Best Buy Shanghai

Best Buy (百思买) opened the doors for its first store in China today. It’s across the street from work, at the heart of Xujiahui, off of Tianyaoqiao Lu (above the ICBC bank). We went and checked it out at lunch. It’s pretty much the same as the one in the states, but built on 4 floors. It carries cameras, electronics, video games (they had a Wii demo box going), thousands of TVs, and household appliances.

They seem to be definitly catering to the upmarket buyers in Shanghai, given that they were selling mostly Western/Japanese brand products including some direct import products. They did, of course, sell local brands like Haier and the like, but they seemed all to be the premium products they sold. Things are a tad bit more expensive there. For example, my D80 camera was about 1000 RMB more at Best Buy than where I bought it.

Zhujiajiao, Shanghai

I took the 25th off yesterday and went with my friends to Zhujiajiao (朱家角), a canal/water town about an hours bus ride out of Shanghai. There are a bunch of old canal towns within 2/3 hours bus from Shanghai, some in the city’s jurisdiction (such as Zhujiajiao) and others in neighbouring provinces. Largly built during the 1700s and some much older and newer, they’re part or (or related to?) of the old Grand Canal. The best part about these old water towns is that they by and large preserve the feel of an old Chinese city, unlike Shanghai or Beijing.

The weather wasn’t that great, but I did manage to get a few good pictures while there.

  

   

Five Things People Don’t Know About Me

It seems I’ve been tagged by this meme. Here goes:

  1. English was not my first language (or so I believe). It was Marathi. I learned English at some point later in my youth. My Marathi is pretty bad these days, I’m barely conversationally capable and it’s something I want to fix and get better at.
  2. Between the ages of 0 to 18, I have lived in four houses in three states in five moves. I was born in Michigan, then moved to Blue Bell, PA, then to Cupertino, CA then back to the same home in Blue Bell, PA and finally to Orange County, CA. My dad’s company kept sending him to different places so we went too.
  3. I failed a class in college (and nearly failed another). It was either some math or econ class that I failed and I had to retake it. Sadly, the second time I think I just eeked out a B or something worse. My last quarter of school, I nearly failed French both because I’m terrible at it and I overslept through the final. I had to beg the TA to let me take the final with another section.
  4. I normally sleep without a pillow. If there’s a pillow on the bed, I’ll either find the thinnest part or put my head under it like an ostrich. I’m not sure how long this has been going on for, since I don’t remember sleeping like this in college, but big fluffy pillows and I don’t get along.
  5. I can’t think of #5. I’ve had this blog post sitting in draft for two days now trying to think of a #5 and am failing to find anything to write.

And no, I’m not going to tag anybody else with this. This meme ends with me! 🙂

I’m Not Your Father

My phone rang at home today. My phone normally doesn’t ring and often when it does, I don’t answer it because nobody I know calls me on it. I was on the sofa next to the hand set so I answered it when it rang this evening. Here’s my conversation:

  • Me: “Hello”
  • Her: “爸爸?” (ba ba? / daddy?) 
  • Me: “uhhhhh” (thinking: who is this 6 year old girl on the line?!)
  • Her: “爸爸?!” (ba ba?! / daddy?!) 
  • Me: “uhhh” (thinking: crap, what if this girl is in trouble?)
  • Her: “爸爸,你在哪里吗?” (ba ba, ni zai na li ma? / daddy, where are you?)
  • Me: “uhhh 这个电话号不好” (uhhh zhe ge dian hua hao bu hao / uhhh this number is not good)
  • Her: “什么什么什么” (basically, I had no idea what she was saying)
  • Me: “我不是你的爸爸” (wo bu shi ni de baba / I’m not your daddy!)

At this point I heard somebody older, like a mother or caretaker in the background say something and then the other end hung up. I’m pretty sure that they called the wrong number so I assume all is good, it was just a really bizzare phone call.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Last night I went and saw “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”… in Chinese. The show was really funny, even following the English subtitles. It was a bit like going to the opera, where the subtitles are given to you off to the side. The short stories were adapted a bit I assume (I’ve never seen the English version) to fit the market, but the subtitles contained the original dialog, full of references to NYC and the dating scene in America. There were a few scenes where I could understand over half the Chinese dialog, which was incredibly bizarre.

Nikon D80

I joined the DSLR club last week, buying the Nikon D80 with the 18-135 lens kit. I picked up the camera at Xingguang (星光), a four story camera store for a better price than I was seeing at Amazon or B&H for the kit (including 2GB of memory and a UV filter). I’m quite happy with the body and the ergonomics of the Nikon. The lens I’m still not sure if I’m a fan, but I think that has more to do with me being an newbie versus the lens itself.

