Hop, skip and jump to the shops

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA Fol­low on In­sta­gram: su­sankuro­sawa

Hav­ing de­clut­tered my be­long­ings, or “edited”, to use a more fash­ion­able term, in readi­ness to move house, I had been feel­ing rather smug.

Books and cush­ions had gone to good homes, our skip was raided reg­u­larly dur­ing the fi­nal clear-out. “Any more of th­ese wooden peo­ple?” asked a neigh­bour, hold­ing aloft a Ba­li­nese wed­ding doll with paint­work that had known bet­ter days. Well yes, I thought, she should be paired with her hus­band doll, but he had de­parted yes­ter­day on the back of a bi­cy­cle. I should have kept the pair to­gether and felt obliged to tell the story of how I had ac­quired them, af­ter an af­ter­noon of spir­ited hag­gling, in Ubud. But that scared off the neigh­bour, who set off down the street in search of less trou­ble­some skips.

Last week in Bali, I tried to be re­strained. Truly. I took a suit­case so tiny it was barely there. I went shop­ping just once in Seminyak with my friend Fi, who is a brave buyer of things so big and un­wieldy that ship­ping con­tain­ers and pick-up trucks are re­quired. In Myan­mar, she per­suaded the op­er­a­tors of our river cruiser to dis­man­tle part of the ship’s decor and she popped half a wall into her port and thought noth­ing of it. Cus­toms of­fi­cers at Yan­gon air­port didn’t like the idea she was car­ry­ing an an­tique iron from the mar­kets of Ba­gan on to our flight but af­ter jokes about press­ing our clothes on board they let her through. Just be­fore we landed in Sin­ga­pore, Fi ap­peared from be­hind “the iron cur­tain” in busi­ness class bran­dish­ing her bounty and re­ceived a round of ap­plause.

I am not that kind of bold shop­per but I do have an ob­ses­sion with cush­ions and bowls and can al­ways find space for new ones, even when I have just given away stacks of the same. In Bali, my new zigzag-pat­terned cush­ion was a boon on the overnight flight home and so much more com­fort­able than those in­flat­able neck-rest what­nots. I bought just one sweet lit­tle blue-and-white bowl, which felt a mea­gre haul af­ter my out­ing ear­lier this year to Bei­jing’s Pan­ji­ayuan flea mar­ket (pic­tured) with its thou­sands of stalls. I couldn’t be­lieve the choice. China from china? Yes, please, to plates and dishes with pat­terns of dragons, phoenixes, blos­soms and vines, all so cheap and colour­ful that they put a skip in this old shop­per’s step.

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