This season, I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and try more new experiences. One thing that absolutely terrifies me, strangely enough, since I live in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, is crowds. Crowds are such a big part of life here, that it’s kind of like a fish being afraid of waves, or birds being afraid of clouds. So one way to conquer my fear, is to combine it with something that I love, that way I will be motivated to go to the actual event, have something to focus on, and hopefully learn something in the process. The two recent activities I’ve chosen are to go to the annual bakery (Taipei International Bakery Show, TIBS) and and the international book expos (Taipei International Book Expo, TIBE). The events are held in the Nangang Exhibition Center Building, or in the World Trade Center events hall. They are humongous events and hundreds of people attend each day. What I will do in this post is share with you my personal tips and tricks for navigating these large-scale events. As you may remember, Chinese is really my second language, so I always get a little nervous when I go to these events, because I’m not sure what to expect. Hopefully this post will be helpful if you decide that you want to attend similar events in the future.
Before you attend the exhibition, I would advise you hop onto the events website (http://www.twtcnangang.com.tw/Calendar.aspx?Year=2016&Lang=en-US) to get a copy of the events map. This map will give you the list of vendors that will be exhibiting, and will also tell you the location of each booth. You can mark the vendors that you want to see beforehand on the map, and make sure you get to those while you are attending the expo.
Most of these events that are open to the general public charge an admissions fee. Usually, you just buy tickets at the door. If it’s a popular event, I would advise getting to the grounds 30-45 minutes early, so you can get in line for tickets. I also learned this time to check the exhibition’s website, and see if there are any discounts on admissions available.
For the 2016 Taipei International Bakery Show, there was a $100 NTD off the general admission price of $200 NTD (50% off!) if you downloaded the coupon and showed it at the ticket counter (I just saved the image onto my phone and it was fine!)
台北國際烘培設計展～真的是人擠人。 但如果心臟夠強 耐心夠多可以挖到寶喔！
For the bakery show, I was with a group, so I didn’t make a huge list of vendors that I wanted to see. I knew I wanted to see Dretec, the Japanese kitchenware and bakeware company, but I was pretty much flexible for everything else.
One part I actually enjoy about expos is that you see things that you would never have the opportunity to see otherwise. My eye was drawn towards the cookie cutters at first, because I realized they were the exact same ones I bought in Japan , in Tokyo’s kitchenware district, Kappabashi Street. But I decided not to add anymore to my collection, because I rarely have time to bake fancy cookies anymore. What caught my eye while I was choosing the photos for this blog post was the cookie cutters to build a mini 3-D Christmas Tree! (lower left corner) Now I definitely wish I bought that! It would be such a festive addition to my holiday baking.
I use Dretec’s kitchen scales, , and I’ve been really happy with mine. Usually the local stores only carry the plain white ones, so I was excited to see such a variety of colors and textures. I almost bought the wooden +white combination, but then I realized that I really didn’t need another one.
Japan is known for producing some of the most kawaii (cute) objects in this world. A lot of the products are smaller scaled, because they are aimed for the solo person household, or for in-office use. This tinier, mint green portable gas stove caught my eye as I was being squeezed out of the exhibition space. This would be ideal if you lived in a studio apartment, or if you wanted to have a small hotpot party for 1-2 people. (If you are interested in more smaller scale appliances, check out Recolte’s products!)
Lastly, the item I was most interested in were these black, non-stick baking pans, also from Japan. I wanted to buy the miniature bundt pans, as seen in the lower left corner of the photo. Unfortunately, they are not available in Taiwan yet. The sales rep gave me a business card and said that they would be available on their website for purchase in April.
