If China is a Trashtruck, the Third World is a Landfill

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I never been to those shops before (when I was in the peninsular) but when I am here, those are the shops that I look for stuffs for my house. They have at least three of those, here alone, at the shoplots near where I stay.

You know those, those shops that sells (almost) everything under the sun at unbelievably low prices. Those goods on the rack with substandard quality, carelessly displayed, sometimes with free dusts. Those goods with bad packaging and labelled with brands that you never ever hear before and probably will never again after that brief encounter. Those goods that you have to check by ripping open the packaging because you know that the store runs on no return policy.

I have a warm feeling for those shops. It is always a mini-adventure for me when I go into those stores- you know, the fun of looking into all the quirky, sometimes funnily laughable things that are on sale there. You get all sorts of goods there: hardware tools, electrical cables, universal remote control, car accessories, kitchen utensils, fake perfumes, one year supply of cotton buds, Fox gloves, ceramic cups and plates etc etc. And etc. All under one roof.

I am now a regular patron of those type of shops.

The best things in the world are free. But then again, there are no free lunches so the closest you that you get to there is by getting cheap goods. Unbelievably cheap goods; sometimes half the prices of the same goods elsewhere, with of course, half the quality as well.

It is fun hunting at those shops especially if you are moving to a new place with practically nothing except your clothes, like me. I am cautious, of course, when it comes to the type of goods that I will purchase from these outlets. For one; I will NEVER get any type of electrical related goods from there; be it an electrical shaver or extension sockets. Except maybe, those extension that converts different sizes of ends so that it is compatible: like those big microphone jack that sometimes you need to fit in to that small hole on you hi-fi.

Those electrical goods are potential hazards in causing fire. Try to look at those cubic 3 point plugs next time you are in those shop, if you ever. The materials used is so thin, there is no way it could withstand any heat. It only costs around RM2 in those shops, where elsewhere, it costs around RM10, now imagine the cost cutting, safety undermining measures that they are taking to ensure those goods stay cheap! When it comes to electrical stuffs, I put my faith on SIRIM approved products, you can’t compromise any other way; either that or you better off go Amish.

Having said all that; it doesn’t mean that I am opposed to all the goods there. In fact I have purchased quite a lot of things there. Here’s what I have bought (over a few different visits):

1) Cotton buds
2) Teaspoons, tablespoons and fork
3) A can opener
4) A pair of scissors
5) A pair of gloves (for my biking use but I have lost it, fuck, I like that pair very much)
6) Metal chains (to lock my bike)
7) Spanner (once again, for my bike maintenance)
8) A kitchen knife.
9) Blinkies (bright red LED’s placed on bikes to make one visible when cycling at night- the one I bought costs only RM 3.80. The previous I got from Abang Sham (UPM’s new age bike guru) was RM 25 (but it was a Cat Eye blinkies, the last generation being made in Japan)
10) Lubricant (Once again, it’s for my bike’s chains, what the hell are you thinking of?)
11) Paint brush (bike chain maintenance)
12) Elastic bands with hooks (to carry stuffs with my bicycle).
13) Mirror (because I am vain)

What NOT to buy from those shops:

1) Food products: especially canned foods
2) Things that you need it to be reliable when you need to use it.
3) Things that you need to use frequently (you are better off buying the premium quality ones, pay more to get the good ones as you will use it long term, case in hand: the spanner that I have bought)
4) Metal things that you suspect will rust, which when it does, will render the thing useless: kitchen knife for example.
5) Things that you will be embarrassed when people see you using, knowingly it is the inferior ones: fake Fox gloves that I have bought for example, though I don’t mind people see me using the fake ones but I don’t know about you.

It also makes one think of the dumping of all these inferior goods to our country. Most people will take the stance in eschewing such goods, but for me, these outlets could be the every thing that set the social stratas to equal grounds: you don’t have to be rich to own something. Of course, you get what you paid for, the quality might be lesser, but hey, for most people, as long as the goods perform it’s function (sometimes regardless that it has short lifespan), it is acceptable to be purchased.

Caveat emptor: The consumers should know and beware of the things that they buy for example and there are many considerations that have to be made, more than the premium goods that one buys from normal outlet. Safety should be placed with the most weightage, not only in terms that I have outlined above (i.e. electrical safety) but also whether one product might contain, or being made of, chemicals that might affect health; especially of our childrens- plastic toys that you 3-year-olds might placed into their mouth.

Pengguna Bijak! Shafie Apdal must be proud of me.

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Written by yuenkokleong

September 27, 2007 at 2:54 am

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