Let me start by saying that the trip was amazing. We had a great time everywhere we went. However, there were several adventures that must be described. They will be described separately in order to avoid tl;dr and boredom.

Will we even get there? )

And that was just the first leg of the trip, folks. It didn’t get much easier from there.
Clear differences between Seoul and Gumi:

  1. The view from the hotel room - photos coming soon

  2. Gumi isn't found on weather.com

  3. No Armed Forces Network on the TV

  4. Fire escape "kit" includes a rolled up ladder to throw out the window (although the window does not open!)



Similarities:

  1. There is chili paste in everything we eat. :)

  2. The AC control in the room is a placebo (woke up this morning to 81F - apparently they do not want us to be cold) :p

  3. The mountains in the distance are covered in fall colors



Full disclosure -- Gumi is one of the main manufacturing and technology centers in S. Korea, so I guess I should be comparing it to Pittsburgh or Detroit rather than Seoul.

Amusing note: We used to joke that my friend Brian looked Asian, although he had no Asian blood as far as he knew. Apparently he looks Korean. The Korean HP rep that we are working with here looks so much like him she could be his sister.
Still here in Chicago. [livejournal.com profile] follybard drove up to hang out with me today, which was both insane and amazingly cool. :) It was too wet to do much, so we sat in the room and ate portobello mushroom melt sandwiches while plotting the fate of the free world. The weather here is pretty wet, and it looks to get worse as the night progresses (flooding!), so we sent her off a little after 9pm.

This was, of course, assuming that I had a flight out of O'Hare early tomorrow morning. Alas, it is not to be! I finally found some evidence that IAH will not be open tomorrow (I'm pretty sure I've been saying that ALL DAY) and so I contacted the airlines to confirm. Yes, IAH is going to be closed tomorrow. No, there are no openings from here to there until Tuesday. Ouch!

Did I mention I was supposed to get home Friday? Did I mention I have no clothes left? At least there's a grocery store within walking distance. At least [livejournal.com profile] follybard convinced me to buy an umbrella there this afternoon, so I'll stay moderately dry when I go back for provisions.


Trying to find the calm place, but it keeps eluding me. Am I a baby if I just want to cry?
My flight from Hong Kong got pushed out this afternoon, so I have a little extra time here in the hotel before I leave for the airport. It looks like Ike will close down IAH for a few days, so I have made reservations in Chicago for Friday and Saturday night. I am maximally stressed over not being home to help [livejournal.com profile] drangelo hunker down, but there's nothing much I can do at this point. Amazingly, I may have company on Saturday, as [livejournal.com profile] follybard and [livejournal.com profile] arenson9 have offered to take a 3 hour drive to hang with me. It is not to be believed.

Stay safe you guys, and spit in Ike's eye for me!
Flew into Hong Kong yesterday, and ferried over to Zhuhai this afternoon. Three days here, five days in Zhongshan, three more days in Shenzhen and then back to Hong Kong for a day before I fly back home. This is my first time in southern China, and it looks like it's going to be a lot of work with very little time for any relaxation.

Of course, it's hard to relax when there's another major hurricane bearing down on the Gulf. You guys keep safe!

Also, just to add some extra stress, right before I left for China, I was told that my group was going through a major reorganization. There are good things and bad things associated with this situation. But I will, of course, be sure to focus on the bad things. I fear change. ;)

The hotel I'm on at the moment is the Holiday Inn, Zhuhai. I am, however, on the Executive Level, which is pretty freaking impressive. The room is gargantuan, with about as many amenities as you can think of, including an HP Officejet all-in-one printer. :)
I am off to Las Vegas today for a technical conference.  Most of my time will be spent at Specification committee meetings (including all day Sat and Sun!), as well as a few additional consortia face to face meetings.  Hopefully, there will be free wireless at the convention center so that I can keep connected during the day. 

Being in Vegas does not attract me in the least.  I don't gamble, I rarely drink, and I no longer eat to excess.  I'll be trying to do some networking with my colleagues from other companies (as well as folks from other sites in my own company), but that's about the extent of the "fun" I expect to have.

So many things have been pissing me off this week.  I hope a change of scenery will help lighten my mood.  But for now...still grumpy.
Sorry for the lack of updates; I've been a busy bee. Audits have been up and down. I shouldn't be surprised.

I've eaten too much and exercised too little on this trip. At least I know how to reverse the process. :)

It's finally turned cold here (highs in the 50s). I've been having fun walking around the city in the cold wind.

There's a Goodyear blimp flying around the city. It's been swooping down between the buildings, which looks pretty surreal. I tried to get a picture, but I doubt that it came out.

Bettis has been runing around getting his picture taken. ;)
Shopping success! I was able to find pretty much everything that I was looking for on this trip. I wanted to get more Pashmina and Pumas, and I was looking for some other things as xmas gifts. I'm starting to enjoy the bargaining process. Some of the salespeople are so much fun to bargain with, especially at the end, when everyone is best friends together and they make sure you'll come back and bring everyone you know. :)

I also found some fruit in the expat market that I brought back for Sunday breakfast. I have a couple of wax apples here, and a few of the "hairy Chinese strawberries" that we were introduced to in Hawaii. It turns out that they're really called rambutan. Yum.
I apologize for the lack of updates, but this first week has been incredibly busy. I've completed my first week of training, and now I only have auditing left. Auditing is much easier than standing in front of 30 people every day for 6 hours trying to be brilliant on a myriad of technical topics. My brain hurts. ;) The audits only take about 2 days apiece, and there are three of them left on this trip. That gets me back on either the 20th or the 21st. Let's hope for the 20th, so I can get more sleep before Thanksgiving.

