After spending some random time in Nanning, mainly in an arcade that had smokes instead of teddy bears in those “grab it games”, took a night train to Guangzhou with none other than King Khong & King Chode. The night train was cool, time passed fast but it was not as nice as the train from Hanoi to Nanning. We arrived in Guangzhou at roughly ~6:30AM the following morning.
From there we dined on McDicks and parted ways from Khong and hit the metro. We were going to do a taxi but imagine if you were a taxi driver and some dude handed you a book in Chinese, not happening. We got lost on the subway and realized it when we left the tunnels and were bound for the countryside.
Needless to say, ~1 hour detour and we were back on track. Got out of the subway and tried our luck with a cab, the guy had no clue what we wanted and we resorted to walking. Now 40 something hours into our travels, feet were beginning to drag, at least mine were. I said let’s chill a while when this guy who aptly had “tourist” written on his backpack, like anyone would of thought otherwise walked by. We asked him where a hotel / hostel we’d been looking for was, he said 100M further, awesome.
Upon arriving they inform us a fair going on and that all rates were seriously jacked, wtf!? They wanted ~$50US a night at this Hostel for a double or ~$15 a night for a dorm, horreinous! (Horrendous & Heinous FYI). That and when I offered lower this guy who obviously never received a course in customer service said “oh, so you want me to pay the difference”. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the fact this guy had the attitude of an emperor while working at the desk, I didn’t care for the place.
I order a coffee to get wifi, this lady makes it and then says “Hey, it’s ready” and leaves it on the bar. Really? If you’re charging me ~$2 for a coffee in China, the least you can do is bring it over. At this point I turn to my friend and say “I’ll sooner sleep on another overnight train or at the bottom of the ocean then give these people a red cent”, I meant it.
While I’m toying with WIFI I see this older gent hitting on a younger girl. Then I start ranting about this stupid fair. Then we get talking and he asks why I’m here, I said for apparel and he informs me it is one of the biggest fairs of the year, going on RIGHT NOW. Suddenly the fair is not so bad. It’s the .
We check into another hotel for ~$25 a night and it’s quite nice despite wreaking of stale cigarette smoke. I shower, shave and make my way to the fair, across town. I’m an “expert” on the subway system and find it no problem, even run into these gents from the Cote d’Ivoire on the way and we discuss any things, in French of course.
I arrive at this fair and they ask for my passport, wtf!? I just spent 40 minutes on a crammed subway after 40+ hours of travel. I make it through, pay ~$5US for some unflattering passport like photos and fill out my registration. That’s when they say “no passport, no entrance”. Since I didn’t know my hotel, have the key, anything, I’m outta luck. I kinda push the issue until this frumpy police lady comes over and I say “ok, see you tomorrow”. Down on my luck in the closest gear I have that resembles “business attire” with an Oxford hairstyle I wander around aimlessly until I find out there is another, smaller trade show, the . At this point I will note, if you meet an olde guy who is staying in a hostel, don’t take business advice from him, ya heard?!
I can probably get 1000 pieces made for the price of ~80-100 in Canada. What is odd is how people could even possibly have to wonder why all the money is moving to China. By “assuring a quality of life that is so high for all” we’ve basically mortgaged future growth, not wise Einsteins. Those who hustle and sacrifice succeed in every aspect of existence. Most developed nations donate housing and satellite TV to schmucks too lazy to work who in my opinion, don’t even deserve dinner. Go hungry a few nights and we’ll see who shows up to work on Monday…
Anyways, I’m back in my hotel and tired. Not so much tired as that weird state you find yourself in when you’re hopped up on caffeine and seriously hungry. They had a free lunch at the trade show but it was these putrid sausages that only a total food addict would enjoy. The only pleasurable part of the “Free lunch” was chatting with a Russian Designer. I thought she was 23, she was 36, time has been good to this lady but she still it’s tough being a blonde Russian here. She said she never goes to clubs as men just assume she’s a prostitute and treat her like such.
Outside the shows, many touts trying to sell things from wolf fur and latex attire to fake iPhones. The fake iPhones are total rubbish, don’t even PONDER acquiring one of those such said POS. If you do go to one of these shows, check out the free massage chairs, they are good for 10 minutes or 2 hours.
Tomorrow, I’m going to the Canton Fair to meet suppliers and see what goes down. Guangzhou is quite industrial and not much going on from what I can see. I am staying on “Bar Street” so we’ll see how that plays out. With the prices they are charging this weekend, I do not expect to see many travelers here. That being said, the Canton Fair has everything from textiles, auto parts, medical devices, sporting equipment, everything. I’d like to check it out but realistically they want people buying at least a pallet and that is just SOME. Most are “minimum quantity of ~1000-10,000 items. this place has buyers from all major retailers and import / export outfits. LOTS of developing world people here banking serious coin.
If you want to do really small orders, you need to find an agent here who will do your bidding. He/she will buy whatever it is and ship it individually / store it for you for a commission. They exist, trust me.
Makes you think how if you live in a totally developed nation, you kinda missed the boat. There are large corps in power who bank egregious quantities of coin of the already taxed to death public. If you buy a Polo shirt for ~$100 back home, you pay ~15% tax. The tax you pay represents more then the cost of the item, that’s simply unacceptable.
Furthermore there isn’t much room for new comers in most existing markets. Besides technology, what industry has been producing NEW millionaires recently? They are great places to travel to if you are rich but getting rich is hard with such socialist tax systems and already established wealth networks. That being said, if you just want to live a somewhat normal 9-5 life, not worry about crap on the weekends and have free education for the kids and somewhat free health care, it’s where you want to be.
I also thought that big boxes (I’m guilty of shopping there too FYI) are totally messing things up for anyone not in the loop or in their stock. 10-20 years ago, you could pick up a container of some goods, ship them to your home. At the very least, you could unload them on some mom and pop shop somewhere if you had no serious buyers. Now everyone is franchised and they buy in massive blocks. You think you could bring 20 palettes of item X into a random Walmart and ask the owner / manager if they want them!? What a laugh, it would have to be “through head office”. I wonder what it’s going to be like in ~50 years? Perhaps just the largest of the large in an oligopoly where they charge what they want, buy stocks people.
I have noticed one thing though. There is an insane abundance of products in this world and the quality is quite irrelevant. If it does not have a designer tag on it, people simply do not want it. Take a look in your wardrobe, how many no name items do you own? Thought so.
P.S: Coming here makes you realize what it feels like to be totally illiterate as most signage is NOT in English, at all. Furthermore stick to the sub ways it’s your best bet to get around without getting screwed. We’ve all met a foreigner who only knows how to nod and smile with a few simple terms. I salute those who make the move and stay, it’s not easy when you don’t understand anything and even checking into a hotel is a bit of a process. Even ordering food, if no pictures, you can’t eat there and you never know if you’re getting ripped off so always give less and make them ask for more.
P.P.S: Lots of affluence but lots of these kinda projects as well…