So you may ask, what did I buy after braving the crushing crowds? I bought three rolls of baking paper, for $100 NTD. This is an item I use all the time in my kitchen, so I knew it was a good buy. Usually these are about $70-90 per roll at a regular retail store, so I was getting a bit of a bargain too. This leads to my top tips for surviving the expo experience:
(1)Remember to do your homework beforehand, if there is a particular vendor, or machine you want to see in person, make sure to mark it on your exhibition map. Expos of this kind and size are not serene browsing experiences. It will be crowded. Which brings me to my next tip. (2) Be prepared for crowds. People will jostle you, they will step on your feet, they will bump into you for no reason. There are people who are serious about the show, there will be others who are just randomly there, because they were dragged there, or because they have other motives. One huge motive is the free samples. (3) My advice to you is, if you want to leave with your sanity intact, is to avoid all free samples, unless you are genuinely interested in buying a product. Then obviously you would taste test to see if it was to your liking. Otherwise, don’t bother. (4) Wear comfortable shoes. I wore my trusty Nikes. The exhibition halls are usually enormous, and you will be walking back and forth a lot, and sometimes rather quickly, so it helps that your feet are well cushioned. (5) Bring your own reusable shopping bag(s). Usually the bags provided by the vendor are either the wrong size and shape and cut off circulation in your fingers or wrists. Bring a bag that is super roomy and can be slung over your shoulder. I always use my Envirosax, which can be folded up super-tiny and stuffed either into your pocket or handbag. Some hardcore shoppers bring suitcases, which in my honest opinion, are the most annoying accessory to have in a crowded space. (6) Bring your own water. Walking around the grounds is thirsty work. Stay hydrated to keep your irritation levels low. (7) Bring cash, make sure you have lots of small bills, because some of the best bargains are X amount for $100 NTD. It just makes it easier for everyone involved if you have the right amount for those small purchases. (8) Be prepared to be surprised. As you can see, I learned about several tools that were new to me at the Taipei International Bakery Show. I also got a small bargain on items that I use often in my own home. My companions left with shiny new cutting boards and kitchen tongs, so we were a happy group after we left the building.
A lot of the same tips apply for the Taipei International Book Expo, (TIBE) which also takes place in a huge exhibition center. I go every year, because it’s a golden opportunity for me to see a lot of English books across several genres. Similar to the Taipei International Bakery Show, you have to pay for admissions (it was $100), but there wasn’t a huge line for tickets when I went (on a weekday morning).
每一年好期待的台北國際書展～ 往年都會在這裡找到好看的書 特別的教材。但近年逛的不太開心 推銷員太多 場內的工作人員好像太少 找書一直被推銷員打擾 但真的需要協助的時候 他們什麼也不知道 （還有便當店混進來發傳單！）整個場子亂轟轟 人擠人 的 好像不是看書 買書的氛圍！後來直接衝去國際書區 買完趕快離開現場 本來預計要逛2-3 小時，45 分鐘就放棄了！
Every year at the TIBE, I pick up books for my recreational reading, recipe books, and books that I use for work. In contrast to the baking expo, I do quite a bit of research beforehand, and make sure that I visit the vendors that I need to.
In general, I found the TIBE 2016 to be very unpleasant. The main buildings where the Chinese language books and magazines were a mess. The sales reps outnumbered the exhibition staff. The sales reps were pushy and aggressive, and didn’t give much chances for me to look around on my own. And I found that if I did need help, they had already moved onto the next customer. If you are mainly looking for English books, they are located away from the general hubbub, usually in a quieter corner. You will find the sales reps to be much calmer and much, much more helpful here.
For books that I use for work, I find that it’s really helpful to flip through them in person. Plus, you can browse through other fields too for inspiration. I found several books in this side of the exhibition. One helpful tip that applies to the TIBE is that you can have your books sent directly to you at home, or at work. Sometimes the vendor will do it for free, if you buy over a certain amount, and other times, you pay for a small fee for the items to be delivered to you. The organizers cooperate with a local courier service, and I find the costs to be very reasonable, and the service to be convenient to use.
One last must-see is the stationery section, which unfortunately is located in the children’s books exhibition area, the craziest part of the exhibition hall. The stationery section is small in comparison, and Staedtler and Faber Castell usually has well-stocked booths, and good bargains can be found there. One booth to note is the Stickn booth, which sells some of my favorite office products. I go through post-its quickly, so I was thrilled to find a great deal, for well under retail price. The kraft paper ones are my favorites, and I wish I thought to buy more! 書展意外的收穫 就是便利貼！超級實用的～因為年紀大了 常常忘東忘西 什麼都要寫著便利貼上 提醒自己XD
In a nutshell, I think expo type settings are helpful if you want to see the latest in the field. You will learn about new products and technology, but it’s not really a pleasant “shopping” experience, per se. To get the most out of the experience, I think you have to be flexible, quick on your feet, and recognize your limits in that kind of setting.
The event calendar for some of the major exhibitions happening in Taipei can be found here: http://www.twtcnangang.com.tw/Calendar.aspx?Year=2016&Lang=en-US. (Please note whether the exhibitions are open to the general public, or just for trade only).
This was not a sponsored post. All products were paid for with my own money, and all thoughts, viewpoints and experiences are my own.