Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Live from Asia...

Shadox is coming to you this week live from Asia. Hong-Kong and Taipei, to be exact. I made the 14 hour trans-pacific crossing from San-Francisco yesterday, arriving in Hong-Kong around 6PM.

My hotel is really fancy and located about 5 minutes from the airport. From my 17th floor window I have a nice view of the mountains and what appear to be high-priced, high-rise apartment buildings. The hotel is connected to a large shopping mall, so after checking in and taking a very much needed shower, I went to check out the mall. What can I tell you, I am not one to go to sleep when I get to a new city, and in any case going to sleep would probably have earned me a nasty case of jet-lag.

So, what can one learn by strolling around a Hong-Kong mall? For one thing, this specific HK mall is just like any mall in any major city in the U.S. Shops ranged from Calvin-Klein to Lenscrafters. Apparently, children here are also big fans of Thomas the Tank Engine, and nag their parents for happy meals from McDonald's. Clearly, this single mall is not a representative sample of Hong-Kong, but I have a strong hunch that the rest of this city, like most other major cosmopolitan cities around the globe is being taken over by the American shopping mono-culture. If that's the case, that's a pity. What can I tell you, if you are going to travel to the other side of the world, it would be nice if things looked a little different than they do back in California...

Tomorrow I will be crossing over into main land China (Shenzhen, to be exact), and maybe things there look different. We'll see. Still, travelling internationally is always a blast for me.

The thing I noticed is that prices at this particular mall are pretty expensive. Said Thomas the Tank Engine toys cost as much as they do in the U.S., brand name clothing is at least as expensive, but food seemed to cost less than it does back home. I didn't check the cost of a Big Mac - but that would be an interesting comparison (per the famous Economist price index). The decline in the value of the Dollar is apparently not a factor here. The exchange rate chart I found on Yahoo! shows that the Hong-Kong Dollar has been largely unchanged against the greenback over the past few years. Well, at least our national currency is holding firm against one currency - is the HKD pegged to the Dollar or something?

Unfortunately, I will not get a chance to see much beyond what I have already seen of Hong-Kong. My business meetings start at 10:00 AM tomorrow and last throughout the day and into dinner. Wednesday morning I am off to Taiwan for my next set of meetings. Such is the life of the traveling business executive... doomed to see the world through conference room windows and business dinners. Well, it's still worth it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

2 comments:

Fred said...

Yes, your assumptions are correct, HKD is in fact pegged to USD.

Chief Family Officer said...

LOL! My husband had pretty much the same reaction when we went to Tokyo. He was so excited before we left, and then he was so disappointed when we arrived and it really wasn't exotic at all, except that no one spoke English (or refused to admit that they did).