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China Visit 2

drfood

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This past week I had the pleasure of returning to China for the second time. I spent a week there....working in Yucheng, visiting Shandong Province and Beijing and The Great Wall.

I will do a full report once I recover....but here's my favorite photo from the trip. Sorry for the crappy quality but I was using my work Canon point and shoot...it needs to be replaced
IMG2741-M.jpg


The second best part of the trip......the food.
 
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drfood

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Here's the rest of the trip report as promised......

A brief preface. There are not a lot of photos in the beginning. I was working the first 2/3 of the trip so I could not take photos at the plant. And honestly by dinner time I was too tired to think about the camera. Sorry folks.

The purpose of the trip was to visit a company in Yucheng, Shandong Province that we have partnered with for a new product. I can't tell more about the product other than it is a zero calorie sweetener with Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit) as it's high intensity sweetener. There is no sugar in the product.

The trip started early with a lot of drama around my flight to Beijing and back. I was given permission to fly Business Class over and back after the enjoyable flight last December. The problem was I was limited to an $8000 round trip airfare. After digging and digging I finally came up with a way to do it by combining 2 airlines--United and Hainan. Hainan is a 5-star airline that is the only privately held airline in China. They are partnered with American through Dallas, LAX, SEA, and ORD.

Saturday, August 25
Early morning flight from Houston to Seattle. My least favorite airline UnUnited disappointed me by being on time leaving Houston and getting into Seattle a few minutes early. Had a 4 hours layover and was able to use the British Airways lounge because I was flying business class. Made the layover more bearable.

Flight from SEA to PEK was uneventful. WOW, the service was GREAT! 180 degree layflat seats. Silk duvet and pillows. Pajamas to change into. Food was awesome. I did manage to get about 4 hours sleep which was nice.

Sunday, August 26
Landed in Beijing on time. I was being met by a young man from the business partner. I had sent him my itinerary from our corporate travel agency. The problem is they had the wrong arrival time. They said we were arriving at 1430 and meant to say 1630. So Tommy had to wait at the Beijing airport for 3 hours. It took 1 hour to clear customs once we deplaned.

Now comes the problem. Tommy had purchased tickets on the high speed train from Beijing to Jinan for 1830. This would not have been a problem if the timing had been correct. We got to the train station at 1900 and since it was Sunday night all of the remaining trains were sold out for the night. So we were stuck in Beijing until Monday morning. We got tickets on the 0730 train and decided that I would get a room at the hotel I stay at when in Beijing and he would stay at his sister's house in Beijing. Now comes the fun part....Sunday night, Beijing South train station, finding a cab. Finally after waiting about an hour Tommy elected to hire a bootleg cab to get me to my hotel. They negotiated a fare of $150 RMB (about $20 USD). I was not in favor of this because I didn't trust the guy driving us. But Tommy insisted and off we went. After about 20 minutes I asked where we were and how much longer. They driver told him 20 minutes and I used my Blackberry's map/GPS to verify the location. We made it to the hotel and all was ok.

Dinner and off to bed. Finally in bed at 0100 and had to get up at 0500.

Monday, September 27
An uneventful cab ride with a licensed cab. Arrived at the train station before it opened and waited with the crowd. After the station opened we went through their version of security.....a hand wanding with a metal detector and running the luggage through what looks like a 1st generation US X-ray machine. Decided to eat a tradional Chinese breakfast of dumplings.....WOW they were great.

Train ride was right at 2 hours from Beijing to Jinan. They had booked me in First Class car and it was nice. American movie playing on the entertainment system with Chinese closed captioning. Driver was waiting when we arrived. Drive to Yucheng was 30 minutes or so on their version of an interstate. It was tolled. I believe the toll was about $2 USD.

We decided to check me into my hotel before going to the plant. This trip I was booked at the Apollo Hotel in Yucheng city center. This hotel is brand new and was rated a 5-star hotel within China. Nice lobby. Nice room. Very western with Asian appointments.

Off to the plant.

Today was to meet the Rabbis for a plant inspection. I like working with the Rabbis, especially when they also speak Chinese. Everything went ok. No real drama. No real problems.

I ended up not going on the plant tour. Had lunch with the Chairman and VP of Sales of the Chinese company we are partnered with. If you have ever had a lunch or dinner with the Chinese you know it is not a short event. We finished up around 1430.

At the end of the day, back to the hotel and dinner and relaxing.

Dinner was a traditional Chinese feast.

