Pets in China

So my blog is back on track - Talking about China as I should be doing.

The cultural differences between China and Europe are huge and I suspect equally baffling to each side. For instance, the Chinese think nothing of eating turtles that they have brought in the supermarket (live at the time of purchase) and think we are mad for deep frying our fish in breadcrumbs or eating Chicken breasts when you have thighs and legs up for grabs.

Pets are another interesting area. China is a developing country and despite the growth that it has been experiencing, the cultural "norms" that we have in the West will, I suspect take longer to develop than the economy.

This all starts from the research that Caz and I have been doing at the dog rescue center where we want to adopt a stray dog.

Its very sad to see Alsatians and other dogs that have been brought as a puppy then abandoned on the street, simply because they grow to large (of course I am not suggesting that this does not happen in the UK) but in China it is completely down to a lack of understanding to what a pet is.

People in large cites will typically never have had a pet and may not know anyone who has a pet dog. Now that the economy is booming, people have more and more disposable income and pets have become one of the items people have to "keep up with the Chans" as I call it.

The shame is that often the pet stores seem to have very poor education. I was in a pet store in HK and the sales assistant was trying to sell me two puppies that would grow to a size that is far to big for most HK flats.

And then you have th issue that the dogs sold are not de-sexed. This of course means puppies and a problem for people of what to do with them. In China that means dumping in the street or in the river (and sadly often it is the latter).

The government plans to offer $200 for de-sexing dogs, but I am not sure that this is the way to solve the problem.

But the upside is that one stray/unwanted dog is going to have a home. The downside is that he/she should not have been in this situation.

Jimmy Choo meet Mrs B

"I am an idiot who does not understand women." There I said it. Despite setting up several of my friends with female companions and offering indispensable advice, I have to say there are still some things about women that even I get wrong.

I told Mrs B I would buy her a pair of Jimmy choos (because I love her). So naturally we ended up with 3 pairs.

Class, lets look at the teachers mistakes;

1. Shoe shopping in Hong Kong. Chinese/Any woman is far scarier than the Red Army and much more lethal when it comes to shoe shopping.

2. Offering to buy a woman 1 pair of Jimmy Choos is a complete utter mistake. Any woman will tell you that you can never buy 1 pair??! Oh the horror she will cry.

3. Going to the Jimmy Choo shop, sitting down and taking my eyes off Mrs B for a second. You can never do this in a shoe shop. NEVER EVER.

4. Saying that they look great, this immediately confirms their desirability and the need to get more than one pair "in case they are gone when I next come back."

... She wants to go back???!

We are expecting a new arrival in the family!

Yes, I am pleased to break the news here that we are going to adopt a puppy from the dog shelter.

I have managed to convince Mrs B that having a slobbering animal that tears up the carpets, needs to be walked everyday and told what to do is a good idea.

She responded that as she already had me, why would she need a dog. This I have to say did not amuse me at all.

But we have reached agreement and have started plan our new arrival. We haven't found a dog yet but all the research is done and in a week we will be in our new apartment so the selection can begin.

I would love a greyhound, Mrs B would like a pug or pomm pommer pommeranian (I have no idea how you spell the damn thing) but that is to fluffy in my opinion.

I hope to have more news on the arrival in the next few weeks (with pictures), so keep reading.

Down with the internet Chinese style!

I love this - The Chinese government plan to crack down on "unhealthy content" - As I read this in the South China Press I had to laugh at the idea, but then I thought this might actually work so a couple of suggestions for sites they should ban (well if you can't beat them...):

(And no, I am not kidding, I found the story on the BBC web site, which just made it onto the list that I would ban, as its far too left wing for my taste.)

Firstly, they should ban the (same reason as above). Its very unhealthy for people (especially from those people who vote labour) to have opinions. So that site just made the list.

Next ban the labour party web site - I hate Tony Blair and Gordon Brown immensely for taking all my money in tax and wasting it... Oh wait, I'm in Hong Kong, I don't pay any!! ha ha. Ban it anyway.

The only web site left in China should be mine and the Daily Mail.

I think I'm going to like this place and the government thinking. About time this internet stuff is just too "unhealthy..." LOL.

Monday Morning

Monday mornings are not usually associated with being good in my book. In fact I hate getting up and I hate it even more when I have to wear a suit to work.

