Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jake-Post 12- Journal, Notes, and Facts from the Trip

Hey everyone, these are just a bunch of notes and journal entries I wrote about the whole trip. Figured could help everyone remember some of the days. Some of the writing is a bit crude so bear with it, just notes. See everyone tonite.

Day 1, March 12th

Drive to airport at 7am, get dropped me off at Terminal 5, ride back to Terminal 1. Arrive with group. Depart on Flight 0835. First Pictures on airplane are over the Verkhoyanskiy and Cherskogo Mountains.

Day 2, March 13th
Cool, Foggy


Arrive in Shanghai at 2:50 pm, China time. Meet with Molly at Airport terminal. Proceed to take bus to Broadway Mansions Hotel. Throughout the ride Molly gives random facts of the City of Shanghai. Pass the World Expo Center and really awed by the city of Shanghai. 100’s and 100’s of high rise buildings.

Enter Broadway Mansion’s; the front desk can not speak great English. They do make an attempt with broken dialect. Proceed to go up to room and unpack. Initial perspective of hotel room; room is beautiful, bathroom is great, beds are good, over all cleanliness of room is up to standards, but the view sucks. The view is of heating and cooling ventilation pipes. Proceed to walk down to the bellhop area and ask about local nite spots. He is very pleasant and gives me a local address to a bar.

We meet back up with Molly; go to a local restaurant for tourists. Dinner is ok, very bland and lots of vegetables. A wedding is going on at the same restaurant, we presume to believe that we were served left over food from the wedding. Take a few pictures, load bus, and head back to hotel.

Walk down to the local Family Mart. Buy some snacks, soda, and beer. The prices are very cheap and we are impressed. Head back to the room and proceed to fall asleep within 10 minutes.

Day 3, March 14th
Rainy and cloudy. Probably mid 40’s

Woke up fairly early. No jet lag symptoms. Go down to breakfast around 730 and join the group. Breakfast was buffet style, but different then a western buffet. They had breakfast sausage that was completely white and looked like a red hot sausages. Their bacon looked like strips of ham and was just as soggy. They had hard boiled eggs, a rice dish, these steamed buns, a pork/eggplant dish, and several other cultural dishes. They also made fresh noodles with soup and omelet’s. There omelet’s consisted of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and parmesan cheese. They also had a fruit/deli meat section, toast section, yogurt, and several juices. I thought the coffee was better than America, strong.

Took a walk around the block after breakfast, stopped into Family Mart again. The city seems pretty busy, but relaxed. Joined group for first Destination.

Arrived at Nanking Road for McDonald’s visit. Walked up and down the strip. Reminded me of Las Vegas, marble sidewalk and streets, and busy for Sunday afternoon. Arrive at McDonald’s, greeted by several executives and ushered into a seating area. They begin to introduce themselves, their titles, and the McDonald’s store. I was very impressed by the way the executive group presented themselves and with the overall store appearance. They served us coffee from the McCafe, took us on a tour, and explained several operating procedures. The store was much cleaner the US storefronts, the workers seemed much happier, and the overall food quality was much better. Overall, I was very impressed by the McDonald’s operations and felt very comfortable in a fast food restaurant, which I found surprising. The meeting concluded with a free meal and the purchase of the collectible bears.

Upon completion of meeting we head to the Silk Factory. The Silk Factory is located in a general city area, some beggers outside. We get a tour of the factory and explanation on how silk is produced from the silk worm. Then they take us into the bedding and linen store. Purchase a comforter for 730 RNB’s, probably taken on the price. (Seems as though we are always gonna be shopping above cost when i look back at it). They then take us into the other store front, which has clothing, ties, purses, and everything else made out of silk. I purchase 3 ties for 80 RNB a piece.

We leave the Silk Factory and head to the Shanghai Museum. The Museum line is a few hours long, do to it being free and Sunday. We decide to venture towards Nanking Rd. Upon entering an underpass/tunnel to cross the street we lose then main group. It is now Langston, Danielle, Kelly, and I. At the first traffic light, two Chinese women walk up to us and begin to speak English. They state they are students and are currently studying English. They want to know if they have an Australian, English, or American accent. We walk with them several blocks, in hopes to see a Tea Ceremony. Upon arriving at the destination, our group decides we do not have enough time and part ways. We then set sights for the Nanking Rd; we get there and immediately find a dealer of imitation purses. The individual takes us down a back alley to a storefront that has a false door. This is our first bartering experience. They start high, we go low, and purchased 3 purses at a price that we come to find wasn’t low enough. We set back walking to the Museum to meet with the original group. We find that they had been waiting for us over the last few hours and never left the bus. We decide to pass out phone numbers and come up with a plan if ever separated again. We take the bus back to the hotel and on the way see several small storefronts, including a meat market located next to a china shop. Very interesting.

When we get to the hotel we shower and head for our next destination, the family visits. Rick and I arrive at a University where we intend on meeting Rosaline. We venture around some of the campus, which is very beautiful. Rosaline meets us at the front gate and we begin our tour together. We come to find that this university is one of the oldest in Shanghai and the only that has a river through it. Her grandmother studied and taught geography there. The Chinese students only have one chance to pass a test that gives them the opportunity to attend a university. The schooling itself does not seem to be that expensive, approximately $5000 per year. We finish the tour in a school building that had been bombed out in world war I We then proceeded to catch a cab and ride to her house. We arrive at a neighborhood with multiple high rise buildings. It seems like a fairly nice area and is secure. We climb 5 floors and arrive at her front door. Her grandparents are running around and you can see the excitement in their eyes. We enter and proceed to talk and have tea in their family room/kitchen. Rosaline’s family seems very loving and caring, which is shown through the opening of their door to us. We sit at the kitchen table for dinner with Rosaline, her uncle, nephew, grandmother, and grandfather. The grandmother proceed to bring out dish after dish. Rick and I proceed to eat dish after dish, well into us being overly stuffed. We discuss things as travel, politics, education, jobs, and etc. This evening was one of the most enjoyable evenings of the trip, and reminded me very much of my family. We concluded our dinner and her Uncle drove us back to the hotel.

