Wednesday/ birthday cake!

The birthday cake for a team member was very nice! A very light cake with frosting and lots of fruit.
By the way : dessert for a Chinese meal is usually a fruit platter with melon and cantaloupe and the like, in lieu of ice cream, pie or pastries.

Let’s see: orange, strawberry, starfruit (carambola) on top, and the white fruit with the pink skin and the little black seeds in, is dragon fruit (pitaya).

Tuesday/ entrance 入口, and exit 出口

I’m learning a little bit more about the written Chinese language, a language of pictographs.  Many basic Chinese characters are in fact, highly stylized pictures of what they present.
Around 9 out of 10 characters is a combination of a ‘meaning’ element and a ‘sound’ element.
A contemporary Chinese person might know and use between 6,000 and 8,000 characters – but one can get by with as few as 2,000 or 3,000.

The two characters 入口 rù kǒu on the sign below stand for ‘entrance’. A depiction of a person that goes through a door, opening, gate.

‘Exit’ looks like this 出口 chū kǒu. That first character is a foot, coming out from an enclosure! The foot is leaving through a door, or gate.


Sunday/ McDonalds

We walked down to the beach where the area’s McDonalds is.  (There is also a KFC but no Starbucks).

My McDonalds breakfast consisted of orange juice, hash browns and a spicy grilled chicken McMuffin.

The Dameisha area has some very nice beaches, but it’s quiet at the moment since it’s winter and not tourist season.

Some of the buildings are really run-down or even deserted, others are brand new.   One gets the impression everywhere that construction happens in spasms and not always well-planned.

Saturday/ Walmart in Shenzhen

Well – what can I say? I was Alice, and Walmart was a wonderland of Chinese culture and department store marketing of food, houseware, electronics and clothing.  There we were, 15 of us dropped off with a little bus, looking for household items and food for our apartments in Dameisha.  And did we load up that bus!

Walmart being what it is, the choices were cheap and enormous – and of course, they had Kraft branded food products and Coke & Pepsi, but there were still some surprises.  Dinner plates were hard to find. Chinese food is served up in bowls. T-shirts were not plentiful at all.

The food was the most fascinating, from the ‘wet area’ where one could catch one’s own super-fresh seafood (yes, right there in the store, the way the staff did at the restaurant the other night), to teas of all kinds, milk tea, a limited selection of good coffee, candy, but relatively few chocolate products, noodles of all kinds, root vegetables, fresh ginger, eggplant and durian.

Entrance to the Walmart Supercenter at 2001 Xiangmei Road in the Futian District in Shenzhen. The Chinese characters say Wò’ērmǎ (‘Walmart’) Shopping Plaza 沃尔玛购物广场 Wò’ērmǎ gòuwù guǎngchǎng.
Hazeline shampoo for lovely luscious black hair. The Chinese characters at the bottom says something like ‘Say goodbye to tangled hair’.
Dragon flies on this vest. I could not tell if the fabric is silk; I assume it is.
Cutie-pie characters are built into these humidifiers. That’s a tiger on the far left, since 2010 is the Year of the Tiger.
The signage on the aisles offer a little language lesson for both English and Chinese speakers.
Instant noodles 方便面 (say Fāng biàn miàn) and Chinese noodles 中式面条 (say Zhōng shì miàn tiáo).
Coffee 咖啡 (say Kā fēi) and tea , which has its standalone character 茶 (say Chá).
Alright. The tagline translation is cute ‘The Respectable of Choice’, and that is why I took the picture of this organic boxed milk. But later on I looked Guiyi online. Guiyi is a town further up along the coast from Shenzhen in Guangdong province, and until recently at least, Guiyu was best known in the global environmentalist community for its reception of all kinds of electronic waste, resulting in terrible pollution levels in its surrounding air, water and soil. So is it possible to produce pure and organic dairy products there?
The little guy on the lid is licking his lips for this product, which I suspect is hot or spicey. The characters at the bottom say ‘Famous brand foods from Sichuan province’ 四川省名牌食品 (say Sìchuān shěng míng pái shí pǐn). Sichuan province in southwestern China is famous for Sichuan peppercorns with their tingling, numbing effect on the tongue.
Ah, fruity chew candy from my childhood in South Africa (sugus), and chewing gums from Wrigley company, where I had done work for all of 2005 in Chicago. All of this in a traditional bowl held by two happy little tigers that represent the Year of the Tiger.
Two whole chickens (completely all of the chicken, that is), for ¥ 9 which is the equivalent of US$ 1.37.
These are freshwater eels, I believe.
These are durian, in some Asian countries called the “king of fruits“. The durian grows on trees and is distinctive for its large size, strong odor, and thorn-covered skin. The strong odor has prompted authorities in Singapore to ban eating durian in many outdoor spaces throughout Singapore and to prohibit it on public transport.

It’s Friday ..

.. so we’re getting out of the office! Woo hoo !

There are plans afoot to visit Walmart in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday, so that we can get pots and pans, knives, forks, extra towels & what have yous. My internet access at the apartment is not up and running yet, nor is the central heating working.

We have made a start to our project, though; met dozens of colleagues and client team members, and it was not a bad week at all.

Push is denoted by the character 推 tuī. Does the character show someone pushing against a door, or is that my imagination?

