This past Saturday (September 25, 08:00 China Standard Time) we saw the official release of the iPhone 4 in mainland China. It was welcomed by thousands of Chinese Apple fans, who camped out at the 3 Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai respectively. The actual launch had the fanfare of launches in New York City, London and Tokyo. This is even with gray-market iPhone 4's from Hong Kong and other countries sold in mainland China since it the initial launch in the US.

China Unicom said over 200,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 were received since September 17 but only 60,000 of these customers received their phones on the weekend. China Unicom had since stopped taking pre-orders due to the demand. The high demand at China Unicom outlets occurred even though the iPhone 4 sold through, Apple's only official mainland China carrier, comes with a 2-year contract.

Contrary to the iPhone 4 sold through Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai which are contract free. Apple have not released any sales figures for the weekend, but we can see from the lines of people waiting outside Apple Stores, many do not want to be locked into contracts. The Apple list prices of RMB4999.00 and RMB5999.00 for the 16GB and 32GB respectively contract-free iPhone 4 are quite high given the average monthly income in China, then again China is a country with the most millionaires, so only time will tell.

So far reports indicate that not only China Unicom outlets are sold out of iPhone 4, the four Apple Stores are also sold out.

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AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone

The 2010 World Expo officially opened on China's Labour Day, May 1st, in Shanghai's New Pudong district along both sides of the Huangpu river, between the Lupu and Nanpu bridges. I visited the Expo on the 2nd day and 2nd day of China's Labour Day holiday. It was a very hot 30C sunny Sunday in Shanghai fortunately it was dry and not humid. Due to the size of the Expo and the number of entrances, it was misleading as to how crowded the Expo was when I arrived at Gate 5-3 at 11:30 in the morning.

Ticket Prices

Peak Day - Single Day Entry Ticket RMB200.00
Peak Day - Special Administration Ticket RMB120.00
Standard Day - Single Day Entry Ticket RMB160.00
Standard Day - Special Administration Ticket RMB100.00
3 Days Entry Ticket RMB400.00
7 Days Entry Ticket RMB900.00
Evening Entry Ticket RMB90.00

The following days are considered "Peak Day":

2010.05.01 - 03: Labor Day Holiday 2010.10.01 - 07: National Day Holiday 2010.10.25 - 30: last week before the closing date

The following are defined as Special Administration:

These tickets are available for the disabled, the senior citizens (born on or before December 31, 1950), students with valid IDs, children above 1.2m and Chinese military personnel on active duty. Valid IDs must be presented to during ticket purchase and entry into Expo.

Note that only children under the height of 1.2m are allow into Expo free of charge. Everyone else require to purchase a ticket.

Only Peak Day tickets have entry date printed on the ticket. If this Peak Day ticket is not used on the specified date, it can be used as a Standard Day entry ticket.

Evening tickets can only be purchase at Expo site on the same day. All other ticket types can be purchase in advance at authorized ticket outlets.

Transportation to Expo Site

The easiest is to take an Expo taxi, the only type of taxi allowed into the grounds of Expo site.

Alternatively you can also take the Metro (subway). Line 13 is a special line that has two dedicated stops: Lupo Bridge and Shibo Avenue, within the Expo grounds.

I found out the hard way that there is no taxi stand; at least not ones that can be found or signage to show where it is, and hailing a taxi is a free-for-all experience, making it even more dangerous as you are now competing with mainland Chinese.

Calling the Expo Taxi number (96822) does not help, as they claim that they cannot book any taxi, but drivers of any vacant taxis say they had already been booked. It was a total chaos. We ended up calling our hotel concierge for help; this is another reason to stay at a reputable hotel when in China.

Visiting Pavilions

If I was to wait in line for the pavilions I visited I would not have visited so many pavilions during my 6 hours of visit. Fortunately, because I knew people at the pavilions, I was able to get into: UK, Africa, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam pavilions through VIP entrances.

The people waiting in lines at the "specially built" pavilions are packed in so close, due to the typical mainland Chinese culture of not-wanting-to-be-left-out mentality, it is really scary to go into the lines. Not to mention that majority of the lines do not have any cover overhead, making heat stroke a definite danger.

Of all the pavilions I visited, the Canada and Chile pavilions were the only ones worth visiting. All the other pavilions were showing information I could have received via their respective Tourist Bureau web sites. Even the UK Pavilion was a bit disappointing other than having the opportunity to see the structure up close.

You can see a photo documentary of my visit at my Flickr photo set.

As I stay in Shanghai on my 6th day I am staring to get Internet withdraws. It is not that I do not have access to the Internet. I do have access to my online store, my emails, my blog and some of my favorite sites. Although this is possible the mainland Chinese government has effectively killed my net social life. Access to Facebook, Twitter and all Google feeds for blogs are blocked. For the latter I have to figure out the original site, visit it's Home page and then locate the story I'm interested in. Yes, VPN is one way to get around the Great Firewall, but I am not that addicted to my net social life to pay for VPN service during my short stay in Shanghai, and the free services like Hotspot Shield is not helping.

For Twitter I use it more for sharing interesting finds on The Net and breaking technology related news. I hope my followers will not give up on me during my short period of hiatus. I guess I can only tell when I returns to Hong Kong.

