Neck and neck, a tale of three scarves

They keep our necks warm, they are lovely companions, they can be roiled up into a little ball as a pillow, they accessorise the plainest outfit, they’ll cover up a bad hair day, their colours can enhance your looks, they are beautiful gifts, they can be worn as a sarong, a sash or a stole and can become objects of obsession . . . in fact not to have one on hand can be quite anxiety making.

Silk, pashmina, cotton, merino wool, cashmere, hand-knotted, woven by angels – any which way a scarf comes into being makes the world a better place.

I have far too many scarves to even put on a post, but I’ll start my tale with three old friends who have travelled the globe with me.

The first is a beautiful blue and black fringed scarf from India. I purchased it in Chennai – no bargaining, it came from a boutique that didn’t play hard and fast with tight fists. This is a one-off,  and when it is folded in a drawer near its market cousins, it remains expensive and haughty.
A few days before I purchased the scarf I was in a bus trundling through the southern part of India. The bus had made frequent ‘comfort’ stops – let’s call them toilet stops at places that I couldn’t quite cope with – and I have a high tolerance for shitty toilets.
At one stop I said to my lady companions that perhaps it would be more hygienic if we just went into the bushes. All agreed with me.
As we were squatting in easy silence I looked behind me and there was a holy man wandering through the bush and starring at us. We all turned to wave and the poor skinny fellow took off like a rocket – don’t think he’d quite seen that many white bums lined up ever.

This next, soft, pretty confection came from the markets in Istanbul. I had just finished a cruise from Athens with my sister and we were stockpiling scarves. They only cost about $5 each but were comely and colourful. We wore them draped around our shoulders back to our hotel.
In a café near the hotel a young, pushy fella called us every night with true Turkish hospitality to come and have apple tea with him. We did, but he was starting to get annoying and we were trying to find ways to avoid him.
One night I said, ‘why are you flirting with us, we are old, there are lots of young, gorgeous girls around. ‘Ï don’t care’,  he said,  I just want a little bit of kissing and   . . .’- yep, he wanted more. I just starred at him and said ‘you’re a lunatic’. He laughed hysterically and attracted the attention of his boss. The boss came out and shooed him away. ‘Why did you do that,’ I said – ‘he doesn’t work here, so why not?’ he said. So a strange man had been flirting with us and making us apple tea from the café . . . ah, Istanbul.

This silk organza lovely was found at Stanley Markets, Hong Kong. I had bought an embroidered silk coat that I was thrilled with, and not cheap either. While the coat was being packed up I saw the edge of this scarf poking out from under a pile of sweaters. As I gently tugged it out I saw it was silk organza with fine cotton tufts sprouting – it was intriguing and quickly attached itself to me. I bargained for a while then put my foot down and said I should have it for free, as the coat had no bargaining attached to the deal . . . shopkeeper was bemused and said – ‘why not’.
That trip to Hong Kong I was invited on a helicopter ride too see that amazing city and surrounding islands from on high – what a flight! And the scarf playfully tickled my neck as the helicopter swooped through the mighty canyons of the vertical city.
Tell me about your scarves . . . where did you buy them, what do they mean to you, and do they tell a story?

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Down and out in Berlin – or a night to remember

Down and out in Berlin – or a night to remember

I was happily listening to someone at a travel function recently about the new routes for Rail Europe and the new timetables and new trains for Germany. Back in the day, I travelled on trains a lot through Germany, they were always on time, efficient and clean.

And I’ve always been fond of the architectural beauties of the European railway stations, great caverns with iron as the constructing base for every shape and grand curve.

In the early 80s I had not such a grand experience at the old Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main railway station).

I was staying in Munich in the dead of winter with friends and decided to go to Berlin (which I had never been to before) and surprise a ‘holiday’ boyfriend. How hard could it be.

