Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zhen de, Jia de? (Real or fake?)

posted by Alan
*click on the pictures to see them full sized

Most people know that China is the counterfeit capitol of the world(unofficially). Everything from DVD's, sneakers, bags, watches, clothing, food and even Tylenol have been copied and sold here.

Now, I'm not here to debate the moral issue of using these goods (over here, sometimes there just is no alternative). In fact, the quality of the duplicates have gotten SO good, that oftentimes the only way to tell that they're fake at all is where you're buying them and how much you're getting them for. And even then, you wonder if they're real but just stolen or defective in some way.

Since coming here in April, i'd say the most faked brands have to be Crocs and UGG's. They are both EVERYWHERE. You can buy them in stores, at fake markets, off a blanket or a cart on the street in any style and color you could ever want on your feet. UGG's just started popping up because winter is coming, and Daisy and I were completely at a loss as to whether they were real or fake. Thats how good the quality is. There's actually debate about whether they're fake or are they somehow factory surplus or something. But it's clear that fake UGG's rule the Shanghai winter, while Crocs own the summer. UGG's can usually be bargained down to about $18 USD and Crocs could usually be had for about $3-$5 USD.

Now, because I've lived here before, many of my friends automatically assumed that things I was wearing or using were fake. I DO have some fakes, but I also lived in America for 90% of my life and occasionally purchased some genuine products over that time. But it actually amused me, having people ask "Is that real?" To keep people guessing, my usual response would be something along the lines of "If you have to ask, then it doesn't matter." For some reason, certain people pride themselves on being able to differentiate between real and fake goods. So, here's the contest. Check out the items below, listed by number and see if you can guess if they're real or fake.

1. Battlestar Galactica Season 4 Box Set (for nerdy Daisy)

2. a.k.a Frosted Flakes

3. in Chinese phonetics, this says "Kuh Kou Kuh La"

4. "Ow Li Ow (Oreo)

5. Croc slippers

6. North Fake?

Response to comments:
How does one type an awkward silence?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween in China

posted by Alan
*click on pictures to see them full sized

As mentioned in the last post, Halloween is slowly gaining steam as a holiday to celebrate here in China. As with most Western holidays, foreigners celebrate it on their own, but the concept of dressing up and scaring each other was just too much fun for the local Chinese to resist.

Our company is very forward thinking(especially for a Chinese company), and one of the reasons I was brought here was to introduce a Western way of thinking to the company culture. Like the rest of China, our company is trying to adopt a more global mindset and that's part of the reason why we decided to have a big Halloween party to which we invited our clients, families and friends.

Haunted House construction took 3 days and 2 weeks of planning; I taught them how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

The party included a costume contest, raffle prizes, food, games and a photo station. But the centerpiece of the party was our Haunted House. It was my job to come up with a concept for a Haunted House that we could build inside one of our meeting rooms. It was actually pretty elaborate, taking three days to build and used over 180 yards of black curtain, cardboard, mannequins, a fog machine, blacklights and sound system. I also recruited 8 of my friends to come and help me run the House from the inside. It turned out to be a HUGE success and was actually pretty creepy. People were genuinely frightened and we even made a little girl cry. The measure of any good Haunted House.

The party and Haunted House went really well and I know it went a LONG way in showing my co-workers why I'm here, helping them to recognize the effort and time that I'm investing in them and I can see it's reaching them. They're starting to realize that I'm not here just to get a job and make some money in China. Enthusiasm has been even higher for my classes and one-on-one lessons since then.

Daisy and I; my awesome Haunted House crew; the Hall of Hands

Halloween Night in Shanghai seemed like one big party. We live in a popular area with bars and restaurants all around, and it seemed like each one of them was having a Halloween party. While it was still mostly foreigners out and in costume, there was definitely a good number of Chinese locals out in full costume as well. It was really cool to see that blend of Chinese and Western culture come to life. What made it even more fun was that many places in Shanghai don't have cover charges, so we were just able to party hop and walk from one party to the next. For some reason, the trick-or-treating tradition seems to have gotten lost in the Halloween festivities here. We made it home in time for 3:30AM kickoff of the Florida vs. Georgia football game and ordered in some 24/7 McDonald's delivery. Halloween is a fun time in Shanghai.

Best costumes seen that night: A guy dressed up as a Rubber Duckie (he got the costume from Japan), the Thriller Michael Jackson (I don't know WHERE he got the jacket), and a "Gold Digger" (they're notorious here in Shanghai, so one girl went with it and dressed in all gold with construction gear and money sticking out of her costume.)

Up next: Thanksgiving. Although I don't think that's a holiday that China will be adopting anytime soon...or ever.

Response to comments:
Johnny - That camcorder was classic. Possibly the best $150 I ever spent. It even knew not to record our performance of H-Town's 'Knockin Da Boots.' Lets Go Mets.
Kent - I'm surprised it's not more celebrated Down Under. Isn't everything a party down there? It's not even really an "American" holiday, although I guess we kind of took it over and totally commercialized it.
Eric - .....
Robbie - Uh oh, who's gonna use the car?