China churns out a lot of crap. For all the world to buy. And collectively bitch about. Think the “bargains” you love to have but hate on don’t last long? Quality standards are even lower (nonexistent?) for products geared to local markets. Here are some of the things that broke and had to be repaired or replaced (mostly replaced) in our (almost) four years here:
- 3 kitchen faucets
- 2 bread makers (plus 3 bread pans)
- 3 hotplates
- 2 microwaves
- 1 oven
- 1 clothes dryer
- 2 computer hard disks + 2 computer power supplies
1 air conditioning motor+ multiple leaks from A/C (we’ve stopped counting)
- Update: a few days after posting, a second A/C motor broke. Yay!
- 2 bathroom faucets + 1 bathroom light
- 2 water heater elements (replaced after 10 days with no hot water)
- 1 shower head
- 1 circuit breaker replacement
- 50ish feet of trim
- 3 metal carts (used to bring 4 gallon water jugs from village supermarket)
- 3 moped repairs (in the 2 short years we owned it)
- 1 transformer (okay, this one was user error!)
- Things we chose not to fix:
Not everything that comes with a Made in China
label disclaimer is bad. We won’t be returning or replacing this prized possession any time soon:
Baby K is one of a kind. Xiaomi cellphones? Not so much. You may have heard of the brand for its ripped off and cheaper version of the iPhone. If you haven’t, you will soon. Their products just started popping up on Amazon, but Iggy’s been a fan for the last three years. He bought the Hongmi (red rice) cell phone first and eventually graduated to the Mi3. In between the two, he became the go-to Xiaomi buying/setting-up evangelist in the village. I joined the club this year when he gifted me a Mi4S. That’s the plus of being married to an electronics nerd. The downside? He’s blowing our Maos on the rest of their offerings. We’ve got the Xiaomi action cam, dash cam, 2 web IP cameras, 3 power banks, a smart outlet, 2 sets of earphones, a Fitbit like bracelet, water quality meter pen, and, finally, an air filter. Oh wait, I can’t forget to mention the collection of funky stuffed animals that our lucky nieces and nephews might get one day soon (if they can fit in our luggage).
I like to give Iggy a hard time about his hoarding habits, but all of this has been put to good use. The air filter keeps Baby K’s room safe for sleeping. The pen has convinced us that our water is drinkable (after it’s filtered through the Brita). The cellphones have made getting around easier with local maps in Chinese that we can show to Uber drivers and that I can actually use with a little help from Google Translate. One of the web cams has turned into our baby monitor. Plus, we’ve got great shots of Baby K playing thanks to the action cam and we’ve captured countless shots of life on the streets of Shanghai with the dash cam.
All of the Xiaomi gadgets were affordable because we bought them in China. Made in China/Sold in China off the rack clothing is a different story — it’s expensive. What’s not? Tailor made stuff. The quality of the fabric is often dubious but the stitching isn’t half bad. You can’t beat the price or turn around times. Need a suit? Iggy’s took three days. A coat? My wool/”cashmere” (yeah right!) two-toned belted wrap coat with a hood took a week.*
We made one too many trips to the Shanghai South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market this time last year to get both. It’s a place where you find expat ladies of a certain age, in groups, game faces on, obnoxiously (and unsuccessfully) bargaining for knockoff designer purses. It’s no place for a heavily pregnant woman, which is what I was last September, sweating non-stop in the cramped hallways filled with pushy chain-smoking salespeople. But now we’re leaving China with custom-made garments, which is something we’d never be able to afford back home, so I guess the suffering was worth it. Needless to say, the only other other Made in China stuff we’re bringing back is Baby K and our Xiaomi goods. We’ll happily leave our broken apartment crap here, thanks.
*If you happen to find yourself at the South Bund Market, stop by Amy’s (#196) for a coat or David’s (#251) for a suit. Click here if you want to see how a suit from David’s is made.