We then decided to go out to a bar called Bar Rouge. This bar was on the 7th floor atop a shopping and dinning center. It faced the cityscape and river front. It was foggy at night but still had a great view. We had drinks and conversations that could last. The staff was very friendly and trustworthy. From there we walked back to the hotel and stayed at the hotel bar.

Day 4
Cloudy, Foggy, Chilly


Went down to breakfast once again around 730 am. From there we started off to our first business visit, Ctrip. We arrived 30 mins late, do to traffic. Traffic was always horrible and always ran 30 minutes behind.

Upon arriving at Ctrip, we were ushered to a conference room with a middle level manager and an ex student if Prof. Chaundry. The manager ran through the key points of the business. Customer service, six sigma standing, health car, and other hr policies. From this meeting we went up to the top floor and met with the head of hr, which coincidently was a female. She had us watch a video on the company and answered a few questions. This company seemed very guarded and uncooperative. The view of the office seemed like they were locked behind doors, seated at very small cubicles. Trying to take the elevator from the top floor down was a nightmare. We waited over 15 minutes. The company gave off the feel that they were trying to control all aspects of their employee’s lives. They seemed to employ young, inexperienced workers which I assume was because they were uneducated. At the end of the meeting tried to buy a chocolate mocha, ended up with a mocha and hot chocolate—language barrier once again.

From the Ctrip meeting, we went to an area close to our second meeting. The area was kind of an outdoor mall that had multiple food options. I went off by myself to a Chinese restaurant. Tried to order a soup that have never tried. Succeeded and still do not know what type of soup it was. It had a pork bone/meat of some sort, mushrooms, and a broth. Was fairly good. Went shopping and met back up with group. Also tried some fried dumplings.

Walking into Koehne and Nagel was a totally different feel then Ctrip. Our school name and logo was displayed, they met us with a warm greeting and immediately started a tour. The first person we met was Steffan, he was a warm, kind hearted German. He led us around the building and eventually dropped us off at the computer lab to Mr. Wu. Mr. Wu had a 270 slide power point prepared for us. Was very nice and intelligent, but kept to his powerpoint. He never veered from the company’s HR plan and always related his answers to this point. Steffan joined the Q and A and was able to shoot from the hip, more or less. It seemed as Mr. Wu lived up to his cultural stereotypes, structured, narrow minded, not free thinking, only one sensible answer. With that being said enjoyed both individuals and was very impressed by the company.

From the company visit we headed back to the hotel and then to dinner. Dinner was the same tourist food. It included Langston, Brittne, Bukky, and me. There was an incident on the restaurant side of the establishment, which involved two really drunk Chinese men. This was fairly entertaining. Upon dinner we went to the river and took a cruise around the cityscape. It was freezing out, but enjoyed the sites. We ended the night at Nanking Rd, which was closed. Headed back to the hotel for a drink at the bar and then bed time.

Day 4 Part 1
Sunny, clear skies. 50’s

The last day in Shanghai and it’s beautiful outside. Ended the trip with breakfast the same as it started, Healthy and hearty. After breakfast headed down stairs for one more look at the neighborhood, jumped in the bus, and headed off to Grainger for our last company visit. On the drive over there was a field that was once bar with dirt and rocks is now filled with grass and shrubbery. Amazed within 3 days they were able to do this. This might also explain why the set a goal of reworking most of the roads within 45 days of the World Expo.

Arrived at Grainger and was met by Jeff, VP. We then went on a tour with Brian through the warehouse facility. He seemed very intelligent and wise to the cultural norms of Chinese business. We then had a Q & A session with Jeff, where he answered anything from info on the company to general cultural questions. He advised us to go to the Pearl city, but our tour guide stated she could not take us their do to the obligated trip in Beijing.

We instead went to a very suburban style area. Langston, Kelly, and I walked down a small walkway to a area that seemed to be of German influence. We enjoyed a nice German meal, schnitzel, fries (mayo of course), and a Erdinger dunkel. Finished lunch and shopped in a mall. Second experience with bartering. Thought I got a good price on a North Face, but Kelly beat me on her’s. Was satisfied.

Said are goodbyes to Molly and checked into the Airport. Got tickets went to security to be denied access they misspelled my name. Had the gate attendant fix the info, then sent to a security official to stamp. After waiting for a few minutes and several patrons who cut in front of me, Prof. Chaudry gave me a sort of pep talk. High context people, loud, in your face, and get in there and get your ticket. Everything worked out and made it to our gate. Boarded a bus to bring to our plane and endured a 15-20min trip across the airport. If that wasn’t enough waited for approximately an hour on the runway before takeoff. Eventually made it to Beijing, unharmed.

Day 4, Part 2
Very cold, dark


Beijing, nite time. Cold and Bright lights. We meet with our tour guide Nelson and head to dinner. Dinner is more spicy and seems better than Shanghai. We finish dinner and head to the hotel. Nelson informs us that it is approx a 3 hr ride from one side of Beijing to the other. Checking into the hotel, Best Western. This hotel is no where as nice as Shanghai. Rooms are dingy and dirty. Try to talk to the front desk, not help whatsoever. Take a brief walk outside to see if any other local establishments. Nothing.
Day 5,
Cold, Snowing


Wake up early and head down to breakfast. This breakfast seems more Westernized than the hotel in Shanghai. They actually have real bacon and sausage. They also have a spread of the Chinese rolls, buns, rice, noodles, soup, beans, and other dishes. They serve omelet’s and fried eggs, same as the previous ones.

Get dressed and head down to the bus for the first corporate visit. Hotel elevator waits are ridiculous. At least 15-20min wait to go up and down. Grab a mocha from the coffee shop, intrigued at the method in which the make it. They have a Bunsen burner with a glass beaker above it filled with water. Then a funnel shaped glass with the coffee grounds in it. Turns out fairly well.

