Thursday 27 December 2012

Discovering the Hidden Secrets of Yunnan Province

Yunnan is a province located in the South West of China and its capital is Kunming. My trip to this province started with a flight from Sanya, Hainan to Kunming late at night. We stayed a night in Kunming and the next day got a 4 hours long car drive to Dali.

In Dali, we visited the Erhai lake where we rowed a boat around the lake and saw the amazing scenic landscapes of Dali. Then, it was time to head towards the area where the most famous monument in Dali is located: The Three Pagodas. The monument, which was created based on ancient Buddhist architectures, has been selected as a national treasure meriting preservation in China, which makes it a must-see place in Yunnan.

The Three Pagodas in Dali, Yunnan.

The next day it was time to head to Lijiang, where we discovered places that were named as a UNESCO Heritage Site. This includes the Old Town of Lijiang, which as a history of over 800 years and it is a town that really differs from other ancient towns in China. In order to enjoy the most of this town, patience was required as it was an old town with hidden places to discover at different sites. Therefore, the first thing we observed was that there were many ethnic minority groups and each of them had their own rituals. We attended to their performances and for dinner tried a variety of different dishes typical of the ancient town.

The Old Town of Lijiang is well-known for their orderly system of waterways and bridges. We saw this representative structure at the entrance of the Old Town.

Once in Lijiang, there were many places of tourist interest that we visited. For instance, we spent one day at the Jade Dragon Mountain, which was really an achievement to go 4680 metres above ground level. We got a cable that took us up the mountain and we walked up for another 200 metres where the views where incredible. It was amazing the amount of people that queued up to visit this astonishing mountain.

Another of the hidden secrets in Lijiang is the Lugu Lake, which is 6 hours away in bus from the city centre. We had to wake up very early to be able to arrive to the lake before noon and contemplate the spectacular scenery of this amazing lake.

Furthermore, we also spent one day at Shangri-La, where we had the opportunity to visit the Songzanlin Monastery, which is a copy of the same huge temple in Tibet.

In Shangri-La, we also had a great chance to visit the Pudacuo Park, which is really a gift for people's eyes due to the stunning scenery.

Last but not least, in our last day we came back to Kunming and visited the Stone Forest, which was really another box of surprise for our eye-sight. What a way of finishing a treacherous journey!

Thursday 20 December 2012

Living the Dream, a True Paradise: Hainan

Last weekend, I had the authentic pleasure of experiencing and contemplating the most wonderful island in China, Hainan. Due to its location, the climate conditions in the island are awesome as it is always hot and perfect to take part in many different cultural and physical activities.

My trip started with a very quick flight from Zhuhai to Haikou, the capital of Hainan, which took almost 1h 30 minutes long. People say that the best places to tour and contemplate the scenery are in the south of the island in Sanya, so I spent 2 hours in Haikou. The living style in Haikou differs completely to the one in Zhuhai as it is a more slow-moving city and things work different. For instance, when it comes to using taxis to move around, there is no counter like in Zhuhai taxis as the only way of paying is by bargaining with the driver.

Although, the real treasures of Hainan province are in the south of the island, Haikou had some spectacular crazy buildings and bridges which was worth looking at.

After some decent moves in Haikou it was time to move on to the south, to Sanya. We took a 2 hours long train and accommodated ourselves in a 5 star complex resort, which are reasonably cheap in Sanya. The surprising fact to highlight is that every single 5 star resort in Sanya owns a private beach which is very enjoyable. As we arrived quite late in the evening it was time to enjoy some of the great facilities of the resort like the massage & spa.

The next day, it was time to discover Sanya's treasures. We got ourselves a personal driver for the day who took us around and recommended us to visit Wuzhizhou Island which is a small island located very close to Hainan coasts. We got a 10 minutes boat and arrived at this paradise. If Hainan is considered to be China's best island, Wuzhizhou island is the hidden treasure of Hainan province. It includes incredible atmospheres with white sand beaches, blue waters and a huge variety of palm trees which really makes you feel unique.

Within this island we took advantage of the climate conditions and practiced some incredible sports like motor boating, diving under the incredible sea, yachting and seeing the tremendous aerial views by skydiving.