In those days there was an agency in Munich call the Mitfahrzentrale ( I think it still exists). It was kind of like safe and legal hitch hiking, which wasn’t easy out of major European cities because of the Autobahns. I digress.

I signed onto the agency list – you say where you are going, where your pick up point is, pay a few Deutschmarks (pre Euro) for insurance and Bob’s mein Onkel!

I got a lift in the smallest car I’ve ever built, and there were two in the front and two of us in the back for the long, long, windy and snowy drive to Berlin.

They were pseudo hippies and played cassettes of reggae music all the way. We all smoked cigarettes and a little weed along the way and the air was stinking! We were stopped at the border between East and West Germany and a youthful soldier carrying a big gun was dealing with us through the window. The nationals were OK but in my limited understanding of the language I thought he was asking me for 50 (funfzig) marks for a visa and no way was I paying that and started to get stroppy. My travelling companions told me to ‘shut ze up’ and as I shut up I got the gist that it was only funf (five) marks. ‘Well, OK then.”

So on we trundled and my fellow travellers looked shaken and told me they had ‘contraband’ in the car and I could have had us all in ‘the gaol’. I never did ask what the contraband was – best not to know.

We arrived in Berlin mid evening and I had to unfold my creaky limbs out of the chariot. Nice folks but that ‘beschissen’ reggae music . . .

I had not really thought this venture through. I arrived with the equivalent of about 10 bucks in my wallet, a small backpack with a few items and that was it. I phoned my friend several times and there was no answer. But, always the eternal optimist I sat in a cafe in the middle of town (the middle of the half of Berlin then), bought a large beer, a sausage and fries. How cool was I? And lucky I had the big scark, gloves, beanie and the parka. Soooo cold.

The night dragged on and Berlin in the early 80s was a darker place that today. Lots of shady folk coming out at night as the club scene was dangerously good! I moved to a park bench, well-lit and in the middle of a lot of seedy action – and felt secure. But still had to go back and forth to a phone box. This was the olden days, no mobiles, no credit cards, no atm, in fact I had nuthin’

After a thousand phone calls I tried to curl up and sleep under the park bench (hidden for safety) and as I snoozed I was kicked sharply in the kidneys by the Politzei. They moved me on and I strolled around the town feeling less than optimistic about my survival til morning.

Back to the phone box to call the police and found a nice bloke with good English to tell my tale of woe to. He told me I was a stupid girl and he could not help me but . . .there was a christian charity set up at German railway stations that helps travellers (old people, sick people – and idiots like me) in trouble when they arrive off the train. He gave me the address and it was inside the Hauptbahnhof.

I can’t remember the name of the charity but roughly translated to ‘Travellers Aid offices. So around 2am I walk in the dimly lit, empty station and to my left is a doorway at the end of a corridor with a light above it. And before I can make the journey to that door I have to run the gauntlet for about 20 metres of groaning, fighting, vomiting and even singing junkies and drunks. Now is the time to gird my loins – if I can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So, I took off at a healthy pace, backpack bumping along with me as I sang very loudly and slightly madly “Waltzing Matilda’. Piece of cake!

As I bashed on the door a fresh-faced young man opened it to a blubbering, stupid girl. He was so kind, and I explained I had no money til I could find a bank on Monday (it was still only Sunday morning). He told me to sleep on the office couch. No nightmares, nothing and I woke to the aroma of filtered coffee and hot rolls.

Such kindness and he got me into a hostel (with hostile wardens) for the next night. Still phoning and leaving my new address in case someone could come and fetch me.

My ‘holiday’ boyfriend had been across to East Germany for the weekend and was rather shocked at my exploits. After he picked me up he warned me about hanging around the centre of the city late at night and going to the railway station. OK, warning taken.

When some money came through I took a donation to the Travellers Aid and gave it with great thanks.

It was a night to remember.

Writer Bev Malzard returned to  Berlin several times but has not been there since the Wall came down. She likes things a little dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

Six fab things to do in Seville . . . or is there a barber in the house?