Given that there are a bunch of folks in the office own DSLRs, there are quite a few opportunities to go out and shoot with friends. I went out with a few on Saturday through Xujiahui (徐家汇) to shoot at the old Church as well as Grand Gateway (港汇). We weren’t allowed in to the Church but we were able to shoot on the grounds some. Of the 500+ pictures I’ve taken so far, I’ve probably only gotten like four or so good ones. Once I go thru them I’ll post them here.

Pictures from Malaysia, Macau and HK

Pictures have synced to my site (I love FolderShare). Looking through them, there are an excessive amount food pictures, given that I spent most of my time eating I guess it makes sense.

2006-11-23 Arriving in and Around, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (60 pictures)

2006-11-24 Little India, Melaka Square, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (141 pictures)

2006-11-25 Getting to and Around GeorgeTown, Penang, Malaysia (129 pictures)

2006-11-26 The Old City, Penang, Malaysia (50 pictures)

2006-11-29 Walking Around, Hong Kong SAR (63 pictures)

2006-11-28 Night Pictures from Around the City, Macau SAR (50 pictures)

20 Hours in Hong Kong

originally posted 30 November 2006, 11:29pm

I took the 10:00am ferry from Macau to Hong Kong. This time, I went via the Kowloon ferry pier, which dropped me off pretty near my hotel in HK. I checked in to the The Salsbery YMCA, which turned out to be quite nice. My room was upgraded to a partial harbor view room, so I could actually see a glimpse of the IFC as well as the harbor.

Soon as I’d gotten in, I dropped my bags off and headed out to Tsim Sha Tsui to do some shopping. I stopped in the Addidas store to pick up some basketball shorts that are impossible to find in Shanghai then went to HMV and went crazy buying music. I picked up Armin Van Buuren’s 10 Years, Charles Mingus’ Mingus Dynasty, Hed Kandi’s A Taste of Kandi Summer 2006, Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Dream, and Mingus Big Band’s Live from Tokyo.

After emptying my wallet for the first half of the day, I stopped in Pacific Coffee on Nathan Road (just like last time!) and got a quick espresso and checked some email on their free internet kiosks. I got a call from some coworkers who were going to be in HK at the same time, and decided to meet them for lunch at Yong He (?). It’s apparently this really famous duck place. I took MTR over to HK Island and got a cab, just told him the name of the resturant and off we were.

I had some random dishes at the place and we all decided to go over to IFC to get some shopping done, and then went back up to Kolwoon via MTR to Mong Kok to look at electronics. The prices for equipment were quite good. I’m casually eying a Canon 400D, and they were selling a 400D+1gig CF+lens kit for like 5800 HKD. We then split ways with plans later to meet at SPOON at the Intercontinental for dinner.

Dinner was fantastic. Our seats were on the window with a view of the harbor and all of Central. The food itself was great. I think I set a new record for my most expensive meal yet (a white truffle linguine with 6 grams of truffles!). After a long dinner, we walked around the boardwalk area for a while then crossed over to the island via Star Ferry and met up some other folks over at Lan Kwai Fong.

The next morning, it was back off to Shanghai on the 9:35am flight. I ended up waking up at like 640 to take a taxi to the train to the airport, thus ending a fantastic seven days thru southern Asia. I really love Hong Kong and I want to spend more time there, like start a business in HK or something. Plus, even as a tourist, there’s still so much yet to see, like the Chung King Mansions or Repulse Bay. It’s such a densely packed city that’s diverse and vibrant. I can see why people go to work there and never leave.

Work and Gambling

originally posted 27 November 2006, 9:22am

Quick update from Macau. Last night went gambling some in the Sands Casino (Jin Sha in Chinese). Went in with 1000 HKD and left with 350 HKD playing roulette. Today was work, work lunch, work dinner, and then went to the Wynn Casino with some coworkers and played roulette again. I ran in to a bunch of people from today’s training around the Wynn gambling. Started with 1000 HKD again, got down to 100 HKD, then up to 7000 HKD and ended up leaving the table with about 3000 HKD, so net profit there.

Not sure I’ll play again tomorrow night, since I’ve got my fill of gambling in the last two nights. The Wynn here is really nice. Not as big as the one in Vegas, but more of it is under construction in all directions (it just opened in September). There’s a nonsmoking section, to boot. Imagine that, in China of all place, a non-smoking section to game. Unlike the Wynn in Vegas, there is almost no entertainment and the shopping mall areas is 1/10th the size of the size in Vegas.

Tomorrow more of this training and I’m sure more of the same large amount of Microsoft propagandization. Then off to Hong Kong on Wed (or maybe Tuesday night if I feel up to it).