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Tag: The trip to Shanghai

The World Expo

The World Expo

The World Exhibition has been around for over 150 years and been arranged in several important cities. Many would say that these cities are considered to be power centres of their contemporary, just look at the examples. In 1851, when it all began, it was held in London, the centre of the British Empire. In 1899, it was held in Paris. At that time, as well as earlier and later, one of the most influential cities of literature, art and philosophy. In the 1933 it was arranged in Chicago. Other cities include Brussels, New York, Barcelona and Lisbon. This years another nation has got the possibility and responsibility of hosting the Expo. Shanghai and China are the proud hosts of this years world attraction. Beckoning people from all over the world, and with massive commercials targeted on its own population China hopes to break two records this year:  most visitors and largest expo area.

Yesterday, at least I, could recognise that this is the biggest fun fair/exhibition/trade arrangement I have ever been to, with some of the over 150 pavilions individually being bigger than my biggest so far experience. There would be wrong for both parts to compare the Norwegian educational fairs with the WORLD EXPO, but the latter’s size goes beyond imagination. During our stay at the expo we got ourselves a little passport to collect stamps from the different participants. We got trough 12 pavilions where we got stamps, and one stand which didn’t have a stamp at the moment of our visit. The countries were in general located geographically, but a fun observation we found on our Axis of Evil Expo Tour ™ was that Democratic Republic of Korea and Islamistic Republic of Iran both were located in their own corner. Both stands telling a story about their culture and identity more than better city, better life which is the main focus of The World Expo 2010. North-Korea claimed to be a paradise for people, and Iran a place where empathy, justice and fairness prevail. Iran did also have a model of an atomic power facility. Luckily both countries did also focus on some of their more human features, such as their deep roots in pre-revolutionary history and their people, who is often forgotten in the political power play. From the North-Korean pavilion I got two books, one explaining the historical events important for their existence and ideology, and one just explaining their ideology. I look forward to read these and to learn more about how a nation built on military powers and in the name of the workers and farmers can still exist after the Cold War, standing alone on the more and more globalized world arena. We also tried to find the Iraqi pavilion, but where it was meant to be we only found several bunkers for the local security staff.

During our first hours we did also visit Israel, where we were shown a short film about technology – mainly within micro-computing, water extraction and purification, but also within aerospace and medicine. After our visit to the middle east we went through Turkmenistan to Nepal. While many of the other countries were focusing on technology, pipelines, industry and existence Nepal choose to show some of their rich and beautiful culture. With a pavilion, not shaped as a spaceship or a pokémon as many other pavilions, rather as a Nepalese temple it gave a short brake, and time to perceive some of the detailed handmade artworks.

On our way back to Europe – as in the exhibition area, and not the continent – we went through the UN, who in an interesting way presented different statistics about countries and presented their work as the one organization working for you and at the same time being the most international organization, or to express it with the UN’s own words “One world. One UN”.

Going from Asia – excluded China, Chinese foreign territories and Japan – to the Europe section clearly shown how the economic resources in the world is divided. Not that many of the Asian pavilions were not impressive, it is just that the European ones were bigger, had more installation and a more expensive touch. Not that this is a success criterion, it just points out who that spends most money. In “Europe” we first got some frites from the Belgian pavilion, then we went to the Norwegian – powered by nature – which was made in wood and shown films that looked like a manifestation of the graphical guidelines. I liked it. The most amazing European pavilion, I would say is the Dutch, reminding me of old city fantasies from my childhood with an elevated street going trough a “tree-house-town”.

One day at the Expo is clearly not enough, but if you want to see it all and catch all the stamps, you should get going. The expo is just opened until the end of October and you will need a week or more if you want to get through it all, and remember the queues are insane and in order to get to some of the pavilions you need to make a reservation to get in.

Here are some pictures I took at the Expo. The illustrating picture is not from the expo but from one of the many installations around in Shanghai containing the mascot and the logo of the World Expo. Enjoy.

Lost in translation

Lost in translation

It’s been a couple of days without updates, but here is an end to that. Shanghai is amazing and since we came we have just explored small fragments of this enormous city. The city is a former multi-cultural gathering place for 1900-century imperial European powers, and this can be found in today’s division of the city. At the Bund, where the former British customs building and HSBC headquarters can be found was the entry to the city located on on the riverbanks. The French concession, where our hotel is located, is yet another example of earlier imperialism earlier housing French missions to the Far East among others.

Today Shanghai is trying to find its own way, somewhere in between Chinese and International culture. All street names are, in addition to Mandarin also available in English, but most of the Chinese population do not know these names. The English language proficiency on the street are in most cases non-existent. When that is said, it is interesting how the international ambitions are implemented into various services. The taxi services is a good example portraying this. As soon as you enter a taxi the taxi driver starts the taximeter and it announces information in both Chinese and English. If you have some questions during you travel, you can call a number to get in touch with an English speaking operator, who can translate between you and the driver. As you leave the taxi a farewell are presented in Chinese and English.

