In the ritzier hotel in Hong Kong, I went out shopping alone one evening and came back with the new Sanyo waterproof digital video (640×480 only) and 6MP digital still camera for Alex that we had been eying up for awhile. We first saw he Olympus one in Fiji back in Sept for almost $500. That included a lot of extras, but I still didn’t care for the fact that it used an XD card, since we already had various devices with SD and Sony Memory stick cards on the go. The thought of having another format of card to carry around all manner of accessories for just made my head spin. Luckily the Sanyo one uses SD, and the price on it had been slowly decreasing as we made our way North up through Asia. Prices on electronics in Hong King were generally OK, but not near as spectacular as I had expected. MP3 players specifically were no better, and in fact were often higher than North American or Australian prices. Ipods of every color, size and derrivation filled up huge amounts of every store. I had no interest in a genuine ipod due to the highly restrictive software and their poor price/feature index compared to almost every other brand available. Anyways, I digress… At the same place I bought Alex’s camera I also grabbed a 120GB hard drive small size media player. The brand is not one I had heard of in North America before, but that hardly means anything. It is a Vosonic 8360 and includes integrated video and audio recording. It’s not near a large and bulky as the Archos model I intended on buying, but the Archos was slightly more money and on top of that it still requires a separate cradle for about $120 to hook up to a larger sound system or to record. Another bonus on this one is that it includes a SD and CF cardreader into the chassis for PALM or Alex’s Sanyo camera backups. Very cool and handy! Our intention when we get back home is to have this adjacent and hooked up to the living room stereo system for playback of any of our entire music collection, without needing CD’s ever again. We concluded that this was maybe a better option rather than streaming them by WIFI from a server computer downstairs. We will probably still buy one video/audio streaming receiver when we get home for playback on the TV and audio system downstairs though. Lastly I managed to grab a CREATIVE brand MP3 player speaker set that’s specifically designed for the Zen V we have. It docks right in the front of the speakers and they provide incredible portable (or plug-in) sound while charging the player. Since the Zen V model is discontinued the speakers were about 1/3 of the original price! Well, they were half but since I bought them with the camera and 120Gig portable player the total price got drastically reduced. That cost a good hour investment of my life, but it was pretty worth it considering what I ended up paying for everything.

A few days later we all went about ten blocks North to another shopping district known to be not quite as ritzy as the one by our first hotel. This one area had all similar stores focussed in an area, so the consumer didn’t really have to go far to compare. The prices here were actually stickered (marked) on most items and were cheaper than the fancier area at the very South end of Kowloon. At the South end the stickers just had cost codes that the clerk would look at and then look at the consumer to size up how much he thought he could get away with before reciting a price. So while the Northern area prices were all cheaper, there was very little (if even none at all!) room for negotiating. In this area we were slightly looking for a new, larger, MP3 player for Alex and I was checking prices on a bluetooth microphone for our video camera. This would allow the person to wear a mike and transmit the audio up to 30m away to the cameraman. It was pretty cool, and something I had been looking at since we left home (at $400!). In Malaysia the price was about $300, (but that’s also possibly mainly due to the decreasing price over time) and in Vietnam I saw it for $250. In a couple places in Hong Kong I saw it for $175, and then $151 that day. My target price had always been $150, but I held off to try and get it with other things for a combined reduced rate. At one place we saw a new mini computer from Asus, called the EeePC 1701 that had a 7″ screen, was ultra portable with a battery, ran Linux or Windoze XP, had WIFI, a built in web cam and was only $385. This was a brand new item and NO STORE would go down on price, (as we eventually found out from repeated asking). So, finally at one store (we were running out of time before a booked space show at the science center that evening) I arbitrarily asked for a price on the 16GB flash MP4 player Alex had been eying up. The attendant made a mistake of $74 less on her verbal quote to me. I immediately agreed to buy it and also inquired if the had the Sony bluetooth mike. It turns out that they did, and better yet it was the best price I had ever seen at $138!!! I didn’t even bother trying to negotiate and just whipped out my VISA urging her to ring it up before some manager came along and knocked her to her senses.

We had been having quite a bit of difficulty connecting to the internet lately, (since half way through Thailand). It was becoming increasingly expensive, and the hotel “business centers” were almost cost prohibitive! The funny part was, most hotels we had stayed at in the latter part of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Hong Kong, all provided wired internet access for free in the rooms. This must have twigged Claudette’s nerves, because she was actively pursuing this little Asus ultra-light laptop, (with my approval of course!). We went back to the original place we hahd seen it and grabbed one before rushing off to the show on Black Holes. So, we spent a poopload of cash, but got some pretty good deals on “stuff” that we were planning on buying anyways or would be quite useful to us. I’m still typing this on the Palm, but no one else seems to like using it due to the keyboard occasionally acting up. For two thirds of the rest of the family, it has become a very expensive portable solitaire game…


  1. keizerklan says:

    Thinking about the James family!

    Today we had a small gathering for brunch at our house (Gauthier’s, Cummings, Gill’s, and Sonny) and of course the topic of discussion was the James family.
    I think the conversations covered the places you have seen, people you have met, adventures and or “mis” adventures you have had and the stuff you are buying!

    As the days get closer to Christmas, just know you are in everyone’s thoughts and we all send our best wishes to each and every one of you.

    Good pictures Alex! By the way, Mrs. V was asking about you and sends her love to you. She can’t wait until she sees you again to hear all about your travels.

    The JBT concert was on Thursday and it was another successful year (Uncle Tim said they had it choreographed down to a fine ONE HOUR show!!)

    Michelle has mentioned several times she has been missing Luke as well as her “girlie” Alex, Claudette of course and RICK. Even Carolyn Gill came over to say she was thinking of Rick .. which in her mind (and I do believe I heard her say this ..) SHE is missing you guys!!!

    Mike had a stay over at Clairanne, Brian and Georgia’s house in Hay River and the whole evening conversation was … well, about you guys.

    It is no secret .. you are the talk of the town!

    Enjoy the Christmas season with each other. We will be at the Gauthier’s house on Christmas at 3:00 pm and then at our house for a sing-along around the piano at 7:00 pm.
    We will raise our glasses and toast to your good health, safe travels and worldly adventures many, many times over the Christmas holidays.

    hugs to everyone!

    Ann 🙂