Sunday Nov 04, 2007

Wangfujing Street - Authentic China in Beijing

If you want to see authentic China in Beijing without going to country side or hotungs, Wangfujing Street has it. This street is located at Wangfujing station using Line 1 of Subway.

This street has big name stores (with big bill boards), shopping malls and lots of people. Especially the side streets which sell street food are just amazing. Scorpion and Sea Horse are some of the common dishes but I just could not muster the courage to try them.

The Beijing 2008 Olympics store was crowded and had some nice goodies. No bargaining there though ;)

You can also buy all sort of mementoes like magnet, playing cards, decoration pieces etc from in the side streets. And here you DO need to exercise your bargaining skills.

A complete album is available here:

Technorati: conf traveltips beijing china

Friday Nov 02, 2007

Beijing Silk Market - Shopping & Bargain Paradise

Beijing Silk Market (a.k.a. Xiushui Silk Market) is a multi-floor shopping complex in the Beijing Downtown. It is famous for fake branded goods such as Coach and Prada purse, RayBan glasses, iPod, Silk scarves, Jeans and you name it. It's also famous for extreme bargaining. And you may be surprised how extreme is extreme by reading the tips below along with a table of comparative prices paid.

It is directly connected from the Yong'anli Subway station on Line of Subway.

Here are the basic shopping tips that I learned by talking to others and practiced during my shopping stint:

  1. Each item has three prices - Printed, American and Chinese. Typically Printed and American price are the same, may be American price slightly lower. The Chinese price is typically 50-70% of the American price. The first quote from the shopkeeper will be based upon your skin color. However the most important rule is to NEVER buy at any of the first quote price. Always quote a price that is 10% of the Chinese price and then haggle your way up. Going up is only an additional buffer and is not a necessary step. In any case, don't pay more than 15-20% of the Chinese price. You may find it ridiculous but it worked in most of the cases as you can see from the table of comparative prices below.
  2. Some of the commonly used phrases to indicate the stage of bargain are - Joking price (when the shopkeeper find the price is ridiculous), Final price (quoted multiple times from the shopkeeper, sometimes final final price) and Yes or No price (mostly used to quote the final price from the shopkeeper). You can pretty much ignore the first two prices and consider third one slightly seriously (see next point) if you are interested in the item.
  3. Be ready to NOT to buy irrespective of the item and you might end up buying it for a ridiculously low price.
  4. This is an important one. If the price is not meeting your expectation, WALK away from the shop. It may be hard to do it sometimes because you may like the item very much but force yourself out of the shop. There is a high likelihood that you'll be physically pulled in the shop so don't feel offended but stick to your price. If need be, pretend walking out of the shop and you'll see the shopkeeper shouting from the behind with your price. It's important to confirm and double confirm the price and especially the currency ;-)
  5. The magic word is "moment". If you hear this word from the shopkeeper, which most likely will be the case, that means you are likely in a position to strike a deal at your price.
  6. Some of the shopkeepers get really angry and start throwing items (mostly with clothes) around. Don't budge, this is just a tactic to show they are upset and instead keep smiling and stick to your price.
  7. Buying more than one item will get you a better price. As the prices are ridiculously cheap, it's worth buying more than one and gift it back home.
  8. A key rule is to bargain with smile and that will improve your chances of meeting your price :)

Here is a comparative table of quoted and paid prices for some of the items:

Item Quoted Paid
Silk Scarves 650 55
Denim Jacket (heavy embroidery) 1200 180
Kimono 450 40
Denim Jeans (with embroidery) 450 35
Silk Two-piece Dress for Kids 600 50

Happy shopping & bargaining!

Technorati: traveltips shopping silkmarket beijing bargain

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

Sun Tech Days Beijing - Talent Show in Pictures

One of the Sun Tech Days event is "Talent Show". It allows the conference attendees to demonstrate their non-technical skills on the stage. It was first introduced 5 years ago and became so popular that it's now part of the regular agenda. Attendees do all sort of things - typically juggling, dancing, singing, wiggling ears, whistling and I remember the winner at Atlanta Tech Days showed a back flip. And the winner is awarded a Java Jacket.

The show serves two purpose: audience interaction and add levity in a technical conference. As Jonathan Schwartz says - The Age of Participation is Now and this event encourages the community to show their skills to rest of the audience.

The way it works is that 3 volunteers are chosen from the attendees in the room, each volunteer gets to introduce them self and then demonstrate the talent. After all the volunteers have shown then the audience is asked to pick a winner by applause meter. In Beijing, there was an overflow room for the morning session and so there were two sets of volunteers who demonstrated their talent. And of course, we gave out two Java Jackets as well :)

Here is the talent show captured in pictures:

   

The winners this time performed Street Dancing and Kick Boxing. Watch the complete album here:

 

And of course, follow the complete coverage in Sun Tech Days Event blog.

Technorati: conf suntechdays talentshow beijing

Sun Tech Days Beijing - Day 1 Report

1500 developers kick started 10th anniversary Tech Day event at the Beijing International Convention Center earlier today.

Joey Shen, Angela Caicedo, Doris Chen and Chuk Munn Lee demonstrated Swing/Java2D, Sun SPOTs, jMaki and JavaFX demo respectively as part of the demo showcase. All the demos were really good and showcased different technologies from Sun. I personally liked Sun SPOT demo which showcased how Robosapiens can be easily controlled using the JVM. It very well resonated with "Internet of Things" that Lionel Kim (President Greater China and COO APAC Sun Microsystems) mentioned in his keynote earlier in the morning.