Later on I have plans to go shopping with my old boss. She's here to do a face to face with some of her new employees. I'm looking forward to hanging out with her tonight. Tomorrow I want to go back to Yu Gardens (Old Town). It's a way cool place to hang and shop or just look around for a few hours.
Made it.

Suitcase with most of my clothing (including all of my business clothes)...not so much. Hopefully it will get here by Sunday night.


Better update when I'm not so grumpy.
My work here is done, and it's time to go home. I leave tomorrow afternoon, and, due to that cool sun revolving around a spherical earth thing, I arrive about 5 hours later. :)

Hopefully, since this was such a short trip, the jet lag will be commensurately shorter.
Made it!

Here I am, back on the 73rd floor of the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai. There's another building going up next to us, and I have a great view of the construction. It's BIG.

The weirdness is associated with my internet connection. I mentioned a while ago about the censoring of television here. (I can't find the entry, but there was a situation where Bush was being protested by a Chinese national, and CNN was running the video, but every time it came to the point where you could hear what was said, in Chinese, the cable went out. It took me a few tries until I realized it was being purposely blocked.) Well, for some reason, I can't reach my usual journaling sites through the hotel internet. It was annoying as hell until I found that I could do so by using my company's VPN to tunnel there via the US networks. So there, you censoring meanies! ;)

So, yes, you lucky people will have me posting from China once again. I know you're just pining for messages from me while I'm away.

This trip is only scheduled to last a week. I'm not doing the typical training/auditing this time. What I'm doing this week is working on a a specific issue with one of our suppliers. We are looking at the effect of higher pollution/dust levels in India on the failure rates of our products there. Why am I in China then? The units are being sent from India to the supplier, who happens to be here in China, where we will do the in-depth failure analysis. The program will run for 90 days, but I will be here for the first week to help train the engineers in how to inspect for contamination and corrosion. I'm looking forward to getting some good data over the course of the study, and hopefully getting a publication out of it.
Home again safe and sound. Thanks for all the well wishes.

Jet lag sucks. More after I wake up...
It's raining here. My hotel room is high enough that I'm right in the middle of the cloud bank. It's both cool and eerie to watch the clouds blow by when you're at their level. It feels as though I'm at sea, like the hotel is sailing through the mist. You should see what it's done to the traffic down below. ;)

I fly out tomorrow. I can't wait to get home.
So, in case you were wondering, I did indeed scrape together the guts to wander the city alone this weekend. Having done so in April with someone else, I had a good idea of where I wanted to go, and the concierge at the hotel is incredibly helpful about getting folks where they want to go.

Weekend Fun )

Traffic

Nov. 3rd, 2006 07:58 pm
You never forget the horrible traffic in Shanghai. However, I had forgotten about the constant horn honking that these guys think they need to do. Yesterday it took us 2.5 hours to get to the plant, and 2 hours to get back. (It's usually a 1 hour drive.)

There was one moment of Zen, however. On the way back to the hotel last night, during one particularly long stretch of not moving, the drivers (there were two) treated me to a real live Chinese Fire Drill. Yes, they both got out of the car, ran around to the opposite side in that stereotypical stiff-legged, straight-armed way, and got back into the car. I'm sure they have no idea how amusing it was.
My first four (five? I dunno, the days are fuzzy) days were spent in Suzhou. I have now moved back to Shanghai, where I will spend the remaining 16 days until I leave.

Oh, man, I love this hotel. I just freakin' love it. It's big and beautiful and clean and luxurious and just too damned comfortable. :) The food is great, but way too expensive. I need to find a way to eat cheaper while I'm here.

This time I'm on a lower floor (61, but the hotel actually starts at 54, so I'm pretty low), which means I actually have a clearer view of the city. I guess I'm under the pollution layer. :p Did I mention that Shangahi is kinda polluted? I wash my face a lot. :)

I have no idea what I will be doing this weekend. Last time I was here I had another engineer with me, but this time I'm alone. I may be brave and wander the city in the daylight hours looking for more Pumas, but it gets dark earlier now, and I don't want to be out at night. Not that it ever really gets dark in the city. Apparently Chinese really like neon. ;)
Well, hello there! It's me again, back east. No, way back east. Further...further...yep, that's it. China. Again.

Right now I'm in Suzhou, but I'll be off to Shanghai in a couple of days to spend the remaining glorious 2.5 weeks training and auditing suppliers. Woo hoo! Fun? You betchya! Aunt Polly doesn't let just anyone fly to China to train and audit suppliers, you know! (And, btw, we are hiring, in case anyone wants to take Aunt Polly up on that idea.)

The flight was uneventful (yay!), and I'm still trying to fight through the jet lag (boo!), but all in all it's the same China that it was back in April.

So, you guys should write me email, or reply to my LJ, or IM me or something so I don't forget who I am while I'm over here. :)
Just called and got confirmation that my visa request has been cleared and I should receive my passport back tomorrow.  I was a little nervous this time because I downloaded the application and did all the paperwork on my own, rather than getting help from my new boss' secretary.  There are several documents needed to get a business visa to China.  Who knows where I might have screwed up!

This is the last time I can use this passport, since it expires in June of next year.  Once I get back from China I will have to get a new passport.  Good thing I've slimmed down, since the photo stays with you for 10 years!  (Vanity peeks its head up and looks around.)
The trip has been approved.  I will be going back to Shanghai (and the surrounding areas) for three weeks starting three weeks from now.  The good part is, now that I am a Preferred Flyer on United, I qualify for better seats.  Yay!

The bad part is, this time I'm going by myself.  Boo!  It's actually physically exhausting to have to be "on" all of the time for training and auditing suppliers.  It makes me want to crawl into a hole and not talk to anyone for a week after I get back.  Luckily, I get back right before Thanksgiving, so I should have some time off to veg out and be snarky if I feel like it.

Not that I would ever feel like being snarky.  ;)

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