Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Genuine and Not So Genuine: Baltimore Ravens Boxer Shorts and Other NFL Items for Sale in China

Jingyou Mall portion of the Zhuhai Port Plaza
A small portion of the vast Zhuhai Port Plaza

Hundreds of stalls in the underground Zhuhai Port Plaza shopping center in front of the Gongbei Port immigration checkpoint in Zhuhai, China, sell a wide variety of clothing. Yesterday I saw an unexpected item there which reminded me of where I last lived in the U.S. — Baltimore, Maryland.

Baltimore Ravens boxer shorts for sale in the Zhuhai Port Plaza
Assorted underwear and sleepwear for sale

A young saleswoman said the boxer shorts with the logo of the Baltimore Ravens, a National Football League team, cost 25 RMB (about U.S. $3.90). Although bargaining would likely lead to a lower price, the shorts are already much cheaper than any similar items for sale on the Baltimore Ravens official online store. Obvious imitation products are plentiful at many shops in the market, so it is easy to believe these boxer shorts aren't entirely legitimate.

In regards to counterfeit Baltimore Ravens merchandise coming from China, a few years ago the Baltimore Sun quoted the NFL's vice president of legal affairs as saying "If you're buying merchandise from a China-based website, you're probably not getting the real thing". But the claim doesn't appear to be as true anymore, since the NFL now has a store on Alibaba's which is referenced on the the NFL's website for China.

main page for the NFL store on Tmall
NFL store on Tmall

A Ravens hat currently sells there at nearly a 50% discount for 158 RMB (about U.S. $24.80), not very different from the same hat's current discounted price of $22.99 on the NFL's U.S. online store.

New Era Baltimore Ravens Training 39THIRTY Flex Hat for sale on Tmall
New Era Baltimore Ravens Training 39THIRTY Flex Hat for sale on Tmall

The Ravens page at the NFL Tmall store doesn't list any other items. The store offers five items with the logos of the Ravens' biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, though.

Items for sale listed on the Pittsburgh Steelers page at the NFL Tmall store
Items for sale on the Pittsburgh Steelers page at the NFL Tmall store

At least the Ravens can take heart in the fact I didn't see boxer shorts for any other NFL teams at the shop in Zhuhai.

But the Ravens and the NFL shouldn't look at the shorts themselves as necessarily a sign of growing popularity in China. It is not uncommon for people in China to wear clothing with logos more familiar elsewhere simply for their look without concern for their full meaning. Although there are indications the NFL's relatively small fanbase is growing in China, I very rarely meet anyone familiar with it, sharply contrasting with widespread recognition of the NBA. Likely similar to most people in China, the saleswoman didn't know the meaning of the logo. Nor she she seem to care in the least when I informed her of its connection to an NFL team in the U.S. Nonetheless, if the Baltimore Ravens later notice a fan base unexpectedly growing in Zhuhai, these shorts may be where it all began.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Minquan Road Mobile Phone Street in Zhongshan, China

Although many mobile phone stores exist elsewhere in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, Minquan Road in the central Shiqi District may have the greatest concentration. Below are just a few scenes from there during March earlier this year. Most of the stores sell new phones of brands common in many Chinese cities. The Minquan Xinyi Shopping Center — a collection of stalls selling a variety of lesser known brands, more blatant imitations, or second hand phones — is similar to the Bu Ye Cheng (Long Xiao) Communications Market in Shanghai but much smaller in scale. The photos provide a sense of the brands available and how some stores are changing their look to stay "fresh". They also provide context for a particular store which will be the focus of a later post.

Store featuring Vivo, HTC, Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Meizu, Oppo, and Gionee

Store featuring Apple

Android robot promoting the iPhone 6

Store promoting Samsung, Huawei, Vivo, Apple, Xiaomi, and Oppo

A store with a strong Apple theme

Store featuring Oppo and HTC

Promotion for Oppo

Minquan Xinyi Shopping Center

Inside the Minquan Xinyi Shopping Center

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Mix of Old, New, and Inexpensive: Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng Electronics Market

Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng (上海音像城) offers a shopping experience which feels like a cross of a flea market and a large electronics store. I haven't seen any official names in English, but instead of the previous transliteration the name could be translated as Shanghai Audio & Visual City. And at least one online site refers to it as the Qiujiang Lu Electronics Market, though that doesn't reflect its prominently displayed Chinese name. Whatever the case, it is easy to find the market just east of Shanghai's Baoshan Road metro station — part of the complex sits underneath the elevated metro tracks. It may not be where to go if you want something like the latest models of popular mobile phone brands, but it offers an wide array of electronics for sale not seen in many other electronics stores in Shanghai.

