Things I don't quite understand

Dim Sum rituals

Whilst having Dim Sum today I watched the lady at the next table carefully cleaning all the cups, bowls and chopsticks (using the tea and hot water provided by the restaurant).

The problem is that once you notice people doing this you can’t help but observe that most people who do this (and many restaurant staff) handle cups, bowls and chopsticks quite indiscriminately.  So we have to hope that their hands are really clean.  

I wrote about this several years ago, and these were the explanations offered in the comments:

  1. There’s a lot of TB in Hong Kong.  Which is true:
  2. Restaurants use bleach to wash everything, and it needs to be rinsed off.

    Another comment was that a brief wash with hot water is unlikely to kill many germs, which must be correct (for that you’d need water that is actually boiling).

    So if you are really a germaphobe you should probably stay at home.


        Google Books in Hong Kong - in Chinese

        Google Play now offer e-books in Hong Kong (from Tech in Asia).  That’s the good news.

        The bad news is that I can’t find a way to get it to display books in English only, so it’s a frustrating experience.  As ever, not all titles are available, and whereas Amazon has a reasonable idea what I might want to buy, Google doesn’t:

        image

        Meanwhile, Amazon is still charging their US$2 penalty for non-US customers.  Rumour has it that they drop it when Apple is competing with them in a territory.  But not Google, apparently.


        Expensive

        Buy an iPhone, iPad, or iPod in Hong Kong and you will pay no more than the US price - so they are cheaper here because Hong Kong has no sales tax.  But try to buy a Nexus 7 and you will pay 20% more, because they are all “parallel imports”. 

        English books are usually around 25% more than the US price (they usually convert at HK$10 = U$1).  Hence the popularity of sites such as Book Depository or Fishpond (though the latter is very confusing, as they have their own made up list prices).  Or you can buy your books in Thailand (reasonable prices) or India (very reasonable prices).

        There’s also the nonsense of Amazon charging an extra US$2.00 for sending (some) Kindle titles to customers in countries where they don’t operate.  Yes, that’s a charge for sending files over the Internet.  

        Echinacea-ForteAlternative medicines are typically 100% more in Hong Kong.  For example, Blackmores Echinacea Forte is sold in Watsons in Hong Kong for around HK$150 whereas in Thailand it is around 600 baht.  The catch is that in Hong Kong the pack only contains 30, whereas in Thailand you get 60.  So the unit cost is double.

        I found another product in Mannings, and went online to check the UK price.  Again, it was almost exactly half the Hong Kong price.  So I tried to order it online from the manufacturers.  They don’t allow you to order from Hong Kong, but instead they direct you to the retailers here who stock their products.

        Fortunately there are other companies (such as ChemistDirect) that will ship the same products to Hong Kong, and in many cases the discounts offset the delivery charge, so you are paying the UK retail price with “free” delivery.

        Which is about half the price you would pay in Hong Kong.


        Kindle Daily Deal

        image

        Amazon now have a “Kindle Daily Deal”: one title at a reduced price, usually at $0.99 or $1.99, for exactly 24 hours.

        So far, so good.

        Except for readers outside the United States.  Sometimes the title is simply not available, which is quite annoying, and sometimes we are allowed to buy it – but only at a higher price.

        Not just the ridiculous $2.00 extra charge for nothing (I don’t have a Kindle 3G, so the cost of delivering a title to me in Hong Kong through the Internet is the same as delivering it to a customer in the US).

        No, today’s Kindle Daily Deal is less than $2 for US customers but a whopping $11.20 for those of in the rest of the world.  Which is even more expensive than yesterday’s price ($9.99).  So I don’t think we are saving 44%:

        image


        Second-hand food

        If you ask for a "doggy bag" at the end of your delicious Cantonese meal, the chances are that the waiter (or maybe one of the diners) will pick up a pair of chopsticks, turn them around, and use them to put the food into the take-away container.

        OK, so you've probably avoided getting someone else's saliva on the food, but let's think about where the hands (that were holding the chopsticks) might have been.

        No, on second thoughts, let's not.


        Idiot on board

        I see that the government is auctioning off more 'vanity plates'. 

        Is there any better way of saying "I am a plonker" than paying good money to have your own personalized number plate?  Not that I'm complaining - as a taxpayer, I have to approve, and as a bonus it always gives me a laugh when I see one of these idiots driving around.

        As luck would have it, I saw two of these just last weekend, one of which was 'DINOSAUR'.  Er, right.

        You really couldn't make it up.


        Why?

        Apple have announced that it is now possible to run Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac.  The question is why anyone would want to do that...

        Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft have produced (so far), but when you can run it on any old PC you buy, why pay a premium for a Mac?  It would surely be cheaper and better to have both a PC and a Mac (sharing a monitor if space is a problem) rather than doing it all on one machine.  Or buy an XBox or Playstation (or whatever) to play games.  Or anything, really (unless you're a geek). 

        The BBC quotes a comment from Slashdot which summarizes it quite well:

        "You get the stability of Windows with the value-of-money of Apple hardware. Sign me up."

        Hilariously, someone (thank you "Swindmill from Louisville") thought that this remark was meant seriously and criticized the BBC for repeating it:

        Since when is Window stable? Someone at BBC should have done light research before printing that comment. It is well established that OS X is the far more stable operating system.

        Er, yes.


        All Washed Up

        It seems to be a well-established tradition in Hong Kong that when you sit down at the table in a restaurant you use hot tea to wash the cups, bowls and chopsticks. The theory is that the water has been boiled, so it is safe.

        Well, maybe, but what about the people who wash the bowls? Did they clean their hands first?

        And if you can't trust the restaurant to provide you with clean bowls, what about the kitchen? Is it safe to eat the food?

        All seems like nonsense to me.