Archive for the ‘POV’ Category

I notice Hong Kong cabs slowly mimicking their Macau counterparts – asking exorbitant fares to travel short distances and cherry picking clients.  You see this fact unfold in plain sight of police officers on any given Friday and Saturday night in LKF.  Good luck convincing a taxi driver to cross harbour or go to the New Territories.

I took a cab from Elements to Ktown with explicit instructions to use the Western Tunnel on a Saturday night around 2am.  The meter read $60 but the driver elected not to add the tunnel fare but he asked me to give him $170.  With me being of unsound mine after consuming alcohol I paid the fare.  Prior to leaving the cab I asked for a receipt and this is where it goes sideways.  He tells me his machine is out of paper.  I told him as the fare was big I need a receipt.  All of a sudden he resets the meter and gives me a receipt for $22 but offering to write the fact I had paid $170.  UHHHHHHhh.  I don’t think this would pass muster with the company’s accounting dept.  But here we see his machine does indeed work and he did not want to give me a real receipt.  I took a picture of his photo found on the dashboard and left the cab.

Hong Kong taxi cabs

HK Taxi Cabs, the best selling car in all of HK

He followed me in his cab pleading to please stop as if I report him he would run into issues with his taxi license.  Drunk brain takes over.  I tell him I will pay him a visit on Monday morning over this incident of both cherry picking and charging exorbitant fares to which he will indeed run into licensing issues; unless of course he returns all my cash.  Done.  He gives me the full $170 in return and drives off fuming.

  1. Take a photo of the taxi driver’s dashboard picture showing his name and license.  He won’t allow you to take it but he will also do nothing to stop you.  Typical HK, all growl no bite.
  2. Take a photo of the meter showing the amount you owe.  At the very least if you lose you’re on the hook for X amount rather than arguing.
  3. Call the police in the event of any settlement issues.  These guys are preying on those that don’t know better.  The police would quickly put them in their place.
  4. If you don’t feel the need to call the police, just start walking away to see if the guy will give chase; if so, throw him to the ground.
  5. Pack small bills.  The unscrupulous drivers will always lack change
  6. When in doubt, just leave.  I have had taxi drivers tell me they can’t break 1000 but it’s not my fault.  I leave the cab and taxi drives off.  Free ride.
  7. Don’t bother trying to rob the taxi driver.  They don’t own the cab so it’s not likely they have much money.

I had planned to out the taxi driver in question but after considering the ramifications, there’s no need to cause harm.  The majority of the guys you meet will be fine, it’s just a few bad apples ruining the bunch.  They do a tough job that requires long hours.  Luckily with Uber now in the mix, consumers have other options.

Hong Kong is one of the few places left in the world where fear mongering works seamlessly.  The land of endless insurance products to protect against every conceivable risk and door-to-door salesman are still prevalent.  One of which I will now try to highlight is Rainbow Vacuums.  All you have to do is go to Consumer Reports and read up on the reviews.  Before you even consider purchasing a Rainbow vacuum, look at the pricing on ebay and amazon.  It does not cost anywhere near the amount the HK distributor is asking $30,000 HKD.  I am not joking.  If you are dead set on Rainbow, purchase off amazon and save 50% right off the bat.  I trust amazon to uphold their end of the bargain vs the Hong Kong rep.  In typical HK culture once the money has changed hands you are on your own.

rainbow no way

rip off central

 

It’s no wonder pyramid schemes still work so well here.  Everyone is their own little corporation with the ability to place business.  HK households have housekeepers so in effect giving them employees.  Sad truth.  If you have a domestic helper, you don’t need a Rainbow.  If you don’t have a domestic helper, a more affordable vacuum will leave more money in your pocket.  Don’t let the door to door vacuum sales guy bully you.  Do your due diligence.  In this day and age, there’s no need to rely on door to door sales.  If the product was truly effective it need not rely on fear mongering.

rainbow, nope

rainbow, free with every purchase

Now think about it from a logical sense.  If the product was so awesome, would the big home appliance manufacturers not dedicate whole teams to doing it?  I would much rather trust the likes of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Dyson etc to sell me a functioning vacuum.  Don’t be stupid, dare to be different.

