July 17, 2005

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Books, Orwell, Spirals and Money

1. There are two disturbing trends in Hong Kong car parks. Your car park ticket will have your licence plate printed on it in a demonstration of optical scanning technology and an Orwellian hint that they know who you are so don't try anything funny. And in a sign that the era of paper money is rapidly drawing to a close, most car parks no longer allow you use cash to pay for the pleasure of squeezing into a space so your car door can be dented. It's all Octopus and Visa cards nowadays. Combine the two and you have a torrent of useful market research data.

2. The spiral escalator at Times Square's Lane Crawford never ceases to amaze me.

3. Many Hong Kong shops proudly proclaim they use a 1:1 exchange rate for yuan to dollars. This results in a 6% discount* for those using the Chinese currency over the Hong Kong one. When I pointed this out to the lady at Fortress yesterday she naturally responded in that age-old retail assistant manner: with a shrug. There was no way she could give me a 6% discount on my purchase. The solution is simple. All Hong Kongers should immediately set up their yuan bank accounts and credit cards, convienently available at most Hong Kong banks thanks to CEPA, and only use those when shopping.

It is all part of the plan to replace Hong Kong dollars with renminbi...a devaluation by default.

4. Today's SCMP has its summer reading list, where they ask various authors what they are reading in an attempt to boost each other's sales and look learned. Some are honest enough to admit they aren't reading anything, although none confess to reading trash. The rest impress us with their diverse and superior tastes, all the while making us proletarians wonder how the hell they have time to read six books a month. My bedside table heaves under the weight of an ever growing pile of "must reads". Maybe I should become an author.

* US$1 = 8.28 yuan
US$1 = HK$7.8
Divide the two and you get a smidge over 6%.

posted by Simon on 07.17.05 at 12:13 PM in the


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Regarding your point #3: read the fine print. I tried to do that as soon as the shops offered the 1:1 exchange rate (at a Fortress IIRC), but they wanted to see my PRC passport. The only passport I hold is the Aussie one. :(

Would this sort of thing be illegal under the proposed anti-racism laws?

posted by: spacehunt on 07.17.05 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

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