But this Monday was different. It is my first day working for Motorola in HK (for the Asia team) and I could not be happier or more honored. I really like the company and the people in Europe and the people in Hong Kong are as nice and friendly if not more so. I was taken out for lunch with my new colleagues and had a great time (ate far to much, but who doesn't when having Dim Sum!).

Happy days.

Everyone seems keen to have me on board and I have had nothing but great support in getting everything up and running. A few people were surprised that I know Wong Ti Sin and that I had been to his temple, so here are some photos:

Photo of the temple 1
Photo of the temple 2

2007 photos (some Hong Kong photos in here)

Yep, looking forward to tomorrow morning. The commute across hong Kong harbor on the Star ferry is something very special and a journey I hope to take many times.

Customer service - HK style

So its been one of those days, Champagne breakfast that rolled into a champagne lunch (you get the idea) and shopping today.

Two very interesting experiences of shopping (which you might say is based on price but I would disagree.)

But I digress - I wanted to buy a suit. First I went to M&S to have a look. They had friendly staff to help and I saw a reasonable suit for sale. I then went to the Hugo Boss store where (again the staff were friendly and helpful) but at this point I noticed the difference; At Boss they offered to adjust my trouser length for me that day (in 3 hours to be precise and stay open late if necessary).

The M&S suit $3,000, the Boss suit $6,000. The difference? One small detail that was worth $3,000 to me and one sale to Boss. Interesting what good customer service can do.

New photos in 2007

I have placed some of my new photos from 2007 on the gallery area of my web site. I am really happy with the photos I have taken this year (finally read the Nikon D200 manual!) and hope that you like them to;

2007 photos link

... And now I have an interactive slideshow of the photos:

Click here to watch

Mrs Fields

Living in Hong Kong has its up sides and its downsides. One of the upsides has to be Mrs Fields.

Mrs Fields I hear you ask? Have I fallen out of love with Mrs B?

Not at all, Mrs Fields is the HK cookie shop. These wondrous biscuits are cooked at each shop and tempt me every time I walk past them. At the moment they have an offer (that can only have been dreamed up by Satan himself; Buy 3 cookies and get 3 free) so of course me wanting to support a local industry have been buying this produce all week.

This combined with a lack of gym activity has not done my waistline any good at all.

This is China - Where communism has an iron hard rule (unlike my stomach). These cookies are definitely not for the people and should be banned. If only for the sake of my waistline...

"All the riches can't buy you one good friend."

I read this last night in my fortune cookie last night.

Thank you for reading this blog.


Travel guides updated

I have updated my travel guides page: You now have NYC, Chicago & Cuba. I will be adding the Hong Kong guide early next week.

The link:

My travel guides have all the information that you would find in the Rough Guide for instance, but I have cut out all the useless/random information to give you some tips and ideas that i liked. Its by no means a comprehensive list!

Enjoy the read.

I'm now a HAB

Well its my first week in Hong Kong (as a resident) and life is good. I have to wear sun glasses all the time (the up side is I look cool as hell all the time) and my mobile phone works on the Tube (happy days!)

There is an old saying that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you apply this to shopping and Hong Kong it will all make sense. The shops are amazing and they have more than London and NYC put together.

The Chinese love to shop - Even more they like to shop well. Its one amazing experience to see every high end brand name, in every shopping mall, and sometimes they have one on each floor.

Madness. Complete consumer madness.

I have had trouble keeping Mrs B away from all the shoe shops (no surprise I hear you cry) but have not done so well on the cookie shops where I caught her on Saturday. Crumbs flying out of her mouth as she protested innocence, diplomatic immunity and then finally the worst of all the guilt look.

The interesting thing about this place is that many of these goods appear to be brought with cash and not credit. There are far fewer adverts for credit cards and I have not seen as many being handed over.

So one questions how people can spend so much in cash?

If you follow this line of thought with the fact that the average person in the UK has £30,000 of debt (with 60m people) imagine the business/credit market for a country with 3 BILLION people.

Perhaps I should get out of telecoms and go work for a bank.

..., And before you ask; HAB stands for Husbands & Boyfriends (Men you shop, but don't work...)

China Mobile numbers - Right time, right place

This has to come under the heading of; "I am in the right place at the right time."

China mobile has more subscribers than the whole of the US population - My initial thought was that while there may be more people, but the US has a higher revenue per person, such as voice, SMS and web browsing.