 

I thought HK’s population density was terrible on a normal day, I never did expect it could get worst.  The annual Chinese New Year Night Market is a perfect display of population density and fire hazard.  You are crammed into a confined space so tight it makes the sardine can look roomy.  Everyone behind is pushing to get forward, calm heads and a thick skin will need to prevail in this instance as blowing your top will leave all parties in a disgruntled state trudging along as together for the indefinite tour.

CWB Victoria Park, night market

Cattle entering the slaughterhouse.

If you must make a visit, go during the day when the sun is still out as once nightfall takes hold everyone with free time is out in a ample show of force.  Leave the strollers at home and wear good shoes, no need to dress warmly as it will get hot.  Take a look at HK couples, the BF holds the GF and they walk in unison.  I disdain listening to HK girls talking in their high pitched ‘cute’ voice.

HK bf life

Prevention measure for groping. Dude, no one wants to grope your gf.

The whole point of the night market is to buy knick knacks and trinkets.  The night markets on the Kowloon side is geared for tourists.  The annual Chinese New Year night market is geared towards locals with trinkets meant to appeal to the local tastes and lots of flowers.  Flowers are more expensive as people are caught up in spending money over the holidays.  You can get a better deal buying from the neighborhood flower stores.

flowers for CNY

$15 per pod compared to $10 at the store. make sure you buy in quantities of 5 as anything less is too few.

You have to experience this first hand.  Someone needs to yell FIRE into the crowds to experience a real melee and put HK crowd control on notice.  This place is a fire hazard so leave the kids at home at night.  I will never go back.

Hong Kong has a long list of food and drink importers.  Next time you are in the supermarket, take a look at the back of the packaging to find the local supplier.  In most instances, the supplier will sell direct so long as you buy by the box.  It’s Christmas so I am in the market for bubbly – Dom Perignon.  Watson’s Wine, HK’s largest online wine store retails it for $2k/bottle.  A quick google query shows a number of wholesalers that supply the wines to restaurants and hotels, the same bottle is now $900/bottle so long as you buy a case of 6.  In essence it is two for the price of one.  The same thing for my Japanese yogurt, the supplier to ParkNShop will only charge you $20/box so long as you buy a case of 12.  As long as I am not paying to a rich tycoon (Li Ka Shing) to whom I am sure does not need more cash from me, I will be happy.  www.wine-searcher.com for anything alcohol related.

ParkNshop and Wellcome use the majority of the same suppliers, in certain instances they import themselves cutting out the local supply chain.  The local suppliers are happy to supply at wholesale as they still make their margins.  I once had a supplier charge me retail pricing, I figure I was getting a deal only to see City Super selling it for the same price.  When dealing with suppliers, better bring a sharp pencil.  They will be glad to charge retail to those that don’t know better.

759 and Big Mart 360 is slowly eating away at the supermarket duopoly in Hong Kong.  I wouldn’t buy my wines from ParkNshop and Wellcome because a quick look at the label will show it is sourced in the grey market.  There is no need for French wines to make the trip to North America first, it’s also a good way of ensuring the wine is now vinegar.  Take a look at the back of the bottles.  I notice 759 stocking more product out of Eastern Europe and Turkey.  Must be a Mediterranean thing.

For clothing, there are wholesale markets on the Kowloon side which provides everything you need to buy in large quantities to resell back home.  Lai Chi Kok is home to textile juggernaut Li & Fung and in this district you will find all the overstock, suppliers and spillover from businesses that service this client.  The majority of the stuff is the korean clothing variety that is all the rage in the Causeway Bay district.