After a very hectic day in Wuzhizhou Island, we came back to Sanya and the next day we visited the Yanoda Tropical Rainforest in Sanya, which is the rainforest where the Chinese movie Holding Love was filmed.

Some great cultural insights to get out of this treacherous trip which included jumping in a cable from one mountain to another, which was a great way of concluding this interesting and exciting trip.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Roadside Businesses in Zhuhai. Gambling in China.

We saw an interesting and mobile business just outside our Zhuhai office yesterday.   Heading out for our meeting our team came across this scene, a computer engineer seated behind a roadside truck.

Returning from our meeting we took a closer look and saw that this business was in fact arranging pigeon races. We found it very interesting that 2 foreign staff from our company were allowed to photograph this scene since pigeon racing is such a big business in China (and so closely related to gambling).

Anybody who does business in China understands the importance of the company chop.  Not only are the birds tracked with high tech GPS, they are also authenticated by a racing chop.  Check out how they are branded below.

This is usually big business with some birds selling for staggering figures.   We learned that the birds near our office sell for RMB 1,000 each on average.  As we sit in our office, looking out over the colossal Sands & Lisboa just over the border in China, the RMB 1000 cost is put into context.

Check out some interesting articles on Pigeon Racing:
You might also like to know a little more about company chops and where to pick one up in Zhuhai

Thursday 18 October 2012

China Visa for French

If you are a French and you need to apply for a tourist visa to China, you can apply from Hong Kong. These are the documents required to process your visa. Take a look and make sure you have everything so that you don't have to keep coming back and forth to process your visa. It will cost HKD 360.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Factory visit for Promotional Products in Yiwu

I visited Yiwu for a factory visit September 26th - September 28th. In the following post, I will give a brief summary of my trip.

After arriving, I first thought that I just landed in a different country. When you compare Yiwu with Zhuhai you can definitely say that Zhuhai is the cleaner city and more "Western". Furthermore, it seems that the people do not have that much money compared with most cities in the Guangdong Province.  But back to the factory....

When I was arriving at the factory, I was surprised to see that the company owner was hardly older than me, and at 22, I seemed to be one of the older people there.   This is quite different to the factories I can imagine in the West.  He seemed to be quite nice even if he did not speak English at all. Therefore all our communication was based on google translater and calls back to our office to chat with the merchandisers.

My business was to check the samples on Wednesday and make sure that they are sent away on Wednesday or Thursday to the clients. My boss basically wanted a set of European Eyes in the factory.  Being German, I know what quality products are and what can be acceptable products for sale in my home market.  This does not replace laboratory testing, but getting to factory means you can have a first hand view of product development and quality.

Unfortunately, the owner "told" me that he did not even have all the parts in the factory and that it will take until Thursday to finish everything.  Because of the fact there was not so much to check, except the weight and measures of the product, I used the time to have a closer look to the machines and the facilities of the factory.   It is always good to have a snoop around and see what the conditions are like and see the quality of other products on the production  lines...
Storage promotional products china

Assembly lines China
Assembly lines China

Chinese Factory Worker
On the second day it was exactly the same and I began to get mad because the excuses of the factory owner became worse and worse. I called up our office in Zhuhai and gave status report to the merchandising staff.   They were then able to take over negotiations and give the factory a good push.  Nevertheless, I had much work the whole day because it was quite hard to get answers from those guys.  In the end of the day at least a couple of components arrived and I could do some of the checking.

On the last day, I visited Yiwu- Fair to get some factory offers for other products. The Fair was the largest one, I have ever seen and it was quite impressive. Afterwards I went back to the factory to check the final product.

Because of a car accident on the way back, we were quite late and so I was in a hurry to check everything and catch my flight.   On the airport, I saw that my flight was delayed by an hour.   This happens quite a lot in China so I got back to Guangzhou airport quite late..

To sum it up, I can say that this trip was a great experience. Even if I did not like the city and the factory owner was not the most cooperative, I was glad that I had the opportunity to experience another side of China and Chinese Business.

No internship in China should be complete without spending some time in a factory....