According to Lionel, there are three factors driving global innovation:

  • Web.next - The key point here is that currently the major producer/consumer of content on the Internet are people. But very soon it'll be an Internet of things where different "things" are interacting on the Web fueled by all the innovations happening in Web.next.
  • Age of the startups - Facebook valued at $ 15 billion has already changed the current landscape and similar companies are going to drive the needs for next generation.
  • Rise of communities - Time magazine awarded YOU (community) as Person of The Year award for 2006. And that indeed is the most important factor in driving innovation.

Carla provided a great coverage of Jim Hughes keynote (during which I was busy with local translators for my upcoming session :) This is the 10th anniversary year of Tech Days and we celebrated by cutting a birthday cake. There is lot of backstage work (audio, video, rehearsal, logistics and all sort of things) that often goes unnoticed and some of the photographs below highlight that work.

Right after the keynote, I gave a talk on "Java EE5, GlassFish and Their Future" and the slides are available here. It was great talking about GlassFish to a 560 capacity room full of audience. Leon showed a demo of localized version of GlassFish and how it can be configured in a clustered environment.

Jim Jiang offered to give away 10 copies of his recently published book on GlassFish. You can order it online here. Jim Jiang and Wang Yu are the primary authors with content contributed from Jason Huang, Ada Li, Liang Ye and Evrin Yan. It was great meeting most of these individuals face-to-face. If you missed being one of the lucky winners of the book, then attend GlassFish Day on Saturday, Nov 3 and there will be many more copies distributed.

I also attended Chuk's talk on Metro and REST. He really presented the concept very well and it was fun seeing somebody else present Metro :)

I spent rest of the day talking to people on the GlassFish booth. Once again, Jim Jiang helped me connect with the local audience. I'll prepare a summary of the  questions and then provide answers to them in a subsequent blog. In the meanwhile, here are some links for you to get started:

The evening ended with Yanjing Beer and Beijing Duck dinner. And as always, enjoy the pictures from through out the day:

 

Follow the complete coverage in Sun Tech Days Event blog.

Technorati: conf suntechdays metro webservices jmaki web2.0 glassfish netbeans beijing

Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

Travel Tips to Beijing

I arrived in Beijing for Sun Tech Days earlier this week. Here are some travel tips:

  1. The Beijing city has Tina'anmen Square and Forbidden City at it's center. Rest of the city is structured in multiple ring roads around the center. Each tourist place can be located as between X and Y ring road easily.
  2. If you are a Wells Fargo banker, take the Access Code from Customer Service before boarding the flight. This code allows you to talk to a Wells Fargo banker in USA from anywhere in China. There are separate codes for North and South China. Dial the access code, get the operator, mention the 800-869-TO-WELLS and voila you are connected to the network.
  3. Nichole & Renita were gracious to let me share the ride from airport to the hotel so I missed that part of the experience. But it's recommended to walk out of the airport and get a Taxi from the Taxi Stand instead of getting lost in rooks within the airport. It's also recommended to have your hotel name written in Mandarin because the Taxi Drivers may not be able to read/speak English. Once you checked into the hotel you can use your hotel key to show the address (which has the address written in Chinese) to move around the city.
  4. Took a guided tour from the hotel to Forbidden City and Great Wall of China. It covered Transportation, Lunch, Parking tickets and Tolls and an English-speaking guide. You can do the same using a private taxi but it may turn out to be slightly costly and most likely you will not get an Mandarin-speaking driver and therefore no guide :) As part of the standard tour, they may take you to a Silk Emporium and Jade Factory, they are fun places just to learn how they are all manufactured.
  5. Shopping is a LOT of fun in Beijing. There is a great variety of clothes, toys, gadgets, etc. at local shops. And no shopping is complete without bargaining and that too HARD bargaining. For example when shopping at touristy places, such as street-side shops near Great Wall, bargain HARD. The rule that I followed was to quote the price to 10% of the original. Here are some examples:
     
    Item Quoted Paid
    Tee-shirts 1 for 130 RMB 3 for 50 RMB
    Cashmere Scarf (can't be original ;) 1 for 160 RMB 5 for 80 RMB
    Great Wall Memento 350 RMB 20 RMB
    Refrigerator Magnet 20 RMB 5 RMB

    Generally the shopkeepers will give a counter offer but be straight-faced and maintain your price. To keep it easy, just stick to your price and pretend walk away. In all the cases, I was approached with my quoted price :)

  6. If you plan to visit Great Wall during November, make sure to carry good warm clothing including gloves and an ear-long cap and a good hiking/walking shoe. It is extremely windy and certain portions of the Wall are really steep.

  7. There is no tipping in restaurants and taxi. Don't be surprised if you see a confused look on the person serving if you leave the tip.

And here are the pictures so far:

Sun Tech Days Beijing kick started this morning and a subsequent entry will talk about that.

Technorati: conf traveltips beijing suntechdays

Sunday Oct 28, 2007

GlassFish Day @ Beijing

What are the dates ? Nov 1 - 2, 2007 for Sun Tech Days and Nov 3, 2007 for GlassFish Day

Where is the venue ? Beijing International Conference Center. More details here.

What is the agenda ? Sun Tech Days agenda here, GlassFish Day agenda here. You experience multiple tracks dedicated to Java and Solaris, Hands-on-labs, Community events such as GlassFish Day. And above all you get 1-1 interaction with industry experts.

What do you get ? Complete immersion in GlassFish and it's ecosystem.

How to register ? Click here.

See you there!

Technorati: conf suntechdays glassfish

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.


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