The last days we have been enjoying several activities and attractions: The Shanghai Aquarium, An amazing Circus, old town, the Bund, Pudong and the French Concession. I will come back with updates from these, and our trip to the World Exhibition next time I find some time to write an update. I will also return with some highlights from the history of Shanghai, which is not a pretty history including western decadence, drugs and prostitution, so stay tuned.

My camera is still without a USB-cable, so until I get back to Norway I will be unable to put any pictures online, not even to illustrate the posts at this blog. Once more Flicker and nice people who share and care saved the day. Today’s beautiful picture showing the Bund is taken by Wolfgang Staudt and is shared under Creative Common. For details check the link stated above.

First day in China

First day in China

Finally in Shanghai. After a long flight where Harald Swart’s movie the Karate Kid was showed and where one of the radio channels available was dedicated to Oktoberfest music we arrived Pudong Airport. China is massive, and Shanghai is a good example portraying this. Due to the world exhibition and being a major actor on the stage of international business Shanghai is a city of contrasts, a mixture of everything, where high business towers are raging just meters from local sweetshops and windy, worn-down houses. This could tell us of  the last decades of city development as well some of the city’s social problems. With that said, touristwise, the contrast makes this city into such an interesting place. Knowing that most of the buildings visible in the skyline are built within a timespan of 20-30 years, ever since Maos successor Deng Xiaoping declared that communism could be mixed with capitalistic economy. Today these enourmous towers are showing the influence and the power of companies such as HSBC, Aurora and others, and after dark these buildings on the Pudong side of the river Huangpu are showing a massive light show for the viewers. We also visited a viewing platform on the Bund side of the river, and from there you have a good view over to Pudong.

So to some of the experiences from yesterday and this morning:

To get from the airport to our hotel we took the Maglev – I think it means something like magnetic levitation – train which on good days can reach almost 500 kilometer per hour. To reach this speeds the train is placed upon a magnetic railway who literary makes the train fly between the stations. Just one of many new and high-tec technologies which are to be found in China.

The language barrier could pose a problem in China since the language skills are rather limited. Outside the hotel we experienced difficulties asking questions, and even if some says they speak English, it could be hard to understand the meaning because of strong intonation.

There are also customary differences from back home. Last night after we came home and watched a movie, all of a sudden, a Chinese woman stood in our room. She just wanted to give us a newspaper. In Chinese.

The first day in Shanghai was funny and interesting, despite little sleep on our way over. Today we have been having a great breakfast at the hotel, and now we are ready to have a closer look at the city of Shanghai.

By accident I forgot the cable to tansfer photos from my camera to my computer. I will try to find one here in Shanghai. Luckily I found a good photo on flickr. This photo is taken by Sprengben.

China tomorrow

China tomorrow

After weeks of waiting we are finally ready to depart for China tomorrow. Last week we got our visas and now the bags are packed, the last clothes are just hours from getting dry, and the itinerary and the hotel reservation is printed out and packed in the onboard bag. Our trip starts at Gardermoen at 14.20, from there we are traveling for 2 hours to change flight in Frankfurt and onboard a 747, until recently the world largest passenger aircraft, for a long haul lasting for 10 hours to Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

We are going to stay in China for 6 nights and hopefully get to know both the Chinese culture and the multicultural Shanghai, or at least some of it. We have not planned in detail what we are going to see, but from several guides on the Internet, youtube, the Lonely Planet book I got from Magnus for my birthday and tips from Jenny, Dragana and Gunn it seems like there is a lot to do in Shanghai, and I hope to see the things I got recommended. The Pudong financial area with several skyscrapers, flashing lights and business-like culture seems like a “must-see”, and from there it could be cool to experience the difference in an old-fashion, but at the same time neat and traditional, old part of the town where apperantly Mission Possible was shoot. There are many parks as well, and one or two mornings it could be cool to skip the compulsory egg and bacon hotel breakfast to join in and do some morning gymnastics. I can’t wait too experience the city.  I am also curious to check out the Chinese cuisine, but I have to admit that I’m a bit afraid of being served scorpions, dog or other too-unusual specialities.  When that is said I will try to find my culture relativist inside me, and percive Shanghai and China without missing brown cheese at the breakfast table or be shocked to find out that skiing is not an activity well-know in Shanghai.

Shanghai is also the proud host of the world exhibition, and I’m looking forward – like a child – to see the different pavillions at this gigantic venue. We have already decided to visit several, and it will be interesting to see which perspectives the different countries have on this Expo’s focus which is better cities, better life. Hopefully I can pick up some inspiration for my masters studies along the way.

I will try to get back with an update in a couple of days. For the next two, many hours will be spent in the air, maybe with a Harry Potter movie and a glass of red wine. For more frequently updates, check out my twitter page

The illustrational picture is found on Flickr and is licenced under Creative Commons by the user stuck in customs

Huawei Social – A social competition

Huawei Social – A social competition

Ever since Jules and I won the competition to name the new mobile phone model Huawei U8230 on Facebook, I thought I should write something about viral marketing. In this competition we worked hard to get as many votes as possible for my suggestion – Huawei Social.