Tour guide, Nelson, is upset that everyone is late getting to the bus. We eventually head off to our first visit, ABB Voltage. Get there early and drive around looking for a Starbucks or something nothing. Impression of Beijing at first is not to good.

ABB Voltage representatives, Jackie, president, and few others meet us at the door. They lead us back to a conference style room. Have candy, water, and tour ready for us. They seem very nice and genuine. They show us a tour of the history of the company and eventually the plant. Everything seems very clean, automated, and controlled. Workers seem to be working hard but have good conditions. We had back down where the female president addresses us. She goes over a PowerPoint with the company history, financial, etc. We get into the Q and A portion and she hits a homerun on this one. She talks about basic principles she lives by; first being that she must continue to educate herself in all aspects of business. This includes management, financials, technology, etc. She also states that she must surround herself with respect, which means respect everyone around her including herself. She then talked being confident with her decision and ensuring confidence within her company, considering she is the first female president. We leave this meeting and was pretty impressed by a circuit breaker manufacturer.

We head to a place called the silk market. It is a building that is about 6 stories tall and reminds me exactly of a flea market. Kelly and I go, but immediately head across the street to McDonald’s for lunch again. McDonald’s is packed, they do not take visa, but they have an American menu to point at. I try the spicy chicken sandwich and hot wings. Decent as before. We head back to the market. Walk around for quite a while, until we reach a purse section on the top floor. We haggle with a girl for a while and get her down to a legitimate price. We then look for other stuff and look at a clock which states we are an hour late. We sprint to the bus to find that we in fact are an hour early. We head back in and I haggle for a Coach wristlette. Kelly and I shop for a few more minutes and then head back to the bus.

We set off to meet with Scott at Allied Pick fords. Get dropped off in front of a large building and take the elevator up to the 11th floor. Greeted by Scott and a staff member. He leads us to a small conference room and talks about allied Pickford’s. The company basically is a relocation service for expatriates. Located schools, homes, communities, pretty much anything that involves moving a family. He went into more detail about the Chinese customs. For example, how there is only 1 page of rules for a certain aspect of his industry. But this page is open to interpretation by various government officials. You have to use Fung she to work the system. You make connections through customs, government and other various officials. Eventually, you are able to conduct business as usual. He also discussed the struggles foreign companies encounter because they do not know how to deal with these types of situations. He went onto to talk about China in general. That if you want privacy and quiet do not move there. He believes that their school system is useless. It does not promote problem solvers and free thinkers, which eventually leads to workers who are unable to make a decision or take responsibility. Scott was very informative and really enjoyed the meeting with him.

From there we went to a restaurant that served Peking duck. The restaurant was supposedly the #1 Peking duck restaurants in the area. The food was unbelievable and tried it all. You can see more from the pictures. From there we head back to the hotel for a massage. Langston and I both got one. When the massage therapists arrive we are both nervous. After a few minutes the mood is more relaxed and really enjoyed the full 90 minutes of it. It is amazing to me that it only costs $25. The one thing I will say that surprised me is the punching and cupping of the hands. I received a massage when I got back to the states and the therapist there informed me that the reason for this is promote good energy and release bad energy. All in all I enjoyed it very much and as most people know received one again before the flight.

After this Danielle, Rick, Brittne, Langston, and I walked around to the local gas station and store. Amazed once again at the cost of the local foods, beverages, etc. We purchased a few beers and headed back to the hotel to relax and go to bed.

Day 6
Foggy, Cold 30’s

Temple of Heaven
Nelson advises us that we should be at the bus at 830am today. We are headed to the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City.

Walk down to breakfast again around 7am. This time get dressed and ready so I don’t have to use the elevator because it has been a nightmare in the morning to go up and down it. Board the bus and head off to the Temple of Heaven. We get to the grounds and begin to tour the area. When we initially walk in there are several people doing Salsa Dancing. Nelson talks about the retirement community coming here to exercise, relax, socialize, network, etc. I did not expect what I saw there. People of all generations practicing Tai Chi, Sword fighting, Hackie Sack, cards, singing, and other various activities. I am very surprised to see the age of some of the participants and even more surprised of the athletic ability some of them have.

Upon arriving at the first prayer sight, there are a group of locals singing and dancing. It amazes me that it is about 20-30 degrees outside, yet all these people are outside participating in these activities. We tour the first building where the emperor would pray for a good harvest and then head to the next temple. This is where the emperor prayed the rest of the year. Nelson advises us that only the emperor, demons, and the dead walk up the middle stairways, which is why we must always go up the side steps. While heading back to the bus from the temple, we are accosted again bye several locals trying to sell us souvenirs. This time I actually witness several of them trying to give us fake money, while swiping our real money. We eventually make it to the bus.

We head off to the Pearl Factory. They give us an intro to the river oyster and how many pearls are within the shell. We shop for a few hours and board the bus for the Forbidden City. When we arrive I am somewhat awed at the size of the structure. There are 999 ½ rooms within the city. The historical significance and magnificent size of the city are just amazing to me. We tour the city for several hours and I feel the Nelson did a decent job with the background. He talked of the concubines, the emperor’s chambers, and some of the significance in the other buildings. We walked down several bridges and giant gates to come to the exit/entrance. We now were entering Tiananmen Square, while walking across the exit bridge Nelson informs us not to take any pictures. We walk through the square and tour it briefly. Nelson states that it can fit up to 500,000 people and doesn’t really go into much detail of the protesting in late 80’s. States that the media may have talked up the conflict more than it was. We board the bus and head off to the acrobatic show.

Upon arrival at the acrobatic show we head off to McDonald’s, again. We all get coffee and some get a meal. Kelly, Brittne, Danielle, and I head off to a supermarket. The supermarket is huge, like 4 stories. It is like a Super Walmart, but with flea market stores surrounding the outside gates. I found it pretty interesting. This is the first establishment where the workers spoke some English and helped me with my transactions. A nice young lady helped me pick out alcohol souvenirs. I purchased them and headed back with Brittne to the show.

