty of currency. Your own clothes, electronics and junk are not needed.
Here’s what I did manage to fit in that stretched to the extreme backpack of mine, in various spots around my parents’ garden…
I’ll start with my absolute favourite purchase: my leather bumbag from a vintage shop in Shimokitazawa in Japan. Going through airports is a dream when you have your purse, mobile, passport and boarding bamph within easy access. In my Life Before Bumbag (LBB) I’d be ransacking my bag at every point. Having a bum bag also leaves you free to handle things without worrying about your bag and to stroll the streets without being weighed down by a load of crap you don’t need. I can’t recommend bum bags enough. I paid about £6 for this one.
It was so cold in Japan in January that I kept buying green teas to warm me up. But I liked the big green teas, the ones you buy in the Japanese Starbucks’ for loads of money, so to save I bought myself this hot flask from the beautiful Bay Area in Hakodate. It was only around £5 and so within about three green teas from the bags I bought at the supermarket I’d made my money back. Japanese people love hot water so you could find dispensers all over the cities making it easy to refill.
There was so much tat in Taiwan, I couldn’t resist buying some. This hot air balloon and olde map decorated purse replaced the other one I’d bought at a 100 Yen shop in Tokyo that some boy laughed at when I got it out.
“I had one of those when I was 8.”
I decided it was time to upgrade and spent about £2 on this one that has fared well considering the amount of abuse I’ve given it. Just the right size for a few notes and my card.
If you’re travelling you have to buy bracelets, thems the rules. These two are both from Taiwan – the purple and blue one from a market stall in Kenting and the blue one from a craft shop in Taipei. I should take them off, they’re going bad, but I shan’t.
Fourth day in the Philippines and I decide to leave my bikini top, shorts, t-shirt and sarong on the washing line on Malapascua Island while I trotted off to Cebu mainland. I could deal with everything else but I loved that sarong so I needed to replace it quick, especially as a sarong was on the ‘required’ list for my Tao Philippines trip. This little beaut from El Nido made the cut, and I’d say it was my second most favourite thing I bought in Asia.
This blue and silver ring is another favourite. I really debated whether I should buy it as it was from an unnecessarily swanky shop in El Nido and I knew I was paying too much. But I did it anyway. Worn it every day since. And it’s only going a bit mouldy.
I got this ‘unique’ patchwork bag from the Monkey Forest in Ubud. There were a few stalls buried at the back in a place where no other tourists go. The market holders seemed well fed up and as I looked up and away I noticed this above their heads. It’s definitely one of those purchases that seemed like a good idea at the time but now I’m in England it just doesn’t feel quite me. It’s now been relegated to beach bag.
Another purchase from Ubud in Bali. These golden reindeer were looking at me from one of the many, many cool housey shops along the high street. I’m amazed that I managed to keep them intact for six weeks in my backpack but I was determined to bring them home for mum for her Christmas décor. I love them.
Bought myself a bikini in Bali didn’t I? I’d say at least 20% of Bali’s floorspace is taken up by swimwear shops so with that kind of temptation I was bound to give in. If you recall the sad story of the washing line I needed a replacement anyway. This bikini was still around £30 despite being in Indonesia and in the sale section too. Roxy though innit – got to pay for that label.
Hmm these beaded sandals don’t quite fit right, but they were about £2 from the market in Ubud. Couldn’t resist. Sure they’ll stretch… or break. I can wear them as long as I don’t have to move anywhere.
I lost a lot of things during my trip in Asia. Most of my necklaces being some of them. I bought this black cord, stone pendant type thing when I went to visit Gili Meno from Gili T – two islands in Indonesia – it was about £1 and seems to have appeared on all my travel snaps since.
Best 30p I ever spent. I got this Taj Mahal snowstorm keyring on the way out from the Taj Mahal from a street seller. I battled him down to the equivalent of 20p and then felt bad so gave him 30p anyway. As I walked away I noticed it had a chip in it, and a tiny little dead fly too. Bargain. The Indian people on my tour said 10p would’ve been a rip off, never mind 30 – oops.
I saw this wooden wine bottle holder in an antique shop on the way back from seeing the Taj Mahal and I had to have it for my dad. I knew it would be a ridiculous thing to fit in my backpack, but I also knew how much my oenophile dad would love it. And I was right. I’m not saying how much it cost because it was a present, but it was worth every rupee and more. Look, you can even padlock it.
I got this studded belt from the Colaba Causeway Market just outside Leopolds in Delhi. I was a bit worried it was too ‘All Saints 90s’ but I’d seen a really cool lady in Goa with similar so went for it. It was £2 bargained down from £2.80. I felt so tight doing this in India but if they didn’t want to sell it at that price they wouldn’t and you know it probably cost a few pence to make.
I loved this laptop case when I spotted it in the corner of a shop in Hauz Khas in Delhi, but now it’s back in England I’m not so sure. I paid around £8 for it. What do you think?
The things that never made it home
I bought a watch in Taiwan. Beautiful it was. It had red heather straps and a Parisian clock face, boho style. Cost about £7 if I remember correctly. I wore it twice and never saw it again.
‘Real’ silver bracelet from Bali. Had to get rid after about three weeks. Didn’t know ‘real’ silver could go so green. Interesting.
My flip flops broke after a raucous night out in the Gilis, which ended in me arriving home with a bloody big toe with half the beach stuck to the injury. I had no other flip flops so it was time to hit the surf shop on the beachfront and invest in some new ones. I got some Billabong ones that had to be thrown away at Heathrow. They wouldn’t make it through customs with the filth they’d wallowed in in India.
That’s it. All the ‘things’ I bought in Asia over three and a half months. You like?