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Showing posts with label Opportunistic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opportunistic. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A View From Above of Minzu East Road in Zhongshan

The Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan is, not so surprisingly, located on Minzu East Road. I have photographed numerous scenes including vendors and a variety of items for sale at similar markets elsewhere in China, but in this case I didn't take many photos. Two of the photos I did take while at the market especially stand out me, in part because they happened after opportunistically looking out of a second floor window reachable only because a vending location had been vacated. Additionally, the photos are significant for how they capture a side of Zhongshan harder to see from other perspectives.

So below are two photos taken from above of life on Minzu East Road on a recent rainy October day. The scenes also include some of the older buildings which remain in the area along with newer and taller buildings in the distance.

Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan


Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan



For a bonus, the entrance to the Minzu East Market:

Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan

Monday, October 15, 2018

Another Rainbow and Another Pagoda in China

After visiting a large electronics market today in Zhongshan, I found it was raining outside. I then noticed some brightening in the distance and wondered if a rainbow would appear.

I have posted before about having lived in China for many years without seeing a single rainbow in the sky. But this year I have had far better success, whether in Qingyuan or in Ganzhou. Maybe my luck would continue.

So even though it was still lightly raining, I crossed Fuhua Road for a less obstructed view in the expected direction for any potential rainbow.

That was easy . . .

rainbow in Zhongshan, Guangdong


Hoping for a more something more scenic, I headed down the street. I thought a pedestrian bridge and river ahead might offer good opportunities, though I figured I couldn't top a rainbow over a pagoda in Ganxian — my most recent previous rainbow sighting.

But when I reached the top of the pedestrian bridge, I excitedly realized I had yet another pagoda with rainbow opportunity.

rainbow in Zhongshan, China


Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) isn't easily noticeable in the above photo, but if you look closely you can see it standing on the top Yandun Hill (烟墩山) in Zhongshan Park.

The rainbow was mostly gone by the time I reached the river. Nonetheless the impromptu excursion was well worthwhile.

And on the way, I pointed out the rainbow to some people who may have otherwise missed it due to walking the opposite direction like what once almost happened to me. One man appeared to think I must be crazy when I first pointed at the sky behind him. But I noticed him beginning to turn around as I passed by.

I then heard an appreciative "Oooooooh!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Following the Rainbow: A Pagoda, River, and Bridge in Ganxian, Ganzhou

A little over a week ago in Ganzhou, I saw a rainbowan uncommon experience for me during my years in China. Seeing the rainbow was all the more surprising because I hadn't noticed anything which made me think one was a likely possibility.

Later in the week on Saturday, I visited Ganzhou's Ganxian District (赣县区). A storm passed though during the afternoon, and as the rain subsided I thought it could be a prime opportunity to catch yet another rainbow. So I headed eastward down a tree-covered section of Meilin Street (梅林大街) to an intersection with a clearer view.

And there it was.

rainbow over Meilin Street (梅林大街) in Ganxian, Ganzhou (赣州赣县)


I hadn't ever seen two rainbows in such a short period of time in China. Looking further down the road, it appeared there might be some natural scenery to pair with the rainbow. So I changed plans and headed in that direction. By the time I reached the perimeter of Ganxian's most urban area, the rainbow was gone. Yet the view was still rewarding, and I spotted the Zhenxing Pagoda (振兴塔) in the distance.



Now intrigued by the tower, I headed toward it. Soon I was at the Gong River (贡水), the same river where I had earlier seen people observing the Hungry Ghost Festival in Ganzhou's Zhanggong District (章贡区).

Zhenxing Tower( 振兴塔) and the Gong River (贡水) in Ganxian (赣县), Ganzhou, Jiangxi


Nearby I spotted the Meilin Bridge (梅林大桥).

Meilin Bridge (梅林大桥) in Ganxian, Ganzhou


I then headed down to the riverbank where I took in more views and also saw construction work on a riverside walkway.

men walking on land sticking into the Gong River with the Zhenxing Tower (振兴塔) in background


construction of a walkway next to the Gong River near the Meilin Bridge in Ganxian


construction of walkway next to the Gong River in Ganxian


The previous time I saw a rainbow, I had to give thanks to a woman for the fact I saw it all. This time, I had to give thanks to the rainbow for bringing me to sights I would have likely missed otherwise. And I still ended up making it to my original destination, which I could fortunately appreciate even after the sun had set.

One more thing . . . While I had been walking near the river, there was a brief drizzle and a rainbow appeared once more. I wasn't in an ideal location during its brief existence. But nonetheless, I finally captured a rainbow in a more scenic Chinese setting.

