William Chow's Personal Web Page

The year is 2006.

China Round 2

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Today we go get eye glasses. Ami's brother's wife's older sister has a eye glasses store. She used her influence to get us a cut on the price down to cost.

Ok, we go down to Minzhu Lu Square which is right by the Wal-Mart and the B&Q that we went to earlier this week. On the square is a mall like building that I never really gone into. The first floor is mostly a fabric mall, They sell raw fabrics to make clothes and other things with. The second floor is more of the same. The entire third and fourth floor is all optical wear and supplies. It is like 40+ little shops all selling eye glasses, sun glasses, and frames. There was one or two that were selling grinder machines and other stuff like that. There were also a couple of smaller eye doctor like outfits. The shop was into the third floor mixed in with all the others in this mall. Fairly small store, about three 8 foot displays on one side, a centre display of about 10 foot, and one 6 foot one on the other side with a work bench that takes up the rest. It looks like there are three girls to sell the frames and two guys to grind and fit the lenses to the frames.

We are shown a couple of the best lenses they have. They are Japanese lenses, one with UV coating for sun and another had an anti-radiation screen for computer monitors. I picked the UV one since it was the same coating as the ones I was wearing on my old set. I picked a frame that looked like my old one, unfortunately, they didn't have any that had flexible legs nor magnetic clips for a sunglasses. Oh well, I can't expect everything for such a small outlet.

It came time to pay, the price came to a cheap 50 yuan ($7.15 Cdn)! That is right, with frames, two +6.0 prescription Japanese lenses with the UV coating all installed with the correct prescription for about $7.00 Cdn! I paid fucking $400 for the pair I was wearing right now, and this new pair wasn't even 1% of what I paid for it.

It was only going to take 10 minutes to have it made and fitted. So we walked around this mall. The whole 3rd and 4th floor of this mall is all glasses shops and accessory shops. Wow, and it was like 30+ stores all in the same and not even 10+ customers walking around. Anyway, I am told that these places often supply glasses to bigger stores which charge up to 300 yuan ($43 Cdn) for the glasses. Wow, even at that price it is still worth it.

We came back there was an old Japanese man with a rather young Korean woman who spoke Manderin and Japanese and Korean. They were buying a pair of glasses for him. All that with a fancy Chibi Maruko-chan looking like case, came to 130 yuan ($19 Cdn). Wow, even with the "rip off the foreigner" mark up it is still cheap as hell.

After we walked back I decided to buy a set of anti-radiation lenses for computer usage. What the hell, it was so cheap I may as well make it worth my trip here. Sure they wanted to make money on the second pair but Ami used her bargaining power and managed to cut the price to 40 yuan ($6.50 Cdn) for the second pair too. Wow, this is too good. Now, I will leave my old pair of glasses here in China just in case I break or lose a pair.

So on the second pair I watched them do the work on the second lens. It actually is very little. I was worried, I was going to get some real low tech glasses and the prescription would be all screwed up. However, I was watching them do the set of lenses up and there is little to go wrong. First they use a machine to mark out the centre of the lens. It comes as a big block of pastic about the size of a fist and as thin as maybe a finger or two. I guess the machine is like laser measuring device, it takes care of those things like density and defraction indexes and such. No guess work needed there. Then the lens is stuck into this computer lathe like thing. It is like putting a piece of paper on a photocopier, close the cover, press a few buttons (I am going to guess things like how thick, and wide and etc...) then the machine grinds and churns for a few minutes then stops. You open it up and there you go, you have an accurately cut lens. The rest of the task is the manual work of using a grinding stone and smoothing grinder to soften the edges and mount this lens into the frame you selected. A few tweaks using a precision jewelery screw driver and the glasses are done. Watching this process just affirms just how much markup is actually on glasses considering that most of the work now is all done by computers and machines now.

So if you ever plan to travel to China, try to remember to bring your eye prescription with you too. Even with the rip off the foreigner pricing, you still should be able to walk away with a steal of a price on eye glasses.

We decided to have lunch in this part of town. It is a Mr Lee's California Beef Noodle USA place. It is a chain store that sells a really good noodle. It is a good sized bowl of thicker noodle with big chunks of stew beef in a rather dark rich soup stock. The bowl is about 13 yuan ($2.00 Cdn) and is about the same size as those Vietnamese Pho Noodle bowls you get for about $5.00 to $8.00 Cdn. Quite good.

Today according from the Canada Immigration Beijing web site, we went from status 2 (waiting for time and day for interview) to a status 1 (time and day of interview scheduled). Oh boy! We are getting closer! We are on our last hurdle.

The Experimental Chinese Food Of The Day is:
Kabaya's Hello Kitty Pretzel

Why not just call it Pocky? Because it isn't made by Glico so they just call it Pretzel. Does it taste any different than any of the other strawberry covered bread sticks? no.

You gotta love marketting!