Haidan District, Beijing
There’s a building a few blocks over from my Hotel room that has strobe lights on top of it. It’s tall enough to require them if the building were in a flight path, but there are buildings as tall around it, and they don’t seem to need strobe lights. Hmph. So, I close the hotel curtains all the way. If I strain, I can still sense the strobe, but with the curtains drawn and my eyelids closed, it doesn’t exist. Zzzz…
Woke up a little panicked … it must be full daylight outside. It feels so “late”. I draw the curtains a little… Of course not. 5:10AM is quite an improvement over yesterday, maybe I’ll be able to face this work thing. Head down for the Hotel’s breakfast. No hard boiled eggs today, but they have sliced cold peppered beef and sautéed vegetables. Interesting. That and more steamed buns, and add a bowl of corn flake cereal. I poured a glass of some sort of juice… turned out to be peach.
Head back up to the room to grab the computer and my camera, and back to the lobby. That other guy shows up two minutes later, and someone else from the office comes too. We all share a taxi to the office. The day is very clear. Not at all as smoggy as it was when the jet landed. Blue skies, and lots to see. I take pictures of lots of things, but the most interesting things I see - I end up with photos of large buses.
I catch a glimpse of the Summer Palace, and a huge, official looking building with a rocket in front of it (Saturn V size maybe). Got a picture of the tip of that rocket. Get off this big road on an exit marked ‘Converge Wild Land’. A few kilometers later, and we pass horses in the street. The homes and store-fronts are decidedly run down, and I start to wonder if we could really be going to the high tech software seat of China.
ZhongGuanCun Software Park, Beijing
We drive through a guarded gate, and there’s two buildings that have something that could only be described as a flying saucer propped up over the gap between them. Those and most other buildings in the immediate area are under construction. Work is not far past here.
Way to make a first impression…
I arrive and there’s about an hour before the “visit kickoff” meeting. I start setting up my computer, pull out a power strip, and plug in my laptop. Hmm, the laptop isn’t seeing power. I thought I was being smart by bringing along a power strip so that I could use multiple electronics (all of which are auto-switching voltage items, laptop, phone charger, etc). Turns out the power strip itself couldn’t deal with the voltage, and fried - blowing the circuit breaker. I didn’t realize that was what happened, until the power was back on, and I plugged the powerstrip in again. The facilities guy, who didn’t speak any English, came over grabbed the power strip and read the back, shaking his head and saying many, many soft words to my host.
I knew he was scolding my stupidity. I apologized to my host.
The kick off meeting turns out to be a meeting in which I am supposed to be the leader. The person who called the meeting, my host, immediately became my center of attention as I get him to tell me what my agenda is (as he called the meeting, and my laptop never really got running). So, I write all of this down on a giant white board, and start going through the Agenda points one by one. Overall, I think I did pretty well considering I didn’t know what to expect.
Trip home it was dark, so I didn’t really see anything that I’d recognize. Lots of lights on buildings, some pretty cool. Went to dinner with the other American. Opposite direction from the way I had walked previously, and a few blocks away there’s this “City Mall” – clearly labeled in English. We went to this place called Pastarito. I used my first Mandarin words to a non-English speaker here. I ordered Lasagne (by asking for number 28). A small proud moment.
Afterwards we found the grocery / super store (and attached Mall). I bought some more Coke Light, and the other guy bought Peanut Butter and bread. I will probably return soon to do a full grocery run.