Six fab things to do in Seville . . . or is there a barber in the house?

Discovering a city that oozes personality.

Arriving in Seville on a sun-drenched early autumn day will set you up for your senses to be tickled and your spirit to be enriched. This Andalucian metropolis has personality to spare and the sevillanos are out and about in force on a saucy Saturday.

Layers of history here are peeled back and the past is generously etched onto a new canvas with modern Seville.

Seville has historical layers; Roman ruins testify the settlement’s earliest face, memories of the Moorish era flicker like medieval engravings in the Santa Cruz quarter, while the riverside Arenal reeks of Spanish conquest and lost colonial glory.

Join the throng of almost 700,000 locals and don’t miss out on the culture of the city, traditions and artistic heritage:

  • Visit the third largest cathedral in the world, the Church of Seville, built on the remains of an ancient mosque and it still retains the extraordinary Giralda (tower) at almost 100m high. (There are 25 bells here, all with their own names and the oldest dates back to 1400.)

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  • Seville is the birthplace of the sensuous and bold Flamenco, and a night at the Museo del Baile Flamenco (funded by Spain’s flamenco legend Cristina Hoyos). The museum is fascinating and the performance, though touristy, is intimate and more than sensational and sincere.

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  • The Alcazar of Seville is one of the most glorious palaces in Europe. Soft, architecturally exquisite with history and beauty etched into every bit of stone work and love at every planting in the immaculate gardens. (Fans of Game of Thrones may recognise the location of the Water Gardens of Dorn here.)
  • A startling apparition as you stroll the traditional and urbane city streets is the Metropol Parasol, an almighty piece of architecture that curves above the streets in a bold and brassy manner. Some call it the ‘mushroom’ and the sevillanos are quite divided in their opinion of the building. Not fond of it myself, I feel that it has the substance of cardboard and could wilt in a decent storm!

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  • Treat yourself to the elegant hotel Alfonso XIII for lunch where you dine like a king and feel like a movie star.
  • And to finish of an evening, hit the cobblestones and be taken on a tapas tour with a local to visit the classic tapas bars.

Ola! Walking, talking, eating, viewing, and looking for the barber of Seville?

Getting there: Fly to Madrid. Seville is well-connected to Madrid by the high speed train AVE. Peak season here is April to September ushering crowds. Sweet season is late March and October to November.

Writer, Bev Malzard enjoyed the Tapas Tour here, a variety of tiny bars were on show and as authentic as a sizzling garlic prawn. Totally recommend this experience. AND a gelato to finish off the night’s eating extravaganza.

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Sailing odyssey to find oddities

Sailing odyssey to find oddities

 

Sailing the Mediterranean – the sea of love – is an odyssey that explores grand ports and tiny, secluded islands along the way.

I had never had cause to flick a burning ember off my arm on a cruise before, but for a few precious seconds I let it hover there. Free of the smoking red dot I looked through the inky night sky and watched burning hot lava run down the walls of Mount Stromboli on the little island of Stromboli. A hush fell over the yacht as the passengers watched great lumps of molten lava plop into the sea not far from us – but far enough away to be safe.

Off the north coast of Sicily, being up close to one of three active volcanoes in Italy was one of the highlights of a memorable week of sailing on a luxury mega-yacht. And ready for  speedy getaway – we had no need to flee from the towering inferno!

The journey began in Athens. SeaDream 1 was waiting for us in Piraeus. Up on deck, guests were catching the last of summer’s bright rays. (SeaDream yachts chase the sun, and after the Mediterranean, the Caribbean was the ships next playground for November to March.)

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We departed Piraeus on an afternoon, fresh from summer in October through a flint-like clarity of light.

On this voyage were 95 crew and 95 guests – so you can guess the rest – we were indulged all the way. The feeling is small, intimate and happily familiar. Within 24 hours, crew who had seen me once knew my name.