Tuesday, August 28
Overnight there was only 1 small problem. The hotel cut off the air conditioning at 2 AM to save energy. Keep in mind China does not generate enough electricity for all of its demands. So hotel typically cut off energy "hogs" at some point during the night. The only problem with this was the outside ambient temperature was 84F and 100% RH. The room warmed up to ambient by 0600 and I ended up getting out of bed at that time. This was an uneventful day. Had a late start to the morning. My Chinese hosts let me sleep in for a 0900 pick-up. We conducted a plant trial run. It went very well.

When we arrived back at the hotel. My host took up the ac issue with the front desk. It took a call from my host company's chairman to the hotels owner to resolve. But they did leave the ac running all night the rest of my stay.

Dinner was another traditional Chinese feast at a different restaurant.

Wednesday, August 29
Another late morning. We left the hotel at 0900. Upon arrival at the plant we started on a full production run of product. This product we were making 5000Kg for importing to the US. The only challenge faced was the pilot plant equipment can only produce 200Kg per batch.

After the first batch ran successfully I elected to leave the pilot facility and let the guys who know the plant make the product. There was other business to take care of in the meeting room that was reserved for me.

Thursday, August 30
Today was to be a "tourist" day for me. Tommy and the driver were taking me to 2 places. The Temple of Confucius and Tai'An Mountain. I do have photos from here.

The Temple of Confucius is located a 2 hour drive from Yuchen in the City of Qinhuai. Here's a link http://baike.baidu.com/view/53816.htm

Preface to the photos.....we arrived around 10 AM and the temperature was in the low 90s and 100% relative humidity. It was a lot like New Orleans weather.

Here are some photos with a brief explanation
IMG2556-M.jpg

This puppy was outside the main gate to the Temple ground. There were 4 others with him but I thought he was cutest.

IMG2559-M.jpg

So you want to buy some souvenirs? This is the avenue outside the gates. A long line of tented hawkers and behind them was permanent shops. Notice the smog? This was the lightest of the time I was there.

IMG2563-M.jpg

Entrance to the temple ground. They claim there are 200+ cedar trees that are all over 1000 yrs old.

IMG2560-M.jpg

Entrance to the Temple Grounds.

IMG2619-M.jpg

Dragon pillar at Success Gate leading to Confucius tomb. If you rub the head it was supposed to give you good luck and if you rub the body you are supposed to have success....so I rubbed both. And yes that is sweat soaking my shirt. By the time we were done touring the ground I had consumed 8-1 liter bottles of water. That's how hot and humid it was....plus how out of shape I am.

IMG2623-M.jpg

Confucius Temple. The cart in front was to burn large incense sticks in. You purchase 3 for less than 1 USD. You light them and then bow 3x and there is a guy there who yells out...success....knowledge....peace as you bow.

Now off to Taishan Mountain in Tai'an.
Taishan mountain (http://www.mount-tai.com.cn/wap/index.aspx is a World Tourism protected area. The mountain is accessible by climbing 1/2 way via stairs and then a cable car or the entire climb by stairs. There are over 7000 stairs from base to top. Needless to say I didn't make it but about 1/3 the way up. We arrived at 1600 and I was already wiped out from the heat and humidity at Confucius Temple. But we forged ahead.

IMG2628-M.jpg

This gate was about 1/4 the way up. Every few hundred steps there was a level spot where the merchants could hawk everything from water to food to souvenirs. And at each gate there were dogs. And they were very friendly and would respond when spoken to in English.

IMG2634-M.jpg

Another spot for me to rest and catch my breath. Yes I did change shirts after Confucius Temple. The other one was soaked in sweat and was not pleasant to wear.

IMG2636-M.jpg

One of the beautiful stream beds while climbing. This one was about where I had to turn around.

IMG2635-M.jpg

This cedar tree was a holy cite and was filled with red ribbons with Chinese sayings on them. You purchased a rock at the base of the mountain and tied it to the ribbon and then tossed it into the tree.

Friday, August 31
Today we leave Yucheng and drive to Dezhou to take the bullet train back to Beijing. Once in Beijing I will check into the Novotel Peace Hotel for my last night in China.

The plan for the day was to go to the Great Wall and the Olympic Village.

There is a train from Beijing North Train Station directly to Badaling which is where the closest access to the wall is. This train service was improved for the 2008 olympics so all of the tourists could have regular scheduled access. The train ride is about 1 hour.

