Ooh to go back to Shenzhen – I love it’s electronic markets, the range of food stuffs and the amazing buzz of a truly big city. I enjoy experiencing the difference between life there and life in Amsterdam. But it only comes after being stuck in a chair for eleven hours, it hammers you down with an Asian jetlag, it bloats your insides and clogs your skin.
For our FenixIV we need to buy a bunch of parts that we know we can get on the Shenzhen markets for a lot less than if we order them – we have done the math and off we go. Squeezing this shopping and factory visit in just before all of China closes down and redistributes itself for Spring Festival or Chinese New Year.
This time we go by fast ferry from HongKong airport to Shenzhen– which works out pretty well. This means that we don’t leave the international part of the airport, we give our luggage tags to the ferry people so they can claim our bags and put them on the ferry for us. After about 30 minutes on the water we retrieve our pretty empty suitcases. The customs officer unexpectedly wants to see the invitation letter that is part of the application of our business visa (the visa is in the passport he is holding) and after a small panic I find I have it in my e-mail. He looks at it for two seconds and seems satisfied. We drag our suitcases through the walk-in Xray machine and get ourselves into mainland China.
The first day we need to ‘land’. We do walk over to the Huaqiangbei market to have a first look around and we organise a new Chinese SIM but not much more. We have our first bubble tea and visit DongMen in the evening to eat all the things we’ve been dreaming about. Our mini-apartment on the 15th floor has a small bathroom on the window-side. The steam of a late-night shower combined with the white and red light pouring in from the giant lettering on the skyscrapers creates a scene right out of a cypberpunk graphic novel. Hello Shenzhen.
Days follow of eating lovely food, meeting lovely people and walking up and down the market ticking off things from our shopping list. Shenzhen provides us with electro-mechanical parts, such as connectors and spacers. We also get custom-made wires and logo stickers, screws and bags and production tools. After three days we have almost everything on our list – and some of it even cheaper then we estimated. We got our favourite jack-dealer to ship the jacks to us. The transaction is going through Alibaba – which is great for us because we can use it’s international payment system and it has trade protection – but the price is the market price. Delivery will be after Spring Festival of course. All this walking requires a foot massage…
We also came here to visit PCBway. They have been making the insides of our modules and we want to use them for the insides of the FenixIV. We like what we see in terms of cleanliness, space available around machines and workers, general organisation of the factory floor and all the intermittent quality control steps. Walking around the floor we learn the number of different reels per pick-and-place machine they have, the limits of their wave soldering process and the options for manual work (because even though machines and robots are everywhere – there are still a lot of hands on almost every electronic product).
We visited another factory and received a first sample of something that will come with your FenixIV but we want to keep a surprise for now. We were happy with the look of the factory and the sample, but we did ask for some adjustments and are now waiting for a new price calculation. Which will come after Spring Festival.
It was getting more and more quiet in the city as we took a day to visit Depu – a factory supplies market with a lot of hydraulics and mechatronics and some electronic parts. Here we bought the final things on our shopping list: the taps, bits, crimps and mesh we wanted. Numerous stalls had already been covered for the Spring festival.
After we packed as much as possible in our suitcases and shipped the rest home, we had almost two days left to blink, eat more things on sticks and try to catch the light show (we failed). We did go to the Water show at OCT Bay, which was an amazing piece of kitsch that we highly recommend should you ever find yourself in Shenzhen with an evening to spare. On a lovely sunny day we walked from the Civic centre to the Lianhuashan park and enjoyed some views. Next to a statue of Deng Xiaoping I tried the water colouring set that I got for Christmas and was filmed by multiple Chinese men. One man who came looking over my shoulder seemed very disappointed at my painting – I get how he feels.
Thank you Shenzhen and see you next time.