Below are a few photos I took there. They only provide a quick look at the market and don't capture many of the second-hand classics available. Like the Bu Ye Cheng (Long Xiao) Communications Market near the Shanghai Railway Station, a visit can be eye-opening even if you aren't interested in buying anything.

More scenes from markets elsewhere in China later. I will also have more to say about mobile phones like those which appear below.

front of Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng on Baoshan Road

Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng entrance on Qiujiang Road

Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng with metro tracks above

outdoor portion of Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

karaoke televisions and other electronics for sale at the Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

laptops for sale at the Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

inexpensive mobile phones and flip phones with various designs for sale at the Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

inexpensive mobile phones with keypads labeled as for "elderly people" for sale at Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

an aisle inside Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

stall counters inside the Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

branching aisle inside the Shanghai Yinxiang Cheng

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Running for Red Star: A Near Miss on an Old Street in Nanping

Yesterday while I stood in a narrow old road in Nanping Town, Zhuhai, a boy quickly ran by. As I tried to the capture the moment, something surprised both of us — an incoming man riding a scooter. The boy deftly responded.

boy jumping out of the way of a man riding a scooter

Nobody was hurt, and life went on. I didn't expect to see the boy again, yet he soon returned running with a focused expression on his face. For a brief moment when I glanced down, I noticed the small bottle of Red Star erguotou he now carried. Presumably he had purchased it at a nearby small store for someone older, perhaps his father or grandfather, who would have more interest in strong alcohol than a typical boy. I would have asked, but clearly this was a boy on an urgent mission.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Assorted Links: Agriculture Spying, Child Brides, Exploding Ducks, and China's Democracy

For today, here are links without much introduction to some unrelated pieces which caught my eye:

1. An engrossing story, much of it set in Iowa, emphasizes how trade secrets about agricultural products can matter in ways similar to those about military weapons for the U.S. and China.
“These are actually very serious offenses,” Lin says.

“They could treat us as spies!” Ye interjects.

Lin, exasperated, responds: “That is what we’ve been doing!”
2. Thought-provoking examples offer some light on child marriage in Bangladesh.
“When I asked both girls if they were happy they seemed almost confused by the question,” Joyce said. “They both replied along the lines of ‘Well this is my fate, I didn’t have any say in it. This is my life now.”
3. Roasted duck is a part of Hong Kong culture. Blowing them up with bombs is not. Yet two men in Hong Kong are accused of doing just that in a country park. Their stated goal was to kill wild boars. No word on whether exploded roasted duck would also be on the menu. Hopefully the passerby who was injured had a speedy recovery.

4. And finally, a brief point about a peculiar Global Times editorial which claimed China is the world's largest democracy.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another Outdoor Meal in a Familiar Place

Last night I didn't eat a meal on a train. Instead, I ate a late dinner in more spacious conditions.

four people eating dinner at a table outside in an alley

It felt good to be back in Zhuhai, a city where I have enjoyed many late night meals before, some in this same alley, and where I once saw a giant inflatable Vivo-Android robot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tofu, Bud, and a Wobbly Doll: Killing Time on an Overnight Train in China

Not long ago, I felt inspired to make a long trip by overnight train instead of taking a plane. To pass some time during the evening portion of the ride, I decided to buy one of no-frills meals for sale from a passing cart. When I asked if there was a chicken option, the man pushing the cart looked at me like I was crazy. So like the last time I rode an overnight train, I paid 25 RMB (about U.S. $4) for the only option available. I also noticed beer in the cart. Although it was far from my favorite, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a can of the unexpected brand for 10 RMB.

The meal was more substantial than my earlier overnight train meal, and the fried fish tasted just like the fish sticks I commonly ate as a kid. The tofu-like object tasted like tofu. The other stuff had flavors. And the beer had just as little taste as I expected, so I ordered a second one to wash down the first one. Overall I give the meal and the beer a passing grade, as they proved successful in helping me kill some time in a cramped space.

After sleeping, or finishing trying to sleep, the next day dragged on more than expected since the train arrived two hours late. But fortunately a friendly four-year-old girl provided some entertainment.

girl in pink hat smiling at an egg doll made out of two ping pong balls

Better than the beer.

