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China Politics Technology

A Tech Entrepreneur's Guide To Visiting Shenzhen 49

Freetronics is Australia's answer to a lot of electronic tinkerers' needs, selling items like Arduino compatible boards, cables, and specialized tools. Founder Jonathan Oxer is a (serious) electronics hobbyist himself; he talked with Slashdot last year about making ArduSats, which were then launched to the International Space Station. Now, Oxer has written an excellent guide for hobbyists who might get the chance to travel to Shenzhen, where so many of the world's electronic bits and bobs are made. As travel writing goes, it's fascinating for the sheer novelty of the place. If you actually have the chance to go, some of the advice here might save you money and time. For those of you who have been to Shenzhen, what else should visitors know?
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A Tech Entrepreneur's Guide To Visiting Shenzhen

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  • by Dumass ( 602667 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @03:36PM (#46421893)
    Beware of Gutter Oil. [] Only take red or blue (electric) taxis. The guys at Shenzhen Bay who want your business will charge 2-5x the regulated rate.
  • by Dumass ( 602667 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @03:50PM (#46422069)
    Also, bring your hotel name and address written in Chinese. The cab drivers will not know English. When you get to the hotel ask for a name card. It will have the name, logo, address, and phone number of the hotel on it. You can then give that to a cabbie.

    The hotels will change cash, but only perfect foreign bills. I got told "this bill is broken" when it had a small crease in the corner. Either use an ATM in China or use one in HK and have Travelex do the conversion. There are also ATMs at the Hong Kong airport that dispense RMB. I trust those more than the ones in China. Beware that Travelex will convert your foreign currency to HKD and then to RMB if you bring them cash, doubling their fees. Use the ATM.
  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:16PM (#46422299) Homepage Journal

    If you are a casual technogeek, save yourself about $4000 and just go on AliExpress and buy whatever knicknacks you are interested in straight from Shenzhen. What, did you think they haven't figured out ecommerce? If you do have the chance to visit (i.e. for work), or are really after niche goods/services (in particular, to start your own import business) then certainly its a great place to go. But if you are just looking to get out of the US, don't go to Shenzhen just to browse around Huaqiangbei. There are plenty of other, far far more exhilarating/enlightening/relaxing places to visit in the world.

  • by kumanopuusan ( 698669 ) <goughnourc@g m a> on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:39PM (#46422553)

    The last time I was in Shenzhen, it was perfectly sunny and in fact too hot outside. Neither did I notice any haze when I was in Hong Kong last month. Maybe you picked a bad time to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:00PM (#46422809)

    He probably did.
    Over the last 3 years I logged about 270 days in the area.
    Most of the time it's sunny, tyfoon season is a bit wet and in winter you should bring a jacket.

    He wouldn't like sweden, we had the first sun since december started today.

  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:00PM (#46422819) Homepage

    Yes and no...Shenzhen itself may be not a place you'd visit, but it's right next to Hong Kong and Macau, both of which are (to me) top tourist cities. One could easily make Shenzhen a day trip from either city. There's even a commuter train between Hong Kong & Shenzhen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @06:18PM (#46423563)

    I was in Shenzhen in 2006. Granted the city has changed quite a bit since, but there are a few other items the article missed.

    Theft / Pickpockets - If you are China, it will happen. There are organized groups and lots of distraction thefts / pickpockets. The more western and rich you look, the more likely you are to have something disappear. Think everything is safe in your purse or backpack? Think again, they carry razor blades and cut the bottom out the bag and then take off like a shot, usually passing items off multiple times.

    Street vendors - wonder where there fancy electronics disappear to? The answer is right to a busy city street where people will openly try yo sell them to any passing person that looks like they have money. "Hey, mister Laptop. You want laptop?"

    Chopsticks - Most places will assume that if you look western you are an idiot and therefore cannot use chopsticks. The best way to get good service in a restaurant is to pick up the chopsticks as soon as you sit down and just practice using them. Once the order takers see you using them, you will get better service and usually better portions.

    Haze - the haze is usually not so much smog or pollution per se, but rather dust kicked up from all the construction. When I was there the sky was a permanent shade of tan / pink the whole time. It was in an area that was under heavy construction further from the coast. Obviously areas that are closer to the sea or more windy have less of the haze.

    Specialization - With a population as large as China, everyone needs a job, so you will find that jobs are very task oriented. As an example in most restaurants ( not mom and pop shops), there is one person who sets the tables, one person who takes the order, one person who delivers the food, one person who checks on how you are doing and one person who clears the table. That's five people to serve one table. It is like that with most other jobs as well. Even the street cleaning is done by several with straw brooms. Seriously.

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