Lai Chi Kok's wholesale markets

Lai Chi Kok

Check out the inside, clothing is purchased in bulk and stuffed into the stereotypical HK red, white and blue bag for the start of the journey.  The majority of the stores will have signs stating they have garment manufacturing facilities in China so this will be the place to start on your journey to manufacture your own line.  They will also sell in smaller quantities but the majority of the buyers are here to buy in bulk.

clothing markets

Clothing maze

It’s also a good place to buy handmade jewelry before it makes it way onto the shelves of Zara.  A friend of mine curates her own collection of goods to resell back home.  This is the type of place she needs to visit.  Last time I sent her to Shum Shui Po without local knowledge.  Next time she is in time, Lai Chi Kok’s wholesale market will be her destination.

handmade jewelery

I got a call from a clown at Collins & Kent International (CKI) trying to peddle art as an investment.  I lose enough money on my own, I don’t need a consultant assisting me into a realm to which I know nothing.  If you have to cold call to find “investors” you may as well close up shop.  If one is really into art, the big auction houses will gladly assign a rep to handle your account.  There is no real need to go elsewhere.  Art galleries are a great way to launder money.  I am not saying Collins & Kent is a fraudulent business but take a look at the following investment thesis:   http://90million.blogspot.hk/2012/07/guaranteed-9-return-something-doesnt.html

I also had a guy offer to sell me shares in an incense tree plantation which is a well known scam.  HK is already famous for insider trading in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange so it doesn’t shock me that “alternate” investments take off.  People love the idea of making above average gains.  HK also has a wine and scotch investment fund as the elixirs are all the rage at the moment.  I have a tough enough job putting a syndicate together to raise $30M on LNG ship construction maybe it’s time to start cold calling…

Collins & Kent International Fine Arts – it’s time to overhaul the business model.  It might even help to turn your brain on once in a while.  If you plan to cold call, please send your sales force out onto the street and pass our leaflets.  I rather you not inundate my phone with calls.

The stifling humidity has been replaced with a welcome cold snap.  It was still summer like conditions in late October and now we are into the fall season.  Hong Kong is due for a change as the air-conditioning units so prevalent alongside all the walls need a break.  The change in weather is welcome.  I love the cold.  Canada is cold.  Nobody knows to handle cold like Canadians do.  The prevalence of Canadian products on the shelves of stores can only mean one thing – Winter is coming.

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Logo in similar throughout the years. New logo is reflective and ironed on while the old logo is stiched.

Westcomb makes outdoor clothes.  www.westcomb.com . Technical apparel for those that enjoy the great outdoors.  Arc’Teryx is a main stay among Hong Kong people, their products are everywhere.  Westcomb is similar but they do not use Gore-Tex products.  Gore-Tex is great, it ushered in an area of allowing people to enjoy the outdoors 20 years ago.  The problem is the advancements in fabric technology have been slow to trickle down to the average consumer as Gore-Tex remains the gold standard.  Westcomb solves this problem, cutting edge fabrics with design standards built for those that enjoy the outdoors.  They use a range of third party branded products to complete this task: Polartec, eVent, Scholler etc.  Most people know Polartec in the form of fleece.  eVent is the challenger to Gore-Tex.  Scholler makes a fabric called c_change where the membrane contracts and expands according to temperate.  Cutting edge stuff.

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The Tango is only for the Male frame but a Small can indeed fit females. The sleeves may be a bit long.

Westcomb does not use Gore-Tex.  Gore-Tex products are great for the average consumer, it keeps out the rain.  There is one issue: garbage bags keep out the rain too and with Gore-Tex it keeps out the rain but I sweat like a pig.  It problem is the PU layer they attach to the membrane that keeps you dry also makes you sweat.  Gore-Tex is a marketing juggernaut with near monopoly power in the outdoor industry.  No one cares for Goliath.  Goliath is slow to bring about change, why kill the goose laying the golden egg?  Consumers get fleeced as they are none the wiser.  I need my products to perform well.

