Shenzhen travel log: Day 3

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These are the quick & dirty travel notes from our second ThingsCon trip to Shenzhen, China. Read all posts from this series here (tag: ViewSourceII), or all blog posts relating to Shenzhen here (tag: Shenzhen). The latter one includes last fall’s trip to Shenzhen as well.

I’m in heaven: Jianbing, according to SeriousEats China’s most popular street breakfast, is easily available here.


Delicious Jianbing (12 Yuan, €1.60)

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The real life in HuaqiangBei is in the the back alleys. There’s great food, and lots of energy. It’s ok to watch. Just try not to to stand in the way.

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We tour the complex of SIDA, the Sino-Finnish Design Association, and our local ThingsCon host organization SZOIL. The whole complex is dedicated to design-related companies, from product design to 3D animation. Impressive walls full of awards drive home one point over and over again: China has been developing a design scene that’s worth taking seriously.

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The Starbucks in our hotel has this sign up. I’ve never seen this anywhere else.


“I’d like my espresso with 22 seconds or precision and passion, please!”

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Artefacts of Shenzhen: Smart flexible phone

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SIDA and their program SZOIL exist to help international companies get their feet on the ground in China, including help with understanding policies, getting work visas, finding funding.

For example, you want a robot. Drop by SIDA, explain your requirements and design, and they can help match you with some design house options, then it’s up to you.

Does Evan, who handles international partnerships for SIDA, have any recommendations for international companies who want to do business her? He says he recommends to gather as much experiments rather than theorizing: Be bolder, practice, practice, practice!

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Trying out a new translation app. It shows great promise for translating restaurant menus, and entirely failed me in a live interaction with a shopkeeper.

We discovered a new feature: Emotional translation. I seriously wonder how accurate it is in terms of actual translation? And maybe more to the point, I imagine you’d most need to deploy in in a moment of crisis—but how do you snap a photo of your counterpart then?


Test 1: I’m looking frown-y, and a bit weird. “Painful” works in a pinch. Check.


Test 2: Anh was more dubious than OK, but we decide to give it a pass.


Test 3: Jan-Geert’s smile is a Wonder Smile alright, but would that translation help me in any way? We’re doubtful but well entertained.

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It’s rainy. Very, very rainy. I get soaked trying to find a laundry place, and then even more when I continue on to the restaurant. We eat Sichuan food at Casablance—a place we had been to before. Nicely local but with a twist (or two), full of black and white movie references and a cat called “Chairman Meow”.

Stuffed with tofu, fish, shrimp, and “glutinous sesame balls”, lips still tingling from Sichuan’s famous numbing spice, I tap out early to get a little work done.


Glutinous sesame balls (a dessert)

I’m more than happy to see that part of the group continues to explore the city.

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