Bing’s Souvenir Poker Cards

Bing is a strong Chinese woman in her late 2os, and she has been a traveller for many years. She is from Heilongjiang Province and came to UK to study in 2010 and went back to China this year. Her plan is to run a youth hostel in Harbin.

Her story with souvenirs were started by a set of poker cards she bought in the Forbidden back in the winter of 2006.

Li Bing's Forbidden City Poker Card

Bing’s first set of souvenir poker card. Themed on Forbidden City. Photo provided by Bing, 24/Nov/2015. Same below. 

“I bought this set of poker cards because each card of it has a thorough and detailed introduction of an ancient building in the Forbidden City. It is a souvenir comes with knowledge of the place I have visited – it can help me understand the place better. Also, it is quite small so easier to carry home than other souvenirs. Not so likely to be broken and it is easier to keep.” Bing said.

After nine years of collection, Bing’s poker cards have reached a certain number. Most of them were bought at the site of interest, but some of them came from some special shops which only sell cards.

“I don’t might where the cards are produced. It would not affect my opinion and feelings towards them.” Bing said, “I’ve never used them as normal playing cards, they are my precious souvenirs. I store them in a safe place and take them out to have a look when I remember them or when I am in the mood.”

Li Bing's Poker Cards

Bing’s collection of souvenir poker cards.


Beside souvenirs, Bing also collects cards in other ways, like in instant noodles (in some certain era, some brands of instant noodles would put cards in the package for customers to collect. Those cards might come from pop TV dramas, novel illustrations…e.g. Pearl Princess, see below).

Cards of Pearl Princess

Bing’s card collection of TV drama, Pearl Princess. 

After collecting cards, Bing is interested in  collecting other souvenirs. When she travels to a new place, she would buy a set of poker cards, a fridge magnet and send herself a postcard.

It is possible that one of them is missing or she forgets to buy one of them, but she would not buy place souvenirs online. “Missing is missing, I accepted it as part of the place experience. I understand some people buy collections online because they want to have a ‘completed’ collection. But for me, I only want to keep the ones I take home from the places I have been to. Even I forgot to buy, I would not look for them online. It means different.”

Bing started collecting fridge magnet only 1 year ago, so “my collection is not many”, she said.

Li Bing's Fridge Magnet

Bing’s fridge magnets collection. 

Li Bing‘s postcards 2

Bing’s post cards collection, the text side.

Li Bing‘s postcards

Bing’s post cards collection, the pictorial side. 

Bing’s plan is to run a Youth Space – her own youth hostel – in Harbin next year, and she would display all her souvenir collections in the Youth Space.

Best wishes to Bing and I would update here when her Youth Space is open and continue following her souvenirs’ life.

The Isle of Wight Souvenirs

Joined a outdoor group Maji Hiking to Isle of Wight (4 miles from the south coast of England) in August. This was my first hiking and camping trip ever!  We spent 3 days hiking on the island and slept in tents at night. It was an amazing trip: the wild landscape, the beautiful scenery, the calming seaside, the astonishing sunset, the challenging hiking and new-to-me camping were imprinted in my memory since then. I wrapped all the experience and beauty of Isle of Wight home with me by installing them into souvenirs.

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

I have an free Isle of Wight  Attraction Map taken from a bus stand in Ryde, where we got off the boat from Southampton. This map gave us a general idea of the island and the hiking route we were going to take in the following days. I remember when the hiking leader showed me the hiking route on this map, I took a very deep breath!

We took a bus from Ryde to Newport, and on the bus I got a free Isle of Wight Activity Pack, which has a thoroughly introduction to Isle of Wight, from history to geography, from economy to tourism, from activity to birds found on the island.

After arriving Newport, we got some food and drinks and started walking towards our camping site in the southwest.  We passed the Carisbrook Castle, and arrived at Freshwater camping site. The first tent made by us (below, left):

Camping on Isle of Wight

Camping on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Finished making our temporary home, we went to the Needles to admire sunset (above, right) and then walked back to camping site in darkness…….    I was afraid we might get lost in the darkness, but it still fell safe with so many hikers around. We arrived at camping site at 9.10 pm.  After taking a shower, I fell asleep immediately,  too tired to join the star watching which was happening outside the tent.  T.T

The next day, waking up at 7, can’t feel my eyes and my legs…     After breakfast, we walked to Alum Bay to see the Needles from east side (yesterday we were above the Needles on the chalky soils) and enjoyed the rocky seaside (a friend took one rock with him as souvenir).  Had a great time in the Needles Park and got a souvenir: the Isle of Wight fridge magnet mug in the Needles gift shop.

 Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

After lunch we took bus ride (can’t remember how long it was but pretty sure it was very long!) to Feeth Bay in the southeast, and then started walking again. It was 1 o’clock. Half an hour later, we arrived at St Catherine’s Lighthouse, which was hiding in some woods near seaside. I got my their souvenir here: the St Catherine’s Lighthouse compass.   Had an interesting conversation with the shop keeper from  St Catherine’s Lighthouse gift shop.

Me: Oh, they are nice postcards.

Shopkeeper: Indeed!  Very beautiful.

Me (looking at the compass): You have compass here!  Were looking for one.

Shopkeeper: Yes we do, there are many hikers here and they like outdoor products as souvenirs. And they are not expensive. Just one pound.

Me: Right, of course.

Shopkeeper:  Where are you from?

Me: China.

Shopkeeper: Ha, then it probably will go back to China with you.

Me: Is it made in China? It has got the name St Catherine’s Lighthouse printed on its back.

Shopkeeper: Yes it is, and what else isn’t?  You know China have produced most of the products for the world. But this is a very good compass. It is oil filled which makes it move freely.

Me: And it has the place’s name. Ok, I will take it.

Then I paid one pound for this compass:

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

we spent 10 hours on the way and arrived at camping site at 11 pm.  10 hours walking and sightseeing, I fell in love with this beautiful, lovely little island. At 8 pm, after 7 hours of walking, we were hungry and nearly gave up. The idea of catching a bus or calling a taxi came up and then finally killed by our spirits.  23-25 August on the island was a great time.  I have the magnet mug stick on the fridge in our flat among with other magnets from other places.

One month passed, whenever I looked at these souvenirs, I remember the great times on Isle of Wight and want to go hiking again!

Came across an intersting video, focusing on the family bussniness of making Staute of Liberty figurines in Queens factory, NYC. Here is the link.

These Lady Liberty Figurines Are the Only NYC Souvenirs Still Made in NYC

In this ‘era of mass-produced’, we are facing a paradox. On the one hand is the convenience the machine-made products offer us, on the other hand is the call for authenticity, the post-Fordism / hand-made ideology.

Staute of Liberty fingurines line up in Queens factory ©Rebecca

Staute of Liberty fingurines line up in Queens factory ©Rebecca