Sunday, 26 June 2016

5 Survival Tips Against Fraud in China

Fraud and scam are not something alienated in China. As the country has largely emerged to become a wealth-oriented society, you may expect the stress among locals have gotten worse that it seems on the media. Hence, fraud activity (especially direct cash transaction) has been popularized far before recent years. New travelers that plan for either a brief or long stay should definitely adapt to these few tips.

1. Compare the price with nearby stores

Never assume that you are in safe position. Scammers in China are everywhere, even in the malls. Best practice to avoid yourself from getting overcharged is to compare the item you intend to purchase with neighbor stores. Let yourself on a stroll around the floor before settling down with one single store.

2. Study size and image of RMB (Chinese Yuan bill)

One of many mistakes made by the first-timers is to let themselves being fooled with fake Yuan bill. Hence, it is essential to study the look, size, image, color and texture of Chinese money. During my first travel experience in China, I was tricked by an old lady in Beijing Summer Palace to believe that she actually handed me the right Yuan bill. After showing it to my Russian friends, they said that was actually an outdated version of fifty Russian Ruble. Even if the money was valid, it was still twenty times lesser that what I was supposed to get.

3. Always prepare yourself with smaller change

A following step to avoid the previous taboo, is to provide small amount of cash on any direct transaction. It is much safer this way. If you somehow too lazy to do so, there's a chance that you will receive a stack of nearly crumpled cash, with short of amount as change. No joke on this. It happened before.

4. Don't be unsure of your price (when negotiating)

Any person with obvious foreign traits or personality will always be the primary aim by the scammers. The best way to avoid that is to be firm when dealing with them. Stay sure with the price you're proposing (even if you have no idea whether it is the right one or not) and talk it through. If possible, act like you've been around the place for quite some time and you know that they're bluffing.

5. Lock in the price before handing over cash

The final step in a direct transaction - to hand over the cash. But before doing that, do make sure that the price offered is finalized. There were few cases I encountered where the store-keepers acted as if they didn't hear the final price I asked for. There were also travelers who had to argue with store-keepers after handing over the cash. The reason being was miscommunication.

5 Things Not To Do in China

Traveling to a foreign land, we must always bare in mind of the things not to do there. You may call it a taboo, but I call it an "act of suicidal". It's crucially important for a traveler to do research through internet or books before reaching the destination. Failing of doing so will result in some awful consequences. Without further a due, here are the five things you shouldn't do while in China.

1. Never cross a two-lane road (without pedestrian crossing)

I am not saying this just because the locals have zero tolerance for the jay-walkers. But there is a strict rule in any place that says you should find a bridge, or a pedestrian crossing for this purpose. Hence, majority of the drivers in this country would never think twice on running you down when they are speeding on the road. And funny thing is they could easily get away from the authority. In most cases, very few passerby would step out to lend a helping hand. Well, don't ask me why. It's something that us, foreigner, should never get involved in. Just be extra cautious.

2. Never answer any stranger's calling (unless you understood the person)

Either by phone or on the street. For those who never experienced the street culture this nation, you should really try to avoid this. Sometimes when you get a local number in China, you will receive multiple unknown phone calls. Not because of the number saying "unknown", but you will find the voice or the accent of the caller strangely creepy. Being a nation with highly advanced technology, you may expect some of those callers may have malicious intentions. My friends, while on the other hand, faced multiple fraud attempts in few different occasions. Few of them were ushered into a group of people and were forced to pay for unwanted items. And the rest of them were halted by strangers and asked for credit cards or cash.

3. Never purchase smart phone outside of store

An Iphone 6 plus with the price of less than RMB 2000 - sounds amazing, doesn't it? Well, you'll get what you pay for, sometimes it turns to be even worse. In some cases, the phones weren't even real. They were just empty little boxes covered with metal cases and stamped with Apple logo. It doesn't imply only on Apple, though. Any new technology or IT product that are well-known among the locals will definitely get imitated. Who does this? You will never know. Just play your part and be aware of these frauds.

