Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dalian, China

Last week I made a trip to China for work. Our Accounting Policy group conducts various trainings at selected international locations throughout the year. A colleague in that group recently left the company, and since I had instructing background from KPMG, they asked if I would be willing to help with this training.

We flew out of JFK on Monday, September 19 at 4:50pm. After about a 13-hour flight, we landed in Beijing at 6:30pm on Tuesday, September 20. China is 12 hours ahead of EST, so it was really 6:30am. It was a long flight, but fortunately we were in Business Class which was wonderful. As soon as the plane took off, they served a pretty decent dinner (for plane food). After dinner, they gave everyone a pillow and a comforter. I had my own TV, so I watched a movie and then went to sleep for the night - my chair reclined almost completely flat. I slept until about 5am, when the flight attendants were back serving another meal. I thought the flight actually went by pretty quickly - I am sure I would have thought differently if I were in coach.

We had a couple hour layover in Beijing, and then we had about a 1-hour flight directly east to Dalian. We arrived in Dalian at about 9:30pm local time, and our driver picked us up at the airport and drove us to our hotel, the Shangri-La.

The rooms were actually quite nice.

On Tuesday night, I didn't have much trouble going to sleep when I got there, but I did wake up at about 3am. This happened every night, and I would just read for an hour and then go back to sleep until about 6am.

On Wednesday morning, I got up at headed to the gym. I then met my co-worker, Joe, for breakfast at the hotel. Thank goodness for the hotel breakfasts...they are pretty much what tided me over for the trip. I would eat a bunch of fruit and a big omelette. Given that there were a lot of western business people staying at the hotel, they had a pretty good American breakfast. After breakfast, Joe and I did some prepping for the training the next day, and then we walked around Dalian for the afternoon. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch (it had english words on the outside) so we thought someone might speak English. No one really spoke English, and they gave us an iPad to look at pictures to pick our meal. I was trying to just order a bowl of white rice, and they could not understand me. So, I got up and went and pointed at someone else's white rice to show them what I wanted. In other instances, my Blackberry came in handy - I would just pull up a picture from Google to show what I was trying to say.

This is a bank...there were A LOT of banks in Dalian.

There seemed to be a lot of money in Dalian...all of the malls had very high-end stores.
Public transportation.

The Asians do not like the sun on their skin.

Dalian is a port city. The orange cranes in the background are used to unload the metal crates from ships and put them onto trains.
An apartment building in Dalian.
Lots of card playing was happening in the afternoon.

This was the view from my room.
The middle building is Pfizer's office. For lunch on Thursday, they took us to a traditional Japanese restaurant. We had to take our shoes off and sit on the floor. I ordered shrimp as it seemed to be somewhat safe there. And by safe I mean that it was just the shrimp...the WHOLE shrimp. I had to cut off the head, pull off the skin and rip off the feet. Once I did all that, I then de-veined the shrimp before eating it. Needless to say, it took me quite a while to eat a piece of shrimp, and usually by the time I was done with all the work to make it edible I was not really that hungry anymore.

Behind me is the restaurant where we had dinner on Thursday night after training.
The Controller and Assistant Controller of the Dalian Pfizer location took us to dinner. The hostess seated us, and then they said we needed to go pick out our food. I thought that was strange, and then we come to this aquarium to pick the food that we wanted. I really had no idea what anything was, so we let the locals pick the fish for us.
And yes, some of it was still alive.

This was our table for dinner. We were supposed to have more people, but they could not come, so the restaurant spread us all out around this huge table.
This is what is called a sea cucumber. I did not eat it. I actually didn't eat a whole lot at dinner that night. Supposedly it was a very nice restaurant, but I had no clue what a lot of the food was. Also, the fish that they brought us fortunately did not have a head, but it did have the tail and all the skin on it. I tried my best to de-bone and eat it, but it just didn't look or taste that good.
Outside the restaurant after dinner.
On Friday, we did not have any responsibilities for work, so we took a taxi to the coast and walked around the boardwalk for a while. In order to tell the taxi drive where we wanted to go, the hotel gave us taxi cards with the name of the place we wanted to go written in Chinese. We just showed the card to the driver, and they got us to where we wanted to go.

As soon as we got out of the cab, we were standing by this shell taking some pictures. I had my camera out as I was going to have Joe take a picture of me. This lady comes up and grabs me, and I thought she was asking if I wanted her to take a picture of me. I wasn't going to give her my camera, and so I shook my head no. Well, she doesn't let go, and she drags me closer to the shell. She then turns around, and then I figured out she wanted a picture with me. Fortunately I had already given Joe my camera, so he took a picture of her and I, and that is her husband taking a picture of us. We did get a lot of stares as we were walking around and this city is not at all a tourist area.

Some kids were on the beach flying kites.

Catching their fish. Fishing is a huge industry there...and I think all they eat is seafood.

I saw a lot of these...don't know for sure what they mean.

We stopped at a mall, as Joe wanted to buy his two girls those traditional red Chinese dresses. We could not find them anywhere.
All of the malls were pretty "American" as seen by the Starbucks.
Lots of colors.
There were numerous lion sculptures...I don't know what they represent.

On Friday night we decided to go check out the night life in Dalian. We went to a place called The Banana Club about a block from our hotel. We got there about 9:30 and stayed about an hour. It was interesting, but just starting to get busy when we left.

Our flight out of Dalian was on Saturday morning, and we arrived at JFK on Saturday afternoon (since we gained 12 hours). It was a good experience, but I was happy to be back to American food. Also, international travel makes you appreciate the USA that much more. When we were walking off the plane Joe said "God Bless the USA" and I couldn't agree more.

1 comment:

Janis said...

very interesting--thanks for posting!