Make sure you check out the Gallery Section and click on the Beijing City Tour section for updated recent posts.
Make sure you check out the Gallery Section and click on the Beijing City Tour section for updated recent posts.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
WHAT A DAY! We had an extremely busy and very fun day today. It started with the visit to Tian’anmen Square. One interesting piece of information is the 20th Anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square protests that most of us are familiar with is on June 4th – boy am I old!!! Anyway, we learned lots of interesting things – our tour guide, Amanda, is AWESOME! (BTW, Amanda is her American name, she is Chinese and has never been to the US). First of all, she warned us not to say anything out of the ordinary (i.e. Free Tibet) while in Tian’anmen Square as there are undercover officers that could arrest you (I do think this was not entirely true). But we saw Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum – it was about a 1 hour wait to see his embalmed body (Amanda mentioned there are only 3 embalmed bodies in the world – Mao, Ho Chi Mihn and one other I can’t remember).
We also learned that the 5-stars on the Chinese Flag represent:
1. The Big Star for the Communist Party
5. And now I have forgot the 5th
Also there is an underground city under Beijing that was built in the late 1950’s as the relationship between the Chinese and the Soviets soured when Krushev took over the USSR. This city is essentially a bomb shelter that can house 1 million people. That is one big bomb shelter.
We also visited the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. These were very interesting and old places in Beijing that have important places in the city and country’s history. One of the most interesting things to me was at the Temple of Heaven there were 3 paved walkways/sidewalks. The middle walkway was for power, the left for health and the right for money. Whatever one was most important to you, you could walk on it for the gods to grant it to you. That may be a tough decision so you could do a zig-zag and walk on all three. That is what I did!!
After a day of site-seeing (we walked close to 10 miles) we had a Peking Duck Dinner. YUMMY! This is a pretty traditional dinner in Beijing. After that we went out and had a pretty good time to a place called Kokomo. The cab ride home was quite the adventure as the cabbie did not know where the hotel was so he brought us all around the city. One of the people in the cab was a little annoyed but it was very difficult to communicate as we did not speak his language. Eventually we got back to the hotel. It was an experience!
Tomorrow we drive to go see the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and possibly some of the Olympic venues (if there is time). The Great Wall is a 1.5 hour drive and we leave in 6 hours so I should probably get some sleep.
BTW - make sure you check out the Gallery section for some additional pictures!
Finally - the consensus among the group is that noone wants to leave Beijing. This is a very cool city and has lots to do and see.
Friday, May 29, 2009
In the morning we went to another Carrefour store as class study. Then the bus dropped us off at the domestic airport for our flight to Beijing. The flight went really well. We arrived and were greeted by our tour guide, Amanda. They took us to our hotel. Beijing is a beautiful city! Very clean with well-groomed trees and shrubs – it is much greener than Shanghai.
We checked into our hotel and looked around a little bit then we went to dinner. We had Szechuan. It was very good – the spiciest we have had yet but not too bad. Next was a trip to this lakes area – man it was cool. Imagine the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes with bars and little shops all the way around them. All the bars had live music. It was a pretty vibrant place. After walking around for a while we ended up getting a paddle boat (pictures will be added later) and cruising around. I was with Truong and Nick. We would say “Ni Hao” – that means Hello in Chinese to everyone as we were paddling around. It was a lot of fun. Finally went home and caught up on my blog.
Tomorrow we have our tour of Beijing with Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven ending the day with a Peking Duck Dinner. I am certainly looking forward to it!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In the morning we had a lecture from one of the CK professors and then had the afternoon to work on our project. Nothing too exciting! On the way to lunch I did see some Chinese boys playing with Lego’s – Jack, I thought you would like that. The best part was having some alone time – I was able to get a work-out in and catch up on my blog.
After that we went to the mall where we were going to the Karaoke Bar. Before that, however, we did some marketing research in the mall and at the DQ. (I also had to stop by to get a little taste of home). We conducted about 30 surveys on cakes. Thank goodness one of our team members speaks Chinese, otherwise it would be pretty challenging. Then we headed to the Karaoke Bar.
As we enter the Karaoke Bar, we see some other students and they inform us we have to purchase our adult beverages (hey kids, that is “daddy juice”) and then bring them to our room. The interesting thing is this is not the Karaoke I have seen before where you are in a big bar with all sorts of people – NO! They are all private rooms. So we had our own room and it was only about 30 of us. We pick our own songs and go. It is also very sophisticated. There were about 4-5 microphones and a good sound system that was controlled by a computer screen with the list of songs.
