I’m rapidly developing a huge love for China and its people. Chinese people are very friendly and very funny too. They have a quite unique sense of humor and very much able to laugh at themselves at the drop of a hat.
So I was delighted to find myself back in the great city of Shanghai, for ad:tech, last week. It’s been almost a year since I was last there. Not a lot has changed. Pudong grows more Manhattenesque all the time. The traffic is the same nightmare. And Shanghai cab drivers should have the word Kamikaze on the roof, not taxi. Apart from that, it’s noticeably quieter downtown since Shak moved out 🙂 Although, I don’t think he’s gone for good.
This was the first ad:tech show with Drew Ianni, the new chair of the conference. Drew’s a good guy and a brilliant public speaker. This probably eased him into the job. The Shanghai show is much smaller than the American shows (for the record, the Shanghai show is in Beijing, next year. If you know what I mean).
I moderated one panel and did my solo show, also. The panel had a fantastic line up of luminaries in the Chinese internet marketing space. Shuhong Ye represented DianPing, a leading restaurant guide which benefits from a directory type structure and user generated content for recommendations. Zcom has a staggering 30 million registered users and is headed by internet entrepreneur Ming Ming Huang. His presentation showed the power of audio visual presentations for advertising in the many ezines they publish online And last but not least, Alvin Wang Graylin of Minfo. Here’s a guy who really understands just how big the whole mobile/local market place is going to be in China. A very cool guy and a great speaker too.
The only problem I had with the session, is that these guys had so much fantastic content, but because the session before ran over, I had to get them to do their presentations at the double. Of course, they were wonderfully professional about it (plus, I was waving a large wooden shoe horn around to make sure they stuck to their time limit).
I then had to dash form that session up to the next floor to do my solo session in the China Hall. The solo presentation is an hour long thing I do at the American ad:tech shows and this is the first time I’ve done it outside of the States. And true to form… I was told when I got to the main hall that the last session had run over by, wait for it… 20 minutes. So I was asked if I could cut the session down to 35 minutes to get back on track. So yes, I did my solo at double speed also.
The show had changed location this year. It was help in the sumptuously luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, Pudong. I was very lucky and was allocated an executive suite. Now, I stay in a lot of hotels. But I have t say, out of them all, I have never slept in a more comfortable bed than the one I had at the Shangri-La. The luxurious and wonderful Valencia Hotel on Santana Row, San Jose has held the record for me for the longest when it comes to most comfortable bed. But Shangri-La wins hands down.
And I couldn’t have a more iconic view from my window.
I hooked up with my great friend Inway Ni. He and I have been hanging out a lot lately around the planet. He had never been to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower, so we decided to sneak off for an hour and be tourists. It’s strange, the tower is the third largest of its type in the world. But it’s not the tallest building in Shanghai. The Jin Mao Tower is . Now this is me sitting at the very top observatory of the Oriental Pearl Tower, with the Jin Mao Tower out of the window. Doesn’t it look smaller than the Oriental Pearl Tower?
Maybe it’s aspect ratio or something. I took another shot from the ground, and the building to the left looks taller also.
The Jin Mao Tower, is, I believe, the tallest building in China and also houses the Hyatt Regency Hotel . The lobby for the hotel is on the 62nd floor!
After our little touristy escapade, Inway and I went to dinner. Inway is actually a very good chef himself. So when we’re out eating traditional Chinese food, I always let him order. We went to a restaurant which served food in the north western style of China. At one point, I picked up some meat with my chopsticks and then asked Inway what type of meat it was. He seemed to say in Chinese, what sounded like “don key” so I immediately asked him what it meant in English. He said “don key”, oh dear, there’s one less ride at the seaside.
Having already mentioned how the Chinese can laugh at themselves sometimes, Inway told me that they have a particular saying in China. They say: In China we eat anything with four legs… except the table”. And then followed up by saying: “And if it flies in the sky, we’ll eat it. Except for an aeroplane.”
Of course, I then had to go and ask if they really do still eat dog in China. You don’t want to know…
My big pal Kevin Ryan flew into town for the show and also brought his Dad with him. Eating with Kevin is a different thing altogether. None of your traditional Chinese for him, when he and could eat at that classy brand imported all the way from the good ole USA:
He and I had a sedate dinner where we discussed Chinese politics, global warming and… Nah! We ordered burgers, Kev did a quick reccie around the room looking at the waiting staff, and opened the conversation with “do all Chinese women have the same ass?” Hehe! My kind of guy.
I stayed over the weekend so that I could hang with my great pall from Hong Kong, Eddie Choi. He’s a very smart guy and very funny too. My favourite style of eating in China is simply known as “HotPot” and that’s exactly what it is. A hot pot of stock on the table and you simply order the food and cook there and then at the table, It’s delicious. Once again I left it to the expert and Ediie ordered a superb banquet for Sunday lunch in really traditional restaurant.
I was staying just off Nanjing Road which is the main shopping area in downtown Shanghai. Plaza 66 is simply breathtaking and you can crick your neck just trying to look to the top. Inside is the most upmarket range of brands you’ll find under one roof. Paris, eat your heart out!
Nanjing Road is in the French Concession area of the city. With its tree lined avenues, it really does have a European feel about it.
However, my new favourite place is just off Nanjing Road. It’s called Big Bamboo and it serves great food, great beer and great wine. It also has some very hospitable clientele. I met my new friend Mimi, in Big Bamboo.