The show started off slow with simple artistic acrobatics and some dancing. I was really impressed by the show at the end. George brought to my attention that all the participants were in the age range of children to teenagers in the show. It culminated with 5 motorcycles within a globe shaped frame structure and was just down right awesome. I have never seen something like this. We headed back to the hotel from here.

We decided to go out to a place called Beer Mania. It took a 30 minute drive to get there, which only costs 24 RNB’s. The bar was a small European style type. Had many beers and a good hearted owner. It was pretty fun and if you look at the website below you can get more info. Apparently the Travel Channel is there filming this weekend, so look out for it in upcoming shows.
http://www.beermania.cn/#Home

Day 7
Still Foggy, not as cold


Head down for breakfast and off to the Ming Tomb.

We visited a Jade factory on the way to the Tomb. We shop for about an hour, haggle for a little bit of it, and take off to head to the Tomb. We arrive on our bus about 1hr 30 mins later. It is in the mountainside, very rural area. As we pool up, there is an adorable dog in the parking lot. Our group, other than Langston, surrounds the dog and proceeds to give it food/water. I need to find out the breed of this dog.

We head into the Tomb, and it has the same feel as the Forbidden City. Same golden arched buildings. We tour the main buildings which has a small exhibition of the Ming Dynasty. We walk around for about 30 minutes; I haggled with the locals a little bit, and headed back to the bus. We boarded and headed to lunch. This lunch they served a certain type of rice wine, which was very strong. Lunch was good again, which one thing I have no complaints about is the food in Beijing. We board and head for the Great Wall.

We arrive in the middle of two mountain peaks. When you look up, you can’t even see the end tower of the section of the wall we are climbing. So it started with people jumping off the bus and just getting to it. The first few sections of the wall you don’t realize how steep and how high it really is. My one observation is that some of the sizes of the steps are the entire length of a shorter person’s entire leg. As we go farther and farther up, you begin to recognize people by face. People begin to slow down and take more and more breaks. All the while looking at each other, making exhausted faces, laughing, and just communication without talking. We continue and continue you up, the people who started out ahead of us are now dead even or falling back. We continue to ask each other how much father, where is the end, but all the while sort of pushing each other to do it. When we finally reach the top, you can see the exhaustion, excitement, accomplishment, and just joy in everyone’s face. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life and definitely will not forget the experience. The walk down was an experience as well. It seemed as though the view was better, you could take more pictures, and just admire the overall scene a little more. I believe it took us somewhere around an hour to get to the top and about 20 mins to get down. When we reached the ground, I found an artist at the bottom. He had some portraits of the Great Wall in different seasons; a bunch of us purchased them. They were very beautiful and impressive. We board the bus exhausted, heading off for the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. When we arrive there we jump off the bus and just do a brief walk around the sites with a few pictures.

We board the bus and head for the Night Market. The Night Market is an area in downtown Beijing that has various shopping around. There are department stores, local restaurants, bars, and just about anything a normal downtown scene would have. On top of this, there is an open air market that serves exotic foods. Anything from, starfish, scorpion, sea snake, silk worm, lotus, enteron, eel, grass hoppers, squad, kidney’s, goat testicles, and many more exotic items. Several of us decided to try the Scorpion items. We really had to sike ourselves up for this moment and in the end it wasn’t horrible. They pretty much deep fry every item on the menu. This item tasted like friend chicken skin or pork grinds. Brittne and I decided to try the Sea Snake, which wasn’t horrible as well. Langston tried a meat product, that I would like to believe is not dog, but it probably was. From here I ran over to KFC because even though this food wasn’t horrible, I still needed something to settle my nerves for the evening.

When decided to go out again from here. Google’d bars near bye again, and found the Tun Bar. This taxi ride was a little more difficult. After turning off the main road and several sharp turns down the side alley ways we eventually made it. This place was incredible, it started off fairly crowded but turned into a rave style. The DJ played unbelievable music all night, the crowd was great, the drinks were great, and had awesome time dancing.

Day 8
The last day


Incredibly windy, apparently there is a sand storm from Sibera or Mongolia blowing in. Head down to the lobby for one last breakfast and massage. Start packing our bags, check out, and sit in the coffee shop for the bus. We head to the airport and the bus is blowing all over the place, but we make it. We check in, go through several security checks, which was quite annoying. Stop at a few shops, get to the gate, and basically board the plane. Where once again our bags are searched, person’s searched, and SWAT dogs are around. We eventually board the plane and head home.

What a trip. I would never pass this opportunity up again in the world. The group was unbelievable, the people were unbelievable, and the cultural/experience was just great. I really learned a lot of about their culture and how it differs from ours. I would say I appreciate America more, but I have always appreciated the freedoms and way of life we have here. This is the reason I live here, I would be interested in working there for a short stint, but I come to love the norms of the Midwest. I want to say thank you to everyone who joined me on this voyage. And I hope we stay in touch.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nanzi Flores - Final Post (sent to your e-mail address on 3.26.10 w/pictures)

Broadway Mansion Hotel- my first impression of the hotel was a very good one. It was very clean and modern but the staff didn’t seem very friendly. When we arrived to the hotel the doorman didn’t even offer to carry our bags off the bus and into the hotel. Also, I had a bit of a hard time trying to communicate with the people at the concierge desk while trying to obtain internet service. Internet access by the way was supposed to be free but turned out not to be true.
Brittne and I had planned on sharing a room but didn’t quite expect to be sharing a bed also. As it turns out when we arrived at the hotel room we had one large bed instead of two single beds.

Tour guide (Molly)- Molly our tour guide turned out to be quite interesting and a very energetic person. She was very helpful and flexible when it came to addressing our needs. One thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she couldn’t sit down and have dinner with us. I think it was part of her company policy or perhaps the Chinese culture which seemed unfair to me. I believe we should all be treated equally but of course I must accept and respect other cultures and their beliefs. Although one night when we went for a boat cruise, she did mingle with us and her conversations were very interesting. She spoke very freely about everything from Politics to culture and even the process of adopting a child in China. She had a lot of knowledge of the country and she had plenty of questions for us also.