One bummer was there was no Guns n’ Roses. The good songs for me (shown my age here) were Dancing Queen, Dancing in the Street by Lionel Richie, Rocky Mountain High. I couldn’t hang with the Jay Z! After that we headed downtown again to the Bund and went to the Captain’s Bar again. Pretty uneventful!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In the morning we had a lecture from one of the CK professors and then had the afternoon to work on our project. Nothing too exciting! The highlight should be tonight – we are going to a Karaoke Bar. I am resting my vocal cords! Then Friday we leave for Beijing.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Today was “Observe the Chinese Consumer Day”. As part of our research for our project for DQ – our professor thought it would be good to observe traditional Chinese consumer behavior. This was kind of neat since it is not something you would typically do when you visit another country. It was rather interesting and VERY different. We went to a couple of Grocery Stores (i.e. Trust Mart and Carrefour), Wal-Mart and Wet Markets.
In each one of these there is a wet market. The wet market is there to ensure that the Chinese consumer is getting things fresh. What is a wet market? Think of a bunch of buckets or fish tanks filled with water with the “live food” in them. So there were fish, BIG frogs, snakes, turtles, eels and many other animals. The consumer would pick out which one they want and then the butcher would “prepare” it. That would entail cutting of the head, peeling the skin off etc, etc. So needless to say, the smell was unique.
In the wet market (which was not in a store – just an open air market), there were live, “non-wet” animals also. Chickens, pigeons etc. – where the consumer would do exactly the same thing and so would the butcher. They would do it for ALL to watch. YUCK!
For food today, I had lunch at a Japanese Restaurant and dinner at a Korean Restaurant. The Korean restaurant was a highlight. It was my first adventure out without someone who spoke Chinese. The good thing was the menu had pictures. We bought 5 plates of raw meat and 2 plates of veggies and then cooked them on the grill in the middle of the table. The amazing thing was we got all the food we ordered. The hard was getting a beer – they did not quite understand. Eventually we got it and all was good. It was a great dinner and a fun experience.
Finally, there was a party at Cheung Kong students’ dorm (Cheung Kong is the MBA school we are partnering with while in China – they are helping us with our project) in appreciation for the Dragon Boat holiday. The Dragon Boat Holiday is a national holiday honoring a man from year’s ago who killed himself in protest of the government. The party was in the basement and it was pretty traditional. There was a Ping Pong table and the Chinese students were VERY good – especially the women. Unfortunately we did not play any beer pong though!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
“Dairy Queen Day” – Our class objective is to increase the percentage of ice cream cake sales from 4% of overall sales to 10%. Our team needs to come up with a couple of ideas to try and make that happen. As part of our research, today we traveled around Shanghai visiting DQ stores throughout the city as part of our project. In all we visited about 6 stores. These are not like the DQ stores in the U.S. They are much smaller and typically in malls or in the subway stations. In addition to DQ stores, we also visited competitors to get an idea of what they are doing.
After our visits we had lunch at a Pizza Hut. The Pizza Hut we were at was the largest one in the world. This store has the largest sales of any other Pizza Hut in the world. It was HUGE and very nice inside. With the idea of experimenting, I had an Hawaiian Pizza – pretty crazy I know.
Next was the Textile Market. This is a market where you can buy fabric and have clothing items custom made. I went with the other member of my DQ team (including me there were 5 – 4 Americans and 1 Chinese). NOTE: It is ALWAYS very helpful to travel with someone who speaks the language. Shanghai is like NYC except very few people speak English.
In the textile market, negotiation is the name of the game. The first store we visited measured us for suits while we were picking out the fabric. They said they needed that info to give us a price. After they did that the initial price was 680 RMB (Chinese rembini) – that is about $100. Yes, that would be $100 for a custom made suit with a cashmere/wool blend. And that was the starting point. After a little negotiation, we go the price down to 1,000 RMB for 2 suits. Pretty good, but we thought we would check out some other vendors.
To make a long story short, I purchased 1 suit, 1 sport coat and 2 shirts all for 890 RMB – that is about $130. We ended paying 400 RMB per suit.
The most interesting part was getting measured. Let’s just say that were VERY diligent in getting their measurements! We go back on Tuesday to pick up our suits and see how they fit. I will make sure to include pictures the next time.
Then it was onto to dinner. We went to Hongmei Lui – which is an area for ex-pats. There is every kind of restaurant you could imagine. We settled on Thai food. It was pretty good. After that we went to the Captain’s Bar which was downtown Shanghai on top of a youth hostile. The bar overlooked the PuDong area of the city that I mentioned earlier. It was a pretty cool view and a neat little place.
Monday I am finally feeling well rested – have not suffered too much from jet lag. We had our first class in the morning and then went on a city tour of Shanghai. During our tour we went to Jing Mao building in the Pu Dong area. Twenty years ago the Pu Dong area was farmland – that is not the case any more. It is the financial center. We went to observation deck on floor 88 and learned that 8 is a lucky number in China.