Zhenxing Tower (振兴塔) and a rainbow

Monday, April 7, 2014

People Who Wanted to Take Their Photograph With a Foreigner in Zhanjiang

People I don't know asking me if I would pose in a photo with them has been a semi-regular experience in China, particularly in regions where there are few foreigners. As some other foreigners in China could readily report, these experiences are not unique to me. But similar to the stories I shared of Chinese being friendly to a foreigner in China, I don't think all of these requests were made only because I was a foreigner, and all foreigners would not have had the same experience. As before, "there are many complexities".

Yesterday in Zhanjiang's Xiashan District, I received many more requests than any other day in Zhanjiang despite visiting some of the same places I have visited several times before. I have no doubt my behavior and appearance at any moment can impact whether people either want or are willing to make a request. But based on my conversations with some of the people I met, I suspect the primary reason for the increase was related to people having extra time off due to the Qingming Festival and more people visiting from parts of Zhanjiang where foreigners are even more uncommon.

I would like to delve into some of the "many complexities" regarding these requests and what they may indicate (and not indicate). But for now I will simply throw some color on the topic by sharing photos of all the people who asked me if I would pose in a photo with them today and yesterday in Zhanjiang. Although some of what I see represented in the photos feels typical to me, such as receiving requests from both males and females, I would caution against making any China-wide generalizations based on the people in these photos. For example, in Zhanjiang a higher than typical percentage of requests have come from high school students.

In all of the cases below, I was not the first person to initiate contact, and they made their request before I asked if I could take a photo of them, which always received a positive reply. The photos are presented in chronological order, and the locations were all in / near parks or popular shopping areas.

Finally, yes, I have some photos with me included. Turning the tables can be revealing. But I don't think readers need or want to see 10 photos of me. For me, this phenomenon primarily represents yet another window through which I can better understand China. I am not the point.

So here are some of the people in China who recently introduced themselves to me in Zhanjiang:


a boy and two girls in Zhanjiang

three women and four men in Zhanjiang

a couple in Zhanjiang

four high school students sitting on a bench with a lake and a ferris wheel in the background in Zhanjiang

two men in Zhanjiang

two young men in Zhanjiang

two young women in Zhanjiang

two young men wearing shirts with creative designs in Zhanjiang

three young women in Zhanjiang

Saturday, November 3, 2012

An Afternoon with a Balloon in Changsha

The other day I saw a balloon seller in Changsha, Hunan province.

man selling balloons in Changsha, China

One of his balloons caught my eye. After some negotiation I bought it, and we then had a brief chat. I was surprised to learn he is from Luoyang, Henan province, which is about 510 miles (820 km) away (map). And he was surprised to learn I had been there before. He asked if the balloon was for my kid. I told him I didn't have any kids, but I planned to give the balloon to someone else. He bid me farewell as his friend, and I did the same in return.

I didn't pay much attention to the balloon as I walked around Changsha that afternoon. However, I did notice other people paying attention to it, whether with a puzzled or humored expression. And in a few cases it opened up opportunities to meet new people like the man from Luoyang.

Towards the end of the day I stopped by a large convenience store that I have been frequenting during my time in Changsha. I always have at least a brief chat with the staff there so I know most of them. I asked a young male worker if he was dating anyone. He said he wasn't and asked if I could introduce him to an American woman. I told him I'd keep an eye out and advised him to start saving up for an engagement ring. He expressed confidence that would not be a problem.

I had planned to give the balloon to a kid on the street or whichever receptionist happened to be working at my hotel when I returned. But the shirt of a young worker who was cleaning some containers made me smile. So I decided to give her the balloon.

young worker at a store holding a cat balloon in Changsha, China

I think I found it a good home.

That balloon had led to several moments which may not have happened otherwise. I wasn't out to make any grand discoveries, although you never know what can happen. Just meeting a few more people was enough to make it a good investment.

Plus, it was a pretty nifty balloon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Random Bus Ride in Zhuhai

It had been a while since my previous random bus ride, so I decided to take another one during a more recent stay in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

On a bus for line 10 in Zhuhai

Once again, I did not know where the bus was headed. This time I decided to stay on the bus until its final stop, which happened to be about an hour away:

Bus station in northern Zhuhai near the border with the city of Zhongshan

Although bus stations can have their own wonders, a few villages the bus had earlier passed seemed to hold more promise. So I headed back down the road by foot:

Provincial Road 111 in Zhuhai

As I began, a pedestrian overpass helped me better appreciate a nearby highway:

On the left is the Zhuhai Branch of the Guang'ao Expressway

Soon, the road I was walking on veered off in a different direction from the highway. In several upcoming posts I will share some of what I saw at two villages I explored later that day. Yet again, taking a random trip proved to be rather rewarding.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Android Store in Zhuhai, China

Updates at end

An earlier post here provided an overview of the "fake" Apple stores, including iPhone stores, I saw in a number of cities in Southeast China. Another post shared photos of a variety of other mobile phone stores in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Although I have included photos of a variety of stores, at least one company may feel left out. If so, Google can now perk up. I saw this Android Store after I took a random bus to Nanping in Zhuhai, Guangdong province:

Android store in Nanping, Zhuhai, China
Android store in Nanping, Zhuhai

"名流智能手机体验店", which is under the word "Android" on the store's sign, can be literally translated as "Celebrities Smartphone Experience Store". In short, if you want to be like a celebrity (or you are celebrity) this is presumably the place for you. The idea of an Android "experience store" reminded me that several months ago in Melbourne, Australia Google opened its first "Androidland". Mike Isaac on Wired described the store:
Created in collaboration with Android device manufacturers, “Androidland” showcases the many different devices that run Google’s operating system in a fun, Android-themed environment. And rather than merely hawking the devices, special displays and gaming kiosks aim to inform potential buyers about how Android works, and what devices may be best for them.
Perhaps the owner of the store in Nanping was inspired by Androidland. As far as I know, Google has not opened any official stores in China, so this could also be another opportunity for a foreign company to be inspired by local design (in this case "store design") in China. It could also be another opportunity for a trademark dispute. Whatever the case, I doubt Google would be thrilled with all of the choices made by this Android store owner. For example, in addition to a variety of Android-based mobile phones the store also sold Apple products such as iPhones, iPads, and computers (no ifads for sale, though).

Sign for iPhones and an iPhone accessory display case at the Android store

Maybe some celebrities in Zhuhai demand Apple products. However, Apple lists only one authorized retailer in Zhuhai. Of no surprise to me, its address is nowhere near the above store and it does not have "Android" in its name.

After scratching an Android store off my list, I will now keep my eyes open for another brand. After all, Windows Phone 7 officially launched in China today. That could mean some additional interesting stores are on the way.


UPDATE 1: More on this store in the more recent post "Inside the Android Store in Zhuhai, China".

UPDATE 2: See in what ways this Android store is not unique in the more recent post "Nokia Stores Selling a Variety of Phones in Nanping, Zhuhai"

UPDATE 3: See what I discover when I visit the store several months later in the post "The Fate of the Android Store in Zhuhai, China"

UPDATE 4: About a year and half after my first visit, much more had changed—see "The Fate of the Android Store in Zhuhai, China: Part II".



Disclosure: I previously worked as a user experience researcher in Microsoft China's Mobile Services China group. This exploration was not conducted as paid work nor at the request of any company.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Random Bus Trip to Zhuhai's Nanping

I have shared before how I enjoy using a variety of methods, sometimes even following helpful kids or dogs, to more fully explore the world. Yesterday afternoon in Zhuhai, I decided it was time for another semi-random exploration and applied one of my favorite methods. So, I went to this busy city bus stop:

bus stop in Zhuhai, China
A bus stop on Yingbin South Road

And boarded the next bus that arrived:

inside of city bus in Zhuhai, China
The bus filled up at the next stop.

I had no clue where it was going and quite happy about that. After I was seated, a woman approached asking me to pay the appropriate fare. I did not know the amount so she asked me where I was going. I told her I did not know and asked her where the bus was headed.

She paused for a moment and then told me we were on the way to Doumen. I had never heard of Doumen so I told her it sounded fine. She then asked for 4 yuan, or about US 60 cents. That was more than a typical bus fare and I then found out that Doumen was about 1 hour away. Given it was already late in the afternoon I did not want to go so far. So I asked her to recommend a closer stop. She suggested Nanping. Nanping sounded great. And it only cost 2 yuan to go there.

So, I hopped off the bus here in Nanping Village (南屏村) in Zhuhai's Xiangzhou district:

bus on road in Zhuhai, China
Bus heading onward to Doumen without me

I turned around and saw this:

some buildings in Nanping, Zhuhai

After taking a peak inside the internet cafe on the 2nd floor of the nearby building, I headed down a small street that looked interesting to me:

man on tricycle cart in Nanping, Zhuhai

In upcoming posts I will share some of the unexpected discoveries I made during just a few hours in Nanping. It felt like another world from where I had spent most of my previous time in Zhuhai.

