If you think about online shopping in China you probably think about Aliexpress, Banggood or Gearbest. You think about cheap cables for your phone, poor quality accessories and stuff you don’t really need but end up in your shopping cart anyway. The source of this – and MUCH more – is Shenzhen (深圳). This city is located at the border of Hong Kong in the province of Guangdong and resides close to 12 million people. The common nickname of this city is “the Silicon Valley of the far east”. We went with 7 students of the minor Smart Industry to check out this High Tech city!
The city is a mere 4 hours with the High Speed train, so this is a small price to pay to visit a city like this. We were looking for a hostel that would fit the occasion and the “Space Capsule” hostel turned out to be just what we wanted; a fun experience which is also affordable for students.
As you can see in the picture, the setting was quite unique. Everyone had his own capsule which contained everything you need for a hostel room. While the accommodation was great, the staff was less of a pleasure, which in fact was a suitable first introduction to the slightly different culture of Shenzhen. The people of Shenzhen, compared to Xiamen, are a lot more “hungry” to make it in this big and relatively new city with just 35 years of history. This shows in everyday life because everyone is actively trying to talk you into either buying a product or a service from them.
After our first relaxing night in the capsules we left the hostel to start our day. One of the main ‘attractions’ in Shenzhen is the Huaqiangbei mall. This is known to be the biggest electronics market of the city.
We learned that this market earns 20% of China’s GDP, this comes down to about 1 billion USD every single day. This is because the market is a sample market. We were looking for single pieces, but most of the time orders are in the millions of pieces.
After this we went to Lotus Hill, which provides a magnificent view of the city. After pushing our way to the top (it was extremely crowded with slow-walking Chinese people), we were treated to an amazing view.
When you look at the picture, there is one thing that stands out: The Ping An Finance Center. This will be the tallest building in Shenzhen with 117 stories, as it is not finished yet. Unfortunately we found out when we walked all the way to the building. It was however very nice to see the building from up close.
After yet another good night sleep, we decided to go to the Luohu shopping mall. This mall turned out to be at the end of the metro line next to the Hong Kong border, which we could not cross since we just have a one time entry visa for China. The Luohu mall was quite big and filled with knock-off products, such as Lepin (lego), Daidas (Adidas) and Froze (Frozen). Everyone in this mall was actively trying to get us to their shops, which was so annoying that we had seen enough after an hour and decided to go back to the city.
We decided to go to a shopping street, to look around and see some more shops. We ended up in a huge shopping lane filled with people with speakers, who were shouting or actively making noise with something. We bought some stuff here, but after about an hour and a half we were exhausted from everything going on so we decided to go to the subway station and go to the Tech park.
At the tech park we visited the Tencent main campus. Tencent is one of the biggest tech companies in China, even in the world. They own a majority of the chinese social media platforms and are majority shareholders in multiple big american gaming companies. We were actually denied access to the buildings by a security guard, but that was fine since we just wanted to see the campus.
Lastly after this exhausting day, we took the bullet train back to Xiamen. It was a very interesting trip and discovering the stores behind Aliexpress and Taobao was very enlightening. A trip to remember!
Paul & Jorn, Check-IT 17