Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beijing: Counterfeit Mall & Coca Cola

One of the places we wanted to visit was the place where they sell counterfeit goods. As we all know perhaps up to 85% or more of all goods produced in the world are Made in China. Some are of good quality and some are not. They are also known for copying products of other famous trademarks. We were told that Shanghai was the place to find great bargains, but we had some free time and found the Fake Market in Beijing.


This is the building where you can shop to your heart's desire. You will find nearly everything, but beware of what you are buying and make sure it works. It is 6 floors with hundreds of vendor stalls. It is very crowded and you have to bargain for everything. It gets tiring hearing their sales pitches.

It is very hard to take photos inside as they are watching your every move. We are foreigners and stick out like a sore thumb. They recoqnize us immediately and know we don't belong. I have spent many years photographing street people and put my talents to the test, so these photos are shot "from the hip" .


All the stalls are about 10-12 ft wide and contain lots of merchandise. No prices are displayed. All the sales people shout prices out at you and try to get you to buy something. All the brand names are there: North Face, Columbia and they do look like the real thing. It is hard to resist.


Most only speak Mandarin and shout words to us that we don't understand. When we talk back in English they more or less go away. You can't bargain if you can't communicate with each other

Going down the escalater to floor -1 (they don't call it the basement)


Directly along the rear wall straight ahead there is a purse stall. They have lots of brand name purses. Another person on our tour wanted to purchase a particular style of Gucci bag. The person at this stall hands you an original Gucci catalogue and all you have to do is point at the style you want . . . and presumably it will magically appear.


It would appear that Pink Crocs have found their way here too. Look closely at the footwear of this seller. I noticed 3 persons wearing Pink Crocs on this journey and have a couple of photos somewhere


All negotiations are with us shouting back what we want to pay. They always respond by typing in their response on their calculator. They type their number into the calculator and show you the display. This way the person behind doesn't hear what the final price will be so they will have to bargain for themselves.


I think young people with no skills have a very hard time trying to make a living. Labour is cheap and they have to stand there all day shouting out like a street hawker trying to hook customers. I was told that the average wage in Shanghai was around 2,000. Yuan (RMB) per month (approx cdn$325.)


I am not sure but I think this was the stall which sold the Gucci Bags. I am sure you would be able to find what you are looking for here

I am not a shopper, but when I reached this stall I was deeply tempted. This was a shoe vendor and had many different styles of running/walking shoes. This person selected a Columbia Walking shoe and offered it to me for $100 RMB (Yuan) . Even if I had just purchased without bargaining it would only have cost Cdn $16.50 . Being the skeptical person I examined the shoe and it looked original and had all the proper tags. Vibram soles, Goretex lining, waterproof. I am of the belief that this shoe was an original from the factory. We know that these are made in China and someone had probably just "sneeked" it out of the factory without anyone looking. When I put it down I was immediately offered a Reebok shoe for the same price: $100. Yuan/RMB (approx Cdn$16.). If only I had a larger suitcase . . .


On the upper floor they also offer other Services, such as hairdressing, pedicures and foot massages. One person from our group utilized the pedicure/massage option and dared me to take her photo.

(Priska, also from Vancouver)

On the 5th floor you will find all the electronic stuff. Computers, phones, iPhones, MP3 players and watches. Sorry, no photos, it was hard, everyone is staring at you. I managed to snag a good Rolex copy. Most of the Rolex's you purchase on the "street" are of the electronic variety. I wanted a self wind classic style which they carry "under the counter" . The bidding started at $550. (RMB) after which I said "too much" and walked away. Then she started with a slightly lower number and I walked back, then she countered and I walked away again. She called me back with a lower number and I said "still too much" and started to walk away and she then said she would give me the lowest price. With her calculator she keyed in the magic number and I walked away with my new watch

(Rolex Datejust mechanical self wind watch)

Not bad for $120 RMB (Cdn$20) . You would be hard pressed to tell it from an original. In case you were wondering it's not for me, I don't wear ladies watches. I draw the line with Pink Crocs


How much would you pay for a Coca Cola ?

After we finished our time in Beijing we travelled to Shanghai where we met up with our 2nd group of travellers. Luckily for us some of these people were also with us on our Beijing tour which we now considered as our friends. All the meals on our tour were included but tonight we were on our own and the others wanted a change from eating Chinese food so we headed down to the main shopping district on Nanjing Road for an english type meal and got hosed.

I had a hamburger and Mrs Scoot had a pizza. It was very hot and I was thirsty so I ordered my usual coca cola. I was so thirsty that I finished the first tin and ordered a 2nd. I mean, how much does a coke cost ?

here was our bill

mosaic coke

Our bill came to $356.50 RMB/yuan (Cdn$59), which included $90. RMB for my cokes (nearly Cdn$15. for 2 tins) . This place also added 15% gratuity automatically. I mean, I have never paid Cdn$7.50 for a coke in my life, until now.

