i've been pretty satisfied with China Telecom - both in Kunming as well as elsewhere in China. i run a wireless router off my ADSL connection here, and hadn't run into any difficulties, so i was surprised to read here about blacklisting. however, this has just been clarified for me, as a friend of mine was at China Telecom yesterday and found that they're cool with wireless running on the 150 kuai a month package.
there are a number of art shops around that might help you out. one that springs to mind is on Jianshe Lu, roughly opposite Dona Donuts. i understand there's (for obvious reasons) a bunch near the Art Institute too, but i'm not sure of the specifics. if these let you down, there's a paper wholesaler near Shiping Huiguan that must be able to help you out, at least with the paper part of your needs - go to steps by the entrance of Shiping Huiguan but walk past them, carry on along the alley, and then around to the right. the paper company is on the corner. of course, being a wholesaler, you might need to buy in quantity. good luck!
I can't provide you with any direct answers, Manning, but i can say that the Chinese authorities seem remarkably inconsistent on this one. In addition, i'd say you'd find it hard to get a straight answer regarding current policy.
You're right that Macs are considerably cheaper outside of the mainland, but i think you're also right to be concerned about being hit by some sort of import fee.
Businessmen (including myself, in a past life) troop back and forth across that border all the time carrying notebook computers. But as soon as you start carrying or shipping desktop machines, things seem to change. A friend of mine who shipped his machine from Hong Kong to Shanghai for a business trip found it impounded by customs, and was unable to lay his hands on it for the duration of his visit, hampering his work severely. On the other hand, the laptop he brought in was no problem.
So, i'd say one solution open to you is to pick up a MacBook instead :) Alternatively, shed all the packaging, and claim you bought the machine in the mainland :)
So far as a place to buy goes, check out New Vision www.newvision.com.hk/NVshops.html - they have several shops in HK, and are considered the most knowledgeable and well-stocked Apple dealers in the HKSAR. I believe they have a shop on Wellington Street.
Q. If I get it connected in an apartment are the speeds decent?
A. The speed is acceptable. Maybe not as great as what you're used to, but definitely usable.
Q. Is it difficult to organise private internet connections?
A. Nope. Expect to pay around 130-150RMB per month.
Thoughts on laptops:
I've not bought a laptop recently, but it seems there are some good prices out there (under RMB10k) and there's plenty of models to choose from. Getting a legal-copy install of an English language OS could be problematic.
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no-one's reviewed this place for nearly 3 years! i think i know why: it's solid. a bit boring maybe, but they get the job done: food on the table in good time, attentive staff, wide selection of items. the 'Prague Breakfast' is a fine feed, still good value after the recent price increase.
i joined friends here on the weekend. they were getting food and playing a game. the pizzas looked great, but my friends advised me to avoid them, saying they tasted bland.
having made a selection, it took 20 minutes for the staff to tell me that my choice was no longer available. as my friends had nearly finished their game, we then all took our business elsewhere.
- if someone arrives, give them a menu
- sort out the beer selection
- if i speak to you in Chinese, speak back to me in Chinese
worthless in every way. i've given this place more chances than i can count, and they remain incompetent.
i've recently rediscovered this place. it's a little hit and miss, but i have to say that with a little experimentation, you can find some quality food here. while not perfect, the vindaloo is the best i've had.
i first sampled the Silver Spoon burgers a few weeks back - not bad at all, though i was unconvinced that they were 1/2 pound. another visit yesterday, and this time i was persuaded... definitely a fat burger. i was very happy with my cheese and bacon burger. diners with large appetites, be warned - you'll need a side of something to make a meal - the burger is just a burger - no fries.