4. Never purchase hand-made food on the street (unless you saw how it was made)

Not trying to discriminate any type of business here, but being in a foreign land with no close friend or family, you have got to stay alert with the food you're eating. A snack that cost you only 3 Yuan, but if it was poorly made, the consequence could be devastating. Luckily so far, so far, I haven't yet encounter any horrible experience. The worst scenario was me getting a bread, they call it "jian bing" in Chinese. I could literally taste my bile thrusting its way to my vocal cord on the first bite. The bread smelled so foul, as if the lady left the ingredients unattended that they got rotten real fast. Also, I saw her grabbing those ingredients with her bare hands. Not a pleasant sight, and I had no idea why did that the first bite.

5. Never negotiate for a cheaper price if you aren't intending to purchase

In places like night markets or wholesale markets, negotiating for lower price is a tradition that is well-known among visitors. But keep in mind that this tradition has been practiced for a long while and the locals treat it as a way of business. They will easily get offended if you brake it. Sadly this knowledge doesn't occur to every new-comer. Some of them thought it was not a big deal. They asked for a discount and got it after a serious argument with store-keeper. But in the end, they walked away. This happened with people who traveled with me. When it took place, I would feel terribly embarrassed and apologize to the store-keeper. I could literally see the look on their face on how disrespectful it was. Well of course, I would channel back my frustration to the friends.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

3 Great Places To Shop @ Guangzhou

Shopaholic has never been a thing for me. My main priority when traveling is to reach the unexplored destinations. Guangzhou is a big city, even after visiting it for three times I still have plenty of unknown spots in my travel map. But you can't always be in the hunt the entire time. You'll get exhausted eventually. So what I did during my short breaks was to stroll around the malls in the city.

Funny thing about malls or shops in foreign lands is that you will see those odd things you would never find in your home-country. For instance, foreigners, especially Malaysians, are so into Daiso in Japan. A convenient store that sells pretty much every daily equipment everyone needs, but never been sought. Ranging from huge stuff like garden fences to tiny little book labels. Some would say those are quite trivial, but it's the little thing that makes it interesting. You don't need a reason to visit the store. You just go in  and look around. Good concept, by the way.

Here's the list of three malls I found people should really visit. If you don't like the types of items they're selling, you should at least visit it once. It could be a good finding for you.

Onelink Plaza

Chinese name: 万菱广场 (wan ling guang chang)
Metro station: 海珠广场 (Haizhu Square Station)
Types of product:
Home-decor, glass jar, ceramic, painting, toy, souvenir, fengshui fountain, accessory, drone etc.

Most of the time, people who visit Guangzhou to seek for suppliers would put this mall as their top priority. Being in here alone could expose yourself to a huge chain of suppliers. If you were enrolled in retails or trading industry, this would do good in your business massively.

Aside from staying inside of the mall, you might want to explore the streets nearby. There are few other malls too next to Onelink Plaza. They may not be as famous as Onelink, but you will find the items there quite useful.

Once you are done with the shopping, there will be drivers and carriers waiting for you at the front of Onelink Plaza. Hire bicycle carrier if you are staying one kilometer away from Onelink. But if your hotel is located beyond that, get a van driver instead. I stayed in Jiefang North Rad during my last tip and it took us around 15 minutes to reach the hotel by car. So we got ourselves a van driver with the cost of RMB 50. The traffic was horrible at that time and I couldn't negotiate for a lower price. But you try to ask.

New Asia International Electronic & Digital City

Chinese name: 新亚洲国际电子数码城 (xin ya zhou dian zi shu ma cheng)
Metro station: 文化公园站 (Culture Park Station)
Types of product:
Smart phone, smart watch, action cam, power bank, phone & camera battery, phone case, phone accessory, hover board, pen drive etc.

Lingnan Electornic & Digital Plaza

Chinese name: 岭南国际电子数码广场 (ling nan dian zi shu ma guang chang)
Metro station: 文化公园站 (Culture Park Station)
Types of product:
Surveillance camera & tools, action cam, drone, phone accessory, USB cable, smart phone etc.

For the tech-lover, or those who are venturing in tech business, these two malls could be awesome places to visit. Always keep in mind, though, these are not the places where quality is being prioritized. The majority of these stores are just a window to their main factory. Hence, the sellers here are expecting to deal with bulk orders. And commonly when items that come in mass number, you may estimate that a small part of them are defected.