After this point everywhere I went I wanted to know the price of a tin of Coke. The average price in a store or at a street vendor ranges from $3. yuan (Cdn$0.48) to $7. yuan (Cdn $1.14)

coca cola

Now this is more like it, only 2.9 yuan and it tastes the same as the Cdn$7.50 tin



  1. Very interesting Bobskoot. I don't know if I could've braved those vendor stalls. And not knowing the language would be challenging.

    I can't believe $7.50 for a can of Coke and $16.00 for Reebok's.

  2. hey Bob.

    I have a genuine Rolex (and several genuine Omegas) and that one you got, well, I have to say, is uhmmm, noticeably "different" from an authentic.

    glad you had a good time there.

  3. Hi Bob, and welcome back!
    I would have a headache trying to shop there. No doubt it's a difficult, tiring job for the salespeople.

    There's something charming about a watch that needs winding. Brand (real or not) doesn't impress me, but that it winds up, that I like. :)
    My last wind-up (a lowly Seiko) met it's fate in the rinse cycle.

  4. Bob,
    Looks like the sort of place to take obsessive shoppers to cure them of their addiction....I must send my daughter there.

    Did you find any BMW spare drive shafts?


  5. Hi bob,

    We always buy the fake stuff in Turkey even the electronics and the watches, my fake Rolex and Brietling are still working fine and looking good, though it can be embarrassing when you go to the jewelers for a new battery every couple of years, I prefer to throw the watch away and buy another.

    So 3 people in China wear your pink Crocks, only 1.2 Billion to go then lol..



  6. Bobskoot, no way I would have been able to put up with the crowds and the vendors....ick.

    I've heard there's lots of restrictions on motorcycle riding for foreigners....bummer.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  7. In Japan as a callow youth my hotel dinner cost more than the room. wandering the streets of Yokohama in the morning I ate breakfast at a stand, up an alley surrounded by commuters scooping rice from their bowls. A better more memorable meal. It's always been that way.
    Confucius say: go east young man, but eat local or you deserve to get hosed.
    I take a book to Target when my wife goes shopping and I'd have done the same there.

  8. Bobskoot,
    A very interesting post. I, like many others, would have had a hard time in the fake mall or even walking down the streets. Did you get to spend much time in the rural areas?


  9. As others, I'm scared of crowds and haggling. I wonder if it would be easier since I don't speak the language and wouldn't feel as bad walking away. Glad you overcame it and came away with something. I would never be able to tell the different between and real and fake Rolex. So you can impress me with yours. Maybe something about the weight of it? -Lori

  10. Dear Bobskoot:

    Welcome back. I hope you had a great trip. Several thoughts occurred to me as I read your blog tonight.

    1) When was the last time you visited New York City. Any of the hotel bars, or mini-bars in NYC hotel rooms routinely charge $3 for a Coke, and $10 for a mixed drink.

    2) I have paid $10 for a glass of orange juice in a place where the waitress and dancers were so poor that they couldn't afford to wear clothes, apparently.

    3) Buying counterfeit merchandise from the Chinese is contributing to a massive trade imbalance in which an entire nation's economy is based on defrauding copyrights and trademarks, on producing goods made by prisoners, soldiers, and children, working for peanuts, in substandard conditions, without regard for environmental controls.

    4) Whenever possible, buy Canadian or American. And tell your legislators to start requiring imported goods to be manufactured to local standards — with regard to labor laws and environmental issues.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roadds

  11. Bob

    I'm with Jack on most of his code of moral and business ethics rant but if I buy a counterfeit Omega Seamaster chronometer with a genuine Seiko movement loosely suspended inside, surely I am keeping Curdish market stall owners in Turkish Lira so that they can feed their children (most of whom were on the flight back from Athens with me 2 weeks ago)?

  12. Group Reply:

    sorry, was under the weather after we arrived home so comments have been neglected for the week.

    We are not shoppers and do not wear jewelry of substance, nor do we favour iconic brands of clothing so all of this knock-off stuff is not really for us but we see so much of this stuff produced from this country that we had to go to "the source" and see for ourselves from where it originates.

    We actually went to a huge manufacturer's mall, the largest in China. It is housed in 5 or more buildings and winding back and forth along the corridors would cumulate to over 6.5 kilometers. These are NOT copies but rather small companies trying to sell their products to the world.

    BlueKat: I also have a lowly Seiko, mechanical watch with alarm

    Charlie6: China is NOT motorcycle friendly. They do not recognize international licenses and you can only drive in their country with an authenitic Chinese License by taking a test. Motorcycles are banned from all the major highways, bridges and tunnels. I heard some cities have also banned scooters from their downtown core, excuse is due to using scooters to steal from unsuspecting pedestrians. I still do not believe you are free to wander around on your own. You go to rural areas on a guided tour and they show you what they want you to see.

    Jack r: I too like to support our own local economies, but I was purchasing a gift. You cannot presume that a purchase of this lowly watch which resembles a Rxxxx is taking a sale away from the real thing. I also have a real one purchased many years ago, along with my Omega and Tag's when I used to collect watches.

    Nikos: My dream watch used to be an Omega Speedmaster, but as the years go by I find less need for one