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Going To The Hospital In Zhuhai

When living in Zhuhai it is important to know how to get to the hospital in case anything happens, and here you have a basic guide.  In Chinese hospitals you need a identification card which you can transfer money to and use for payment - sort of similar to the public transport cards in many major cities..
The hospital in Zhuhai is in the center of the city.  You can here see the main entrance to the hospital below.
Nice new building so on the outside everything looks good...
When coming inside there is a sign of what level you have to go, in this case foreigner has to go to level 5 to visit the VIP clinic.
Arriving the fifth floor and you are at the vip floor, here you just have to show your identification card and they will get you through to an English speaking doctor who will take you through the line and help you with your request. 
In our experience the service was friendly, efficient and fast.  Many people will use hospitals for GP style services and costs were overall reasonable for standard care.  Now you just have to go back at the same way to exit the building..

Friday 28 September 2012

E-Beer Festival in Huafa New Land - Zhuhai

On Saturday the 22. September there was a really cool event in a district in Zhuhai called Huafa New Land.
Huafa is a very beautiful place with nice shops, architecture and have the great view of the river and the lights from Gonbei. Huafa is placed on the other side of the river from Gongbei.
The event was an electronic beer festival, with great International DJ's playing different styles of music like House and Dupstep. The event was really well implemented but unfortunately lasted only a few hours from 6:00 to 10:00 pm.  There were refreshing beers from several countries, and you even got one for free with your ticket.
There was cool dancers, people that was specially dressed up with make up and cool accessories for the guests to laugh and have fun with. At the event also had a luxury car show with stunning models - for sure worth a good look.
There were many people enjoying the event, coming together to good music, beers and a nice chilled atmosphere.  Lots of Beer Promo gifts given out too... After the festival they had arranged a after-party at a bar nearby called The Factory. The bar had live music and was nice and chilled.

Monday 17 September 2012

Trip to Flying-Sand Beach

Interns from The ODM Group in Zhuhai participated in a trip to the Flying-Sand Beach in Zhuhai which was arranged by Intern China.
Located in the west of Zhuhai, Flying Sand Beach is about 550 meters long and 150 meters wide, surrounded by subtropical plants. White sand, clear water and sunshine all the time attract visitors.
This trip was a great experience for all of us. The water had a good temperature and we were able to play football and volleyball with some locals, what gave us a good opportunity to experience more of the Chinese culture. In the evening we had a barbecue on the beach. That was good end of great day. We slept in tents and when we woke up, we saw the dawn on the beach.

All in all this trip was a good break from work and gave us the opportunity to experience another side of Zhuhai & life in China.

Thursday 13 September 2012

"Come together" - Charity Event in Zhuhai, China

All the interns from The ODM Group Zhuhai participated in a charity event in Zhuhai. The event was with the aim to raise enough money to pay the school tuition fees for some pupils from the West of Zhuhai.

When living in another country it is important remember to give something back to the society, and the money raised means that between 50 to 100 kids could carry on going to school in September. It was a pleasure helping to provide local Chinese children with school education while enjoying the nice vibes and great live music.

The event was organized by Beishan Theatre and InternChina with the main purpose to help raise money to buy children equipment to school.

There were the most awesome bands playing, from Hong Kong and Macau, they really made the evening complete and ensured the event being a great success. While helping a good course, people had a good time dancing and laughing together. 

The charity event was a great success and all the interns enjoyed being part of it.

Monday 3 September 2012

Back to school!

As in many other countries, September 1 is the first day of school for most of China's middle and primary pupils. Many students got their first textbooks and now they are ready to start their school life - so exciting!

Actually, the Chinese education system is the largest one in the world. It is a state-run system managed by the Ministry of Education. Compulsory education goes for nine years. The government provides primary education, starting at age six or seven, followed by six years of secondary education.  In some provinces kids may have five years of primary school but four years for middle school. There are three years of middle school followed by three years of high school.

China is spending huge amounts of money on education - around 4% of total GDP in China! A good example to follow.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Interns at Dinner - Rainbow Seafood on Lamma Island

Yesterday, the ODM Asia team left early from work to have a farewell-cum-welcome dinner. We took a complementary boat ride, offered by the restaurant we made our reservation at - Rainbow Seafood Restaurant,  from Central Pier no. 9 to Lamma Island.

After a bumpy 20-30mins boat ride, we were settled down and had our food served to us. We had seaweed soup, lobster noodles, prawns, abalone, sweet and sour pork, fish, pepper crab, fried rice and steamed vegetables (and beer).