When you're on the train leaving Beijing you see the real Beijing and the outskirts. Very interesting to see. The cool part of the trip occurs about 45 minutes in....you round a corner and see it. The Great Wall of China. I've heard stories all of my life about it. The fact that it took thousands of men to build and thousands died building it. The fact that it is the only man made structure visible from space with the naked eye. But honestly nothing prepared me for actually seeing it.

IMG2700-M.jpg

This was the first image I saw from the train window. It was breathtaking. And yes that is smog. It was everywhere and it was very irritating. My throat was sore the entire time I was in China this trip.

IMG2718-M.jpg

The entrance ticket. About $4 USD.

IMG2710-M.jpg

Under the wall.

IMG2724-M.jpg

The first image from the viewing level. Our goal was to real the 3rd structure in an hour. We had mistimed this trip also so we only had about 2.5 hours of daylight left.

IMG2746-M.jpg

Yes it really is that steep.

IMG2734-M.jpg


IMG2725-M.jpg

Looking South from where we were. This is about 5 miles away.

IMG2784-M.jpg

Canons which were on the wall as protection. I don't remember the date, but I believe it was in the 800 AD timeframe.

IMG2743-M.jpg

My host Tommy.

All I can say is The Great Wall was amazing. It was breathtaking. It was truly one of those "once in a lifetime" events. It's almost as if I took 10 things off my bucket list. Next time I am in China I hope to get to other areas of the wall and see it.

We took the train back to Beijing and made it to the Olympic Village just in time for it to close. So I could not go inside and see the Birds Nest or other structures. I was disappointed somewhat, but how could I be too much after being on the wall? I was a happy camper.

Saturday, September 1
Time to return home.
Beijing to Seattle. We were 2.5 hours late leaving. There was a mechanical issue with the plane. I was disappointed because I had hoped to get into seattle a bit early and make a mad dash to a United flight at 1415 Seattle time. This would be 9 hours ahead of my planned trip home. But it didnt happen. I sat in the food court at SeaTac and relaxed and caught up on e-mails. And I enjoyed Ivar's....my favorite Seattle fast food.

Flight left Seattle at 2330 and I arrive at IAH at 0530. Got my luggage and met my husband at baggage claim. Then off to the house to see Cayenne and get some sleep.

If you've never been to China.....please try and go. It is a once in a lifetime experience....and I've been priveleged to go 2x in less than a year.

Thanks for reading.
 

SL350

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Amazing trip DR. Glad you could post it. Were you allowed to take your camera anywhere you chose?
 

drfood

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The only restriction I had on photography was in the production facility at the plant where I was doing work. Otherwise I was free to take photos anywhere. At Badaling a young police officer asked me to take a photo with him. I forgot to post it here.

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The only time I was hesitant to take photos was of any members of the Red Army. I just didn't want to offend anyone.
 
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Glad you enjoyed your visit. I live in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province. I have been here 8 years. I always like to see people who actually come here and visit give their opinions of this country. Much better and more accurate than simply regurgitating whatever Anderson Cooper tells you to think about it.

Anyway, you are not the only lao wei that sweats here. I often use three shirts during a summer day with two showers. It is definitely different. If you make it here again and have a few extra days, maybe you can get to Nanjing and I will borrow a 2nd motorcycle and take you on a really fun way to see some of China. Do it on two wheels! Always an adventure but always good in the end.View attachment Ocean of Bamboo.pdf

View attachment On the road in YiXing.pdf
 

drfood

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Thanks for the response. I was there in December 2011 and loved it.

I really want to take J over there for a visit. He would love it.

Thanks for the offer. I think next time I go I will look at staying a few days after business and take you up on the offer. It would be a lot of fun riding over there.

When were you at TAMU?

What has you living over there?


Glad you enjoyed your visit. I live in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province. I have been here 8 years. I always like to see people who actually come here and visit give their opinions of this country. Much better and more accurate than simply regurgitating whatever Anderson Cooper tells you to think about it.

