Weekly Roundup: Birds In The Wild Edition

Hoo boy, this is a bad picture. But if you’re either a frequent reader of this site or a resident of certain urban areas, you’ll recognize it nevertheless: It’s the Xiaomi Mi scooter used by BIRD as its the base platform for its “mobility solution”. I saw it at a Xiaomi-specific store in Kuala Lumpur. We might consider Xiaomi and the other Chinese home-market brands like it a sort of weird cheapo unobtanium primarily sourced through Massdrop and Alibaba, but in Asia they have stores that are as big and as diverse as the ones operated by Apple. The Samsung store I saw was even more impressive; they’re wayyyyy ahead of what you can get here.

Speaking of Samsung, and of Korea in general: During my twelve-hour layover at Incheon two weeks ago, Danger Girl and I took a “temple culture tour” offered by the South Korean government in cooperation with the airport authorities. We didn’t have to get our passports stamped or anything like that; we were simply released into the wild through customs control without so much as a single question asked and told to meet a bus operator in 90 minutes. The bus took us to some temples. These temples were, by and large, ground-up reconstructions of temples that had existed a long time ago. I was mildly upset by this. Where’s the “authenticity” in a brand-new temple designed to look like an old one? I’ll write a bit more about this in the future, but in the meantime here’s a fascinating essay on the differing ways that East and West regard concepts like “originality” and “copying”.

For some all-original, uncopied content, click the jump.

At TTAC, I wrote about kapchai.

For R&T, I discussed Thailand’s wonder-truck and a K-swapped Honda Fit that drives like a dream.

24 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Birds In The Wild Edition”


    Rented a newish D-Max in Guatemala last year, not a Diesel though, probably had whatever the 4 cyl gas equivalent is…..crew cab, manual, 4×4, basic spec cloth interior, etc. Not sure the details on the differential but it was some kind of shift on the fly deal, only used on the more rough roads leading to some Mayan temples. Liked it enough that Colorado’s/Canyon’s were now on my radar. Once back in the USA, I was disappointed to find that you can’t get a manual with 4×4 here. First world probs, yo.

  2. smeggs

    Too bad about the cultural tour. I live 20 minutes from ICN and could have shown you guys a much better time.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It was about the right speed for our jet-lagged selves… but I’ll reach out when we come back in 2019!

  3. -Nate

    The Kapchi article is neat ~

    I love Tiddlers, rode my ancient Honda CT90 op the freeway through Los Angeles this morning and rode various Motocycles every where when I lived in Guatemala, C.A., there’s much to be learned from these other countries approach to mobility .


    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      You are a brave soul to ride a CT90 on an El Lay freeway. When I have been thru there in a rental heap, I felt woefully under equipped. My wishful minimum these days would be a Ram 3500 dually.

      Them folks is CRAZY.

      • -Nate

        This is so but notice I chose the time very carefully…….

        I love Tiddlers perhaps -too- much, I’ve been riding them on 300 + mile jaunts since the early 1970’s .

        I’m sure many whom I passed in the fast lane were very surprised .

        Different places have different crazy in their drivers ~ I spent much time in and around Boston, Ma. and there’s a good reason folks from there are derided as “MASSholes” ~ the driving part though is crazy with a purpose (or it was 50 years ago) : don’t stop, ever, keep the flow of traffic moving at all costs below collisions .

        This attitude actually works pretty well, the California Gendarmes, OTOH, were not amused by me driving/riding on the sidewalk and so on .


        • Dirty Dingus McGee

          “a good reason folks from there are derided as “MASSholes”

          I’m currently in RI for a BIL’s funeral, and can tell you they ain’t no better here. Left turn from the right lane? You bet. And look at you like YOU’RE the asshole for laying on the horn. Grrrrr.

          “I love Tiddlers perhaps -too- much,”

          You would fit right in with these folks;


          I borrowed a friends MB5 Honda in 1993 and went on the run. I weighed considerably less at the time so it was a hoot. These days, I don’t think a 50cc would carry my corpulent self around those mountain roads (insert sad emoji here).

          • -Nate

            Thank you for the link ! .

            It looks like a fun event .

            I’m taking that same old CT90k2 on the annual (? bi annual ?) Los Angeles Tiddler Sushi Ride to – day, it should be fun in the sun (we’re getting TOO MUCH SUN now) with lots of weird old Tiddlers and L.A. crazies too =8-) .


  4. safe as milk

    Couple of points regarding the asian perspective on real v.copies….

    I had similar reaction and received a similar explanation when shown replicas in Korea. There’s a grain of truth to it but I don’t completely buy it. Seoul went through hell in the 20th century and not much survived. If you go to the east coast mountains, there are some stunning ancient buddahs carved into the rock that are carefully preserved. The koreans seem less hung up about replacing wood but they take very good care of ancient ceramic and metal objects. Also, you may have noticed that the Japanese are fanatical collectors of original things from levis to Danish chairs.

    Also, the linked article claims that printing was invented in China but movable metal typography was invented in Korea. Sorry guttenberg.

  5. Ben Johnson

    The Chinese don’t believe this based on how they behave: “The Chinese often send copies abroad instead of originals, in the firm belief that they are not essentially different from the originals.”

    If they really believe it, they’s hold onto the copies.

  6. Athos

    Were you surprised by the tinted windscreen? Those are usually done with a lighter tint than the side windows, but not always. Depends on the desired privacy.

  7. Jeff Zekas

    I rode my Kawasaki 90 on PCH once– scary as hell, and it finally seized from overheating.

    As for copies: so, since the Chinese don’t see copying the same way that we do, does this mean that the fake Chinese “Smart Car” is not theft of intellectual property? What do you think, Jack?

    And what about the Chinese stealing U.S. submarine and missile tech? And the theft of other western technology? Is it not really theft, since the Chinese believe in “continuing” the works of others?

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think that their attitude towards intellectual property is 50% genuine and 50% a matter of economic convenience.

  8. Saabing

    Apologies in advance if this type of thing is unwelcome here, but I need some advice from the commentariat.

    I will have have a new motorcycle next summer (G310R); in the meantime my aging Saabs are pricey to maintain / repair. I’m considering relegating the Saabs to special occasion / highway trip duty and getting a cheap winter daily driver that I can use to improve my DIY repair skills (which are currently very limited). I’m moving soon; the new commute will be 4000 mi/year non-highway in the Midwest.

    Candidates are:
    3rd Gen Chevy C-series (1975-1987),
    4th Gen (GMT400) Chevy C-series
    air-cooled Beetle

    I have heard that trucks are gas guzzlers and bad in snow and that Beetles don’t have functional heat/defrost.

    Which will cost me less in repairs for a given purchase price?
    What is the sweet spot for a driver quality example?

  9. ScottS

    Re: Copies vs Originals. This is a thought provoking. I find I am much more aligned with the Asian philosophy on this subject than the prevailing Western mindset. I live in a 1930s house built of 18th-century brick, and it certainly looks the part, but I am thankfully spared the burden of preserving the building in some requisite static condition for the benefit of future generations. While I appreciate antique and classic cars, in my personal cars I don’t feel any need to preserve them for the next guy.

    Thanks for a Zen perspective!

  10. Kevin Jaeger

    I’ve become a bit of a fan of Xiaomi products. I was skeptical about buying Chinese domestic market stuff at first but I’ve had nothing but good experiences ordering online and having them shipped to Canada.

    They may get delayed in customs for a while so you can’t be in a big hurry but some friends and I have bought smartphones, laptops, their version of fitbit, etc. All good stuff so far, and at a fraction of what these things cost here.


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