Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bull Fight and more



I pieced together some clips from the bull fight I went to go see in Madrid with my fellow Global Trackers. There were six bull fights in total, so if the bull changes from clip to clip you will know why. If you don't want to see the bull get hurt, then don't watch this video.

I found out that the taxi drivers were not being mean to me. They are not supposed to pick up passengers where they drop off passengers. I was supposed to go to another area. This is all part of China's wonderful efficiency:) I would say that for all the hype the news portrays about China taking over the world with its huge economy...it has a long way to go. However, it is not as far behind as Europe, so that says something:)

Last night I went out to eat at a place my boss took me on my first or second night in town. It is across the street and really good. They have a nice picture menu, so it is easy to order. However, I needed something to drink and that was a bit more dificult. I ended up eating a meat that sliced very thin, but did not look like anything I have had before. Who knows! Then I had a bowl of rice with a sticky sauce and some other meat in it. This meat had bones on it. When I ordered I did not realize the rice had a sauce or meat in it. They were both very good. As for the drink I just pointed at some line on the menu and I ended up with a warm beer. People in China do not really drink cold drinks. When you ask for water it comes hot, like it is ready for tea. Even the juice comes to the table at room temperature. I was told that the younger generation likes more items served cold. However, I believe that the older generation is not really used to refrigerators and has not "warmed" up to the idea of a cold beverage. Or perhaps it is something else. I can't eat here all the time, since it is a bit expensive. My meal was $6. In comparison, most of my meals have been about a dollar or two anywhere else.

One thing I am learning to deal with is the service level in China. It is off the charts! Everywhere you go there is more than enough people trying to help you. If you are in the supermarket there are people just standing around, waiting for the opportunity to come over and help you pick up something, select something, or give you information about it. At any restaurant there is always someone within a table or two reach to get you whatever you may want. When labor is cheap and lots of people need jobs, this is what you get. However, when you want to shop and not be disturbed...this is not the country to be in.

I am off to Shanghai tomorrow for work. I am traveling with the boss and his wife. We are being picked up and driven there in the morning, since all the tickets on the train were booked. It is about a two hour car drive. Should be interesting to see what the expressways look like.

A Milestone

I have been so busy traveling around and getting settled into my new apartment, new job, and new country that I have not taken the time to recognize an exciting event in my life. I have been blogging for two years! My first post was April 19th, 2005. When I think about all the things I have done over the past couple of years, I am amazed and know that I am truly blessed.

Moving on..
I added a Sykpe button to the right side of the blog. If you have Skype already on your computer, you can just click the button and it will call me. The button lets you know if I am online or not. Pretty cool, huh. If you don't have Skype, then you can download it easily if you would like to chat with me. FYI...you will need a microphone.

Wuxi and Nanjing


China news...
On Wednesday, I switched apartments after one night. I am in the same building but in a much better place. The other one had a few problems, but mainly it was too close to the noise on the street. Now I am in a quiet place with fewer problems.

Yesterday I traveled to Nanjing for my job. It is a little over an hour a way by train. I was escorted around the city by Quincy. I finished my tasks for the day and I still had a few hours to check out the city. Quincy and I went to lunch. There I had some specialities of Nanjing. First, the duck. It is served cold and is outstanding. In Beijing the duck is famous too, but it is served hot. Then I had lotus root with a little bit of rice in the middle. It was topped with honey and tasted very sweet. Next was tofu noodles in a some type of sauce. The noodles where hard, which is a different texture than most of the tofu I have tasted before. You would think that is enough, but that is only the half way point. People eat so much here! The beef ribs came and they were good, but nothing close to what I get at home (Memphis has nothing to worry about). Then came the mushroom soup with some type of pastry on top. It was okay, but I am not the biggest fan of mushrooms. We had a dish of vegetables that are only grown in Nanjing. They tasted like a cross between string beans and onions. They were good, but I was starting to get full. Finally we got to the last dish...a cake. It was called a cake, but it was just a pastry ball with meat in the middle. The lunch was excellent and different, as all my meals here have been. I have not whipped out the camera at all of these meals, because it has not been the right place to do it, but I am sure I will get some good shots at some point. I will say that China knows how to cook some awesome Chinese food and you don't have to worry about getting those stale fortune cookies at the end of the meal:)

After lunch we headed toward the mountains (or hills if you live in CO). We were going to see Sun Yat-Sen's mausoleum, which is located on Nanjing's Purple Mountain. However, after arriving a guy convinced us that he was going to be our tour guide for the next hour (that is all the time I had left before I needed to catch my train). So, we got back in the car and our tour guide drove us around the park. I got to see lots of stuff which you can see in the pictures. The park is huge and I would need another day or two to walk around all the different sights.