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A Westcomb eVent hardshell, first generation. It has the motorcycle zipper, off from centre.

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the eVent membrane that allows the jacket to be both waterproof and breathable. Wash it often as it’s similar to skin, clogging the pores will prevent the material from breathing.

For me I break it down as follows: eVent for the great outdoors, NeoShell for everything else.  eVent is great for people that go out of bounds in the backcountry.  NeoShell will work for the majority of the population.  I disdain wearing hardshells unless it is truly raining outside.  If it rains I stay indoors so the hybrid fleece with the wind layer works perfectly fine for me in all situations.  Westcomb’s Rebel jacket made with Polartec WindPro was a staple in my wardrobe until I lost it.

Wool is nature’s drifit.  Drifit, Airism, Heatech are all the same product – it’s plastic.  It dries quick so your body spends more time operating at the optimum temperature range.  If you have a large collection of drifit products, you will come to realize one thing – they stink.  Wool is similar.  It’s a natural drifit material that doesn’t stink.  The only problem is its expensive and nowhere near as durable.  Wool won’t work for people playing contact sports so unless you are a pro athlete, you don’t need drifit.  Wool will work just fine.  Wool has one benefit over drifit which is critical for people enjoying winter sports, it’s able to retain heat when wet.  I love wool clothing.  It’s not the same wool as your parents use to wear where the fibres make you itch.  The new wools are very high end.  My 6 year old Westcomb has held out astonishingly well.  Westcomb makes a quality product.

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Wool tends to pill in areas of high abrasion.

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a 6 year old Westcomb italian merino wool hoody. 47% polyester, 39% wool, 12% nylon and 2% others

Westcomb’s Cruz Zip Neck shirt.  Fabric close up below.  I never intend to wash this baselayer to see how it stands up to the test of time.  My last Westcomb wool baselayer was able to go over 8 years until it started to develop holes last month, which may be the results of HK’s moths.  I find the quality on par if not better than smartwool and icebreaker.  I love the Made in Canada label on my clothing.  It is better value than smartwool and icebreaker without the Made in China tag and quality.

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difference in wools. Blue wool is meant to wear as a baselayer for direct contact to skin. 100% wool. Orange is a merino wool hoody so the wool is blended to give it better characteristics to survive the outdoors.

Now we are into the hybrids.  Think Fleece.  Fleece is great but a gust of wind removes all the heat.  I loved Westcomb’s fleece jacket with the wind layer as it did a great job of cutting through wind.  In Hong Kong, Pertex shells are all the rage.  It’s a very light fabric to provide cover from air conditioners.  Westcomb makes a hoody using Pertex Equilibrium insulated with Polartec Alpha.  Polartec’s Alpha insulation has a very interesting history, it was developed for the United States Special Forces as an advanced insulating material in their combat uniforms.  In the outdoors, you layer clothing so you can remove as needed.  With the Alpha insulation, you no longer need to remove nor layer as it regulates core temperature during both dynamic and static activity.  It also retains warmth after soaking so this is the most state of the art insulation to date, it’s all the good properties of wool and down mixed together.  Pertex to provide cover from wind and Alpha insulation to keep you warm regardless of weather conditions.  This is my Westcomb Tango Hoody – the one size fits all for every and all activity.  6 years after my first Westcomb piece, the new Tango hoody is both lighter and warmer is every aspect.  The wool hoody is due for retirement.  Hybrid technical jackets will be the future for outdoor wear.  This jacket better last 6 years.

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Pertex Equilibrium up close.  It is windproof.  I don’t expect it to be waterproof but it better perform in the wet.

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Polartec Alpha inside.

I spent the past week wearing the Tango hoody around time and can confirm it does a great job of regulating body temperature.  Synthetic products are great as you can engineer the exact characteristics you want into the product but there are tradeoffs.  The main tradeoff to synthetic products I cannot look past is it retains bad odors once I start to sweat.  This is the main reason behind my love for wools, it can never stink.  The new WC Tango hoody better not retain bad odors.  I will take it into the cooked food centres to see if I come out smelling like grease.  It does hold up quite well for the time being, it would seem to be the best product for HK’s weather.

