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Where Was it Made?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney of course) and The Age (Melbourne) in Australia had a story this past weekend (Saturday 9 December) about fake Aboriginal art. Well perhaps not fake, just not made in Australia. Buy a boomerang, a didgeridoo or some other Aboriginal artefact in Australia and it’s quite possibly made in Indonesia or China. Lonely Planet ran a story on this same trade earlier this year.

▲ I noted this in Indonesia a few years ago, walking along a street into Ubud – the highlands art capital of the island – I noted this local workshop turning out ‘authentic’ Australian Aboriginal boomerangs. As the story underlines there’s nothing illegal about selling Indonesian boomerangs in Australia, so long as you don’t claim they’re created by Aboriginal boomerang craftworkers.

▲ In fact what does come from where these days? Donald Trump, that well known US president, complains about all the German cars being sold in the USA when nobody elsewhere is buying good old American cars. But guess where those BMW X5 SUVs come from? They roll off BMW’s second biggest production line, at their Spartanburg plant at Greer in South Carolina, USA. Although if you opt for an armoured, high-security version that will be sent down to Mexico to be armour-plated at the BMW de México Toluca plant.

▲ If you want an all-American Chevrolet better head to Uzbekistan in Central Asia. As I noted when I drove through Central Asia earlier this year all the cars in Kyrgyzstan seemed to be ‘80s Audis, but in Uzbekistan they were all shiny new Chevies. Like this trio I spotted in Tashkent. Except perhaps they weren’t, they certainly rolled off the General Motors Uzbekistan plant in Asaka, in the extreme eastern corner of the country, but Uzbekistan Chevrolets are really Korean Daewoos with a Chevrolet badge slapped on the front.

▲ Or Boeing 787s, those all-American Dreamliners may roll off the Boeing assembly line at Everett in Washington, just north of Seattle. Although all the parts that go to make up a shiny new 787 are turned out all over the place, as this Boeing diagram explains. Including the wing ‘moveable trailing edges’ which are made in Melbourne, Australia, just a few km from where I am right now.

Avoid SSSS on Your Boarding Pass

12 October 2017 | Transport

A recent story underlined why it’s not nice to have SSSS stamped on your boarding pass in the USA. It means you’ve been lined up for Secondary Security Screening Selection and getting shuffled into ‘Secondary’ in the US is often not a pleasant procedure. At t...

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Iran Air’s Airliner Order

11 October 2017 | Living

Donald Trump’s announcement that he would like to decertify the Iran nuclear deal – if it really happens and that is far from certain – could reimpose sanctions on Iran. Which conceivably could stall Iran Air’s aircraft orders. When the sanctions were shelved Iran Air...

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In North Korea

9 October 2017 | Media

There’s absolutely no shortage of books about North Korea, I’ve even tackled the subject myself in my book Bad Lands. Donald Trump’s recent forays into the topic, with his less than successful verbal assault on the country’s ‘Rocket Man,’ only focused even more attent...

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Two Steps Forward – along the Camino Santiago

5 October 2017 | Media

I had the pleasure on Tuesday night of launching the new Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist novel Two Steps Forward. In alternating chapter as Martin (recently divorced English engineer) and Zoe (recently widowed Californian artist) they set out to walk the Camino Santiago...

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Nuclear Strikes, Mig-15s, Dumped Bicycles & Really Good Insults

2 October 2017 | Living

Two photos that show why North Korea isn’t going to be threatening anybody with nuclear missiles anytime soon. And one that shows why Kim Jong-Un is winning the insult battle. ▲ Check Orang Airport – 41°25'49.12"N – 129°38'45.95"E – on Google Earth. What are those ai...

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Climbing Bali’s Threatening Mt Agung – & Other Volcanoes

1 October 2017 | Places

Over 100,000 people have been evacuated from the danger zone around Bali’s threatening Gunung Agung, an active volcano that last erupted in 1963. That eruption killed 1500 people and you’ll still see the lava flows if you drive out to the eastern side of Bali. I climb...

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Women Behind the Wheel

27 September 2017 | Culture

The Australian daily email newsletter Crikey summed up the announcement that women would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia fairly succinctly: The brutal theocratic regime of Saudi Arabia is suddenly everyone’s favourite fundamentalist gang of war criminals afte...

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Australia’s Same Sex Marriage Survey

23 September 2017 | Culture

It’s a standard piece of political advice that you should never hold a referendum or any other vote you don’t need to if you don’t already know the result. That advice certainly held true with the Brexit vote, not only did the unexpected result end Prime Minister Davi...

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Borders, Visas, China, Iran & ESTA Disqualification

22 September 2017 | Living

Skift, the online travel newsletter, reported recently on one area where the USA enjoys a considerable trade advantage with China: far more Chinese travellers visit the USA than vice versa and that disparity is growing. Over the past decade US tourism to China has onl...

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Soviet Bus Stops in Central Asia

18 September 2017 | Culture

I was a fan for Soviet Bus Stops – a wonderful photographic book by Christopher Herwig – years before I crossed the border from China into Kazakhstan and entered the Soviet bus stop heartland. You can read a CNN article about the Canadian photographer’s crazy mission ...

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