The Bell Bottom In 50 Shades Of Orange

“Bell bottom blues, don't say goodbye.
I'm sure we're gonna meet again”

Eric Clapton

Mr. Hu recently had a 5 day pink ticket for an expedition to Malaysia.

The penance for same was a trip with the memsahib to a shopping mall in TST (that’s Tsim Sha Tsui for the non-locals).

While I rarely venture Kowloon side needs must. This meant wandering aimlessly around Lane Crawford and a host of what might be loosely termed fashion boutiques.

What a revelation though: Bell bottoms are back.

I thought I had walked into the 1970s. At last, my wardrobe has returned to fashion. I can now shake off those Bell Bottom Blues.

It’s all made in China of course. Sixty years ago everything was made in Hong Kong. Sadly our manufacturing base has been hollowed out and area code HK 852 is now more famous for being host to a rather tacky amusement park called Hong Kong Disneyland, where for a mere HK$619 (about £61) you too can enter the realm of Mickey and Donald.

Speaking of Donald…

I shall be reading Bob Woodward’s new book: Fear: Trump in the White House.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this will sell well in China under the title Fifty Shades of Orange. I always look on Trump as akin to Wodehouse’s Roderick Spode and his press secretary as The Empress of Blandings.

Is Amazon Primed?

As one wag quipped today on Twitter, “…you wait a lifetime for a trillion dollar company and suddenly two arrive in quick succession.” Congratulations Amazon. Is it past its Prime?

I confess that I rarely use Amazon these days. I have ordered the Princess some dog supplements through them recently but that’s about it. The dog is almost 10, her joints are stiffening and she has already had one luxating patella fixed.

Actually, I feel much the same so I may well snaffle a few of her tablets for myself. I may even join her for a spa at Dogotel.

Tesla Taxed Out…

I enjoyed the short expedition to Fraser’s Hill to indulge in a little wildlife watching.

Kuala Lumpur airport is about an hour from the city itself and three hours plus from Fraser’s Hill.

Petrol was extraordinarily cheap and the tolls very modest. About eight hours of driving in five days cost us about £30 equivalent.

It was striking how few premium brand vehicles we saw on the road; one Porsche in six hours of driving, no Teslas and just a handful of Mercs and BMWs.

How do they cope?

Our host told us that Malaysia is following Singapore’s model and banning vehicles over 10 years old from the roads. I suspect this is going to lead to some very empty highways in due course.

In contrast to what we saw in Malaysia, Hong Kong has a love affair with luxury, expensive cars.

The expensive bit is in part down to the extortionate amount of tax levied on a new car. The cost of Mr. Hu’s last purchase was doubled by tax. Hong Kong was an early and enthusiastic adopter of the Tesla thanks to generous subsidies (no tax!).

That is sadly no longer the case and it remains to be seen whether the brand can withstand the loss of the tax breaks.

Teslas are everywhere and ideal for a place that suffers from chokingly high levels of pollution. While Fragrant Harbour it may once have been, sadly that moniker no longer fits. If the HK government has its way more land will soon be reclaimed and we shall barely have a harbour, fragrant or otherwise.

Chickens and Roads

Driving in Hong Kong is not for the faint of heart. Indicators are rarely used and even then usually in error. Aggression is the name of the game, colonial queuing never really caught on and tailgating is a national pastime.

Fortunately most of this takes place at speeds of less than 20kph because the congestion is so bad.

Illegal parking seems to be universally tolerated if not encouraged, red lights are for wimps and Zebra crossings are a game of chicken.

I suspect children here must be members of the Tufty Club from a very young age. That’s the only explanation I can find for the lack of small bodies strewn all over the roads.


That venerable establishment that is the FT is apparently looking to reduce costs.

Either that or the headline “Emerging market, US-China woes jolt Asia stocks” has become stuck in the type setting machine.

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

A DIY FT could be the next step, where you rearrange your own selection of old bad news articles for your daily read.

We could have a crisis to enjoy every day in good times and bad. Who wants to read good news anyway?

Everybody Wanchai Tonight…

Just in case you are in need of a tonic I did find some good news this week.

Burberry is going to stop burning unsold goods and stop using real fur.

The rabbits, foxes, mink and Asiatic raccoons will, in the words of Bill McLaren, “be dancing in the streets (of Wanchai) tonight.”

Quite what will happen to the unsold stock I really don’t know?

If it helps them plan for their autumn collection I am happy to tell them that Rupert Bear Bell Bottoms are back.

Please form an orderly queue.

Hu Ziss in Hong Kong
This letter is the personal view of Mr Hu, and is not necessarily the view of Alan Steel Asset Management.