And so to the first of many splendid dinners to come – Alaska crab, fresh salads tonight and the start of my dessert obsession for the duration.

After a sleep lulled by the thought of tomorrow, I was up and ready for the day on the pretty Greek island of Hydra. No rushing in the morning, meandered up on deck for breakfast. Freshly squeezed juices (“do you have some fresh ginger for my juice?” of course!) And it was the beginning of a game played out every morning. I pick up a few things and head to a table and an attentive staff member and I play tug-o-war with my plate). I’m not even allowed to carry my own plate to the table. Just call me Princess.

Each morning on this voyage we would breakfast at a new port where our small ship can sneak into because of its size. Each morning one of the staff members (sniggering and pulling faces) would bring a jar of Vegemite to the table too – OK, laugh if you must, you non-believers.

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The yacht (the ship is call a yacht because it is small and has the ambience of an intimate sailing craft) moored at the edge of Hydra’s harbour and from 9am until 6pm we could jump in and out of a tender to visit the island whenever we chose. I had two trips that day. I spent a lazy day on Hydra to enjoy the harbour front as the tourist season had cast off its high season frantic pace…

A little shopping and a walk up the narrow backstreets past snoozing cats, aromatic bundles of oregano and wild sage and I spy, tucked into a corner, a true mama and papa taverna. Settled in we ordered simple fare: whitebait, a Greek salad, fresh bread and a cold beer. Perfect!

 

Day three and the trip was showing its stripes as we headed into another glorious experience. The vessel smoothly negotiated a straight line through the narrow cutting of the Corinth canal. It is an almost out-of-body experience to think that this great chunk of land between two seas was chopped, chipped away and bled on by slaves and cheap labour to make a journey around the Peloponnese (approx. 185 nautical miles) easier by going through rather than over. Emperor Nero dug the first sod himself in 67AD. Determined to get the job done with the help of 6000 slaves, Nero’s idea didn’t get very far because of the times: politics, war and financial hardship stalled the project for centuries.

Whether it was Poseidon originally putting the kibosh on the project or not, it was revived during the late 1800s and was completed and put to use in 1893.

The day just got better and better. We anchored at Galaxidi, gateway to one of Greece’s most treasured sites – Delphi.

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Galaxidi is ordered and its neat grand villas and 19th century homes gleaming in the midday sun, sit smugly along the bay. And Delphi is an evocative cultural ancestral memory. The ruins are magnificent still, the standing pieces strong and bold, the fallen, melancholy and redolent with voices – calling for the advice and prophesy of the Delphi Oracle. The amphitheatre is in good shape still, as you would expect from the original builders – the Gods.

The Oracle did speak to me, it was mostly in riddles but the gist of it was: “You are a lucky woman to be doing this cruise, be grateful.” OK, I got the message.

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Sipping ‘sundowners’ on Top of the Yacht Bar, guests were mellowed out and a little sleepy after a day in the sun and an encounter with ancient Greece’s top consultant.

The following morning onboard I discovered the tai chi class, and each morning from then on I was taught to stretch and bend, which made my day a lot more physically livelier.

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A visit to Fiskado, Kefalonia was all about the excursion on the island. This is where the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed. A friend and I chose to mooch around the port, take a desultory look at a local folk museum and spend a couple of hours sitting. Just sitting here is better than meditation. The day was beautiful, warm and clear. Little fishing boats bobbed softly and their bright colours reflected in the calm water of the bay. A few cups of Greek coffee, a chat to to the locals, an extended sit and the world balanced perfectly on its axis.

Back on board to cold drinks and chilled wet, towels. Life onboard is casual and unpretentious and a return after a day excursion is warm and fuzzy – and sincere. As we passed through various maritime regions, the movies shown on the yacht’s TV network reflected where we were. There was Mama Mia in the main lounge one night and we ate popcorn as we watched Meryl Streep sing and dance her heart out.