Next was a visit to the Yu Garden in the Old City. Most of our time there was great people watching and shopping in the market. I learned quickly how to say no thank you “no shie shie”. Many “salespeople” looking for Americans – however, they were much more respectful of my lack of interest than in other parts of the world I have been to (i.e. India). When I said “no shie shie”, they left me alone. However, there was always another person.
Today was the first day for authentic Chinese food. Lunch was interesting with frog and liver being the two most interesting dishes. Fortunately there was other food that I could eat and had plenty of food. I learned that food in Shanghai is not extremely spicy so even the spiciest dishes were not bad at all.
Dinner was a little more interesting. There was chicken feet, pig’s tongue, pig’s stomach, duck stomach as well as many other dishes. In addition, there was a drink that we referred to as “gasoline”. It was kind of like sake but not quite as strong. All in all, the food was really good and there was plenty to eat.
A traditional Chinese dinner is always served family style on a rotating table. As the table spins, you grab what you need or want. You definitely have to good with chopsticks! A couple of us had some interesting adventures with those. One interesting tradition for dinner is with the fish. The fish is served with the head and when it is put on the table the head is always pointed at the most powerful or influential person at the table.
Saturday, May 23, 2009 – Arrival Day
After a short lay-over in Tokyo, I was off to Shanghai. Again when we landed the Chinese Health Officials boarded the plane. This time they took everyone’s temperature to see if anyone had a fever. This process took a little longer but there was minimal inconvenience. Arriving in the Shanghai Airport, the first thing I noticed was how clean and new everything was. The airport is very nice, not like the airports in India (where I was in January 2008). Getting off the plane and going through customs was a breeze. I arrived at my hotel in downtown Shanghai by 23:00. For Saturday night, me and 3 others on the trip stayed at the JW Marriott – talk about a nice hotel! When we arrived, we got situated in our rooms and then went out for a drink at the Barbarossa Lounge. It was a nice bar with a lot of ex-pats. After 1 drink, we were all very tired and went back to the hotel.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Sunday, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. after only 4 hours of sleep. I was wide awake. After showering and having some food – I worked out and met up with the others. We went exploring Shanghai down the Nanjing Dong Pedestrian Mall.
It didn’t take long for us to attract a “salesperson”. He wanted to know if we wanted a watch, purse, t-shirts or DVD’s. He followed us for about 20-30 minutes and finally Stefanie and Carolina decided to go look at what he had. We went down a back alley and into their store. We went through a small front room into a back room. They closed the door behind us. In there were knock-off watches, purses, wallets, etc. Carolina looked at a watch and bargained hard and left with a fake Rolex for almost nothing – we will see how long it works!
After a while, we reached the Huangpu River and took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel which brings you to the other side of the river. The Tunnel is like a laser light show. It was very unique and interesting. The Bund was at the heart of colonial Shanghai and most of the buildings are still in place. We took a nice walk along the River Promenade. There was a lot of traffic on the river for a Sunday. After an hour or so, we decided to head back to the hotel. After a short lunch at the Mo’Jo Café we left the Marriott and headed to the Cypress Hotel which will be my home for the next 2 weeks.
After a short and very cheap cab ride to the hotel, we did some exploring around the hotel. Within walking distance, there is almost NOTHING! The only thing close is the Shanghai Zoo. The reason for staying here is it is right next to Cheung Kong University where all our class sessions are. The good news is the cabs are cheap so we will be taking them a lot. After our walk, I was very tired and went back to my room for a quick cat before our dinner out with the CK students. Unfortunately, my quick nap turned into almost over-sleeping. Thank goodness one of the other students called me and woke me up.
We went to dinner at the Big Bamboo Bar. This is an American sports bar. I had a burger for dinner (really adventurous, huh?). Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately – I am sure I will have more on this later) there was no authentic Chinese food on the menu. I think we will get that on Monday night. I had a good time and met some of the CK students. One of the more interesting things at the bar was the fascination with Formula 1 racing. There was a race while we were there and it was on every TV. Entire families were mesmerized by the race. Not my idea of entertainment – watching cars go around and around – but they probably say the same about us with baseball!
As I arrived at my gate for my connecting to Tokyo, the first thing I noticed were all the people wearing masks. The first case of Swine Flu had been detected in Japan on Monday and so there were many people taking precautions. On arrival into Tokyo, Japanese Health Officials bordered the plane to see if anyone had any flu-like symptoms. The stewardess I was seated near said that earlier in the week the process with the Health Officials was taking 5-6 hours. Those individuals with flu-like symptoms were then quarantined to prevent further outbreak of the virus. Fortunately for me, by the end of the week, the process was much more efficient and it only took us about 20 minutes to get off the plane safe and sound.