McDonalds Visit- McDonalds was the first company we visited once we were in China. It turned out very well because we were able to slowly transition from our normal American food into the tour package dinners. The McDonalds’ staff was very friendly and welcoming. The entire team from store manager to district manager was there to greet us and answered any questions that we had related to their business. They gave us a tour of the location which was very clean and everyone seemed happy to work there. Our visit concluded with the management team treating us to lunch at this McDonalds location.

Silk factory- at the silk factory I was shocked to see the young girl who was working there (also pictured in this photograph), she looked very young and I wondered about the China child labor issues I had previously read about. I decided not to mention anything and rather just observe the process of making silk products. I even got to buy and bring home a silk bed set.

Nanking Road Experience- during our first few days in China we went to Nanking Road, where I finally got to experience the crowds due to China’s large population. There were tons of people everywhere and every store imaginable was located there. One thing that crossed my mind though was how these people could afford such expensive products when the pay is so low but then again there were a lot of tourist in this particular area so maybe they were the only people buying in these stores.
C-trip- The second company we visited was C-Trip. I was not impressed at all by the way we were treated. I almost felt as if we were not really welcomed there. I even felt a bit insulted by the way we were treated. We started our visit by meeting the general manager who was very hesitant to answer any questions we asked (FYI, these questions were provided to them via e-mail prior to our visit there).
Then we proceeded to meet with the H.R person who showed us a video in their language and no one seemed to understand the point of them showing us this particular video. Finally we were given a tour of their parking lot, yes their parking lot! This is what I found to be very insulting as I didn’t quite understood the reason behind this.

Another thing that I found very interesting about this company was the fact that the contact person Frances, had actually not been working at C-trip for the previous four years and yet she was asked to be the contact person for this visit. I can’t even imagine having that kind of relationship with my previous employer here in the U.S. I believe this is part of the Chinese culture in which people stay in touch with each other even after they stop working together. Everyone seemed to be linked to one another, even outside of the workplace. For example when I went to the home visit at Lisa’s, she mentioned that Frances (from C-trip) and Frances daughter had joined Lisa and her son Leo to go strawberry picking earlier that week. There always seemed to be a mention of someone knowing someone through someone else, if that makes sense.

Another thing to point out was that I was not impressed with C-Trip’s facility setup. There were such a large number of employees which were practically sitting on top of each other (that’s how little working space was provided to these employees). There was no personal space and a large number of employees seemed to be taking their lunch and eating at their desk. Everyone seemed to be very young and never once did I get the sense that they were trying to interact with anyone of us.

Home Visit – for our home visit we had the privilege of being welcomed into Lisa Liu’s home. Lisa is an H.R professional who lives with her husband, son Leo, older sister, and temporarily her parents also. Lisa and her family were very friendly and we even had a chance to hear Leo play the violin. Dr. Chaudhry and I had a chance to sit down and chat with Lisa about so many topics including the one child policy in their country, Lisa’s current and past employment, and her family. Lisa mentioned that she had purchase her home three years earlier and that she had already equity of approximately three million dollars. To me this was an indication of how well the economy is currently doing in China.
One thing that stood out to me during the home visit was all the attention that was given to Leo their son and the amount of time they invested in him by taking him to all sorts of activities. Perhaps this was due to the fact that they only have one child.

Grainger – The experience at the Grainger Company was totally different from what we had experienced at C-trip. Here the staff was open to respond to any questions we had. We also were able to tour the warehouse. Information regarding doing business internationally was also discussed and how they had obtained and continued to have a successful business in China.


Kuehne-Nagel –Mr. Ken Wu was the person who we met with during our company visit at Kuehne -Nagel. Mr. Wu presented us with a very detailed and very informative PowerPoint show related to their company. Information about what it takes to do business in China was also discussed. They also were open to any questions we wanted to ask, although they provided so much information that we really didn’t have to ask much since they seemed to have covered everything.
Abb Voltage- Although I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the ladies name who presented to us. I can honestly say that she really made an impression on me. Her story was very inspiring and motivating. Her high position in the company didn’t come easy as she was faced with opposition for being a woman working with mostly men. She spoke of staying focused and how determination is the key to success. We also were able to take a tour of the facility which was very impressive; I had never seen such an advanced high tech facility.

Allied Pickford – Scott Willis is a very funny man with so much knowledge of the Chinese culture as well as international business management, which I got the impression that much of it was obtained through personal experience. He was open to us asking him just about any questions; including his personal life…yeah we are a very curious group. Brittne even felt comfortable enough to ask him to share with her his pictures of the Chinese technique procedure done to his back known as cupping.

Tiananmen Square – All I have to say about my visit to Tiananmen Square is that I felt very uncomfortable due to the presence of so many soldiers. It also didn’t help that I kept on remembering the stories I had previously read about the 1989 incident.


Temple of heaven – here at the temple of heaven, I got to experience what the retired people in China get to enjoy. Here everyone seemed to be so peaceful and full of joy. Everyone was interacting with each other and just enjoying the day although the temperature was very cold. I guess the dancing and playing games kept them warm. During my visit here I learned about how the government forces people to retire at a certain age but I guess that’s okay because they get to come here and enjoy dancing and playing games.

Chinese Acrobatics- The Chinese Acrobat show was pretty much a typical show that we would see here in the U.S. But there was one thing that stood out to me which was the way people acted once the show was done. Both Danelle and I were shocked to see how the audience left their seat while the performers were still on stage. Normally, the audience doesn’t start leaving their seats until the performers have left the stage. During this show the audience started leaving immediately after the show had just ended. I felt it was very disrespectful and rude to the performers.
Great Wall- Brittne and I climbed the Great Wall together and we encouraged one another to continue all the way to the top.
The Great wall was the highlight of the trip for me. Here I had a chance to meditate on what I had experienced for the past few days and also what I had learned not only about international business management but also about the Chinese culture.

