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Noisebridge China Trip

My contract manufacturer for TV-B-Gone and TripGlasses and Trippy RGB Waves kits (and a few other things) has a plant in Shanghai and a plant in Ji Ning (about half way between Shanghai and Beijing) (both are SEZs -- Special Economic Zones).

Mike Zhao, an American who lives in San Rafael, but born in Shanghai, is the head of the contract manufacturer, called Etonnet. He's also a total geek, and goes to Maker Faire, and has been to Noisebridge. He's going to Shanghai and Ji Ning starting 20-October-2009, and asked me if I'd like to go, and asked if other NB people (and/or others) would like to go check out the manufacturing scene and China. Mike will return on the 27th, but I think it would be cool if the rest of us go to Beijing for a few days and check out a bit of China-ness there, as well as visit with some hacker-types at Beijing university. We will return on 3-November-2009.

To give a little taste of what it might be like:

A few months ago, Bunny, who manufactures Chumby in China, organized a trip to China to show interested people the manufacturing scene (and China). Evil Mad Scientist went along: Evil Mad Scientist Schenzhen trip

The cost will be very reasonable, as these things go, and the bulk of the cost would be the plane tickets to and from China. At the moment, a round trip ticket costs $694 (SFO to Shanghai, and then Beijing to SFO). When I went last time, nice hotel rooms were about $15 per night in the part of Shanghai I stayed in, and the total cost for me besides the plane ticket was about $350.

Note: We will need to limit the trip to the first 5 people other than me and Mike to buy their tickets, since we only have one large van to take us around once we get to China.

If you are interested, please add your name, below.


People interested in going to China from 20-October-2009 through 3-November-2009:

You do not need to be a member of Noisebridge to go on this trip.

The trip is limited to 5 people other than Mitch, so the first 5 people on this list (after Mitch) who buy their plane tickets will be able to join us:

Mitch Altman
David Yao
David Kelso
Christoph Maier
Jimmie Rodgers
Eric Boyd
Jonathan Foote

please add your name here

How to purchase an airplane ticket for $694 (if there are any of these remaining)

If you want to go on this trip, I would recommend buying your airplane ticket ASAP, since these cheap seats might not be available after today. Other seats may be available for $900 on other Airlines, such as Northwest Airlines. But it would be nicer if we all flew in together to Shanghai on the same plane.

Here is the itinerary for my $693.50 ticket:
Leave SFO: Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 1:15pm
Arrive Shanghai (PVG): Wednesday October 21, 8:55pm

Leave Beijing (PEK): Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 11:55am
Arrive SFO: Tuesday, November 3, 10:00am

NOTE: we arrive in Shanghai, but return from Beijing

(as of 9/25, cost for these flights now $793 J Jtfoote 11:58, 25 September 2009 (PDT))

Here's how Mitch got his plane tickets for $693.50:

  • go to
  • Click on the "Multi-city" radio-button.
  • Fill in the first two lines like this:
    • From: SFO To: PVG Leave: 10/20/09 Time: Anytime
    • From: PEK To: SFO Leave: 11/03/09 Time: Anytime
  • Click the "Search" button.
  • If cheap seats are still available, the first item on the resulting screen (after a few false screens are possibly displayed first) will be the flight from Asiana Airlines for $694.
  • Click on "select", which is underneath "$694". You can use Orbitz or CheapTickets or Expedia to purchase the tickets (Kayak does not charge anything). I used CheapTickets. Click the "Go" button.
  • You are redirected to the site of your choice, where you can purchase the ticket.

Orbitz spake thusly to Christoph:

(as of 9/25, cost for these flights now $793 Jtfoote 11:56, 25 September 2009 (PDT))

Total flight cost
$731.64 USD (oops, didn't pay attention and didn't unclick some sort of insurance)
Flight 1
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Asiana Airlines 213 Economy | Boeing 777 (777) | 12hr 10min | 5639 miles
1:15pm San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)
5:25pm Seoul, Korea, Rep. of Seoul Incheon International (ICN)
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
Change planes. Time between flights: 2hr 35min
Asiana Airlines 367 Economy | Airbus Industrie A321 (321) | 1hr 55min | 522 miles
8:00pm Seoul, Korea, Rep. of Seoul Incheon International (ICN)
8:55pm Shanghai, China Shanghai PuDong (PVG)
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
This is an overnight flight.
Total duration: 16hr 40min | Total miles: 6161 miles
Flight 2
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Asiana Airlines 334 Economy | Boeing 777 (777) | 2hr 5min | 567 miles
11:55am Beijing, China Beijing Capital (PEK)
3:00pm Seoul, Korea, Rep. of Seoul Incheon International (ICN)
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
Change planes. Time between flights: 1hr 45min
Asiana Airlines 214 Economy | Boeing 777 (777) | 10hr 15min | 5639 miles
4:45pm Seoul, Korea, Rep. of Seoul Incheon International (ICN)
10:00am San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
This flight departs from a different airport.
Total duration: 14hr 5min | Total miles: 6206 miles

How to get a visa for going to China

To go to China, you need to have a visa!

To get a visa, you need to have a passport.

Your passport needs to have at least 6 months before expiration.

Getting a visa from the San Francisco Consulate

For this trip, a one time entry tourist visa will do. (Make sure you say that you are going as a tourist, otherwise it is a pain!)

The Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco is at Geary Expressway and Laguna.

If you have Simplified Chinese for Adobe Acrobat installed, you can download a form from the Chinese consulate general website, and bring it in to their consulate office (If you don't have Simplified Chinese for Adobe Acrobat, the form won't print, but the consulate has paper versions of the form).

They also want a real photograph for the form. A color printout on regular paper won't do. The consulate information desk person can take 4 passport photos for $10.

Their visa office is a little uphill on Geary towards Geary Court. When you walk in, you have to pass a metal detector, where you're checked for stuff like Swiss Army knives and digital cameras.

You need to take a number (which isn't totally obvious), and when they call you, you walk up to the displayed teller window and give them your filled out paperwork (what you downloaded from their website or filled in while you were waiting) and your passport (which they keep for a while - the more you pay them, the shorter you have to wait, but it's at least one day), and you may also need to bring a printout for your plane ticket (seems to be optional, Christoph got his visa without the ticket).

If you're a foreigner, they want a copy of your Green Card (or probably the other visa that will get you admitted back into the US and A). There's a photocopier in the office, for a quarter a copy.

You go back some days later, and they give you your passport with the visa pasted in, after you pay them with check or credit card, no cash. You don't even have to pick a number this time.

Their hours are usually weekdays 9-12, 13-15, but they have some non-obvious holidays, so check them out on the website.

Again, be sure to apply for a single entry tourist visa. Other visa are more expensive and more painful to get.

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