Would you buy a fake watch? (Part 3)

From angry maids to fakes. We are back to life in Hong Kong.

With a couple of very good friends, Mrs B and I went to China last week-end. We went looking for old Chinese antiquities, and ironically enough, this is one recycling area where China excells. Recycling furniture is good business and I find it interesting to note that all young Chinese want to do is throw out their grandparents stuff and bring in Ikea. All we want to do is throw out the Ikea furniture and buy their old stuff.... So off we went into China to meet a friend of a friend who owns a salvage company/restoration building house. Here their items include (many over 100 years old) stone lions, cabinets and even old Cantonese castle door or two.

So Mrs B had a good days shopping. I kept expecting a Chinese david Dickenson to pop up and say "bargain!"

On the trip back I sat down and listened to a podcast from the BBC. The focus of the article was on fakes and how people in the UK are now more openly flaunting the fact that something they brought is a fake. At the same time I read in the SMCP editorial that China was making a real effort to crack down on fake goods.

Both the BBC and the SMCP articles raised some interesting points. The BBC spoke abut how people want to talk about having a fake because its a perceived bargain. It also raised (and in my opinion) the far more relevant point that many of these brands (***cough Gucchi, Prada & Todds cough***) have been making these bags in China for years and then shipping them back to Italy to sew on a zip for the "made in Italy" tag and now its coming back to bite them in the arse.

As a man who likes watches (and who owns many real items) I was shocked when we came to the border and walked through the shopping center to see that it was FULL to the brim of sellers selling, yes, you guessed it fake handbags and watches. Everything was very open, and if this is on the boarder, I'm guessing that it doesn't get any better as you venture further into the mainland.

So much for the crackdown eh central government boys? The question al l this raised is what do Chinese people think of these fakes? Of course I saw plenty of westerners buying a couple of fakes (me included I am guiltily going to admit) and loving every minute. But here is the raw fact - The fakes are good. Some of them are very good. Especially when you consider that they may well have come from the same factory.

A friend recently told me a story of how he took his TAG watch diving. Now this was a REAL TAG (like mine) and it leaked. Yes, a diving watch leaked. Can't believe it, no nor can I. This is a $4,000 watch and it leaked! Now in China I can pick you up a replica for less than $100 (and it will leak to) but for $1,000 you can pick up a Swiss fake - Now I have NO evidence but when I put the Swiss fake next to my real watch.... Well lets just say some Swiss gentlemen and I are going to be having a friendly chat about where they actually make their watches...

The question is should we as consumers care where our goods are made? Well in the case of these luxury items I would say yes. If I am paying $4,000 for a watch I want the damn thing made in Switzerland. When I put it to my ear I want to hear Hedi signing in the hills with Julie Andrews and a Cuckoo clock chiming in the background. If these companies are happy to lie to me about where they are made, maybe I'll be just as happy wearing a fake version.

At least I know where that was made (and not to take it diving admittedly...)

In Asia...

This is something that I have to admit I did not find (cudos to Spike who did) but it is one of the funniest things I have seen in a while (and I have seen bowls of hot fanny advertised along with many other spelling mistakes).

Yes, Its Michael Jackson's Thriller done by prison inmates. It shouldn't be funny, but it is....

Working on a new book: Hong Kong Dog Rescue in pictures

Life here in Hong Kong is very good. But its not so good for some. Over 12,000 dogs are killed by the government each year. When we got Padstow I agreed to help the charity that saved him from the dog mincer by taking some photos.

This has emerged into something a lot bigger. I am now working on my second book to be published {this was my first.} It is going to be a tribute book featuring many of the dogs that have been homed by the Hong Kong Rescue over the years.

The response has been fantastic and we have over 50 homed dogs to photograph in a borrowed studio. I will also be shooting some of the dogs that still need homes at the kennels.

For anyone who has taken in a dog from HKDR or if you just plain like dogs feel free to check out my work here {note: Still very much under construction}

Of course the book will be out for Christmas so I hope some readers may even buy a copy.

Our maid has arrived!!