I caught my train and got back Wuxi. Please realize that every time I step out of my house and go somewhere besides work, I can't really communicate with anyone on the street. This makes life very interesting. The trains are easy because there are plenty of signs with numbers on them. However, once I am out of the train station getting anywhere and anything is a bit more challenging. This time I tried to catch a taxi home. I have a text message in my phone with my address on it in Chinese so the driver can read it. However, no one would take me. I think they were telling me that it was too close and that they were not going to make enough money. I tried several people and finally gave up. It was a nice night and I wanted to check out the city anyway. So, I started walking. I took my time and got back in half an hour.

My next adventure of the day was getting dinner. I was hungry and didn't want PB&J or oatmeal...the two items in my home. The first place I tried ended up being just a coffee and milk place. How was I supposed to know? A little girl from the back came up and told me this when her parents called for her. She was no more than seven, but could speak enough english to tell me what they sold there. My next choice was a place across the street that said they served wantons. I went in and tried to order wantons but they didn't understand. So I tried saying fried rice and they didn't understand. I then tried asking for dumplings which they sort of understood, but looked at me weird anyway. They then pointed to a sign and asked if this is what I wanted or at least I think that is what they said. I said yes, because I was hungry and it only cost a dollar. I ended up with dumplings! So I must have said the word right...go me! Finally I was full and ready to call it a night.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Portugal and Madrid


So, I have made it to Wuxi, met everyone at the office, found an apartment, and gotten a telephone number. I still need to get a bunch of items for my apartment and get the Internet hooked up. Otherwise I am set to go!

I am watching the sunset here and it is quite amazing to see the haze that is created throughout the day. It is from the cars, construction, and factories. If I go running in the city it will be early in the morning or in a gym.

My new office and the people that work are great. I know I will have a good time working here. Tonight I am going to do a little shopping for some basic items, but first it is dinner with the boss and his wife. I have been eating the best Chinese food I have ever tested. I have not had anything weird yet or at least I didn't know it if I did. However, I have seen some things on the street and in windows that will require me to become brave and go check out.

The pictures up above are from Madrid. I have some other videos from Europe that I will post when I have my own connection.

Monday, April 23, 2007

China, China, China....I am here!

Ist Day in China


I have so much that I want to write in here, but for now I will only talk about my first day in China.

For days before my arrival the excitement and nervousment was building inside me. Shaun and I landed at 2:30pm and made our way through customs and baggage claim. His co-worker picked him up and a friend, Joyce, picked me up. So, at last Shaun and I were apart. Good luck buddy!

Joyce and I rode the maglev train to downtown Shanghai. This is the fastest train in the world. It rides above magnets as it floats down the track. We achieved 431 km/hr, about 270 mph. It goes so fast that the track has embankments around the turns. It was great!

Next we rode the subway to the area of town that I would stay the night. As we made our way out of the exit, we tried to cross the street. This was no easy task since the bicycles, motor bikes, cars, and buses were in a line that never ended. But we made it after a few minutes. As we walked to the hotel one side of the street was new and the other side was in shambles. Roofs were missing, walls were missing, but people were still living in the structures.

Joyce got me checked in to the hotel and showed me on a map where I was. I always feel this is important to know. On her way out I had Joyce take me to a restaurant. She ordered fried rice and dumplings for me and took off down the street. I was on my own!

My meal came out and I started to eat. After looking over at the other people in the restaraunt, I realized they were all watching me eat. I was making them laugh. One man did come over and tell me to add some of the vinegar to the soup of dumplings. The others stayed away as they were content to laugh. I could not eat all the food...it was a ton of it and it costed less than a dollar!

Later in the evening I went out. This required me to get on a bus, since I wasn't really thrilled at the idea of a taxi. I knew I would get taken advantage of if I took one. So, I hopped on the bus and the fun began. I knew it costed 2 RMB (25 cents), but the coin I thought was correct turned out to be only a 2 cent coin. A lady started yelling at me. I have no idea what she was saying, but she would not stop. All I had were paper bills. Luckily a guy came up and stuck in a coin for me. I told him it was my first day and he seemed to understand. It was very intense there for a couple of minutes.

