Geek Tour 09


Back at Sketching In Hardware 2008, someone (I think it was Dale Dougherty or Tom Igoe) pointed out that we should put together a group of people to tour through China checking out how business is done, what the factories look like, good places to eat, etc. So here I am, seven months later hanging out in Hong Kong (drinking a Tsing Tao). It’s 9PM here, 6AM where I’m from (MST)! Needless to say, I feel a bit off.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/GCT09-M-0.jpg

How do you get from SparkFun to Hong Kong you ask? Checkout the flight plan pictured above.  The Continental flight out of Newark, NJ turned out the be the cheapest at ~$1000. One non-stop, 15 hour flight. I need a globe and a piece of string - that just doesn’t seem right to me.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/GCT09-M-1.jpg

International travel reminds me just how much the rest of the world watches the United States. Regardless of your political slant (go Obama!), it was very edifying to see how much coverage the US economic recovery package got. It passed right? I get a check in the mail now, right?

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/GCT09-M-2.jpg

Woot Hong Kong!

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/GCT09-M-3.jpg

There are a lot of people in Hong Kong! This street-market went on for blocks and blocks and blocks. Really, for hundreds of blocks.  Hong Kong is wonderfully amazing!

Shenzen is up next. Here’s the tour crew you should follow in case I run out of homepage-post energy:

Talk about a list of rock stars.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/GCT09-M-4.jpg

I almost forgot Che! There is a clothing line in Hong Kong that has now taken the popular t-shirt one step further. It’s an entire store of digitized Che! Note the (lack of) hands. For that matter, what is he holding?


Comments 21 comments

  • Hi guys, I am in HK and Shenzhen too. If you still have time, visit the ApLiu Street in HK, comparative small with SEG, but longer history and different culture. Nearby, there is Golden Computer Plaza. If you need any help in HK and Shenzhen, Aaron has my phone number.

  • For those of us who can’t get to Hong Kong, there’s always http://DealExtreme.com (prices include shipping).

  • Do you realize that that guy with the blue bag in the street market photo is giving you the finger?

  • I hope you will fill us in about this trip next month at EntConnect. Hong Kong is one of my favorite Asian cities. Take note of the contrast as you travel into China’s mainland, as I suspect you’re doing right about now. It’s something you’ll remember for a lifetime. My trip from Hong Kong by boat up the river to Shunde City is still fresh in my mind despite nearly a decade that’s passed since I was last there.

  • Hong Kong is really ground zero for electronics, followed by Taiwan, & Colorado somewhere later. Everyone wants to do at least 1 robot project in Hong Kong. The stuff we do in Silicon Valley is really dated.

  • We received the below message through the “Feedback” box from an anonymous person:
    “The Che cartoon has hands. They look like stub next to the belt. The cartoon is wearing a traditional Chinese suit.”

  • If you guys are still in Hong Kong, you have to check out the computer/electronics mall plaza’s. There is the Mongkok computer center and the Sham Shui Po’s “Golden computer center”.
    When the electronic industry talks about the “street prices” of components, this is probably where they got the term.
    You can get to both of those plaza’s via MTR, and viewing the MTR maps.

  • I just got back from HK. Great city for food!
    Check out: Ebenezer’s for great kababs. Its very close to Tsim Sha Tsui.

  • A couple more tips:
    1) Don’t forget that there’s more to it than just the SEG electronics market: that’s just one building. I found an equally impressive building across the road, and then another one behind that one that seemed to specialize in commercial quantities for larger manufacturers. They had racks full of reels, and semiconductor company distributor offices that were packed with cartons of semis.
    2) Technically you’re not supposed to import components into HK without having to pay duty. I got away with it because I only had a few in my backpack, but larger quantities might have been noticed at the border. There’s a post office on the Chinese side of the border and I considered the option of just mailing things directly home.

  • Some things I learned from my own trip to Shenzhen that might be useful for others:
    1) Having the Chinese visa in advance was good - there seemed to be a line at the border, but I was able to skip it.
    2) You’ll need RMB for China. If you’re staying in Tsim Sha Tsui and exchanging currency at Chunking Mansions (the building in the photo above with Obama on a video screen), take the stairs up one level and find the tiny currency exchange place there. They seem to have consistently better exchange rates than the places on the ground floor.
    3) The Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station is connected via an underground walkway to the East Rail station, which has frequent trains up to the Lo Wu station at the Chinese border.
    4) It’s very easy to get from the border to the action in Shenzhen: just take the Metro to Hua Qiang Lu station. It’s fast and very cheap (less than USD $1.00). The coin operated machines that sell tokens have a user interface in English.

  • Hehe… Che line of clothing. Kindof funny in that I just watched this a few days ago: http://www.reason.tv/video/show/622.html

    • Ah, that is an interesting video indeed. I’d like to know how such a bloody revolutionary was transformed into a pop culture icon. It’s quite ironic, and a little sickening.

  • If you think the HK street market is something, then Shenzhen will blow your mind. I spent a day walking around, going from one multi-storey building to another, each of them full of vendors selling all sorts of electronic components. I was so staggered by it all I almost forgot to buy anything.
    Next I’m going to give myself more time, and maybe even hire a local to help me with the language and the negotiating.

  • Still in HK??
    fancy a drink??

  • If you need memory card, remember to buy some in Hong Kong. From my US clients, they said it is much cheaper in HK compare in US.
    2G SD in Hong Kong is less than HKD50 which is around USD 6.41

  • Do you have plans to visit the fab house that makes the BatchPC boards? GoldenPhoenix is it?
    have fun.

  • Really - you are in Hong Kong? I live in Hong Kong and would love to meet up with you guys. How long are you in town? When do you head to Shenzhen? What are the next stops on the trip?
    Right now I am Shanghai, but I will be back in Hong Kong by the weekend. I will be back in Shaghai in a week or two, will you be coming by here at all?

  • Welcome to Hong Kong. Hope you have a nice trip here.
    A guy from HK

  • i have been to hong kong, I loved it there. i reccomend Contenental airlines, they give free martini’s to people in first class, i just stuck with orange juice because im 15

  • I actually made the trip to Shenzhen and HK a few weeks ago, mainly just to go to the SEG market in Shenzhen and do some electronics shopping. It’s a brutal flight (and I was only flying 13 hours from Paris, France), but I agree HK is an interesting place, and it’s a shame we have to fly 12 or 13 hours to find places like the SEG market … I’d be curious to hear your thought on the trip, though.
    Kevin.

  • Well Nate, I happen to be reading this at home where both a globe and a piece of string are within arm’s reach!
    Turns out the great circle connecting NJ and Hong King does seem to just cross the 80th parallel. If you did this trip in the northern hemisphere’s summer you’d have a nice bird’s eye view of the Arctic Ocean, maybe even Santa’s workshop.
    Have fun!


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