Why is this news you might say? Well, here I will list the reasons;

1. Fresh orange juice squeezed EVERY SINGLE BLOOMIN' morning
2. Newspaper & coffee on table before I leave
3. Keys, ipod and wallet found and put in the correct place
4. No more washing up (ever again!) - Mrs B adds that I never do this anyway...
5. No more washing and ironing (not sure what ironing is, but best not to ask Mrs B I say)
6. Bedsheets sorted every morning
7. Dog walked at 6.30 am and fed
8. Dinner cooked (if desired)
9. Floors cleaned and all rubbish taken out
10. Like I need a tenth reason!

> Update: Mrs B says that she is not a maid, she is a "domestic helper," sort of makes nooo difference in the grand scheme of Mr B's happy life of never having to do any washing up but there you go Mrs B, you can't say I never listen.

Mrs B tells me I am happy

So in comes an email from Mrs B - I should know that this is either (a) an advertisement for Viagra (is she trying to tell me something!!) or (b) I have forgotten some social engagement for the evening.

This one is entirely different, it is an email informing me how happy I am due to her superior intellect.

The article is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/07/19/survey-men-happiest-with_n_56933.html

Apparently (and let me stress the APPARENTLY) this survey and article explains that men are happier with wives that are more intelligent than they are. I have no idea which woman dreampt up this survey but I can only assume that she is very happy with her less intelligent "life partner" who I am guessing is not a man/plays on the same team if you know what I mean.

As for me, I'm off to bed to sleep with someone far more intelligent than me (how else can you explain how she gets 90% of the bed ALL THE TIME!)

Continuing my theme on fakes

So today I read an interesting article in both the SCMP and the Guardian in which it turns out that the Chinese media has decided to fake stories on fake events.

Confused? Well you should be. Welcome to China and reality (or is it...)

As I have commented earlier on this blog creating and selling fakes in China is big business. Now of course the government is trying to crack down on this trade but like say drugs or prostitution the demand is there and so you are never going to be able to wipe it out.

But this whole story about fakes and sub-standard goods has taken a new twist. A journalist has apparently faked a story on a Chinese bakery making fake buns with cardboard. Now buns are a big business in China and this caused headlines all over the world. The key question being raised is whether the journalist actually made the story up or whether the government has actually arrested him to keep the story quiet and make it seem like a faked fake story.

Normally I would not advocate the "mad alien/JFK/Elvis" did it story but in the case of the Chinese government and produce I can actually believe that they had something to do with it. The reason, simple: Money and prestige.

China has recently had many scare stories over the quality of its goods around the world. This has affected exports at a time when the US is becoming more protectionist than ever of its IP and industry. Europe has been slow to catch up, but with socialist French and German governments looking over their shoulders I don't think they will take too long to catch up with their transatlantic cousins.

Could it be that the Chinese government arrested this journalist to shut him up and disprove his story? It is I am afraid to say more than likely that this is possible.

And for that to even be a possibility means that there is more to this story than we are hearing.

Being dyslexic and writing a blog...

As a regular reader of this blog, Facebook profile or viewer of the web site will know I have been doing a lot of editing and publishing recently.

In reviewing some of my work I keep noticing the odd spelling mistake and some bad grammar. Now the spelling mistakes are due to the fact that I am dyslexic but the grammar is just laziness/me rushing to get 200 things done at once.

So I apologise in advance for the errors that will keep popping up on the site but please feel free to email me and let me know when you see any.

One of the reasons why I write a blog and work on my own web site (Facebook has ruined the art now, but on the plus side it makes me look really good) is that I am a firm believer in the view that you need to make the most of what you have and challenge what you don't.

In my case challenges range from reading a book or newspaper to writing a blog or code that builds a web site. Some might ask, "well if it is so hard, why do it?" and therein is my point. The very reason to do it is because the more I read and write the better I can become. I know that I am never going to be able to do this as well as some, but I am going to do the best I can.

The fun is in the challenge.

2 free tickets to the Man U vs Shenzen game

So here is an irony. When I worked at kelloggs I would be less than 5 minutes away from the Manchester United grounds. close enough to spit on them you might say (and I did at every opportunity!)

So now I move to Hong Kong and Mrs B won 2 tickets to the game on Monday. But here is the problem, I don't support Man U as I am an Arsenal fan.


So if anyone fancies going I have decided to be nice and give them away for FREE! The first person to leave a comment (with your email) or contact me on my email (see web site here) can have them. I had thought about ripping them in two, wiping my bum across them and mailing them to my good friend Paul in Manchester, but that would be mean. Besides he is an ardent Man U fan so that has to be punishment enough.

