Friday, September 25, 2009

China - more of the 1st week

Sunday evening I left Austin, arriving at the factory (almost straight from the airport) Tuesday afternoon. Every day was filled from with meetings, conference calls, and build activities. I ate dinner in my room Tues, Wed & Thursday. I had a "traditional Chinese massage" Tuesday night and a foot massage Wednesday night. Both were worthy investments.

Friday evening, after another long day, my Program Manager took me to a China Mobile store to buy a local sim card for an old phone I brought with me. I ended up buying a local phone because my old phone was "locked" (long story not worth going into here). Finally I had the ability to communicate with folks locally - very helpful given the size of the factory and the fact that the Taipei teams are in separate rooms on opposite sides of the factory.

After making the phone purchase Molder & I stopped in a DVD store. These are stores of some notoriety because they are filled with "knock-off" copies of DVD's. I didn't buy any movies, but it certainly is an impressive sight to see the "wall of videos" in no apparent order. Of note, there was a local woman there who wanted to purchase a copy of "Drag Me to Hell". At least I assume that's why she kept breaking out of her mandarin to say "Drag Me to Hell."

Next we went to a restaurant and joined 2 reps from an antenna supplier. The dinner tales are best told in person. I'll just say that my companions were drinking both beer and wine (they'd ordered beer but maybe felt obliged to help me with the wine). I really can't do dinner justice here, but here are some photos which might give a sense of the food and the company.

After getting back to the hotel, I finally had the "oil massage" I was anticipating Thursday. It was not at all what I expected. The listing had said "90 minutes" so I assumed they meant "90 minutes" (the other massages lasted as long as the time listed on the "menu"). Instead it was 60 minutes. When I asked afterward they said "Oh, we allow 30 minutes for your shower". What? When they took me back for the massage they told me the girl would be there in a few minutes. When she came in she asked something about a shower but when I asked for clarification she said effectively "nevermind." After each massage I was served tea and hustled out of there so I'm not sure when I was supposed to take a 30 minute shower. The trouble with complaining is everyone's English seemed to get worse when I tried to get clarification afterward.

As a side story about the tea served after the massage... After my traditional Chinese massage they served ginger tea. I fell in love with ginger tea last year - it's very soothing for the stomach. After the oil massage I asked if the tea was ginger tea and she said "Oh, you want ginger tea?!?" and she ran off with the tea she'd brought me. She came back with ginger tea. Typically the tea has an hour to cool off (they bring the tea at the start of the massage) so the ginger tea was too hot to drink. When I mentioned that I was hustled out of there after the massage, what I'm referring to is to this: after a few minutes of waiting for the tea to cool off (and I will admit that the charming girl graciously continued to massage my shoulders during these few minutes) she asked if should could pour out the remainder of my water in the water bottle I'd brought with me. After I nodded my assent she poured out the water and poured the too-hot-to-drink tea into the water bottle. So I could leave. Right now, thank you. "Hustled out," wouldn't you say?

But if I overlook the feeling that I was ripped off because my 90 minute massage was a 60 minute massage, it was a nice treat. I did have to suspend modesty but I won't bother you with the sordid details. It was an experience and that's what I'm all about on these Asian adventures.

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