Thursday, 23 February 2012

What's the point?

Much to T's despair, I'm a Lady Gaga fan. I wouldn't go as far to say I'm a "Little Monster" but when I received the "exclusive priority booking invitation to all American Express holders" to buy advanced tickets to her Hong Kong concert, I couldn't resist.

But here's the problem. What's the point of sending out an "exclusive priority booking invitation to all American Express holders" if you're not going to prepare your call centre and website for the hoards of American Express holders who are clambering on top of one another to get their tickets??

I mean, why bother if all Amex has achieved through their "exclusive invitation" is to seriously p** me off. How many times can I refresh their overloaded website? How many times can I call their busy call centre? If you want to lose a customer, here's how to do it: over promise. under deliver.

Thanks, Amex.

One very annoyed customer.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Tao Bao

Bertoia chair

This is it! We have finally tapped into the art of Chinese bargain online shopping! ebay and Amazon are now things of the past thanks to Tao Bao. For those of you who don't know it, Tao Bao is the biggest online shopping site in Asia. You can buy anything on it, quite literally, and at any price point.

After starting our furniture hunting for our new apartment, we quickly realised there are two types of furniture shops in Hong Kong: IKEA and overpriced rip off millionaire shops for the terribly rich or terribly unimaginative. So, once we'd bought every possible item at IKEA (think glasses and jam jars), we then needed to find something with a bit of "charm" without the price tag. In comes Tao Bao - home of all trendy furniture knock-offs that have been lovingly made in China.

Z lamp care of Tao Bao

The funny thing is that while we perceive getting incredible designer furniture from China as being a blessing from heaven, my Hong Kong colleagues are all shocked and appalled that I would "buy dangerous and bad quality products from China" as "everything from China is terribly made and really really bad".

Another colleague of mine said, "Look, g, it's ok if you buy things that look pretty, but don't buy anything that has to carry weight or that might kill somebody if it falls. Because if it's from Tao Bao, then it probably will."

Great. So with that local vote of confidence, T and I threw ourselves into buying low-danger, high aesthetic appeal items. The only teensy weensy detail is that you have to understand Mandarin to use Tao Bao. And Google Chrome only gets you halfway there e.g. "product" is translated as "baby"... slightly confusing.

You also need to be able to chat online with the sellers to find out important things like "well, if you buy the eames chair in white, then it's made out of white plastic, but if you buy it black, then we spray paint it black for you." Good to know.

Another tall lamp thing

p.s. Yes, I finally got an iPhone after I left my Nokia in Cape Town and my Blackberry got stolen in the sheet section at IKEA
p.p.s Many thanks to our friend M.A. who introduced us to the Tao Bao shopping experience

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Decluttering gone wild

With all the excitement and anticipation of building a 'real' home, I've been channeling my energy into scouring apartment design blogs for ideas. One thing that comes up again and again and again is this whole idea of "de-cluttering". Seems that a lot of us are keeping things forever that we've never worn, never look at it and are blocking our chakras and energy flow.

So, after reading many a blog post, I rolled up my sleeves and set upon the task of emptying out my life and holding onto (read making space for) the essentials. For inspiration on the subject, read: Breaking up with your belongings, deciding to keep or purge; closet organization. Or google "decluttering" - you have about 2 million sites to choose from.

So, out went all my high heels which I can't walk in. I gave them to the maid who must be a size 32, so I can't begin to imagine what she's going to do with a size 41 other than sell them or use them for storage. Out went my H&M T-shirts that I never wear. Out went all the dresses which I love but t gags at every time I put on - what's the point of having clothes your husband can't stand? Although I don't see anything wrong with going out in a cream baby doll evening dress. Out went all the handbags I bought at Topshop thinking they were cool and then realising they're just cheap.

And then came the strange idiosyncrasies - why do I have 3 grey dresses? What's with all the blue striped shirts that I never wear? 4 beach sarongs?? Anyway, they've gone now. All to the maid who I hope has tall friends or knows how to sew.

The problem with all this decluttering, is that before you know it, you can't stop. The endorphins are incredible and so much more enjoyable that dragging yourself to the gym. So after tackling my clothes, I moved onto magazines and then onto the fridge. In my obviously drugged state, I over zealously asked the same maid in question to "empty the fridge and throw everything away!" I requested this by SMS from the office, without actually having checked what we had in the fridge beforehand.

I don't want to go there, but I'm struggling to shake the image of t's horrified face when he opened the fridge door to find all his cheese, orange juice and truffle oil gone. Adios.

Feeling rather sheepish and have been instructed not to dispose of anything for the next few days, until my peptide levels have stabalised.