Though it was such a scrumptious meal, we could not finish every dish because the portions were just too big! It was also some of our French staff maiden adventure in trying Chinese styled seafood and they gave the thumbs up for it. I really loved the 2nd dish because the fusion of cheese and lobster was so good; the cheese literally melted in mouth.

All in all, this dinner was definitely a good closure for those whose internship journey is drawing to an end while a fantastic start to 3 of our new Singapore interns who will be starting next week. Thus, I would like to wish all our interns 'bonne chance & Bon Voyage'!

Monday 6 August 2012

Noodle Eating Contest - Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po

On Sunday, at the Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po, I had the privilege of being a VIP guest at a huge event that was being held. They were some interesting mini events and shows held in the centre such as Model Catwalks, Singing and something extremely interesting: A noodle eating competition!

As in most eating competitions the amount of food that had to be eaten was unreal, more than I could eat in a day. It took four people to eat one bowl of noodles. The competition consisted of multiple four-person teams that all tried to finish the noodles as fast as they could. The bowls had to be completely empty before you could say you were finished. The competitors looked like they were going to be sick. In fact the winner was trying to stop himself from gagging after he'd swallowed his last bite, as you can see in this video:

This was a truly great sight, to see fully grown adults try to over stuff themselves with noodles. It was very fun to watch and by far the craziest thing I've seen in a while.

Friday 3 August 2012

All for a good cause @TEDxWanchai

This week 4 interns including myself volunteered to help out at TEDxWanchai, held at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. This organisation includes some inspirational speakers that have 'Ideas worth Spreading'. They are given 18mins to talk of their influential lives. TED serves a great purpose in raising awareness for charitable associations and campaign’s on world problems.

When we arrived, we received TEDx t-shirts to make us part of the crew. The day started off by greeting, ushering and serving coffee. For me this was a new experience, but it was lovely to see such a large variety of guests, young and old.

During the day I managed to catch two of the speakers during their talk. One of which was Rob Lilwall who wowed us with a story about his adventure cycling from Siberia all the way to back home to London. Despite the struggle of cycling 30,000 miles he amused us by sharing funny remarks about the trip. The money raised all went to a charity called Viva, giving greater opportunities to less fortunate children in China.

The next speaker, Robin Hwang from the Foodlink enlightened us with her family's aim to fight hunger and poverty in HK by reducing food wastage. Their organisation collects surplus food from hotels and delivers it to shelters for the needy.

As the talks came to an end the next stage was to serve food. The hall eventually became packed with guests and buzzing with conversations.

Crew members hard at work

After a long day, the occasion finally drew to a close around 9.30pm. The ODM team were tired from all the hard work, but through this experience we were able to meet new people and learn new things. Personally, I would consider taking part in something like this again as I found it rewarding.

Alyssa, Jaime and I taking a well earned rest.
 Some of us went to the after party at the Kee Club in Lan Kwai Fong. This was a lavish private members club where they were serving free drinks. It was an offer I could not miss!

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Weird... but funny people in Hong Kong!

I have visited the Animation, Comics & Games Expo 2012 in Hong Kong. It was a very crowded tradeshow, full of eccentric people (also know as "CosPlayers") as you can see below...

I met this "Japanese/Chinese style" girl in couple with a "Chinese/French Soldier" promoting a World War 2 comic book.

I asked these 3 girls to take a photo with me (yes... all three are girls!) but they preferred posing like that! They were all very funny!

On this one, I posed with 3 girls wearing cat masks. Not as crazy as the next picture I took.

Imp ears, costume, hat... This girl was fully equipped and was certainly the craziest girl in this tradeshow!


You can check these few pictures below to catch a glimpse of the different "CosPlayers" I met there (my favourite is the red/race flag one, I don't know why..).

Overall, it was a very cool event and if you really want to have fun, it is a very good place to spend an afternoon (entrance fee is 30 HKD only). If you want to have a better view of the different stands, you can also watch this Video Blog (ACGHK 2012 Overview).

My Remote Internship Experience: At the Midpoint

An internship with a company is an important and valuable learning experience for any tertiary student out there. I had been looking forward...