For now, I will share just a few photos including older buildings. Such buildings are quickly disappearing in China, and many are full of history. As I will share in a later post, I discovered that some of the buildings even have a story to tell that connects to the 1800s in America's east coast. However, to me the photos are not special just because of the buildings but also because of some of the local life they capture.

older building in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

woman riding bicycle by older buildings in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

older buildings along an alley in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

many sitting behind a sign near some older buildings in Nanping, Zhuhai
The red sign says "New Homes for Rent"

older buildings in Nanping, Zhuhai

older buildings turned into stores in Nanping, Zhuhai, China
Some small stores and a restaurant

older buildings in alley in Nanping, Zhuhai, China

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Fake" Apple Stores in China

Apple Store in Shanghai
A "real" Apple Store in Shanghai

Last July, an American living in China wrote on her blog, BirdAbroad, about a store in Kunming, Yunnan province that in many ways looked liked a genuine Apple Store despite the fact that it was not. While some people found the story so incredible that they pondered if it was a hoax, for some in China it came as no great surprise. "Fake" can be rather common in China. In fact, just in Kunming alone police later found 22 stores "unlawfully using Apple's brand and logo". But as noted by Josh Chin on The Wall Street Journal's "China Real Time Report", the store highlighted on BirdAbroad was a jewel specimen showing the lengths some would go.

I've come across a number of "Apple stores" in a variety of other cities in China. None of the stores were on the scale of the one in Kunming, but they help paint a broader picture of the environment in China for a brand such as Apple. In that spirit, I'll share some of what I've seen in 3 of the cities I've most recently visited. For a number of the examples I'll share, I discovered them purely by chance as I walked around exploring the cities. Others where found when I deliberately visited certain shopping districts, though not because I knew I'd find stores selling Apple products there. Especially given that I wasn't deliberately seeking out such stores, I suspect that what I'm sharing is just the tip of the iceberg for these cities. To be clear, for some of the examples I can't be absolutely sure anything improper is occurring. But based on what I know and the example of the store in Kunming, there is certainly much that should at least raise some eyebrows.

Before sharing any examples of questionable sales of Apple's products or uses of its trademarks, I want to clarify one issue that I've seen cause some confusion. In addition to its official Apple Stores in China, Apple also allows select businesses to be official Apple resellers. Some of these stores only sell Apple (and Apple-related) products. Even in Shanghai where three large Apple Stores currently operate there are also numerous authorized Apple resellers where one can purchase Apple products. Here is a photo of an authorized Apple Reseller at a large shopping mall in Guangzhou, Guangdong province that is similar to many others I have seen:

Sunion Premium Reseller Apple store in Guangzhou

Sunion is a common Apple reseller in China. I'm sure this store is legitimate not only because of the "Premium Reseller" sign prominently displayed (which of course could be faked) but also because this specific store appears on Apple's list of authorized resellers in China. While official resellers often have some of the look and feel of an Apple Store, as referenced by Loretta Chao and Sue Feng (also on The Wall Street Journal's "China Real Time Report") there are guidelines they must follow. I'm not absolutely sure if this is part of the rules, but it's worth pointing out that the above store's name does not include "Apple" in it. Also, the employees wore shirts with "Sunion" written on them - not "Apple" or an Apple logo as was found in the now famous store in Kunming.

So, as far as I could tell all looked good there, as in many other authorized stores in China.

However, in the very same mall as the store above I saw a number of other stores also selling Apple products. None of them currently appear on Apple's list of authorized resellers. For example, there was this store with "iPhone 4" displayed where a store name is typically located:

store with prominent sign above entrance with words iPhone 4
An "iPhone 4" store

To provide some context, this section of the mall had numerous stores with their apparent "real" name posted in the same relative location above their main entrance. This store's business card did not indicate "iPhone 4" and instead provided a nondescript Chinese name for the business. The store sold a variety of Apple products such as iPhones and iPads. In addition to the Apple-like feel of the store, I also noticed PC monitors which did not appear to be Apple products with stickers of Apple's logo on them. You can see a hint of one in the photo.

Also of relevance is the logo in the red sign on the left side of the picture. It's China Unicom's logo for its WCDMA 3G Network. China Unicom has an agreement with Apple that allows it to sell iPhones. China Unicom also has an online list of dealers and currently this store is not listed there either. Even if the store should be on the list, its sales of non-iPhone products, the choice of the displayed store name, etc. remain issues.

