Thursday, September 21, 2006

No snow falling on Shanghai this time around

It was an icy day the last time I pulled out of here but no today. It's a hot and sticky and pretty polluted vista from the 26th floor this morning.

Thought I'd take the time to make one more post before the long trip home. We got out of work early yesterday and took the subway over to the "real" replacement for the Xiangyang Outside Counterfeit Market. Now you might ask how many more fake Tommy Bahama shirts or Tag watches I really need, but it was a fun adventure as alway and even if I didn't buy anything it was worth for two little experiences.

The market is now located in the halls of the Shanghai Science Museum subway station. Not being outside, it's a bit less friendly but not nearly as oppressive as the Qipu market I mentioned previously. It's clean, less crowded and generally more smoke free.

The government is really cracking down on the fake goods, so the sellers have to be far more cagey than they used to be.

I went with one of my pals to a young woman's stall which she had visited the previous day. For grins, I asked about Hermes wallets. The young woman nodded, went out in front, looked both directions and came back in. She closed the glass doors, locked them, drew the drapes and moved some luggage aside that was blocking a secret panel behind a mirror.

By now it was about 103 degrees in the little room. Opening the door, she motioned me to come with her. She had a rickety aluminum ladder in a 3x3 foot closet that led upwards to a small attic. She climbed, I climbed and up we went to a 6x8 foot room whose walls were lined with purses. Coach, Todd, Chloe, you name it. At the end of the room was a built in chest of drawers holding 100s of wallets.

I was roasting.

We went back down, my companion did her deal and we moved on, of course after the ritual of re-opening the store. This level of secrecy is now apparently required to avoid problems with the officials. A few stores later we were at it again, this time rifling through bags of watches that were retrieved from a secret compartments beneath the water cooler.


Heading back, I had my first experience on the subway at rush hour. It's an understatement to say it was crowded. At every stop you prayed more would get off than would get on. Which of course was not the case.










My last vignette for this trip has to do with Toupee Man, a fellow guest at the hotel. Apparently he is a long term guest because the staff in the penthouse knows him. A couple of days a week he is accompanied to breakfast by an attractive young
Chinese woman who generally shows up at 7 AM wearing pearls and a designer evening dress. Don't know much about it, but it seems odd to see an American middle-aged guy eating eggs with a young woman in Prada. Maybe someone can explain it to me, or perhaps this photo, dripping in irony, says it all.

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