During my walk up the Great Wall, I got to meet people and even exchange contact information or take a picture with them. I got to meet different groups of people who motivated me to continue to walk up until I reached the top.
During my walk I met a woman named Marvalyn, who told me that how people handle their climbing experience is a reflection of their life. That some people start up fast but soon get tired and are unable to reach the top(goal) while others take their time and eventually reach their goal.

In conclusion, I had a wonderful experience and I’m very glad to have met every single person in the group. Everyone was awesome and very easy to get along with. I will never forget such a wonderful experience.

Google and Censorship (Rick post 15)

Earlier this week, Google stopped censoring its search results in China. Much to the Chinese government's anger, Google instead began redirecting Chinese users to the uncensored Hong Kong version of Google.

I support Google's decision because I oppose censorship and I think it's ultimately self-destructive for a government to quash free speech and the free flow of information the way the Chinese government does.


Google seems to have somewhat inconsistent policies regarding censorship. Granted, the Chinese government's policies are far more draconian than any of the other countries listed in the article (Although its policy toward Thailand is particularly dubious). Google's unofficial motto is "do no evil," but I'm starting to question whether Google's motives for leaving China are based entirely on this mantra.

As we previously learned during our class, Google has a relatively small portion of the Chinese Internet search market. The Chinese market, though huge, produces relatively little ad revenue and is dominated by Baidu. Google and the Chinese government also are at an impasse about the censorship issue, and it seems neither side was willing to back down. So Google probably isn't losing much in terms of present revenues by withdrawing from China. The bigger problem may be when the Chinese Internet market matures and expands, and Google is left out in the cold.

Additionally, the incident that prompted Google to reexamine its policy on China was a cyberattack trying to access the personal accounts of human rights activists. So given Google's difficult relationship with the Chinese government, its low Chinese market share and the threat of cyberattack, perhaps Google was really doing what was best for Google.



Thoughts about China (Rick post 14)

2010-03-19 Tombs, scorpions and a really colossal wall (Rick post 13)


Our first stop today was the Ming Dynasty Tomb. After constructing the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City, the third Ming dynasty Emperor Yongle selected the site for his family’s burial grounds. Thirteen Ming emperors are buried at the site, which is about 30 miles north of Beijing.



Nelson, our tour guide, told us the site was carefully selected in accord with Feng Shui teachings. For instance, the Emperor chose to build at the foot of the Jundu Mountains to deflect evil spirits from the north. There’s also a river nearby, another important part of Feng Shui. Nelson told us Beijing's planners actually dug a canal so the city would have good Feng Shui.

There are many architectural similarities between the Forbidden City and the Ming Tomb, given that they were built during the same era by the same Emperor.

The Ming Tomb feels old and very peaceful. The scenery is beautiful, even if you happen to visit on a foggy gray day like we did.

We next traveled to one of the most impressive sights I’ve ever seen: the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Spanning more than 4,000 miles, the Wall’s construction began during the 5th century B.C.

We visited the section of the Wall at Badaling. Climbing the Great Wall is much harder than it looks. The steps are huge and it goes up high into the mountains. Steps on some parts of the wall are heavily worn down, so you can only imagine how many people have walked along this same route over the hundreds and hundreds of years.


It feels like you've accomplished something when you reach the top. I was tired just from climbing the wall. It's hard to believe humans were able to build such a vast structure through the mountains, all without any machinery!

We were all exhausted after our climb, but we went to the Dong Hua Men Night Market. We heard you could try some pretty wild food there. Octopus tentacles, fried silk worms and seahorses were some of the delicacies on the menu.

We decided to try some scorpions. Appetizing, aren't they?

It was actually kind of anti-climactic because they don't taste like much. Kind of like greasy fried chicken skin.

Danelle - Post #10 Educated and Fearing the Future in China

Educated and Fearing the Future in China

By THE EDITORS

As China’s economy recovers, employers are competing to hire low-skilled workers, but many of China’s best and brightest, its college graduates, are facing a long stretch of unemployment.

In 1999, the government began a push to expand college education — once considered a golden ticket — to produce more professionals to meet the demands of globalization. This year, more than 6.3 million graduates will enter the job market, up from one million in 1999. But the number of high-skilled, high-paying jobs has not kept pace.

What might be done to correct the mismatch between expectations and reality? How is this problem altering Chinese attitudes about upward mobility? If college graduates are not reaping economic rewards, how will the next generation view the value of education?

? C. Cindy Fan, associate dean of social sciences, U.C.L.A.
? Yasheng Huang, professor of political economy, M.I.T.
? Daniel A. Bell, professor of political philosophy, Tsinghua University
? Albert Park, economist, University of Oxford
? Loren Brandt, economist, University of Toronto
________________________________________
Materialism and Social Unrest

C. Cindy Fan is associate dean of social sciences and professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of “China on the Move” and numerous articles.

Like prostitution, stocks, private cars, beauty pageants, and McDonald’s, “unemployment,” thanks to collectivization, was practically absent from Chinese life for the three decades after 1949.

The Chinese economy, no longer centrally planned, has not put enough people back to work.

Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms paved the way for the collapse of inefficient state-owned enterprises, shattering the “iron rice bowl” of millions of workers and creating the first wave of unemployment in post-Mao China.

Unemployment among college graduates is a hot-button issue in China.

A large number of young people have little other than materialism and consumerism to believe in — a general description of Chinese society today since socialist ideology lost its grip. Not having a job is a perfect recipe for social unrest.

Today, China’s official unemployment rate is about 4.3 percent, but it is a gross underestimate because of underemployment among both rural and urban Chinese — they may have a job but their skills are underutilized and they are underpaid.

What explains this situation? No doubt, the global economic crisis has contributed to job loss, but China is considered one of the first economies to recover from the recession.

Another explanation widely cited in the media is the government-directed increase in university enrollment since the late 1990s. But even with that expansion, less than 8 percent of the Chinese population are college-educated compared with more than one in four in the U.S. That suggests there is much room for growth in higher education, especially if the country is to live up to the expectation of “China’s century.”

