About a month ago, I received the invitation to attend Lenovo Tech World in Beijing, China – fully sponsored by Lenovo for being a part of their Lenovo Insiders program. I jumped at the opportunity and thankfully was able to organise work, home and the visa requirements for getting into China in a short enough time to make the trip.
I’d never been to China before, so the prospect of both a completely new place to visit, plus being emersed in the latest technology from Lenovo was a double win to look forward to. The trip was planned for 5 days plus travelling, and included a mix of technology and sight-seeing. On the trip I learnt that this was part of Lenovo’s goal – to expose more of China to the rest of the world since it’s where they come from themselves.
Beyond having a very long 3 leg flight from Adelaide > Sydney > Hong Kong > Beijing and being very tired at the end of it, the journey was rather uneventful. Landing in China and getting past immigration wasn’t much of a hassle, and I even had a driver waiting holding up my name to take me to the accomodation we were staying at – the Shangri-La Hotel.
I expected more of a culture shock than what I actually experienced – beyond everything being written in Mandarin wherever I looked, I didn’t feel offput – just interested in seeing the differences of the world I’m used to in Australia compared to China. One lesson I learnt very quickly was about zebra crossings – cars just drive through them and unofficially seem to have right of way. An Australian could very easily get run over as we’re used to all cars stopping when crossing the road on a crosswalk!
After getting to the hotel, I was treated to an amazing lunch with Lenovo staff and journalists who were also attending Tech World. This was an example of all meals to come – vast amounts of options of premium food catering to all tastes. I’m generally not someone who takes photos of what they eat, but all the food was both greatly different to what I was used to, and visually appealing (for the most part!).
Following lunch and after a much needed nap, I was awoken by the hotel room phone asking where I was. I’d slept a bit longer than planned, and in a half asleep daze rushed downstairs again to meet and have dinner with the other Lenovo Insiders who’d been invited also. In no particular order, here they all are – all very friendly and smart people:
I also have to mention Yuszela from Lenovo who looks after us Insiders, who’s incredibly easy to work with and gets the best outcome for everyone involved. Although I’d been dealing with her for years, this was my first opportunity to meet her in real life too – icing on an already stunning cake of tech, people and environment that was making up this trip.
One of the intriguing parts of China that pretty much everyone’s heard of, is the Chinese Firewall – internet in China doesn’t allow many sites including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so a lot of time was spent testing and trialing different VPN solutions so we were able to do what we’re here for; sharing the experience with others. There seems to be a cat and mouse game happening between commercial VPN providers and China in shutting down and getting around VPN blocking. In my limited experience it seems no one VPN solution is a silver bullet answer, so if you’re travelling to China and need guaranteed access to the entire public internet, make sure you have a few VPN options available.
I’m sure there’s a few things I’m forgetting about day 1, but I’ll use the excuse of being too tired to remember. The tech starts tomorrow with a visit to Lenovo HQ, so stay tuned for that!