I had always been a proponent for the use of OAuth, but another side effect from these Internet restrictions is my reliance on OAuth. Three of the providers I use are: Google, Twitter and Facebook, all except for the Google is totally blocked by China Information Bureau (CIB). In future OAuth and particularly XAuth implementations we should take this into consider.

Aside from these restricted accesses I'm also not use to having to first locate WiFi hotspots whenever I want to use the net connection on my iPhone. I had decided to give that up a year ago when I signed up for my first unlimited 3G network access with Smartone-Vodafone (SMV). Unfortunately SMV does not offer a roaming data plan while travelling, so turning my 3G data access on while in Shanghai will be costly.

Being always connected to the Internet is not only for the benefit of my net social life. It is also important for me to keep an eye on the emails relating to my online store, locate where I am in a foreign city, and find transit information. Fortunately, for the latter I had the foresight to purchase the USD0.99 iPhone app Explore Shanghai [iTunes link] before I left HK. This little app made me appear to be an experienced Shanghai subway user. Last night this app was updated to include the new subway (Metro) line (#13), just in time for the opening (May 1st) of World Expo 2010.

I understand China government's needs to control information dissemination. It is the one of the major way for a communist government to keep control of the country. Although the influx of foreigners in a cosmopolitan city like Shanghai; especially during a world event like The Expo, outside information and opinions will inevitably reach locals even with the heavy control of the CIB.

I hope the publishing of this post will not get my blog block within China as that is definitely not my intentions. I think that every government system in the world has its benefits and we cannot impose our own believes onto other countries. All I am pointing out with this post is that we are no longer living in an information deprived world, although information may not be readily available in certain part of the world, it will eventual arrive to those who seek it. Forcefully prevent the flow of information may not be the most effective way to control its flow.

Expo2005

After visiting the World Expo 2005 in Nagoya, Japan I like to share some of my experience for those who may wish to visit it.

The World Expo 2005 runs from March 25 - September 30, 2005 is hosted by Japan in the Aichi Prefecture area, Central Japan, near the city of Nagoya.

World Expo normally happens every 5 years and Expo 2010 had been won by China and will be hosted in Shanghai.

Expo2005

Advanced reservations are a must, if you like to visit all the popular pavilions without spending all your time waiting in lines; they are very very long. Waiting in line for 2 hours is not unusual. Advanced reservations are only available if you have an actual physical ticket, because the reservation system requires you to enter your (12 digits) Ticket Number. At the time of writing majority of the pavilions' advanced reservations are already full until June 26th.

Majority of the "most popular" pavilions issue "numbered tickets" for entry. You can read all about the different rules of these pavilions to plan your visit.

Some of the pavilions I think any visitors should not miss are:

  • Toyota Group Pavilion - its robots and "personal mover" show is a must see. Tickets goes extremely quick and if you do not have advanced reservations, you will want to be in line for the "numbered tickets" distribution at least 1.5 hours prior to the time at which they begin (twice daily).
  • Mitsui-Toshiba Pavilion - this is where you can experience the joy of staring in a Hollywood style movie. Although advanced reservation is suggested, you can also wait in line for entry.
  • Japan Pavilion Nagakute - has one of the most interesting video presentation.
  • Global House (Blue House) - featured the world's first 50 meter wide video screen by Sony.

Here are some of the pavilions you can safely skip:

  • JR Central Pavilion - this 3D movie of the world record maglev train is so boring, if you are tired you can easily fall asleep.
  • Earth Tower Nagoya City - although it has a world record size kaleidoscope, it definitely does not worth the long wait in line.

If you want to cover all the pavilions most will want to visit, you will need at least 3 days, given the amount of time you will be spending in line ups.

Dos

  • Do bring along a hat.
  • Definitely prepare some rain wear if there is any chance of rain in the forecast.
  • Do wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

Don'ts

  • Don't bother with eating at the German restaurant in the German/French Pavilion.
  • Don't bother bringing any drinks to the Expo [Editorial: except water carton, not the bottles you get from the convenient store], due to security reasons all drink containers are banded.
  • Don't miss the evening performance at Koi Pond

Definitely go there on a weekday, don't even think of going on a weekend or Japan public holiday, if you're planning a short visit to the Expo.

I found the best and most direct way to get to the Expo from Nagoya is via the Higashiyama subway line to Fujigaoka (290 Yen) where you transfer to the Linimo (Japan's first maglev train) to Banpaku Kaijo station (340 Yen), the Expo's North Gate, which will place you at the entrance closest to the Corporate Pavilion. On subsequent visit to the Expo you may want to consider getting off one station before, Koen Nishi Station, which is closest to the Expo's West Gate, where you can visit the Global Common 3, 4 & 5 Pavilions.

Two last things to remember though, the transportation to and from the Expo are most busy in the morning and after 18:00, and all pavilions close 1 hour before the Expo closes (22:00).

BTW: please feel free to check out my short photo documentary of my visit to the World Expo 2005.

I hope by reading this article it will make your visit to the World Expo 2005 a more enjoyable one. See you in Shanghai 2010.