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