Well I arrived in Guangzhou this morning at about 10:30am. This is after waking up at 4am because I was expecting madness at the Hongqiao Airport — it’s the weekend before the National Day Golden Week holiday after all and that means everyone wants to travel. But I was actually the first one at the airport. I arrived there at 5:15am and the place doesn’t even open until 5:30am, so that meant that I was first in line for pretty much everything and I didn’t have to make that much of an effort to get on the plane.
After I arrived, Winnie and I had a quick lunch at the airport’s McDonald’s before taking a shuttle bus to downtown. We arrived a little early at my hotel — they were still cleaning the room, so we took a walk down Beijing Road. It’s a pedestrian shopping street like Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, expect it’s not as crowded and there aren’t any prostitutes. I really liked it. The area is nice but there is still a bit of a small town feel to the place — and at least so far, I don’t feel like I am stuck in the middle of mast tourist hell like I have been when I’ve traveled during Golden Weeks past.
After a quick nap, it was decided that since Winnie and I are both tired, today is not the day to meet the family. I get to do that tomorrow evening. I don’t what my schedule will be like for tomorrow either but I am sure that I’ll find something interesting to do if I am not spending the time with Winnie. Even if it is just sitting in the nearby RbT teahouse with a book that’s fine with me. Besides meeting Winnie’s family, my plan for this week is to relax and get myself in tiptop shape for the work that will begin after the holidays.
Plan for this evening is to go eat something at McDonald’s (I know I had lunch there, but it’s right next store and I am frankly too tired to try something new tonight. I know I should experiment, but I just don’t have the energy for the moment) then it’s a night of reading, television and chatting with Winnie followed by a nice long sleep.
Until the next time I have time to write a note,
Winnie and I are spending the Chinese National Day Holidays in Guangzhou with her family. I plan to post when I’m there but since it’s a holiday it’ll be irregular. Regular posts will resume after the holiday.
I read an interesting article today in China Daily. The article entitled “Mooncakes acquire networking flavor” it tells how mooncakes have become a favourite way for businesses to keep in touch with business contacts and clients:
“We send presents to our clients during the Mid-Autumn Festival, rather than the Spring Festival,” said Elsa Wang, who works for a public relations firm in Beijing. The company started budgeting months earlier and has been delivering mooncakes as early as a month ago.
“It doesn’t matter how much a package costs…. Mooncakes are the best way to say: Let us keep in touch.”
Lin Jian, a guest writer on the Financial Times Chinese website, wrote that the consumption of mooncakes has one simple purpose – to maintain relationships.
I don’t know if mooncakes are the best way to keep in touch, but I know that I’ve received about RMB 1,000 worth (US$ 120) worth of mooncakes and mooncake certificates in the last two weeks (that I shared with my colleagues — our company followed tradition and gave employees mooncake certificates) so they certainly are popular.
I have been reading a tons of books lately. I think I got on this track the minute I finished the long and complex “Fortress Beseiged” and then decided to pick up Murakami’s short, but beautiful novel “After Dark”. I finished that one in two and half days. By the end of last week I’d already gone through Carl Crow’s “Foreign Devils in the Flowery Kingdom”.
I’m currently reading Xiaolu Guo’s “A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers”. I’m really enjoying it — especially since Winnie and I are going to meet her parent’s next weekend — it’s really giving me another insight into the views of a mixed couple. The book is a series of diary entries and since I like so much so I am trying to savour it and let it last. Since it is written like a diary you can do that. Yesterday I went and bought a number of business books including Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” which I devoured in just 24 hours. I’m still going to try to savour Xiaolu Guo’s book this week, but at the sametime I am trying to make a fast meal of James Kynge’s “China Shakes the World: The Rise of a Hungry Nation” as I borrowed it from a colleague who is leaving our company this week.
I hope I don’t read myself silly by the end of the week. I’m taking three books with me for vacation (I tend to read about 200 pages or one book per flight and one book during the week).
Typhoon Wipha hit Shanghai today. It didn’t really hit so much as whimper by. This morning I was expecting heavy rain and high winds as I had experience in all previous typhoons that I had been in, but when I woke up it wasn’t even raining. My office was closed this morning, so I got to spend the morning watching CNN while I did some preparation for an event taking place tomorrow evening.
The storm was one of the top stories on CNN’s Asian-focused morning newscast. Every 30 minutes I heard how the storm was just south of Shanghai and expected to pummel the city by evening and every 30 minutes I looked out my window at the cloud with bits of sun breaking through. Needless to say our office opened this afternoon and I had a really pleasant walk to the office. The air was cool and yes the winds were a little stronger than normal, but other than that things were fine. When I went to pick up a chicken sandwich at the Mexican fast food place in my office building, one of the waiter’s hats was blown off by a gust of wind but that was it.
While it has rained on and off through out the afternoon, the only bad thing that has happened is that I’ve had one meeting and two EU Chamber of Commerce events I was to attend canceled on account of the storm. That does have a benefit those as it freed me up to focus on the planning for an event tomorrow so now everything is pretty much finished. The walk home was a breeze. There was a bit of rain but not more than your average Shanghai rainy day.
Plans for the evening: Chicken and dumpling dinner with Winnie and then watch Zodiac on DVD (man I am really behind on those).
I spent more time this weekend watching DVDs so here are some more short reviews:
Spiderman 3: Probably the movie that is most like the comic books out of all three movies. It’s set in 2007 but it could as easily be 1987 — except Toby McGuire plays a more arrogant Spidey.
The Office (US Version): Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s a trainwreck, but you can never look away.
I just finished Carl Crow’s Foreign Devils in the Flowery Kingdom and I have to say that it is fantastic. Congratulations to the guys at China Economic Review for deciding to do a series of books reprinting old books about China as this one is certainly one of the best. It provides an excellent history of China in a very easy to read format — to be honest, it feels like you’re reading an old pulp magazine. A lot of the stories happened to Crow personally which also add a great feeling of a social history to the book as a whole.
My favourite chapters have to be the three essay like chapters in the middle describing Chinese food, foreign housewives and foreign bachelors. I could easily imagine many of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants of Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s (a trend that still persists today) as well as the clueless foreign wife who is really just tagging along after her husband and really just lives in the world of other foreign women and could have the same life living in Japan or Cairo as she does in Shanghai. Finally, I can smell and taste the alcohol flowing in the great clubs of the time. I live and work right near the old Jewish Club on what was Bubbling Well Road (Now Nanjing Xi Lu) and it still has its majesty and splendor (it’s now home to a state-owned oil company after all!).
Man, what I wouldn’t have given to live in Shanghai during that time. If you feel the same way and want something that can give you an enjoyable weekend read — go order this book from CER. You won’t regret it.