As we entered Italian waters, in Sicily we watched The Godfather (there was a brilliant day visit to Taormina on Etna) and we glimpsed many of the locations used in the film.

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Amalfi was a delight, we took a bus around and up the narrow coastal road on the way to Pompeii. As it was late in the season the crowds were scattered and small – a relief when we saw the territory to be covered. What an extraordinary experience to see such exquisitely preserved artworks, buildings, frescoes – all at the expense of a vast city being buried under molten lava along with its inhabitants.

A wedding in Il Duomo (Cathedral) Amalfi, Italy

Back in Amalfi, we sat around the corner from St George cathedral which features in the film A Good Woman. It was hard to tear ourselves away as we stuffed ourselves with the region’s specialty cakes – cannoli and ricotta pies. Mmmm, the sweet life.

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The last day of this glorious Mediterranean adventure took us to the ultimate romantic destination: Capri. Unfortunately the tide was too high for us to enter the renowned Blue Grotto but we did get a glimpse of the coloured marine phenomenon when a local took us in his boat into a (about three metres deep) cave where we saw the shimmering aqua marine water splash against the walls of the cavern. A brilliant display that only Neptune has the secret to…

Capri is so cosmopolitan, with charming fashion boutiques and restaurants, pastry shops and gelato bars. Romance abounds as we feel a bit Grace Kelly, a bit Sophia Loren as the classic white convertible swoops us up and around the curves of Capri, the island of love, to the town of Ana Capri. Among the mixed Euro flash travellers we checked out the boutiques and then hopped on the gondola to be taken up to the top of the island. We gazed upon the tiny vineyards, terraced up the side of the hills, and the villas that have housed Italians for centuries and seen many of us tourists over the years – and still know exactly how to look after us… a smile, a wave and a gracious invite to sit down in the sun to eat.

The farewell meal on SeaDream and the chefs and wait staff pull out all the stops. A degustation of impeccable creation and construction – worthy of the Gods.

Arriving at the port of Civitavecchia (Rome) it was tough to walk away from the yacht – perhaps I should have asked the wisdom of the Oracle: “Stay a few more days to see a few more ports..?” I just had to take my chances with the choice to stay on in Rome for a couple of days. Not a bad choice either…

Cruise trivia

The volcano on Stromboli has erupted many times and is constantly active with minor eruptions, often visible from many points on the island and from the surrounding sea, giving rise to the island’s nickname ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. The most recent major eruption was on 13 April 2009.

(SeaDream I. Visit: [@] http://www.seadream.com for itineraries and bookings or see your travel agent.)

Writer Bev Malzard asked for guidance from the Oracle of Delphi and still has not heard back whether it’s still cool to wear hoop earrings.

(Special thanks to travelling companion Jane Hodges for many of the pictures here.)

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Miss Saigon? Sure do.

Miss Saigon? Sure do.

A day or so in Saigon is like a week anywhere else, staying in District 1 at the delightful Caravelle Hotel (yes, still the best breakfast in Asia).

I’m a sucker for a good hotel breakfast, and as one who has the simplest morning meal at home I go crazy when I’m at a brekkie buffet. The Caravelle Hotel, for me. is my go-to in Indochina. Every nationality is catered for, which suits me as I can cover ten countries in one sitting.

 

The hotel is situated opposite the charming Opera House (built in 1900), near every high end shop in town and 15 minutes walk away from the real shopping in big and vibrant Ben Thanh Markets – oh joy, oh joy!

 


The streets are buzzing with millions of motorbikes and we were pedalled around in a rickshaw yesterday – always a bit embarrassing as the drivers are usually the size of my left leg!
Visited the Reunification Palace and for the first time I visited the War Remnants Museum (much more realistic than the word ‘War Memorial’); sombre and heartbreaking, the museum pulls no punches and the photographs on the walls tell the horrific story of Vietnam’s suffering.
A funny thing happened at the Palace, there was a group of war vets, men and women who were ecstatic about having their photographs taken with us . . .see, you don’t have to mention the war!

