Tuesday, June 2, 2009

China: June 1-2

We visited 2 vendors today. They were both possible foundries. Hence the reason why Roy is in town. As I said last time, Roy has taken the lead, along with Joe, and they are assessing the capabilities of the companies we are looking at. For the most part, I am just following along and trying to learn as much as possible as we go. I do ask them some basic questions, but nothing too complicated. Basically if they can certify that the material they provide is any good.
After a long day we checked into our hotel. It was OK. The room was nice. It was actually more of a suite with a bedroom and a separate room that had a couch and mahjong table in it. Also the bed was a little softer than the normal Chinese bed. You will notice that for the most part my assessment of hotels is based largely on the softness of the bed. It could be the biggest crap-hole in China, but if it has a nice soft bed I’ll rave about it.

That evening we went out to dinner with the guy from the 2nd foundry we looked at. Or at least we thought it was going to be with the guy from the foundry. It ended up being him, 3 guys from the foundry, and 3 girls from the office. We walked into the dining room and were all like, what the heck? Why in the heck are there 30 people in the room. It is getting a little annoying that every place you go to expects you to have a blowout dinner and drink massive amounts of alcohol. For some ungodly reason, no one here can have a nice cold beer during dinner, and leave it at that. All alcohol is gulped here. It’s getting really old. I have to order a beer right away, no matter where we go so that I’m not forced to drink a whole glass of Baijiu. They only drink to get drunk. It’s getting a little annoying.

Other than that, the meal was pretty good. I was a little scared when things started with some of the most horrifying appetizers you’ve ever seen. There was the octopus jelly, the weird nutty things that apparently grow on algae on the sea surface (that’s right folks, apparently they were serving the stuff that grows on the side of boats), and some of the most disgusting stuff I have ever put in my mouth. It was a cold, shellfish of some sort, and the shell was still in with the rest of it. I can’t even describe the taste. I made the mistake of putting it in my mouth since it looked like the lesser of 5 evils. I was WAY off. Just nasty. The rest of the dinner was quite a bit better. However, all 80 people the guy brought along to the dinner decided that they each needed to have a drink with me. Together, you ask? Oh no, we need to do this individually. Every single one of them needed to raise a glass to me and the other guys. Some of them felt like doing it multiple times. However, as I’ve said before, thank goodness that the beer is weak here. I proved that night that I can drink it all night and not get affected.

Today we did another two quick visits with two vendors that we’ll probably never use. Then we left Yuhuan and started the long drive to Tonglu. It took about 5 hours. It was a long trip in the van. When we got to Tonglu we stopped for a simple dinner. We were only with the guys from the trip. It was the first time I haven’t been asked if I wanted a beer.

The company is renting an apartment in a complex a few miles away from the plant. It is nice. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. It is used by the white guys when we are visiting. That is almost all the time so it gets plenty of use. I’m going to try to get a load of laundry in before the end of the night.

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