Thursday, November 6, 2008

10-22-08 – University visit, Lunch, Hyundai Visit, Silk Market, Acrobatics Show

I actually slept a full 6 hours straight only waking at 4:30am – this is the most hours I have slept in a row since before I left home. I felt pretty good and even tried to eat a little breakfast!

We started out by driving to the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, this school offers about 14 different programs of study in primarily engineering. We had a short lecture from Dr. Jianqui who gave us a history on the school and Dr. Wally gave his speech on the history of Averett and the GPS program. After that Professor Wendong talked about how China and America are really not that different, he said “we are all one global village.”

I really loved listening to him, he talked a bit fast and I had a little trouble following, but I was really impressed with him! He was very open and discussed his love of YouTube and his baby child! I was really impressed with how much he seemed to love being a husband and father.

We had another really nice lunch with the students from the University. They all took us to the student café and then to an upstairs restaurant that isn’t really used by the normal students, but might be a place to take family or other visitors to the school. They just started bringing us all these exotic dishes to try and I have been a little scared to try anything to crazy since my stomach is on shaky ground, so I ate a little bit, but stayed mostly with rice.

After lunch we took about an hour ride to get to the Beijing Hyundai plant. We did attempt to stop at a KFC on the way because a few of my classmates are still refusing to use the “squatter” toilets, but this particular KFC did not have any western style, so we moved on.

The Hyundai plant was very cool! We started out with a short video about the plant in Beijing and then a short tour of the show room. Hyundai provides all the taxis used in Beijing and produces only for the Chinese market, they don’t export anything. This was quite a surprise for me, because there appeared to be acres and acres of vehicles and we were told that they have almost one finished car each minute! The operation runs 24/7 with different shifts each taking a 10 minute break every two hours. I asked our guide about the hiring and benefit practices and they seem very similar to ours; vacation time, health insurance, housing help, etc. I am constantly noticing how similar we are to the Chinese. I guess that people are people wherever you go!

When we finished with the plant we had a little bit of time so Lei took us to the Silk Market. This is the place to buy anything and everything at really good prices! Here you can bargain for the goods that you want. The sellers can be really pushy and will grab you and try to trap you until you buy something. We found that you can’t really even look at anything without them asking you what size, don’t you want something and how much to buy. Ann did not really get the system right away, it was funny to watch as she looked excited to find “real, first quality” Oakley sunglasses. I tried to tell her that nothing here is first quality, but she has a really hard time understanding that. She did end up finding a skirt that she really liked, so we started bargaining. They started out saying that the price was 600, then immediately dropped the price to 350. When we said no, she dropped it to 275, when we said no again, she handed Ann the calculator and asked her to enter in the price she was willing to pay, I suggested that Ann offer a 100 and then she could go up from there. The lady said that we needed to offer a little bit more, so we started to walk away, and she immediately agreed to the 100. So Ann got a really cute skirt for 100 or $15 US, and she was really pleased!

After the Silk Market, Ann headed back to the hotel and I went with the others to the acrobatic show. There was a sign outside the theater announcing the show that just said “Novel, Exciting, Odd, Beautiful” I thought that this saying on the banner was a perfect way to describe this whole trip!

The acrobatic performance was the most amazing show ever! I never knew that the human body was capable of contorting into such ways! The show was a mix of lights and sounds and amazing stunts. It felt like part play, part rock concert, part laser light show, and part circus. I purposely left my money on the bus because I knew that I would want to buy the video, and I really regret that, because there is just no way to explain or describe this show to someone who wasn’t there. I hope that I will be able to get a used copy on eBay or something because I really want to share this with my husband!

I was really having issues keeping my eyes open during the show, so I was really happy to get back to the hotel. Some of the group stopped off at the Hard Rock Café, and I heard that they had a really amazing time and I am sorry that I missed it, but I would not have made it, I was so tired!

I came back to the hotel and Ann was already sleeping, so I showered and got online to send a quick e-mail home and then fell into bed about 10:30pm.

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