But oh no I was wrong - Here is a quote from the article:

"Many Chinese spend a greater percentage of monthly income on pre-paid phone cards than Americans spend on food. This says a lot about the perceived importance of telecommunications in that society," says Julie Pohlig, senior analyst at Vital Wave Consulting."

Now I happen to know how much Americans eat. And that is a lot of food... So wow the Chinese are spending a lot of money on mobile communications. Of course they key word to look for is percentage of income, but the point is still very clear to all.

So the next question has to be - What are these consumers spending their money on from a content point of view, and critically from a hardware perspective (Nokia ect) is what can you build into a phone to support this phenomenal growth?

After all the PR buzz from the launch of the apple phone we know that the west is interested in music, but the east would seem to be more interested in games, communication and other mobile services.

A new challenge awaits.

Welcome to Hong Kong - Thank You

Well we have arrived in HK - Now we are residents and its too late to go back.

First impressions, well its hot, crowded and everyone is extremely polite. So just like London really (apart from the hot and polite bit I suppose). its interesting that everyone says thank you. At breakfast 3 different waiters and the manager all thanked me (so of course I had to thank them for thanking me).

Question: Has living in London for all my years made me so impolite?

Welcome to Hong Kong, and thank you for reading this...

Last post from London.

Well here it is - The final day in London. The day started as so many do, yet it seemed to sum up my life and love of my home city; waking up with Caz, a Black Cab ride and a view across the river Thames (and if I don't say in that order I'm in trouble).

A friend last night asked me if I had any worries about heading to HK - Well I have to say to say that while I do have some worries, the excitement of a new chapter in my life outweighs the worries.

My experiences in China will be a great learning experience (and I hope make for some interesting blog entries). I now have the chance to do a great number of activities and see a lot more of this fascinating country.

I recall growing up on a Saturday having breakfast with my parents and on radio 4 we would listen to "Alastair Cooks' letter from America." In some ways as I sit here at Heathrow i am reminded of what he said about America at the dawn of a new economic and social revolution. Each week he used to report on what he observed happening around him. He recalled that he was watching from the sides while living in the middle.

Could I take over where he left and report on China each week? That I hope is where I will start to go and the point of this blog.

As for the final part of the day; Spent it drinking Gin Brambles in the Virgin VIP lounge) very nice too.)

Next post from Hong Kong Baby...

Apple & EMI offer DRM free downloads

... OK, so this is not about China (but I could mention that (China's estimated market for illegal music was US$400 million last year),

And in my defense I am not yet in Hong Kong but this story is to interesting not to write about.

This concerns the development of online music and while the focus is on apple/EMI I would hope (scratch, I am sure) that Motorola, Nokia and the other phone manufactures will be on this ride as well the other music labels.

EMI is FINALLY going to offer DRM free music (I might add I have commented on this for the last 4 years). but better late than never, and since many of us were left thinking that it was going to be never I am happy at this announcement.

This is big news on so many fronts and to so many people. And yet again its apple that leads the way. Lets look at the impact on a few of the players:

1. The consumer: WINNER
We could argue the most important group in the mix (yet not always treated as such). Finally, consumers have an opportunity to buy online DRM free music. Big deal?! YES! If you can buy a CD without DRM, why not online. It seemed so odd that an industry in decline held back this new technology for so long. EMI and the others are very lucky that people continued to buy their music.

2. The Mobile phone manufactures: DEPENDS
Having worked for both Samsung and Motorola I know that this will be a big deal. There are 10 times more phones than iPods, now is the time for these guys to get their music strategies in line and take on apple.

3. The "big" apple: WINNER
Some have questioned why apple would push DRM free music. One of the reasons is I suspect why they are such an amazing company. They don't seem to fear new technologies nor competitors they welcome them and take the challenge on. Its interesting that Sony nor Microsoft managed to get this music deal done, yet apple did. A change for the better.

4. Microsoft: LOOSER
Ahh.. The big looser here (for now of course) Zune not doing so well and partners that were shut out of the new music (note DRM formatted). I am sure that they will now push this new model but the damage has been done to them and it will hurt in the short term.

5. Napster/YAHOO GOOGLE: LOSERS (for now):
Tougher still for these players. The less DRM the more people will move music suppliers? I find that argument very unlikley. This helps apple and will not help the third party suppliers who do not have hardware to run the music from.

Overall: The points go to apple for this round. Then again have we come to expect anything less?