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Writer Bev Malzard has visited Vietnam many times and blames the introduction to pho for her obsessive search for the best bowl of pho in Sydney. (On the lowdown, Eat Fuh (their spelling) has the most fragrant and divine broth for pho in Marrickville.)

The island of romance

The island of romance

Oh Catalina! A respite from the glitz and noise of the mainland, this little island is a joyful discovery.

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“Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a waitin’ for me, Santa Catalina, the island of romance” . . . and so starts the old song that turned a holiday island, off the coast of Long Beach in California, into a vacation-spot superstar. The song was recorded in 1958 by the Four Preps. Two of the college friends’ group were surfing off the coast in Southern California and they saw Santa Catalina island in the distance and wondered how far from the mainland it was . . hence the origin of a pop song of its time that shot up the charts, and made the holiday island a new sensation – again!

The island is one of many in the Channel Islands group. And from the get-go, the island was a popular playground for early inhabitants in 5000BC, Spanish mariners, hunters, smugglers and the military.

It became a tourist destination around 1887 with the focal point of the island a little settlement called Avalon – which has since been designated a city.

The Wrigley family purchased the island sight unseen in 1919 for $3 million. Mr Wrigley made his fortune in chewing gum!

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Take the Catalina Express for a gentle hour’s sail from Long Beach.

The island was developed within a small space as much of the terrain is rocky and wild. And the only beach is at Avalon.

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The beautiful chandelier above the ballroom floor in the Casino.

The massive construction of the island’s most recognisable landmark, the startling art deco structure, is the Casino. The building houses a beautiful theatre (movies are still shown here); a massive ballroom and a museum.

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The Casino. 

The ballroom still has the ghosts of thousands of young dancers who would come across the sea (a three-hour trip then) to dance the night away during the 30s and 40s.

The museum has wonderful images of the crowd that crushed the dance floor. There was never alcohol served in the building, and the casino has never had any form of gambling on the premises.

Ornate walls inside the casino and (right) the amazing construction of the circular building.

Lovely hotels and quaint guesthouses provide plenty of rooms for holidaymakers and a day trip isn’t a bad idea either. Funky restaurants, live music venues, ice cream parlours par excellence, and fun souvenir shopping have the red carpet out for visitors.

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This is a retro destination that exudes the vibrant ambience of a laid back part of California like no other.

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  • GETTING AROUND

Catch the Catalina Express from San Pedro, Long Island (a one- hour boat ride and up to 30 departures daily).

Around Avalon, it’s for walking or you can hire a golf buggy to get around. Not many cars here.

  • WHEN TO VISIT

Anytime! But in autumn the prices are down, the crowds less frantic and the island slows to a gentle pace. Enjoy the Halloween Parade at the end of October.

CATALINA ACTIVITIES

All out adventure or slow and steady? The island offers Zip Line Tours starting at 182m above Descanso Beach; off-road exploring in a jeep to visit the local bisons (true), foxes, eagles and deer. Parasail over the Pacific Ocean or hike the rugged hills.

Or . . . visit the fabulous Catalina Museum with special exhibitions and the history of the island from the beginning displayed.

At Descanso Beach, snorkel and swim the crystal clear waters – and head to the Beach Club for a Catalina Burger.

At night head to the Casino for a first run movie. Get there and hour early on the weekend nights to hear a stirring performance on the original pipe organ.

Writer Bev Malzard, did not zip line, but she did have a nap on the beach, eat ice-cream and spent an afternoon in the museum/art gallery. The history in black and white photographs is rich and new world ‘American dream’. That Wrigley fella was on to something when he got the world chewing gum! (Juicy Fruit is the chew du jour for Ms Malzard.) Look below, this little Aussie was on offer on Catalina Island. 