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pertex equilibrium

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polartec alpha, us special forces technical material

To keep the cold out, you will want to wear a wool base layer with WC’s Tango hoody one size fits all.  If it rains, you will need a hardshell that is rated to a minimum of 10,000mm to keep you dry.  It will be overkill for walking in and around the concrete jungle but dry = comfort and there is no price one can pay for being comfortable.  Most people are miserable in the rain.  I take solace in the fact I no longer have to carry an umbrella, my hardshell keeps the wet out.  This enables me to punch umbrellas out of my face and rub up against people soaking them in areas their umbrellas no longer cover.  I stay dry while wetting others allowing my clothing to breath.  I love HK etiquette and I am sure I will get away with it.  Opps.  Sorry.  Excuse Me.

Westcomb makes outdoor clothing so I trust it will keep me warm and dry.  Canadians don’t lie.  It also has the added benefit of being designed and made entirely in Canada.  The clothes have made it to Hong Kong and are currently available exclusively at The Outdoor Shop in TST’s Silvercord building.  The Outdoor market is still in its infancy in HK, it’s a niche product at the moment.  Racing the Planet carries many of the popular labels but it’s cheaper to order overseas even with the astronomical shipping transport levy.  There are a few outdoor shops in Mong Kok (Chamonix on sneaker street) but their product selection leans heavily towards tradition rather than innovation.

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Hong Kong Optical Fair takes place in November.  It’s one of the few Optical Fairs in the world.  This is easy to gather once you notice the foreigners outnumber the locals for once.  This is one you will need to attend if you have a brand and eyeglasses/optics are in your brands future.  Most high end brands are owned by Luxottica.  The fair consists of people that want to take on Luxottica.  In North America, any eyeglass store will have frames starting at $200.  This is their cost to buy in bulk prior to affixing any label and branding – $1/frame.

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$1 USD per frame. I hope consumers are aware of Luxottica lining its own pockets.

Let’s hire models to sit on a twirling chair doing nothing but looking pretty.  Only in Asia.  FashionTV eyeglasses, fail.  You are either a model or not, licensing your brand to aspiring models is a quick way to show you are obsolete and irrelevant.

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These goggles have an uncanny resemblance to Oakleys, SpyOptics, Dragon and all popular brands you see on the mountains.  Polarized lenses and the state of the art molds and design.  It’s only awaiting a brand.  I paid $200 for my Oakleys.  These can be had for around $20.  I remember saving up my allowance as a kid to fund ski goggles so I look cool on the mountains.  No more.  It might be time for me to make the PDW (pigsdrinkwine) brand providing consumers with an awesome pair of polarized ski goggles for an affordable price.

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The Optics Fair is everything you can think of as it pertains to the Optical industry.  Lots of manufacturers from the WenZhou district of China.  The WenZhou district is China’s optical epicentre.  Most of Luxottica’s eyewear is produced here.  The Optics Fair also many Italian, Korean and Japanese brands with their selling point as hand made.

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eyeglass cases

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eye exam machines

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There is even a brand of China contact lenses – Horien.  I can only find it on alibaba at the moment but if they rival daysoft on pricing, I may give it a try.  Daysoft is a brand of contact lenses currently making big inroads to the established contact lens manufacturers.  The guy behind it is the gentleman that invented contact lenses.  He then licensed it to everyone waiting for his non-compete to expire before starting the process all over again.  Daysoft provides an affordable solution to overpaying for Acuvue, Oasis and everyone else inbetween.  The problem with Daysoft is consumers are quick to stigmatize an affordable solution as a inferior product.  Do your own due diligence.

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horien contact lenses

I am starting to notice more frames made out of wood now.  It’s a very interesting material to use.  Look at the process below.  Horrible waste?

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wood frames