Monday, December 07, 2009

China and back in 5 days

i arrived in dalian, china around 9pm last monday evening after travelling for app. 24 hrs! newark to beijing, then beijing to dalian. luckily i had a driver to pick me up from the airport because the taxi situation in dalian was a bit crazy. as was the driving....it was like cairo! you would think lane dividers, trafic lights, and even driving on the right side of the road were just suggestions. thank god i was so tired, otherwise i probably would've had a heart attack.

i stayed up for to wait for 2 colleagues coming in from chicago and also to force myself onto local time. in my travels i've found that forcing yourself onto local time seems to be the best way to get over jet lag.

on tuesday morning it was off to our plant for a meeting and a tour. fun fact, apparently they have to pre-order electricity. and if they mis calculate the demand...there is none! interesting. Dalian is a city of around 6 million that was historically a popular summer destination for beach going russians. during my visit though, the fog hardly lifted enough to see the ocean. our plant and the hotel are located in a very nice area of town (commonly called the development zone) that was filled with various JV's (joint ventures), hotels and housing units for expats and locals working in the plant. it was very western in it's appearance.

around 11 we headed to the airport to catch a flight to qingdao, unfortunately all flights in and out were cancelled due to fog! actually i take that back, the custom there is not to cancel, but rather delay. so it wasn't until about 5pm that we finally called it quits and headed back into town for another night in dalian. no one could explain to me when a delay became a cancellation. with some extra time on our hands we went to this great chinese restaurant. the entire first floor was filled with fish tanks and displays of what could be ordered. a waitress followed us around taking our order while we pointed. want squid? no problem. sea cucumbers (for stamina, i was told), no problem. stingray or eel? no problem, how do you want it, raw or cooked? crazy selections, but great food!

Wednesday morning it was the same story...more fog! but luckily it began to break and we were on the ground in qingdao by 12. while waiting for our driver we had some kfc. some things are the same everywhere! once in qindao we found our driver and started the 2hr drive to rizhao. finally, we were at hyundai wia! the countryside was very rural and very poor providing an interesting contrast to the state of the art engine plant(s). nothing to share regarding the customer meeting except that it was generally very successful. so successful that they treated us to an authentic korean dinner followed by on offer of foot massages! (not from them, but at a massage parlor). and yes, a real foot massage, not "special service"...or so i was told anyway. we couldn't get in, the place was packed! so we set off for a few more drinks before finally hitting the road back to qindao around 11.

and then..

more fog!

and the highway was closed. yes closed!

our driver, and seemingly every other driver, was perfectly content to stop their car and sleep in it for the night. luckily one of my colleagues found this 100% unacceptable and convinced the driver to turn the car around, drive backwards up the shoulder to the last exit and take side roads back to qindao.

a mere 3 hrs later and we finally checked into our hotel at 3:30 AM.

that was by far, the best nights sleep in the most comfortable bed i have had in my entire life. ever.

on our last day there we had meetings with 2 seperate warehouse company's to discuss inco terms and various import/export issues which were rather unventful. finally it was off to beijing thursday night and then back to the states on friday.

My overall impressions..
food - awesome. far better that US chinese food (As expected)
tea - really good. bring some home, but get it where the locals get it.
language - in some ways, easier than english. but good to travel with a local since outside of major cities, english is not very common
money - exchange rate is around 6.5 to one (all the time). but things are cheap. the 5 star hotels we were in were only 100 or so /night. very affordable. travel with a few thousand rmb for each week you're there.

and here's a few things i learned about doing business in china...

hand the business card with 2 hands, receive with 2 hands, (actually, this is for most things..credit card, receipts etc.)
always take a moment to look at the card.
bow slightly when greeting
"special massage" or "special haircut" at the hotel is, uh, very special. (no i didn't get one, but was informed)
the koreans like to drink!
always fill up the others glass first
have a well charged, functional cell phone at all times.
travel with a local!!!!!
plan on delays. lots of delays.


2009 China Trip

1 comment:

melly mel said...

very fancy!!! glad that you're home - thanks for the tea :)