Third time lucky

After failing in Sydney and Houston, last Friday I was in the right place (the San Francisco Swatch store) at the right time (an hour before opening on a stormy weekday).

I was #2 in line, and according to Mr #1, who is semi-professional speculator / dealer, I was pretty lucky to get in so far to the front. By the time the store opened there were about 10 in line.

When the doors opened, I was pretty excited. But sadly the staff killed that feeling quickly. I hoped for “Welcome to Swatch, we’re so glad to help you achieve your collection goals” or “Wow isn’t it cool that we get to share this pop culture moment together?” What I got was “One at a time!” and “Step back, DO NOT block the door” When I approached the island with the samples, the guy just stood there, waiting for me to name a planet. You don’t get to look at or touch or interact with the merchandise in any way. They don’t ask you if you’d also like to buy the special San Francisco souvenir watch.

My friend Paul had a specific set of choices, and luckily the limited stock on hand included a Mission to Mercury, one of his top picks. So yay! My mission accomplished. There were no Mars watches in stock, so I didn’t have to make a Sophie’s Choice between his pick and mine. Maybe I’ll get up early one day this week and try the shop on the Las Vegas strip…

You can buy anything if you know where to look

At the end of the cruise we took a bus to Hanoi. Midway, we stopped for a rest break at this workshop. We considered grabbing a few disabled people to pack home (way cheaper than in town since you get them right at the workshop where they’re produced).

But instead we got a silk embroidery wall hanging…

It’s all about the Ho Chi Minhs

I bought this wallet in a New Plymouth thrift store over Christmas… what a great find to help anticipate the upcoming trip!

I’ve had more compliments on it than maybe anything I’ve ever owned… and that was in NZ. In Vietnam this wallet was a veritable rock star. Shopkeepers and waitresses would call their coworkers to take a look. Ha ha ha is very funny !!! Where you buy??? (Sorry for the possibly offensive use of dialect. But in this case I intend to illustrate that while it would not be possible for us to have a meaningful conversation using language, this silly secondhand plastic wallet really did bring us together.)


The haul from our visit to Tom’s farm in Tutukaka the other weekend. A paua (abalone) shell, a couple of super iridescent swirly shells, and a fragment of something… but what?

I’ve always thought of myself as a words guy much more than a numbers guy. So it didn’t take long to come up with “BLEND” and “WHISKY.” And that would have been the end of it, until Google. I typed in “blend whisky jug” and scrolled through the image results for just a few seconds. Amazing. There it was on the first page.

Drumroll please… the Royal Blend Whisky by A G Thomson of Glasgow was apparently a favourite of King Edward VII. They made a lot of jugs like this one more or less 100 years ago. Somehow part of this one ended up on a tiny beach in Northern NZ. You can buy an intact example for a couple hundred bucks on Ebay and elsewhere. So my little shard isn’t exactly the wreck of the Atocha, but it was still a good treasure hunt!

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