I got off at the fourth stop and was treated to the view of downtown that you can see in the pictures I posted. The view is awesome! All the building are on the Pudong side of the river and I was standing on the Puxi (pronounced poo-she) side. I walked around for a while and made my way to Nanjing Rd. This is one of the famous shopping areas.

As I walked down everything imaginable was offered to me by people on the street. I must have looked like a sucker, since they all were coming up to me. I was offered shoes, shirts, and DVDs by several different people, I was offered all kinds of annoying toys that you see on the streets of Europe. But mostly I was offered "massages from nice girls" by dozens and dozens of people.

I got change with a little bit of effort, but I got the point across and jumped on my bus home. This time we stopped nine times before I got back to my place. Why does it stop four times on the way there and nine times on the way back? I will never know.

Today I am off to Wuxi (pronounced woo-she). This is where I will be living for my time here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why couldn't the bull win just once?

I am now in Madrid! Today I checked out a park, the Prado Museum, and a bull fight! Six bulls were killed right in front of me. At first I did not like the show. It was a bit cruel and sad. Luckily, I was de-sensitized quickly. The matadors move with grace and have a lot of attitude as they tease and stab the bull.

Yesterday, I saw a pro-communist rally outside the hotel. It wasn't that interesting since I didn't know what they were saying. But they had a small parade, a speaker, and a bunch of people singing.

I will have some pics of the bull fight, Madrid, and my last night in Porto coming soon. In the mean time, I have made a short video of my triathlon from last year. Enjoy!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Last day in Porto

BA bottlers in Porto and Sogrape


Click on picture above to see all the photos!

I am sure that you come to this blog occasionally asking yourself, "What is David and his class up too?" Well, today I will try to tell you what a typical day is like while traveling with my fellow IMBAers.

First, I wake up. Imagine that! Then it is off to breakfast or the shower depending on whether Shaun beats me to the shower. After we are freshened up and full of food, the class gets on the bus and heads off to the first stop of the day. In Porto, the people are very welcoming and they always provide us with coffee and food whenever we arrive. This is welcomed by me since I need something to keep me awake during the presentations and I am always ready for food.

After the presentation, we have a Q&A session and often we get a tour of the facilities. This is always a special treat. Today we wore suits to go inside the "clean room" of a chip maker. Now I know how the DRAM inside our computers, machines, and cell phones is made. It is quite cool to see. We all looked like Umpa Loompas in our white suits and hairnets.

After the tour we were rushed off to a glass bottle maker. This company makes 2.5 million bottles per day. We got a brief presentation and were treated to a beautiful and tasty lunch. Then we got a plant tour where we saw Sprite and wine bottles being made.

After the tour we went down the road to a wine maker. They sell about 25 million liters per year. This company is a blip on the market if you look at Mondavi or Gallo wines, but they are the number one seller of Port wine which gives them some sort of bragging rights. Once again we got a presentation, Q&A, and then a tour.

This marks the end of the "official" day for my class. However, it really doesn't stop there. After we arrive back at the hotel we have a couple of hours to prepare to go to dinner with local MBA students from a school we had lunch at two days ago.

If all that sounds exhausting...it is! But it is a ton of fun too. I hope you enjoyed reading about my day as much as I did living it!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Events from Porto


Hmmm...I wonder what this does?












Thank you Chris for letting me know about the video link. I have fixed the problem. So please click on the video below to watch it. You were not missing much, since Shaun and I were just having fun with the local wildlife. I will suggest that you turn up the volume and listen closely.



So the last couple of days we have been meeting with some companies, eating some great food (that never changes), and hanging out at the karaoke wine bar. I desecrated "Love Shack" by the B-52's last night. I am sure someone caught it on their camera, so give me a little time and I will find the footage so that I may burn it!

Here are some pics and vids from the last couple of days...

This the CFO, VP, and my teachers at Mota-Engil.














This is my class. The seats are the same color of the inside of the bus we have been traveling in. I would have thought to see a lot of green in Dublin, but nothing like I have seen in Porto.













This video shows laminate being made. The place was not as automated as it could be. I atributed this to Portugals low labor cost. It is just not worth upgrading when people will work for so little.