Instead, three explanations may account for the relatively high unemployment among college graduates. First, geography matters. Young people from smaller places and rural areas, upon obtaining a university degree, are likely eager to go to or stay in big cities. This effect is crowding the labor market in cities like Beijing and Shanghai and hurting the economy of small cities and towns.

Second, globalization matters. By rough estimates, one quarter of the Chinese who have studied overseas have returned. Nicknamed “sea turtles” (haigui), these returnees are highly competitive and can easily push the domestic college graduates down the job hierarchy.

Finally, China’s economy continues to be dominated by the industrial sector, which accounts for about 49 percent of the gross domestic product. While services — the most likely sector for college graduates — account for about 40 percent of the G.D.P., high-skilled, professional jobs are still relatively few compared with low-end service jobs like those in sales.

Creating high-end jobs and increasing the incentives for young people to live in smaller cities are obvious ways to reduce their unemployment. But this is easier said than done. The Chinese economy is no longer centrally planned, and as we have observed on this side of the Pacific, relying on the market alone — even with stimulus packages — has not yet put enough people back to work.
________________________________________
A Terrible Education System

Yasheng Huang is professor of political economy and international management at Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics” and will soon begin a large-scale survey of college graduates in China.

In 2007, the job openings for new graduates fell by some 22 percent compared with 2006, according China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Although Chinese universities have pockets of excellence, they are churning out people with high expectations and low skills.

Some estimate that 30 percent of Chinese engineering students will not find jobs after graduation and that the average pay of the college graduates is now approaching that of rural migrant workers. At the same time, factories in Guangdong province cannot find enough labor.

What is going on?

The idea that China is running out of unskilled labor is a myth. The news reports typically concentrate on Guangdong but this does not mean the country as a whole is short of unskilled labor. Development in rural areas in the past six years has meant that rural residents, previously denied economic opportunities close to home, now have a choice between going to Guangdong and staying in their hometowns. Many choose to stay. Any “labor shortage” in Guangdong is mostly evidence that the factories should not be located there in the first place.

But the job market is a problem for college graduates — with the opportunities created in the wrong places. Colleges educate students, but in China they also give a young person a formal right to move to an urban center.

You cannot tell a Chinese college graduate, “you’ve invested years and money in a college education, but your job prospects are in your home village.” So there is now a geographic mismatch between locations of jobs and locations of college graduates.

Secondly, there is a skills mismatch. In my conversations with Chinese managers and entrepreneurs, they constantly complain about a shortage of people with the right set of skills, capabilities and inclinations. China is so short of the right human capital, and books with titles like, “War for Talent,” are best sellers in China.

The Chinese educational system is terrible at producing workers with innovative skills for Chinese economy. It produces people who memorize existing facts rather than discovering new facts; who fish for existing solutions rather than coming up with new ones; who execute orders rather than inventing new ways of doing things. In other words they do not solve problems for their employers.

You multiply this skills mismatch by a sixfold increase in the college enrollments between 1997 and 2008, you get a sense of scale of the problem. Although Chinese universities are not without pockets of excellence, they are churning out people with high expectations and low skills. That combination cannot be good for any country, let alone a country with a low capita income.
________________________________________
Going Back to Mao?

Daniel A. Bell is professor of political philosophy at Tsinghua University and author of “China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society.”

“In education, there are no social classes,” Confucius said. The value of equal opportunity for education has deep roots in Chinese culture and may help to explain why most Chinese parents, regardless of social background, put so much pressure on their kids to do well in school.

Even at an elite university, students are lowering their aspirations or settling for government jobs.

It also helps to why explain the university entrance examination system — one of the least corrupt institutions in China — is designed at least partly to provide an equal opportunity for all students. Those who make the cut go on to university, regardless of social connections.

In response to societal demands for more educational opportunities, the government has boosted university enrollment by 30 percent annually over the past decade. Even in the context of a booming economy, the predictable consequence is that there are large numbers of unemployed college students. My own students — graduates of the elite Tsinghua University — are also feeling the pinch, though it usually means lowering their aspirations or changing their plans rather than coping with unemployment.

In the past, it wasn’t too difficult for graduates in the humanities to find highly paid jobs with foreign companies or Chinese financial institutions in Beijing or Shanghai. Many graduates are now considering working in smaller and less developed cities. Others are enrolling in graduate programs that delay the job search. Still others are considering jobs outside of their majors.

One of my graduate students has found a job as a Chinese teacher at a highly regarded secondary school and she says “with this job it will be impossible for me to make a great fortune but I’m quite sure I will be very happy.”

Increasing numbers of graduates are competing to take the civil service exams. Whatever their private misgivings about the government, a government job is increasingly seen as the best option in economically uncertain times.

In response to the job crunch, the government is cutting back on university enrollment growth to 5 percent annually. But the demand for university spots won’t stop growing and the government will find it increasingly difficult to maintain a “harmonious society.”’

The only long-term solution, in my view, is to change parental expectations. Not everyone is destined to be a successful professional or government official, and students will need to be filtered at an earlier age to vocational training, similar to the educational system in Germany.

But parents need to accept that working with hands can be just as socially valuable as working with the mind. A bit of Maoism, in that sense, might need to be reintroduced to China.
________________________________________
Waiting It Out

Albert Park is a reader in the economy of China at the University of Oxford. He has co-directed several surveys on China’s urban workers and is currently leading a World Bank-supported project on the impact of the global economic crisis on employment in China.

China has been confronting the challenge of employing college graduates for some years now. The number of graduates from regular institutions of higher education increased dramatically from 9.5 million in 2000 to 37.8 million in 2006.

The broader trends definitely suggest that the economy will be able to absorb more graduates.
Meanwhile, the urban unemployment rate for college graduates increased from 6.3 percent in 2000 to 11.9 percent in 2005, while declining for those with less education, according to calculations based on census data. It would be surprising if the expectations of college graduates have not begun to adjust to the new reality.