Thursday/ team dinner

The team went to a nice restaurant and boy! did we have a sampling of diverse dishes. The picture shows our dinner (fish, jumbo shrimp) being ‘caught’ in the wet area which has many, many more seafood items than just lobster, to choose from, for one’s dinner plate. Project manager Jeff was given the honor of eating the eye of the fish. He was completely game! LOL

The fishy stuff aside, the signature dish of the restaurant is pigeon (a nice gamey taste, a little like duck). They also had lamb ribs, which I suspect might be hard to find in Chinese restaurants. Other items were green beans, spicy cucumber, soup, a warm corn ‘smoothie’ (nice), oolong tea and Tsingtao beer (a standard pale lager, very nice).

Thursday/ another lunch

Chicken with bok choy (Chinese cabbage), and green beans with red chili peppers.
That’s rice bread in the bowl with a dash of soy sauce, and the white grape juice has bits of grape in it.
I wanted to take a picture of the pig’s ear strips on the plate of the guy sitting next to me, but did not. That would have been rude.

Thursday/ workshops

It was another long day meetings at here at the Daya Bay offices.
We’re doing workshops with the indispensible assistance of our colleagues from the China firm. I translate from SAP (how to use it) to English. They translate my English to Chinese. Questions in Chinese come back to me in English, and so it goes.

Undated photo of Daya Bay nuclear power plant. [Source: South China Morning Post]

Wednesday/ lunch in the cafeteria



I’m just back from the cafeteria where we had our first lunch, and what an experience! I ended up with (clockwise on the photo) steamed rice, beef and beans, spicy chicken and green peppers, bean sprouts-corn-red chili peppers (do not bite!), orange juice drink. All were delicious. No forks or spoons to (ch)eat with. I will have to learn to use chopsticks.

Tuesday night/ arrival in mainland China

Tokyo below us, en route to Hong Kong.

I lucked out and got upgraded to FIRST CLASS from San Francisco to Hong Kong (so abandon any sympathy you might have had left for me for the 15-hr flight and think personal pod with entertainment, flat-folding seat and five course meals!).

Saw two movies, had two meals and two naps, got in Tue night at 7 pm at Hong Kong International airport on the island of Chek Lap Kok.  Customs and baggage claim at the airport went very smooth.

Once all of the team had arrived at Hong Kong airport, the drivers of two vans helped the 10 of us to load up all our luggage. Next stop was the China mainland customs and checkpoint where some of us got scanned for a high fever.

The drive in from there, to our apartments in Dameisha, to the east of the city of Shenzhen (pop. 12 million), was interesting. This is no longer Hong Kong. This is China. No English. We made our way through Shenzhen’s high-rise buildings and apartments with their gaudy neon signs, and several tunnels. The area is very hilly.

Monday/ at San Francisco airport

Everything is going smooth so far.  I arrived at Seattle airport so early that United put me on the 6 am flight (original schedule was for 7.40 am).
My bags are stuffed with Starbucks coffee and decadent Western snacks such as m&m chocolate candies.
Hopefully they won’t confiscate any of it in Hong Kong at the customs check point!

Sunday/ my bags are packed ..

.. so I should try to get some sleep. The taxi will show up at 4 am !
I want to be at the airport early, so that I miss the Monday morning business crowd. I will post again as soon as I have access in China, but it may not be until Wednesday.


Friday/ preparing for my first trip to China

I’m gearing up for my first trip to China for a project there.   I believe I have the important stuff all done and ready: my shots for tetanus, typhoid fever & diphtheria, passport with China visa, Visa card, wallet, business-casual clothes, computer, mouse, cord & China outlet adapter, medicines, multivitamins, Starbucks coffee, South African tea, iPod, Blackberry, camera, batteries & chargers, extra business cards.

I leave Seattle on Monday Jan 4 at 7.30 am .. so that is going to make for getting up very early.  There will be plenty of time to snooze on the aircraft, though! I am scheduled to arrive at 6 pm on Tuesday Jan 5 at Hong Kong’s  Chek Lap Kok airport. A driver with a van will collect all of us arriving from the States, and drive us across the border into the Shenzhen area in mainland China.

Seattle to San Francisco is 679 miles as the crow (airplane, that is) flies, and will take 2 hours.  San Francisco to Hong Kong is 6,927 miles and will take 15 hours.
En route, the plane will cross the International Date Line on the globe.
Crossing the International Dateline traveling west (the way I will do), results in the additional of a full day (24 hours) to the time on the traveler’s clock.
Crossing it while traveling east, a full day is subtracted from the traveler’s clock! So the traveler starts over with the 24-hour period he/ she had departed from.

The number of hours for one’s final clock adjustment depends on the departure and arrival time zones.  China time is 15 hours ahead of Seattle. Amazingly, the entirety of mainland China’s designated time of day squats in one single time zone, even though its territories cover some 60° of longitude. (Standard time zones are 15° of longitude wide).

Seattle to San Francisco 2 hours. San Francisco to Hong Kong 15 hours. Mainland China and the Shenzhen area (my final destination) is just across the border from Hong Kong.



Welcome !

Welcome to my blog.
Many thanks to Bryan for creating the header for me.
I will use it to keep my family and friends posted about my whereabouts, and other things I find interesting.
I hope you will find it interesting as well !
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