Monday, June 26, 2006

You've got to love the Chinese

You've got to love the Chinese. What other culture in the world openly encourages a case race at lunchtime? For lunch today when I walked into our cafeteria, I was seated at a table with some customers of ours. In friendly Chinese manner, they invited us to eat with them, and before you knew it, they had divided the table into two drinking teams and challenged each other to finish 12 bottles of Yantai Pijiu (3 1.5L bottles each). Alas, now it is 2pm and I am drunk (well, tipsy anyway) at work! I'd like to joke that working in China is fueling my alcoholism, but I can honestly say I really really don't want to drink at work dinners or lunches. In China you can say no, you can yell no, you can plead not to fill your glass and they will anyway, laughing the whole while. And if you make a bargain with them... that you are only going to have one... hahaha. Yeah, right. One, my butt. Its ALWAYS more than one. During the slightest of distractions (look over there), they will fill your glass before you can say, "Dionysus". I DON'T like to drink, people! I know... I know, what you are all thinking... between bouts of booming laughter, you are reminding me of my college days... and a year or so after college... and falling out of a windwo... but what you are not understanding, is that in a WORK environment, I absolutely DO NOT WANT ANYTHING to drink! How the hell am I supposed to impress the socks of my boss and eventually become CEO of a major multinational corporation that I have helped build from scratch (ok, so I'm fantasizing), if I show up to work the next day hungover from Baiju? Huh?

Anyway, I know I haven't been posting much lately and I have a lot to fill you in on I suppose. My friends left China two weeks ago. Overall I think their experience was good, although I think Fargus enjoyed it the most. I am working on him to come here to teach English for a semester after his army thingy. That would rule! How about it, Tim? eh? Eh? EH?

My parents have been in Beijing for about a week now. They said that despite the crazy heat this week, they are enjoying themselves. I would too in a 5-star hotel. They will arrive in Yantai today. Louis, the Chinese president of the company came to me and offered to put my parents up in the only 5-star hotel in Yantai for free AND give them use of my personal driver. Lucky them, although they don't know any of this yet. My father and I will take two days to meet with some stone manufacturers in Yantai to see about the possibility of importing granite to the US. Should be interesting! After about five days in Yantai I will be travelling with my parents to Xi'an to see the Terra Cota Army. After a few days, they will continue along to Guilin and Yangshou for a week before going home.

Some setbacks at work lately. The JVC that I was helping setup with a Hungarian company seems to have fallen through. We were going to build another factory here that I would be in charge of, but now it is not looking likely. Oh well... no more trips to Budapest I guess.

Working now on some other similar projects though with other companies, so I will still have a factory of my own soon.

World domination will have to come later.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I hope they make it...

Well, it is my first day back at work in Yantai. Can't say I missed it, but I am glad to be back. My business trip to Europe went really well and it was great to see my friends in Beijing.

From Budapest I took a train to Bratislava (no, I haven't seen Hostel) and met up with my boss Max, and my co-worker Rolf. Unfortunately I got ripped off by the cab driver getting from the train station to the Holiday Inn, but oh well. We toured a factory outside of Slovakia that makes coupling heads (the thingys that attach a trailer to a car... not the most exciting thing in the world, but its what we do) and then had a fantastic Slovakian lunch (had onion soup and turkey stuffed with mushrooms and smoked cheese). We left the factory after lunch and drove to Kesckemet, Hungary and met our host and potential business partner at the Aero-Hotel for dinner. I must say, I didn't want to try the Steak Tar-Tar (I didn't like it when I had it in China), but I tried the raw hamberger meat here, and it was amazing. Absolutely fantastic! If you ever have the chance to try it, get off your "its-gotta-be-cooked-for-me-to-eat-it-high-horse" and try some. People have been eating this stuff for centuries... if it were going to make you sick from eating it, the restaurant that serves it would already have been closed down. After dinner we check out the factory owner's airplanes (the restuarant was on a small airfield... and yes, I that was a plural of airplane). This guy owns a Diamond Jet, a two seater stunt plane, a glider with takeoff engine, and an ultralight. If there has ever been a clearer indication that starting your own factory is majorly profitable, I have yet to see one. Hzabo (the owner) said that later in the trip we might be able to go up in his planes for a lesson in acrobatics and not throwing up while doing a loop-de-loop combination barrel roll, but unfortunately we never had enough time.

The next few days were full of business meetings and factory tours. I won't write too much about it, because no one reading this really cares, but I will say that it went well and we will almost certainly be building a new factory in China with this Hungarian company to produce axles.

Next it was back to Beijing to make sure Fargus, Josh, and Eli had managed to find their way from the fei ji chung (airport) to the bing guan (hotel). I met up with them and we had some good times together. Johan and I showed them around Beijing, including the Fobidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square (no, Eli... we can't re-inact the tank/student scene without getting arrested, Mao's Tomb (the "Mao"soleum... thank you Tim), the Great Wall, the Lama Temple, Bei Hai bar street, and many others. On Wednesday it was time to bid them adieu and see them off to Xi'an. Over then next two weeks or so they will go to Xi'an, Guilin, Yangshou, Shanghai, Yantai (to see me again), Beijing, and back to the US. Lord knows if they will survive, but if they do I am sure they will have some fantastic stories and pictures.

Now, does anyone have the number of the US Consulate in Beijing lying around? I've instructed my friends to call me with their one-call from prison thing. They do get that in China, right?