Anyway, you are not the only lao wei that sweats here. I often use three shirts during a summer day with two showers. It is definitely different. If you make it here again and have a few extra days, maybe you can get to Nanjing and I will borrow a 2nd motorcycle and take you on a really fun way to see some of China. Do it on two wheels! Always an adventure but always good in the end.View attachment 23701

View attachment 23702
 
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Graduated class of 79'

Our company has factories in China and in California. I prefer the work ethic here in China. If the factory was in Texas this situation might be another story:giveup:

Seriously, I came over here 8 years ago having been single since my divorce in 1992. Ended up marrying a lovely local lady so I volunteered to stay here and work to help out guys in the USA that have families that did not want to come to China. Win - Win

I am serious about my offer, there is some great riding here outside the cities. The selection of bikes can be limited. I found a 600cc Jialing that I could legally plate but most legal plated bikes are under 250cc. You can still have a lot of fun on those though. You can get BMW, Harley Davidson, and Ducati but multiply the price tag times 3. A BMW R1200GS (not GSA) is over US$45K. I had one one of the Chinese CJ750 side car hacks (old WWII design BMW R71) and it was a blast but it was not really a good long distance setup for someone my size and reliability sucked so I changed to the Jailing. IF you can get to Shanghai with a few days, I can help get you to someplace to meet me with a couple of bikes and take you riding. There are several options within 2 hours time. Just get to Shanghai and I will take care of the rest!
 

Tourmeister

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Thanks for the write up. Always nice to read first hand reports! I don't know why but I find the mundane things of everyday life in other cultures fascinating. I guess it is because it makes all the mundane things we take for granted stand out in contrast.

Nice pics :thumb:
 

drfood

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We were there at the same time. I graduated in August 1978 with a BS in Microbiology.

Sounds like a great. The Jialing 600 is a nice looking bike. I will definitely do my best to make it happen

Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF700T using Tapatalk 2
 

cdc

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Good report.
I imagine visiting China gives you a much better perspective of the country as TexasAggie mentioned.
 

drfood

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Thanks for the write up. Always nice to read first hand reports! I don't know why but I find the mundane things of everyday life in other cultures fascinating. I guess it is because it makes all the mundane things we take for granted stand out in contrast.

Nice pics :thumb:
Scott
I have to say from my 2 experiences in China, I don't see how folks in China could ever find anything mundane or boring.

Smog, traffic, high cost of living, SMOG, traffic, government, Americanization....none of this would ever allow me to be bored or look at things as mundane.

The greatest disappointment to me in China is the Americanization. Wal-Mart, KFC, McDonald's, Starbucks, Panda Express, Morton's Steak House, Dairy Queen, Ford, Buick, drive-thus at fast food....all are taking the worst of this country to them in my opinion.

Next trip I am looking forward to going north of Beijing to rice growing territory and southwest to the area just north of Vietnam. And definitely going to Shanghai and meeting Texas Aggie.
 
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Great report, I too was lucky enough to spend two weeks in northern china in 2003.
Went to spend time with girl friends family!
The food and the people were amazing.
I too found the great wall forbidden city, and tienneman humbling.
 
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Don't forget pizza hut McDonald's,and Starbucks
And yes there is a Starbucks IN the forbidden city!
 

drfood

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Panda Express in China? that's like Taco Bell in Mexico!
Yes, the folks who ownPanda Express have indicated they plan to open 10,000 locations in China over the next 10 years. In Beijing alone their plans are for about 1500 locations.

Oh I forget TGI Fridays is in Beijing and Shanghai.



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drfood

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2 suggestions

1. Cipro
2. Prescription version of immodium

Also, if you're not on a work cell make absolutely sure you keep your cell phone turned off. Unless you get a China Mobile sim card. My work blackberry bill for 1 week was almost $3K. My personal cell was off the entire time.
 
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Constipation is not a problem in China!:mrgreen:

Not trying to say prescription strength is not an option but I found Imodium "Chewables" to work the best. Not a bad idea to bring small bottle of Peptobismal either.

I don't know if Cipro is necessary to bring with you as you can buy all antibiotics made here at most any hospital pharmacy for a lot less than you pay in the USA. Most hospitals are a good source for the real deal. No doctor's note needed if you know what you need, just buy it. My sister is a doctor so I have a good resource for second opinions and suggested prescription drugs. I had gout hit me last year and the trip to a nice hospital including visit with English speaking doctor, drugs, Xray, and Blood test to confirm the problem and give me some relief was a RMB280 or $44.50. No insurance needed for anything less than major surgery. Not all is and evil and bad here in the land of the Emperor.
 
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Oh yeah, most guys buy a cheap China cell phone to use here. My Dallas Verizon phone costs $2.50 minute to use incoming or outgoing.

Cheap China cell phone with international calling in or out can be had for less than $100 with plenty of minutes included for several weeks. (at least for most folks. my wife on the other hand......)

Glad Dr. Food posted his visit for others to see.
 
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