This last video shows women sorting paper into the laminate layers. It is a bit repetitive. I could not imagine doing something like this all day, every day.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Photos and Videos

Since arriving in Porto I have had some excellent food. Actually the salads here are amazingly fresh and good. Also, the wine is incredibly cheap and it almost always taste great. Today I took it easy for the first time since leaving the US. I left the US exactly 30 days ago! I still have so many more adventures to go that makes me very excited just thinking about it.

Tomorrow we end our four day weekend. We are going to meet with a couple of government run agencies that help bring in investments into Portugal. From what I have seen Porto has a long way to go.

Luckily, taking it easy for a day doesn't mean I accomplished nothing. I have lots of photos and videos for you to check out. I hope you enjoy them!

Dublin, Giant's Causeway, and Porto






Prague to present

We arrived in Prague and made our way to our hostel in the middle of the city. We checked in and decided that we didn't really like it. So, we searched for another hostel and booked it for the next night.

After that problem was solved we headed out to explore the town and watch the sunset over the Charles Bridge. We heard music and had a "real" Budweiser! Budvar Budweiser has been around much longer than the Budweiser in the US, if you didn't know this. They have gone through lots of legal stuff and basically they have a truce. I saw no US Budweiser in Czech.

We walked through the night visiting bars. The next morning we headed to Prague's Jewish quarter. We saw five synagogues and a cemetery. They were old and beautiful. It was interesting to see how they clustered together all within a few blocks, but they all prospered in their "heyday". That night we went to the opera, Rigoletto. It was in a old famous opera house in the heart of town. The place was beautiful and the opera was powerful.

At the new hostel, we met some great people and had some awesome food. At night we headed to a nearby club. Everything was metal! The whole place was really interesting to look at. However the music wasn't that great. Luckily we had drank enough at the hostel that we could dance to it anyway.

Our last day in Prague was spent checking out the castle and walking through some squares that are scattered throughout the town. I really enjoyed Prague. The people, food, and atmosphere makes it a great place for young people.

Early the next morning we almost missed our plane to Amsterdam. It was a mess. However, we made it in the nick of time and landed in Amsterdam an hour or so later. We met Tonisha at the airport and headed into town. Later in the day we met JR, & Steve and Ashley Krusinski from my IMBA class. They are studying in Spain and met us there.

We rented bikes and rode through the flower market, saw the Van Gogh museum, and the Heineken Brewery. At night we strolled through the Red Light District and ate some great food.

If you haven't noticed...food is a common theme around Europe. I love the food here!

As Amsterdam was coming to an end, reality was setting in. I knew I was heading to Dublin where I would meet my class. I also knew there was work that needed to be done.

Saturday night Tonisha, Shaun and I went to Dublin. We arrived at our hotel to learn that there was no rooms available anywhere in town. We could not find any classmates and where starting to sweat a little bit about where we would spend the night.

Being in Ireland, the luck of the Irish kicked in and our school advisor and one of our classmates appeared. We quickly decided that we were going to sleep in their rooms. Thank you Matt, Gavin, and Cynthia!

The next day our class started to show up throughout the day. A few of us went to the Guiness brewery and got a great view of the city and had a couple of pints.

The last few days have been a blur with my class. Our schedule has kept us moving all day and then the night life in Dublin always provided something to do. One night I went to Sedar for Passover. There were over 150 people there. It was the biggest one I had ever been too and a ton of fun. Another night I saw a play by Sam Shepherd called, Kicking a Dead Horse at the Abbey Theater. It was pretty good.

During the day in Ireland we have visited business and government entities. Lots of cool, fun, and informative are presented to us. We have toured the Parliament building, Intel's chip making facility, CRH's rock quarry, cement, and block making facilities, and Kilbeggen's distilerry to name a few.

Now I am in Porto, Portugal. This place is laid back and very reasonably priced. It is right on the ocean and just a beautiful place. The weather is quite nice too.

So far I have walked and run around the city.

That was a long update. Thanks for reading. New pics are on the way!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pics since Italy

It has been fun hanging with the Global trackers in Dublin. We have visited lots of businesses and met some great people. We are heading to Portugal on Saturday and I am ready to move on.

The pictures are from Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam, and Dublin. I have some good stories to tell, but they will have to wait. Hope you enjoy them!



Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam, & Dublin

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Quick Update

I made it Dublin! My class is starting to gather at the hotel. I got in from Amsterdam last night and was so glad to have the knowledge that I was going to be sleeping in the same place for six nights straight. That is amazing!

I will post some pics and let you know what I have been up to soon. However, it is Guiness time!