Needless to say, I am not in Shanghai at the moment. And I am not even sure where I will be tomorrow night. But I will be somewhere, and I will be moving forward with the various posts mentioned earlier, plus other posts, including one about a wonderful item I found in Shanghai for the first time which surprised me far more than finding American Budweiser as the sole beer for sale on a Chinese train.

can of American Budweiser next to a prepared meal purchased on a train in China

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bu Ye Cheng (Long Xiao) Communications Market in Shanghai

About 300 meters (1000 ft) to the east of a pedestrian bridge near the Shanghai Railway Station is a market which fills the majority of a large building. The market's name is written, translated and transliterated in numerous ways. A map inside the market, the sign of a complaints office for the market, and a sign by the market's management, all indicate a name which includes the Chinese "龙晓通信市场" which I'll translate as "Long Xiao Communications Market"*. But names more closely resembling "Bu Ye Cheng Communications Market" — "Bu Ye Cheng", sometimes spelled as a single word, comes from the name of the entire building — appear to be more commonly used. Whatever you call the market, fortunately the gold-tinged building with a large digital billboard at the intersection of Tianmu West Road and Meiyuan Road is easy to spot.

Bu Ye Cheng (Long Xiao) Communications Market in Shanghai

If you so desire, you can collect business cards from the hundreds of stalls and marvel at the different names they give the market. But of more interest to me are the various mobile phones and related products that mostly fill its six dense levels.

Inside the Bu Ye Cheng (Long Xiao) Communications Market in Shanghai

I think it offers the closest experience in Shanghai to some of the markets in Shenzhen's immense Huaqiangbei electronics commercial area. I recommend taking a look, especially if you are interested in mobile phones and won't be in Shenzhen. I will refrain from sharing more details about what I saw there, since a closer look is in store for some similar markets in Shanghai and elsewhere in China.

*Two of the signs used the slightly longer name "上海龙晓通信产品市场".

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Greener View from a Pedestrian Bridge in Shanghai

Although they all included trees, for readers who were hoping for something even greener than the five photos taken from a pedestrian bridge in Shanghai, here is yet another view from the bridge:

a large butterfly made out of plants standing in a grassy circle

The man walking his dog is an added bonus.

Just another Shanghai scene . . .

Friday, August 21, 2015

Views from a Pedestrian Bridge Near the Shanghai Railway Station

Recently I shared a brief story about some people I met on a pedestrian bridge while taking photos near the Shanghai Railway Station. To offer a few more everyday Shanghai scenes, below are views from the bridge, which surrounds an entire intersection, presented in a counter-clockwise order.

Hengfeng Road looking southeast
Hengfeng Road looking southeast

Tianmu West Road looking east
Tianmu West Road looking east

Pedestrian area leading towards the Shanghai Railway Station
Pedestrian area leading towards the Shanghai Railway Station

Hengfeng Road looking northwest
Hengfeng Road looking northwest

Tianmu West Road looking west
Tianmu West Road looking west

The second photo includes a sliver of a gold-tinted building with a large number of mobile phones for sale. More about that building later . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Beads of Light in Zhongshan

A view of an artistic structure near an apartment complex in Zhongshan, Guangdong:

"光立忘" art installation in Zhongshan, Guangdong

A sign nearby identified it as "光立忘". I am hesitant to translate titles of art, but for purposes here I will go with "Light Immediately Forgotten". Happy to hear other suggestions.  I share the photo because it made me think of a more obviously personal installation work by Hwang Buh-Ching I saw in Taipei.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Photographic Moment in Shanghai with a Man from Shangqiu

While taking some photos from a pedestrian bridge near the Shanghai Railway Station, a man asked if he could haven his photo taken with me. I said "sure" and he handed his Coolpad mobile phone to one of the two boys with him. After the photos were taken, I asked if I could take their photo.

a man and two boys posing for a photograph while on a pedestrian bridge in Shanghai

Although I have received many similar requests in the past and once discussed the phenomena while sharing 10 photos of people who requested to have a photo taken with me during just two days in Zhanjiang, it happens far less often in Shanghai, with some touristy areas being occasional exceptions.

The man told me he is from Shangqiu, a prefecture-level city in Henan province about 740 km (460 miles) away to the northwest. I mentioned I had visited there and neighboring Kaifeng. He spoke of Kaifeng's well-known old town, so I mentioned that Shangqiu has an interesting small old town as well. He agreed yet appeared surprised. I interpreted his reaction as "oh, you really have been to Shangqiu". Based on what people there told me and people's reactions to seeing me, few foreigners come to the city.

Several especially memorable experiences I had there now come to mind — stories for future posts. For now I will just say I really enjoyed my time in Shangqiu and appreciate the unexpected opportunity in Shanghai to briefly meet someone from there.