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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.

Share Bicycles in China

10 May 2017 | Transport

I’ve been riding bikes in Shanghai and Beijing, on my MGB Silk Road trip across Asia. On my first visits to China there were lots of bicycles. Over the years the numbers went down and down, part fashion (people wanted cars) and part government policy (cars were tomorr...

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32 Days along the Silk Road by MGB – On the Road – Part 2

5 May 2017 | Transport

◄ Most of our driving in China has been on ‘Highways’, the extensive network of toll roads which have popped up in the last couple of decades. They’re fast, generally well maintained and for the first week or so after we crossed the border from Laos often remarkably e...

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32 Days along the Silk Road by MGB – On the Road – Part 1

4 May 2017 | Transport

Of course a lot of our Silk Road travel – and we don’t even really start on the Silk Road until we get to Xian – is actually on the road. Part 1 of some ‘on the road’ shots. The trip has featured in an Australian Financial Review article. ▲ We can pack out a petrol...

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Jingdezhen – Day 28 on the Silk Road by MGB

1 May 2017 | Places

▲ Our MGBs lined up in front of our hotel in Jingdezhen ▲ Jingdezhen as been a centre for Chinese pottery and ceramic works for nearly 2000 years. There are constant reminders of that history from shops to sculptures of ceramic workers on the bridge across the Chan...

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Yichang – Day 26 along the Silk Road by MGB

28 April 2017 | Places

Never heard of Yichang? Nor had I until I got here. Well it has a population of 4 million and it’s the jumping off point for the Three Gorges Dam, which we visited today. It’s another Chinese city with energy, buzz, life and clearly a lot of disposable income. The fla...

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Chongqing – Day 24 along the Silk Road by MGB

26 April 2017 | Places

Day 24 of the 102 day drive from Bangkok to London along the Silk Road by MGB and Day 7 into China brings us to Chongqing. Population 7 million and one of China’s go go cities. ▲ It’s evident in the architecture, like the Qianximen Bridge across the Jialing River, ...

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MGBs on the Silk Road to London

19 April 2017 | Transport

I’m driving an old MGB to London, following the Silk Road on a trip that will take us through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, and assorted countries in Europe. ▲ Here’s our route on the door of my car...

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Angkor Wat – once again

16 April 2017 | Places

▲ It’s been 25 years since my first visit to Angkor Wat and things have certainly changed. For one thing you didn’t pay US$62 for a three day pass to visit the Angkor ruins back in 1992. ◄ On that occasion there were probably more straggling Pathet Lao troublemaker...

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Vientiane for New Year

15 April 2017 | Culture

I’m back in Vientiane in Laos for the first time since 1974, when I was here working on the very first edition of Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. I’m sure it’s nothing like it was when I came through in 1974, I seem to remember at the time we were all trying to drink ...

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Bangkok – once again

13 April 2017 | Places

◄ A short visit to Bangkok, prior to setting off on a longer trip, and I made return trips to some familiar sites. Like Wat Po with its gigantic reclining Buddha figure, all the way from the top of its head to to the tips of its toes. ▲ Stupa figures in the Royal P...

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