Normal service to be resumed

A brief hiatus in updating the blog as the ‘aged parents’* were across for a week from last Thursday. As a result, I figured I’d wait until they’d gone before updating the blog. It’s Friday night at the moment – I have completed yet another presentation; this time in front of about 150 people. If things continue at this rate I’ll be presenting in front of thousands in a few months. I’m somewhat relieved that I haven’t yet been asked to do another one, and will be trying to keep a low profile for the time being.

Anyway, the week with the parents wasn’t too stressful and it was good to have family out here again – and also nice to have 4 days booked off from work. Of course, it means doing some of the same things over again – like going up the Peak Tram, taking the Star Ferry, taking a trip to Stanley market, going to the Ladies market, going to Temple Street night market… OK – I’m not a big market person and had previously only been to Stanley market whilst looking for a second hand bookshop. I can now verify that all three markets contain the biggest load of crap, and nothing else. Was I surprised? Not really. Having provided the advice before Mum & Dad traveled that they should bring umbrellas as it can tip it down at a moment’s notice the weather over the last week has been: hot as hell, horribly humid, and completely dry! Even the air quality has been good, with clear views over Victoria Harbour and the mountains beyond. This is typical of nature conspiring to make me look stupid.

Of course any visit of the parents is not without it’s difficulties. Quite why I wasn’t told beforehand that they’d like a tailored jacket for Dad is a mystery, as it meant I had to immediately try and sort out a tailor through Chris at work. Chris came through like a legend on that front however, even if the price to be paid did mean a lunch with my parents, me, and Chris and his wife. Why this was deemed a suitable occasion to mention that when I was a young child I had difficulty pronouncing my name is another one of life’s little mysteries.

I did manage to avoid traipsing round the Jade market. I’m reliably informed this is also completely full of green coloured rubbish. We agreed to meet to look round the Temple Street night market on Tuesday night after Mum & Dad had walked round the Jade market. It took a bit of time finding the ‘real’ part of the market, especially after having to walk past the stalls selling sex toys – another uncomfortable moment. It seems that it’s at this market you can buy the ‘copy watches’ from guys with catalogues of the available watches on tables, DVDs (including Die Hard 4.0, and Transformers), and the usual assorted other crap. The DVDs are listed at HK$20 but I didn’t buy any on Tuesday when we were there. I’ll save this for later. Both me and Dad fancied a copy watch, so I pointed at a possible Omega watch in the ‘catalogue’ and the guy at the stall disappeared down a nearby sidestreet saying he’d be back. Prior to this disappearaing act he’d typed 580 into a calculator which I guessed was his suggested price. It’s important to understand that once you’re talking to these stall holders it’s nearly impossible to get away without buying anything. It must be the scottish in me, but there was no way I was paying HK$580 for a fake watch.

After about 5 minutes of hanging around, a different guy appeared with a plastic bag containing the watch I’d pointed at. It was certainly heavy enough to pass off as a Omega, and upon first appearance looked a pretty good copy, and indeed having looked the ‘model’ up on the Omega website I can verify it looks very good indeed:

http://www.omegawatches.com/index.php?id=132

So far so good. According to the new seller’s broken english they ‘all work for the same guy’ although he obviously hadn’t checked with his mate as to the price to be offered as it suddenly dropped to HK$500. That’s still £33 which in my view is too expensive for a copy watch. Seeing my reluctance the calculator is thrust in front of me with a view to me putting in my valuation of the watch. Figuring I may as well have some fun, I went for 300 – and was surprised that I got an agreement straight away. Lesson #1: always go stupidly low when haggling. They might agree to your first offer…

So I now own a £20 copy-Omega. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the end of the story. Dad decided he’d quite like a copy watch too. It wasn’t quite as smooth sailing for him however as he’d pointed to a couple of different watches and the stall holder obviously fancied his chances at selling more than one. After a certain amount of confusion – Northern Irish accents haggling with broken chinglish is not the most effective communication in the world – Dad had managed to start negotiations for a single Breitling watch. The stall originally tried 600, which we knew wouldn’t be a final offer – it was interesting to note though, that his Mum’s offer of 285 was turned down. Finally agreement was reached on… HK$300. Lesson #2: Don’t faff around with multiple watches. Know what you want and be prepared to walk away and keep walking.

It will probably come as no surprise to find out that both watches seem to be identical in size and weight. Oh yes can’t forget to mention, my watch strap broke within 10 minutes (seriously!) of getting back to my parents hotel room, the upper and lower buttons seem to move dials round rather randomly, the time adjust dial is on a threaded screw type thing to keep it flush to the watch body – not sure if a real Omega looks like that, and I’m really not sure when I’d actually wear this watch. Still good fun though. I’ll take a trip to Shenzhen at some point and see how things compare there.

Most amusing/memorable moment from the week… Mum’s reaction on seeing my apartment/boxroom: ‘Oh! <pause> I see what you mean about the apartment‘ (being small)

Second most amusing/memorable comment… Mum again on arriving by taxi at the Peak Tram terminus and asking the taxi driver: ‘Is there a tram to the top?‘ She did actually mean bus yet said tram, resulting in the taxi driver looked suitably confused.

Unsurprisingly, my hotel room at Disneyland is larger than my boxroom in North Point. Yes, the Disneyland hotel (and park entry ticket tomorrow) is a jolly from work, but what am I supposed to do? Turn them down?

* Aged parents was the parental sanctioned phrase to describe the parents in the blog.

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4 Responses to “Normal service to be resumed”

  1. Stu Says:

    Dude… you got even more ripped off than me in China… 250yuan for an ‘Omega’ speedmaster that was excellent except for the multiple spellings of Tachimeter on it. It had a 5 year ‘guarantee’… and lasted until I played a game of badminton – at which point it decided to stop. Was a very nice looking watch though, and am tempted to buy a proper one.

    The bartaring side of things is fun though… always 10% of what they ask for.

  2. Stu Says:

    Oh and Gaw-fan… better than I could do at that age!

  3. The Aged Parents Says:

    What do they do with the old people in Hong Kong? We only saw young ones!!!

  4. johniebg Says:

    All the wrinklies are out the back in sweatshops making fake watches.

    This is a great post Mr johnyE. Bit awkward in the beginning as you discussed the parents, but they usually do have that effect. I have a Rolex that I brought there for 35quid circa 2001 that still keeps brilliant time but have never been brave enough to try out the waterproof to 50m feature. Strap broke as well. Cost me 30quid to fix!

    Laughed out load several times. PS Saw your facebook piccy today – very scary.

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