Good luck Shenzen!

My FaceBook profile

So in addition to my blog, web site (alib.co.uk) and every other piece of information about me on the web I have now got round to setting up my facebook profile.

Amazing that I have time to be married, walk the dog, do work for the Hong Kong Dog Rescue charity you might say. And, oh yes, there is the small matter of heading up interactive services for Motorola Asia which would be my full time job.

Well, as they say, "a little hard work never killed anyone."

What if...

As the "celebrations" of Hong Kongs handover to the Chinese end and the SMCP stops banging on about how good it was 10 years ago and thank goodness that they have been keeping a journalistic eye on everything I began to wonder if things would have been different if the UK had handed HK to the Americans instead of China.

Ludicrous thought? I think not. Lets face it we have lost our dignity to our so called "ally" so much in the recent few years (think Afghanistan/Iraq/probably Iran and even France in the future) that we might as well have signed over Hong Kong to the Yanks and have been done with it.

Can you imagine what would have happened (other than pissing off about a billion people, still didn't stop Tony and Gerorge W in the Middle East!)


Star ferry: Renamed "freedom" ferry
HK dollar: Now truly an American dollar
Road signs: All changed from Chinese & English to American English & English
Business dress code: Shorts, white socks and baseball caps
Wanchai: Re-named: Wansville
Chinese noodles: Replaced with MacDonalds outlets (oh wait, that happened under the Chinese anyway)

So there you go. 10 years ago we should have handed over HK to the Americans as we can't seem to do anything without their permission anyway.

Redesign of alib.co.uk {BETA}

Its been a while coming but I have finally finished the new design for my web site. You can see the beta version here. Please do let me know what you think, whether you like it/hate it and any issues that you find by leaving comments here on this blog.

Not all the pages/sections are finished but the following sections are live:

- Gallery: Showcasing the best photos from 2004 - 2007 by year
- Photos: All the travel photos have now been uploaded into flash for better navigation
- Friends: As above, flash navigation added

- Blog: The design of my blog has been updated as you can see (if you are reading this through an rss reader then please click here)

Everything will be finished by Tuesday of next week (20/07/2007)

Fakes, fakes & more fakes

Though Mrs B will no doubt tell me off for saying; the Chinese love nothing more than buying fake goods, well of course there is gambling I suppose. But in the main its shopping without the cost! Buying a fake is like eating three cheeseburgers instead on one big mac and all for a fraction of the price.

Having been to China and now a full time resident in Hong Kong fake shopping is as much fun as it has always been (though these days you have to search a little harder). But news reaches me this morning as I take the Star Ferry to work that those ingenious chaps (the Chinese fakers we'll call them, though some mean people call them "criminals") have now reached a new high (or is that low) - they are faking bottled mineral water.

Yes, you did read that correctly. According to the SMCP over 50% of all bottled water in Beijing tested is fake.

As I read this news snippet in the paper I couldn't help but smile. How do you fake mineral water (Coke's Disani I suppose?) Lets imagine my conversation with Mrs B;

Mrs B: Darling, is that beer you are drinking?
Me (shocked surprise) Why heavens no! Its water... Wait a second, no its not! Damn you criminals!

It turns out that what is happening is that people are using tap water then selling it on as "mineral water." Interesting, as I have heard that the tap water in Beijing often has the same colour as beer so how they are getting away with this scam I'll never know.

Anyway, I have to dash as I have just realised that I am late for a meeting, how odd it would seem that my Rolex stopped working 2 hours ago...

Hong Kong Handover vs Apple's iPhone

This week in Hong Kong everything seemed to revolve around 2 things. You are either swamped with opinions/views and photos on the 10 year anniversary or you are swamped with opinions/views and photos of the iPhone.

Neither bother me that much (other than I don't work for apple so I didn't get a free iPhone).

... But the fireworks last night were something quite spectacular. All of a sudden Hong Kong looked like Baghdad on a Saturday night. The fireworks were launched in sequence from buildings as well as boats out on the bay and a good time seemed to be had by all.

I took a couple of photos (they don't do it justice) but once again, the Chinese (who invented fireworks) they showed how good they can do this sort of show.

Photos here