So I made it to Guangzhou for the Canton Fair! The trip was smooth with no hiccups. Okay-there were a few minor hiccups. Since I was arriving late into Guangzhou, I booked a cheap (21 USD) apartment to spend the night near the airport. I wanted to adjust to the time zone as quick as possible, so it was important for me to sleep when I arrived Saturday night as I had purposely not slept in my 22 hours of traveling.

Unfortunately, no one could tell me how to get to the super cheap hotel I booked.  The modis operandi of Chinese workers is to do the least amount of work as possible.  The information and hotel center folks kept pointing to each other and no one would bother looking up the hotel’s number. Of course China’s service industry is getting much better. 25 years ago it was horrendous, 5 years ago it was bad. On this trip, it was overall pretty good, except for midnight at the Guangzhou airport.

I finally got the hotel’s number from Agoda’s (the online booking company) 800 support and was able to have them talk to information who pointed me to the correct waiting gate. I should have known better and written down exact pickup information before I left. Lesson learned. (I’ve since learned that you need to call all these small hotels for a pickup.)

Pre Badge Application

Remember I was telling you about getting the pre-badge application? Do it! The next day I met my brother at the airport we received our Canton Fair badges at the Pullman Airport which is a 5 minute walk from the arrival/departure hall. It appeared the folks running the badges had never created one before because it took about half an hour, but there was no line and they had a comfortable waiting area in the hotel’s business lounge. Getting your badge ahead of time is a requirement if you want to save yourself future headaches as I will explain further on.

Communicating in China-No Google Maps or Gmail!

With badge in hand, my brother and I headed to the AirBnB location. Since I had picked the location based on the metro location, I knew the metro stop to reach. Using the metro system, however, wasn’t as easy as I’d thought it would be. In all my research, I didn’t realize Guangzhou was home to 13 million people and ranks as the 9th most populous city in the world. This meant that at 3pm on a Sunday, the metro system was a mad house. Typically, this is not a problem, but navigating with large (but empty) suitcases hindered our mobility.

As I found out last night, Google Maps nor Gmail worked in China without a VPN. I had taken a screen shot of the meet up  location sent by the AirBnB host which turned out to be a kindergarten/library when we showed up. Hmmm. . . . The host sent me instructions over email while we were traveling in the metro. The problem was, I didn’t have a data plan to check my email. In the end, my brother ended up texting the host in Chinese with my phone and we got settled in. For future communications, my brother hooked up with the host over WeChat which is the defacto communication protocol in China.

First day at the Canton Fair-Phase 1-the arrival.

The Canton Fair starts at 9:30 am. At least that’s what it says on the manual. In actuality, they start letting people in much earlier. The exhibit hall and doors won’t open until 9, but you will save time waiting for the security check if you arrive early. We took the Orange line metro for Lujiang to the Xiangangdong stop where we were greeted with a wall of people.

Google Maps route we used to take the Metro to the Canton Fair. https://goo.gl/maps/RAV3FoKyGGs

As we figured out where to go through the cattle herding gates, there was a sign-Overseas Buyers’ Registration and Channel for Badge Holders. Since we receive our badges ahead of time, we followed the Channel for Badge Holders. We kept moving. The other line looked like a gate to hell. If you haven’t heard me iterated this tip-get your Pre-Badge application done and get your badge at one of the designated hotels ahead of time.

Here’s a picture of the line before security.

And here’s a picture of waiting for security at the West side entrance.

Two lines. One to proceed with badge and the other to get get a badge.

Two lines. One to proceed with badge and the other to get get a badge.

A small line at security

A small line at security

First Impressions at the Canton Fair-looking for Amazon FBA products.

Holy cow this place is huge. I mean huge! There are three main halls-A, B, and C. Each hall has approximately 11 to 15 floors. In all-there are about 40+ floors. On the first day we averaged an hour and fifteen minutes per floor with 3-5 stops to talk to interesting vendors. It would take an entire week to walk all 3 halls at that rate. Our initial approach was simple-cover each hall quickly in day, making note of what was interesting. At night we would research about the products we saw and the ideas we had. Finally, on the fourth day, go back and visit all the vendors, products that we liked after more research.

Our plan seemed sound, but logistically we ran out of time. By the time we had covered the entire grounds, we didn’t have enough time to go back and talk the vendors in detail. Plus, many of the vendors we tried to follow up at the end of the week seemed really tired and burned out. Understandable. There is a lot going on here.

So were there any good Amazon FBA product leads? Stay tuned for my next post.

 


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