Well, I guess I should finish up my trip report. No, I wasn't being held by the Chinese because I was taking aerial pictures of the Beijing airport. It was simply because I had other things to do and never got around to finishing. Better late than never.
When I left off, I was enjoying lunch at a hot pot restaurant next to the hotel. That was Wednesday. I had left Washington at lunch time Monday and arrived in Beijing in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday. After lunch, we started with the meetings. For some strange reason, we mostly missed out on the famous Beijing smog.However, on Thursday, we got a little taste. The air pollution app on my phone said we were code red for PM10 (fine particulates.) Fortunately, I was inside a conference room.
Here's some pictures from the club level of our hotel, First on Wednesday, then on Thursday:
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The van came and picked us up, but the traffic was so bad, we might as well have walked. On the way back from the meeting on Wednesday evening, it took us an hour to get back to the hotel, should have been a 10 minute drive in normal traffic. Both the conference location and our hotel were on the Third Ring Road. The Beijing ring roads are like the illegitimate love child of the Washington Beltway, and the I-410 Loop in San Antonio, and The Kennedy expressway in Chicago.
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The next day was a little better, or at least our driver figured out which side streets to use. The urban landcape of Beijing is a hybrid of the density of Manhattan with the sprawl of Chicago.
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The conference was held at a hotel run by one of the outlying provinces, noted for its scenery and interesting minority communities. Image the State of New Mexico, say, owning a hotel in Washington, and featuring "typical" New Mexico decor and cuisine. They served us lunch, which was a buffet of the provincial cuisine. One of the translators got in line behind me and said she would ask what the items were, "I'll make sure you don't get any dog!" I think she was pulling my leg, as I looked up the cuisine of that part of China, and neither dog meat nor cat meat is on the menu there. The food wasn't bad for a buffet line. Then, back to the meetings.
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Two things about Chinese conferences (at least those with us barbarian westerners): The first is the covered teacup that comes with every seat. When we arrived in the morning, there were dried tea leave is the cup. Then there was a man who came around all day with a large Thermos jug full of hot water who kept the cup full. Fortunately there were enough breaks so that getting up to use the restroom wasn't a problem. The other thing is that it's important to have your PowerPoint slides translated. As you can see above, this is not as easy as you think. I think I understand what these guys were trying to say. I hope the translations that were done for our slides were useful to our hosts. During the conference, we all had headphones with simultaneous translations. This seemed to work all right. I will say that there were a lot of the young Chinese professionals who spoke excellent English, som better than I hear on the streets of Washington!
We got back to the hotel in a more timely hour on Thursday evening. After an enjoyable happy hour on the club level, we went out and braved the Beijing subway (see, there is some rail content here! ) to go to the Silk Market, where we enjoyed haggling for souvenirs. I found a couple of very nice cashmere shawls for my wife and daughter, and a nice covered teacup.
With that, it was back to bed and to get ready to fly home on Friday. But we finally got to see some sights, aside from conference rooms and hotels, and that will wait for the next, and final installment.
To be continued.
Edited by MARC Rider, 27 April 2018 - 04:19 PM.