There were other stores selling Apple products, many also with Apple-labeled PC monitors. And some stores weren't content with naming themselves "iPhone 4", but instead chose "iPhone 4S":

store with prominent sign above entrance with words iPhone 4S
An "iPhone 4S" store

stors with prominent signs with words iPhone 4,iPhone4S, and Android
iPhone, iPhone 4S, and Android too

The use of "iPhone 4s" was particularly fascinating since the iPhone 4S hadn't been authorized for sale in China when I visited any of these stores. In fact, its launch date is this Friday, January 13. So, what's the source for these phones which shouldn't be available in Guangzhou?

I spoke to assistants at several stores and they all told me the same story: the phones are purchased from nearby Hong Kong and brought to Guangzhou. They were very open about the source of the phones and one shop even had a sign stating the Hong Kong origin of the iPhone 4S phones:

store with a sign explaining iPhone 4S purchases

When I asked an assistant at the authorized Sunion store whether I could purchase an iPhone 4S she told me it would not be possible since they weren't available for sale in China. When I asked her why the other stores in the same mall already had them available she looked disgusted but refused to comment.

So, these examples are from just one mall and more exist there than what I've shared here. If you think that's a lot of iPhone stores to peruse in a single mall I can recommend you also visit the Starbucks a few levels below them (which I assume is genuine). Anyways, this is just a small taste of what you could likely find in Guangzhou. In other parts of the city I also noticed several stores with signs indicating they were authorized Apple resellers despite these stores not appearing on Apple's online list.

chang store with sign saying it is an authorized reseller
Is this store really authorized by Apple?

Maybe Apple's online list is not up to date. I did not contact Apple to check.

The examples from Guangzhou are striking, but it is one of China's more developed cities and may not be representative. What can be found in less prominent cities? Hengyang, Hunan province was another city I recently visited, and it provided a number of intriguing examples as well. Here's one store with an Apple logo prominently displayed:

Apple logo on store sign

It actually sold a broad variety of phones, but there was also a store nearby that focused on Apple products:

store in Hengyang with prominent Apple logo on its sign

This store sold iPhone and HTC products:

store in Hengyang with prominent Apple logo and word iPhone on its sign

Inside of the store

And this store claimed to be an authorized reseller:

store in Hengyang with prominent Apple logo on its sign and words Authorised Reseller

Now here's the kicker. Apple doesn't list one single authorized retailer in all of Hengyang. China Unicom does list one authorized reseller in the area I visited, though the address doesn't appear to be for the store above.

After Hengyang I visited Chenzhou, also in Hunan province. I should note that like Hengyang when I visited Chenzhou I hadn't expected to be taking photographs of stores selling Apple products. However, one day I was walking down a street and saw these stores all in close proximity to each other:

several stores in Chenzhou with Apple logos on their signs

store in Chenzhou with prominent Apple logo on its sign

store in Chenzhou with prominent Apple logo on its sign

store in Chenzhou with prominent Apple logo and word iPhone on its sign

store in Chenzhou with prominent Apple logo on its sign

inside of store

Get the point? And like Hengyang, Apple lists no authorized stores in Chenzhou and none of these locations are currently listed on China Unicom's site. Again, some of the stores might simply be missing from the lists.

All of the stores above from Guangzhou, Hengyang, and Chenzhou were very much out in the open and in highly-trafficked areas. Never did anyone ask me to not take photographs. In fact, in several of the "iPhone" stores employees were happy when I asked if I could take their photos. While they might not have thought they were really working for Apple as in the case in Kunming, I didn't get the sense that they had a feeling there was anything they might not want to be fully public.

So, it doesn't appear that Kunming is the only city with "creative" uses of the Apple brand, and I feel pretty safe in saying that Guangzhou, Hengyang, and Chenzhou are not unique in joining Kunming in this respect. Again, I'm not saying I'm sure that everything I've shared here is "bad", but there is certainly much that seems amiss. Perhaps most clear is that the sales of the iPhone 4S should not have been occurring.

All of this presents a mixed case of good and bad news for Apple. At least if the stores are selling genuine Apple products (which is another issue to explore) then presumably Apple is at least profiting from the sales, even if not in the manner they would like. It's a very different problem than what Microsoft faces with many people in China using pirated versions of Windows.

So while there are numerous locations in China where one can legitimately purchase Apple's products, it appears there may be many more locations where sales are less than proper. Whatever benefits there may be for Apple in reducing the number of "fake" Apple stores in China, there would mostly likely exist direct benefits for the properly authorized (and presumably Chinese-owned) reseller stores.

And by the way, I've noticed some other retailers who are indeed very careful not to improperly use Apple's logo or its products' names:

sale of MP3 players that look like the iPod Nano
On a sidewalk in Chenzhou

They just sell products that look remarkably like Apple's -- but for much cheaper of course.