The background for the competition was that the Chinese technology manufacturer Huawei wanted to enter the Norwegian cell phone market with their new touchscreen devices. As a part of this process, they asked the users of Facebook to suggest names for the U8230 model.  Within a certain date, two weeks ago last Sunday, users were asked to come up with name suggestions. On Monday the jury chose the top ten suggestions to go to a vote phase lasting from Monday to Friday. On that Friday the suggestion with the most votes got to be the name of the phone on the Norwegian market, and the user who would win the vote would, in addition to get a free phone, be the winner of a trip for two to Shanghai, travel and hotel included.

One day I entered the suggestions Huawei Future, Social, Millenium and Cellorama on Huawei’s Facebook page. The first suggestion was meant as a encouragement for a company which is going to enter a new market. In many ways China is the new technology superpower, at least when it comes to manifacturing new products. The Millenium reflected in many ways the same thought. As China, in 2001, joined the World Trade Organization the prices of clothes fell by around 20 percent, and the countries on the western hemisphere saw a new consumer and manifacturer market. Cellorama was just meant as a funny suggestion referring to the cell part in the word cellphone and the TV-show Futurama. With the last suggestion, Social, I thought about the use of new phones with, for example Facebook and Twitter, and also how we have always used our phones. With the iPhone-Android-touchscreen-openAPI-revolution phones created and fulfilled new ways of use. An example here is how I use my HTC Hero to connect to Facebook, Twitter and other social arenas. The name is also reflecting the means of the phone, and especially the cellphone: to contact others unrestrained by distance.

But enough about the names. How does this competition actually work? At the end of the competition on Friday my nominated suggestion, Huawei Social, won by 693 to 682 votes. Within two days Jules, all my friends and family who helped and I got in contact with almost 700 Facebook users who went into Huawei’s Norwegian Facebook page and left their votes. Being a company not known in the Norwegian market this kind of attention is a great advantage. Just by knowing the name, the scepticism about buying a product from a new company has been reduced drastically. The marketing money was also spent well getting consumers to get emotionally engaged in their product, at least I got emotionally engaged as the competition was exciting and, toward the end, very intense. I also know that many of my friends abroad spent much of their time helping me. David in Czech Republic skipped his lunch to help out, Sabina in Lithuania used a great deal of time her afternoon to recruit friends, and Magda from Poland got, in just half an hour, over 16 friends to vote and even more later that day. All over Norway, as well, friends and family put a lot of effort in in helping me. Everyone I asked were happy to help and did a great job by helping us win this competition. Now, all of those who helped also know about Huawei, and will be expecting a postcard.

This is a good example on a viral marketing campaign, because “size matters” and “the more the merrier”. But it’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality. What makes the biggest impression, an add in a section down right on a random page, in a random newspaper on a random date or a competition where friends contact each other, collecting votes and spreading the word – Woops, sorry for the religious connotations – to complete a goal. Viral is a term coined to things which spreads it self from user to user throughout the Internet. We got viral music videos such as those from O.K. GO, or viral fun clips including a monkey smelling his own fingers after they been in contact with his butt, and emotional social pornography such as leave Britney alone which also was spread through the horrible parody movie “Meet the Spartans”. We share in e-mail messages, on facebook walls, through Twitter tweeds and many other media.

To round up the post about social competitions on the internet, just as a little freebie to the ones out there actually reading articles through, here are some experiences we picked up during our recruitment work. Firstly you have to get rid of any limitations you have about being annoying during the competition. In our case we had to stay on Facebook Chat to reach out to as many as possible. In the beginning we had time to chat, but towards the end I have to admitt that many of the sentences were copied and pasted into the respective chat windows. Secondly you have to ask your contacts to ask. There is a great difference from you reaching out to a hundred friends and get them to vote and get them to vote and also ask three four friends. Multiplication is more effective than addition. Even how cynical it sounds. When that is said: our experiences were that friends really want to help. Many spent much time getting votes, especially when the results are clear. Since we got into the competition two days after the beginning we counted down the number of votes to the first position. When we started the last day our suggestion was between 150 and 200 votes behind the one leading we counted down, and within the last four hours we were around one hundred and when the last hour arrived we were leading. After we won the competition I got some comments saying that the constant progress worked as an important motivating factor. We also tried to implement this into the facebook group we created by frequently updating the about field with motivating comments and results. We also sent out two messages to all users with status attending, maybe attending and awaiting reply. We only got two complaints on this, but taken into consideration that this messages reached out to over 3000 people that is not a high prosentage. I wrote this two messages in both Norwegian and English, and made the language as clear as possible, and made a two-step prosedure to vote. One of the most important propositions to get across was that this was to great help, and also that it could be done in under a minutes. Both propositions were true and that is also an important notion doing things online – Don’t lie. Two days of tremendous amount of work, speaking with hundreds of friends and family members, collegues and old acquaintances paid off, and in the beginning of September Jules and I are going to Shanghai.

It was fun to participate in such a competition, and even more fun to win. To all of you helping us winning the competition: thank you once more!