In recent years, many college graduates have been disappointed by the salaries for starting positions. Some may feel they would rather wait for a better first job, since first jobs can strongly influence future career paths. Of course, wages of college graduates tend to rise with experience once employed. Eventually, the costs of waiting will force graduates to accept available job offers.

But are sufficient jobs available? The economic crisis certainly reduced the job market for recent graduates, but evidence suggests that the Chinese economy has bounced back.

The broader trends definitely suggest that the economy will be able to absorb more graduates. First, the economic returns to college education (the percentage difference in wages for college graduates compared with high school graduates) in urban areas have increased tremendously over time, from less than 12 percent in 1988 to nearly 40 percent by the early 2000s, with no signs of declining, and such economic returns are highest for recent graduates. This suggests that increases in the demand for college-educated workers continues to outpace the increase in supply.

Overall, the percentage of the national urban labor force that is college-educated remains less than 10 percent, while global integration and rapid technological change increasingly place a premium on high-skill workers. China’s college graduates have reason to be optimistic about the future.
________________________________________
College Educations, Needed and Desired

Loren Brandt is a professor of economics at the University of Toronto. He is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany. He has published widely on the Chinese economy and has been involved in extensive household and enterprise survey work in China. He is the co-editor of China’s Great Economic Transformation.

China’s urban labor market is fairly sharply divided between workers with urban residency permits (hukou) and migrants from rural areas. In general, the overlap in the job market for these two populations is relatively modest, but it has been increasing over time.

China’s emerging middle class will continue to demand expanded educational opportunities for their children.

Of the total urban workforce of 475-500 million, 60 to 65 percent have urban residency permits (hukou) with the remaining being migrants. A majority of those with residency permits (upwards of three-quarters) work in the “formal” sector in jobs that offer more security, higher wages, as well as the benefits of China’s social safety net. The migrants are more likely to be found in the “informal” urban sector, including manufacturing, construction and services.
For migrants, one huge barrier to jobs in the formal urban sector is their significantly lower levels of education. The most recent arrivals from the countryside have an average educational attainment of middle school (9 years in total), or five years less than their urban counterparts.

Migrants are also willing to take the less desirable jobs that urban residents usually avoid.

Estimates suggest that between 2002 and 2008 urban employment grew by nearly 4 percent a year (or 15 million new urban jobs annually), with annual employment growth of migrants outpacing that of urban residents (5.1 percent versus 3.3 percent). Indeed, on the eve of the recent financial crisis, labor markets in many parts of China were fairly tight.

At the end of 2008, total urban employment began to decline and continued to fall through the first half of 2009, but there are indications that urban job growth is now recovering.

The problem facing new college graduates is neither the economy nor the migrants.

Instead, it is the result of a rapid of expansion in higher education and a serious mismatch in the labor market. In 2003, surveys were already pointing to these difficulties. Notably, women, graduates from China’s lower-tier colleges and universities, and those with degrees in education, literature and science were faring more poorly. There were also important regional differences.

Nonetheless, overall there will still be high economic returns for a college degree, and China’s emerging middle class will continue to demand expanded educational opportunities for their children.

China’s educational system needs to do a better job of providing the skills that are valued by the market. On the demand side, other reforms, including those in the financial system, are required to relax constraints facing China’s private sector, which creates jobs. Neither of these changes, however, will happen quickly.

(http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/educated-and-fearing-the-future-in-china/)

Analysis

Yasheng Huang suggests that Chinese universities do not educate their students to 'think outside the box.' I can only see this as being a result of a culture and government that perpetuates this rigid type of thinking. The inability to 'think outside the box" cannot be cured by universities, but only by the eradication of the Communist Party, and the strictness and totalitarianism in the Chinese family.

How does this crisis effect Americans? It means that although many Chinese postdoctoral scholars come to America to perform research at high level universities, they will never be the driving force for innovation or discovery in the next century. That title will very likely be retained by the USA because I believe that being born in this country allows our students to be more open-minded and explorative in their thinking.


2010-03-18 Forbidden (Rick post 12)

Our company tours finished, we spent the rest of our trip touring some of China's most famous cultural sites.

Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven. Like many important cultural sites near Beijing, the Temple was constructed by the Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, during the 1400s.

Nelson, our guide, told us emperors were regarded as Sons of Heaven and this temple was built for them to pray for good harvests.

Despite the chilly weather, the Temple is a popular destination for Chinese people to visit and play dominoes, exercise, sing or just hang out. Or, practice swordplay like these people.

The Forbidden City is amazing and was one of my favorite places we visited. It was built in the 1400s as a palace for Ming dynasty emperors. It's the world's largest surviving palace complex and its name comes from the fact that it was forbidden for anyone to enter the palace without the Emperor's permission.


There's a path leading out from the Forbidden City to Tiananmen Square. The Square is the heart of China's government. It's vast and includes the 125-foot Monument to the People's Heroes, as well as The Great Hall of the People (China's parliament building) and the National Museum of China.



I really enjoyed visiting Tiananmen Square. But the whole time I was there, I couldn't stop thinking about the 1989 protests in which the Chinese government ordered the military to crack down on protesters, killing hundreds.

During our trip, several Chinese people expressed anger to me that Japanese textbooks omit reference to the Japanese army killing several hundred thousand Chinese during the World War II's Nanking Massacre. They said it they thought it was important that the Japanese government at least acknowledge what it did to the Chinese.

I kept wondering how can they condemn another government for doing what their own government does on daily basis. Books about the Tiananmen Square Protests are banned in China and the national Internet firewall censors all information about them, as well as other controversial topics such as Tibetan Independence and information about Taiwan. In fact, it looks as though Google will suspend its operations in China due to the government's insistence that it censor its search results. Most of the Chinese people we discussed this issue with didn't seem to care very much.

I won't get into a diatribe about what I think about government censorship and state-controlled media. But I'll always remember standing in Tiananmen Square and thinking about how glad I was that I have the right to read about whatever I want at home.