Tuesday, June 5, 2007

6/5/2007 – 9 PM local time – Tainjin China (Tanggu)

Well, I have not done as good of a job of blogging as I would have liked, but I will take this chance to try and catch up on what has happened over the last couple of days…. First.. After the tour, I ended up meeting up with my collogue Norma, who works in Singapore. We decided to go get dinner, and ended up going down to the Hard Rock Café. It is strange getting Western food in China, but it is pretty comforting. The hamburger was good, if not a bit expensive! (100 RMB or about 13 USD). We decided to walk back to the hotel, which is a few blocks away. It is amazing how safe it feels in a foreign country like this. We made it back without any problems and I got to bed at a pretty decent hour for starting the training the next day.

The next day, we started the training bright and early. The training went pretty well, although everybody was pretty quiet in the class. They had lunchboxes brought in, which was a decent chicken dish with rice and veggies in a box… It really was pretty yummy. After work, Norma and I decided to go shopping, and went down to a local shopping mall. From the moment that we exited the taxi, we were hounded to start buying stuff… hey mister, 15 socks for 10RMB, hey movies for you? And they were persistent, they follow you and push up against you, but once you get through them into the store, it is not too bad. Once inside, this building is a 5 story building, with different types of good on each floor. Once floor had purses, bags, and the like, the next floor had polo shirts, jeans, and other clothes. The next floor had more clothes, winter jackets and the like. The next floor was jewelry, some electronics and misc other items. As you walked around, the attendants, mostly young ladies, start asking you, hey mister you want…? Hey mister I have bigger sizes? Hey mister you need a watch? How much you give for? When you do decide to buy something… you say… how much? They give you a price, and you then give them some much much lower price, say 30% of the price… then you haggle… typically to a point that you are ready to walk away because they will not come down that last little bit, and you go to walk away and hey, all the sudden they give you the item… Now realize that in truth, you probably still paid twice as much as you should have had too, but you ended up with a pretty good price… My collogue decided to buy a bag, and this is when we found out the there is a difference in what they sell in terms of quality. For the good stuff they would not haggle that much, they would keep saying, hey this is real, I guarantee it is real, and on the other stuff they would give you a really great price. Norma got a carry on bag for 180RMB, or about $23.5. A pretty good deal, even if it wasn’t real! Anyway, I didn’t buy that much stuff this time, but I will have time to go back, and since I don’t’ really want to convert my RMB back, I will probably have a good time with myself in there when I go back! Anyways, when we started to go home, we ran into some problems with getting back to the hotel… None of the taxis wanted to take us back to the hotel.. they all just said, no and pointed us to another taxi. Finally after about 4 taxis we got one back to the hotel and since it was getting late we went ahead and went back to the Hard Rock Café. Not original, but it was quite a safe choice.

So that brings us up to today. Not much for the day itself.. Got done with the class about noon.. they served us Pappa John’s pizza… you know sometimes I would swear I was in Houston, not China! We checked out of the hotel, and I decided to leave one of my bags there at the hotel since I will be back in a couple of days. A ConocoPhillips China driver took us the 140KM or so to Tanggu, a town around Tianjin, southwest of Beijing. This trip took nearly 3 hours.. it was not that the roads were bad, but at a few points we had bad traffic and congestion from highway construction. Tanggu is a smaller city, but very interesting architecture around the city. The hotel is nice, and really busy since there is a conference (or two) here. We went to eat at a Tai/Indian place called Someplace Special. It was really quite good… I ended up with a dish that was much like sweet and sour chicken. After we got done eating, we decided to go shopping again, so we hopped a taxi and went to the shopping here in Tanggu. This is a different experience. Here all the prices were fixed, and this was not set up for foreigners. I think that I might have been the only westerner for about a mile around! Truth is that in these places, a lot of the prices on things like electronics were higher than back home! Well, we didn’t buy a thing, and so we hopped a taxi back the hotel, leading me to this point, where I am writing this blog.

So that is about it… I am getting pretty tired, so I am headed to bed… Until later!

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