Sunday, October 21, 2007

200th post

I've been delaying for a while writing this post because I felt that should have something meaningful to say for such a momentous occasion. The problem is that I don't. This post has no special significance simply because its numerical identifier happens to be divisible by 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 40, 50, and 100. So, since I've gotten that out of the way, I figured I'd just let you know what I've been up to.

During the past week, I've been down in Guangzhou for the 102nd China Export and Commodities Fair, aka The Canton Fair. I've written posts about it the other times I've gone and something don't change each time I come here; A) I never cease to be amazed at the shear size of the fair and the variety of products offered, and B) I hate Guangzhou. It is a dirty, noisy, hot, over-populated city. I can't stand coming here and I always look forward to leaving. I can find no redeeming qualities whatsoever about this horrible place.

Anyway, back to point A above. I didn't have so much time to walk around the fair this time... I only had a chance to check out the new International Pavilion, showcasing various companies from around the world who wish to import to China, and the electronics section. The strange thing about the "International" Pavilion was that no matter where I looked all I saw were Chinese people manning the booths. Whether the sign indicated USA, Turkey, Russia, or Tunisia, the staff members were all Chinese.

"Strange", I thought. Well, I found out the story later and it is a very typically Chinese story. Because the city of Guangzhou is trying to encourage foreign companies to come to this new section of the fair, they have made booths at the International Pavilion cheaper than the booths for the regular Chinese exporting booths. All of the Chinese exhibitors, upon finding this out, rushed of to have one of their foreign customers in another country register the booth for them as to save money. The registered company in many cases never even attended the show, but rather had their Chinese supplier manning "their" booth.

Walking around the electronics section is always the most fun for me, perhaps because electronics always exhibits the most amount of copyright infringement. I walked past and "Indian" company (read the previous paragraph) and saw a perfect copy of the new Apple i-phone. The only difference was that it ran windows instead of the Apple OS, but it still had an emulator to make it look almost identical. They had a real one there next to it and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. Pretty impressive considering the thing only came out a few months ago.

Another booth was showing the various mp3 players they make. Now, for as long as I've been in China I've seen attempted copies of the iPod. I've even seen a few that came pretty darned close to the real thing, but they always fell short (or rather made them look different enough that they couldn't get sued). Yesterday however, I saw an absolute perfect copy of the current Apple iPod Shuffle. When I asked about it, the Chinese manufacturer said he would accept no responsibility for any legal claims after it was shipped out of China if I purchased it. He instead guided me towards one of his almost-nearly-but-not-quite iPods, saying perhaps it would be safer for me to import these to my country and avoid the legal hassles.

After the fair last night, I spend an hour or so looking for an Indian restaurant I had seen from a taxi. During my walk I saw something I've never seen before; a young Chinese guy getting arrested by cops. Ok, perhaps not unusual in a large urban setting, but the strange thing was what the cops were doing. They had this kid in handcuffs and a group of police officers were each taking turns having their picture taken with him, the same way you would with Goofy at the Magical Kingdom in Disney World. And of course, since no Asian can have their picture taken without doing it, one hand was holding the 'perp and the other was giving the peace sign. Every single cop (at least 8) all struck the same pose that says, "my native language uses a character system and not an alphabet." I finally found the Indian restaurant and stuffed myself on Lamb Vindaloo... yum.

Well, tomorrow I leave crappy Guangzhou... hopefully never to be back... well, at least as an exhibitor. I could see myself coming back here later in life as a buyer for something or looking for a company to potentially invest in. We'll see.

That's it for now, folks. I hope this post was worthy enough to be the 200th I've written. I realized that since I've lived in China for more than two years, the fact that I've only now written 200 posts show me that I don't write frequently enough, but... ehh. I have better stuff to do with my time like watch whole seasons of the Sopranos in one sitting.