Great Walls, Great Cars, and Great Teams...
By mrbill on Jul 27, 2009
I ended up Q4 in China, on a whirlwind three week tour that included many fun adventures. My wife joined me for the first piece, and Dr. Blumenthal joined me for the conclusion. We visited several cool customers, and talked about cloud computing, realities in deployment, and helped bring in those last couple deals in the fiscal year where we could. My wife learned to eat with chopsticks, how to say "Ni Hao" and "Boo Yao", and shopped in the wild typhoon of bargaining known as the Beijing Pearl Market.
We started off in Beijing, where I had a few meetings to take care of and a couple customers to follow up on. We got to see Tianemen Square at night, and wander around aimlessly to get over the jetlag.
We then grabbed a flight down to Shenzhen, a nice central location for the next piece of my journey. From Shenzhen / Shekou, you can take the ferry to Hong Kong or Macau in about an hour. There is also a high speed train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, where I needed to see a few customers. The ferry costs about $25 or so, and gets you to Hong Kong Central in about 45 minutes. The ferry terminal is quite nice as well.
We didn't starve. While poking around Shenzhen, I switched my wife from the more up-scale, foofy local restaurants to the more down to earth and authentic local restaurants. Most of them don't have english menus or forks. We were quite the celebrities in some of these places, as westerners are still a rarity outside of the big cities, and the more "western" establishments.
Hong Kong, and the visit to the Hong Kong Sun office was quite fun. I got to meet some of our Greater China teams that work out of the HK office in person. I hadn't been through HK in many years, and the changes were quite significant. It appears that the PRC government has done an amazing job of moving some of the shopping and tourism into the mainland, leaving the "western business" pieces in HK. Interesting, given the state of the current western economic outlook! I left about $30 behind in HK for lunch and taxis, and found absolutely no shopping worth spending my hard earned american dollars on. Definitely a change for me in the past 10 years. Also interesting was this sign on a little park in the Central district.
After Shenzhen and Guangzhou, it was back north to Beijing to close out the trip. I got another weekend in Beijing, and made it back to Tianemen square in the daytime. Very cool place, full of history and emotion. There were hundreds of foreign tourists there, and thousands of chinese native tourists there wandering, taking pictures, and soaking in the museums and libraries.
We even wandered throught the forbidden city, and stumbled across this little gem. Since there were no Jaguar dealerships in China in the 1970's, you can presume that this little piece of work was in the service of a government official for most of it's life. It is surprisingly well preserved, and in much better shape than most american (or british) counterparts!
More later, I still have to write a bit about how 3-4 miles on the Great Wall is definitely not the same as 3-4 miles anywhere else on earth. I think there is a rift in the fabric of space-time on that thing!