In my personal experience with my friends, we bought a huge box of USB cables (with the price below RMB 5 each), only to realize that 20 out 100 cables were badly made. Some were reported damaged and null, while others were reported to charge very slowly when connected to smart phones. But hey, just take a look at the price. It's a real gambling situation there.

The location is very easy to find. Simply head east for about 200 meters and you will see Lingnan Electronic & Digital Plaza on the right. And if you walk for another 200 meters, you will see New Asia International Electronic & Digital City on your left.

Heping East Road / Jianglan Road

Chinese name: 和平东路 (he ping dong lu) / 桨栏路 (jiang lan lu)
Metro station: 一德路 (Yide Road Station) / 文化公园站 (Culture Park Station)
Types of product:
Clothing, jacket, trousers, scarf, shirt, jeans etc.

Lastly, but not the least, clothing. Something that none of us could escape. Whether you are interested with fashion or not, we are all in need of this.

This particular area, or the streets nearby, specialize in selling fashion outfits. Cool thing about shopping around this place is that the stores here are not located inside of a mall. Instead, they are all scattered around in every street. In my own opinion, it is much more fun strolling around the street while window shopping, rather than staying in one same roof.

Another reason that make me so into this place, the same reason why I love clothing line in China, is the design of the clothes. One thing how the designing industry works in the mainland, is that they have to come out with new creations by each autumn and spring, it's just something that we don;t have in the tropics. For that reason, you will never run out of selections when you shop for outfits here. And do take my little advice, prices of the clothes here are much cheaper when you purchase them during the transition of seasons. Get your summer outfits during spring, or get your winter jackets during autumn, and you will get yourself a half-price discount.

These two street are reachable by both metro stations. If you are getting off at Yide Road Station, simply head west for about 300 meters and you will see the stores across the Remin Road. And if you are getting off at Cultural Park Station, you may head north for about 200 meters and you will directly come to contact with the streets.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Zumba & Yoga For The First Time

I do sports sometimes, like jogging, weight-lifting, basketball, and a little bit of badminton. I’m not just a geek, or you may call a nerd, whom loves travelling and blogging so much that spend most of his days staring at the screen of laptop. Well, like I said, I do sports.

Those who have the same interest as mine may understand when I say that I love physical activities for the thrill, and for how it drains the sweat out of me. Trust me, you will feel incredibly light afterward. And also, that amazing feeling when your muscles are completely exhausted, but your body is still continuously moved by the adrenaline. Oh God, what a lovely creation. It’s like an additional battery for human-being.

So I had an invitation last weekend. They called me up, along with a group of other bloggers for an afternoon Zumba session. At first I was a little reluctant to accept this (it wasn't really my thing), but I thought that I’d never try this. So, why not?

One thing I can tell you, after going through nearly an hour session of freaking Zumba, is that it’s kind of crazy. A quick comparison – body-builders have a room of iron for them to pump, gymnasts has a gymnasium filled with metal loops and grab-bars, sprinters have a track for them to sprint on or a stadium for a relentless run. As for those with ADHD (Hyperactivity Disorder), they have Zumba. A perfect match.

I’ve got people around saying that this type of work out is meant for ladies. Honestly, I wouldn’t say that.

The only reason people are keep saying that is because of the moves you need to make. They’re kind of feminine. But other than that, the cardio and stretching were unisex. Just try it yourself and you’ll know. The entire work out is not even feminine.

This was my first experience, and guess what I loved most about this session? The instructor. Like serious, she was insane. She’s like the duplication of Jim Carrey, but in a form of female, and added one hell of an ADHD. Staring at her face itself could make you feel extremely exhausted, let alone her moves.

Upon our session with her, the organizer let us have a moment of Zen. A quick yoga to stretch our muscles off. Surprisingly, led by this ripped dude. He had soothing voice, though.

Right before the yoga, they let us to clean our faces first and put on these new products by The Face Shop – White Seed. A complete set with serum, mask, toner and lotion. I’m not much of a beautician, but I was quite in love with the mask. It had milky cream that soften the skin when you apply it on. And so I had it during a ten-minute Shavasana (lying flat with eyes closed on the yoga mat).

Well, this was fun. Perhaps I’m going to try again if there is any other invitation.

For more info, you may click into this link : The Face Shop - White Seed