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Hello Kitty makes a comeback

Hello Kitty makes a comeback

That heading was to get your attention – ‘comeback’ ? – she hasn’t gone away, in fact she’s more popular than ever. I felt like revisiting this posting from another blog I wrote a few years ago.

Please enjoy a re-read and discover my curiosity about this damn cat.

 

 

Miss itty bitty Kitty rules the rooms!

I don’t get Hello Kitty. I do get Hello Kitty. I get the merchandising, the appeal to pre-adolescent females and the cutesy factor that seems to adorn all young Asian girls and indeed little girls all over the shopping world. I get that it’s a character of fiction – I don’t get the look (Kitty is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow), I don’t get why Kitty doesn’t have a mouth.

Researching the erstwhile feline, I found out she was created by Yuko Shimizu in 1974, and first appeared on a vinyl coin purse, introduced to the Japanese public and then Kitty went on to conquer the US in 1976.

The Hello Kitty character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. She is a Sanrio character (there are many Kitty family members – now I’m creeping myself out as I’d like to meet them), and Sanrio has groomed Hello Kitty into a global, marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year.

(In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, sold rubber sandals with flowers painted on them. He noted profits soared with the addition of cute designs on sandals and hired cartoonists to design cuties for his merchandise. )

Anyway, chubby kitty cat is all over the world now – and every little girl knows her. And surprisingly (not) many adults have embraced her too . . . I don’t get it. But I’m starting to . . .

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The target market for Hello Kitty broadened to include teens and grown-ups as a retro brand – for those who could not own her when they were young. In 1999, 12,000 different products had Kitty appearing on them worldwide.  And now it gets silly – in 2009, the Bank of America began offering Hello Kitty-themed cheque accounts, where the account holder can get cheques and a Visa debit card with Kitty’s mouthless face on it – MasterCard debit cards have featured Kitty as a design since 2004.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for some of this info – hope it’s correct.)

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And now to the Grand Hai-Lai hotel in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where I stayed a few years back. A wonderful hotel with elegant rooms and friendly staff AND a Hello Kitty Suite. It features a living room, dining room and a master bedroom, and it offers 50sq.m of space.

In the delightfully pink suite, decorated with sweet Hello Kitty miniature vases and paintings, residents will find a Hello Kitty mini-studio and a complete Hello Kitty tea set. The large bathroom has a jumbo sanded Kitty mirror – take your time and enjoy a Kitty bubble bath!
Grand Hai-Lai and Sanrio Corporation of Japan present the “Hai-Lai Kitty House” situated in the hotel lobby, where Hello Kitty limited editions and gifts are exclusively sold. Enjoy shopping in pink-decorated romance! All Hello Kitty amenities provided in the rooms are available in store.

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The Hello Kitty breakfast features a Kitty face stamped in the toast and a Kitty moulded sweet. There’s even a Hello Kitty face drizzled in tomato sauce on the fried egg.

Themed wedding are held here and there’s a Hello Kitty carriage and for the runaway bride there’s a Hello Kitty bicycle. (Fact: famous blogger theglobalgoddess.com was seen scooting around the parking lot on one of these bikes.)

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It was a Hello Kitty overload looking at the HK scene but one can’t be cynical or churlish while the young woman showing us with giggles and glee all the hotel has to show of Kitty – they softened all the kitsch blows and were delighted with my Hello Kitty slipper purchase – I would go so far to say they were impressed with me – and I got a discount.

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Writer, Bev Malzard has unintentionally gained a reputation for being a Hello Kitty fan, and friends and relatives send her Hello Kitty paraphernalia for her collection (which doesn’t exist). And she gets a kick out of it! So far she has bright pink HK toothpaste; HK pens and notebooks; a HK PEZ dispenser (remember PEZ); a HK mug and the classic is a pair of pillowcases of HK patterned material that her sister made for her. 

Bev Malzard is still bewildered by all things Hello Kitty but has dyed parts of her hair pink to stay in the game,