vendredi 30 novembre 2007
Friday morning we woke up at 6 for a 7 a.m. pickup (except T. who forgot that Korea was one hour later than China and woke up at 7). We made the long drive back out to Incheon, where we again visited a factory, the largest of the ones we had seen. It was quite impressive. Afterwards, we had lunch in the VIP lounge, then drove to a parts warehouse in Amsam. The whole day it was raining like crazy. We got quite drenched. The parts warehouse is where they keep the spare parts for the engines, in case something breaks and needs to be replaced ASAP. Their system is computerized, with large robot/cranes that go in between the rows to the correct box.

We wanted to just head back to our hotel and not socialize anymore, especially since the next day we were heading back to France, but it was insisted that we go to this Japanese restaurant with them. Ugh. There is a reason that humans invented fire, and it was so that they could cook their food! After a moment I just could not take it anymore. I just couldn't. I had passed my limit a few days ago with the octopuss soup and I was not having any more of it. I'm sorry but no.

We made the long drive back again to Seoul (why didn't we just stay in Incheon?) and finally got to bed around midnight.
jeudi 29 novembre 2007
Thursday morning we flew from Shenzhen to Seoul. (All these S cities). We arrived, once again, around noon. One of our hosts, David, met us at the airport in Incheon and drove us to Seoul, about an hour away. He pointed out the Korean War Memorial and the American Army base. I was amazed by the number of US restaurants such as Bennigans. I would have been much happier eating at these American restaurants than getting my insides burned out by Korean food, but oh well. We checked into our hotel, and were all amazed by the toilets in the bathrooms. They had these controllers on the side, which we could not figure out was for. After further investigation, I realized that it was a bidet. Question- who really needs this anymore? I don't need to be squirted at then blowdried.
We then went down to the buffet in the hotel restaurant. They had a Mongolian barbeque, which was very good. After that, we headed over to their office for the commercial meeting, which lasted several hours. Then we went out to a traditional Korean place. In the middle of the table was this gas burner, on which you place meat, mushrooms, etc. then combine with the very spicy kimchee and other hot hot things on your plate. At one point, I felt tears coming to my eyes and was desperately seeking water, while they wanted me to translate something. "Gasp! Can't! Fire!"

This night is when the Shanghai, um, Shizzle started. Sweet dreams Megan!
mercredi 28 novembre 2007

After another morning of meetings/visiting factories, our hosts took us to a barbeque place, complete with live singing. At first I thought it was karaoke, but it was the same two people (a guy and a girl) singing over and over again. It wasn't horrible singing, but it was just not what I needed to hear while trying to eat. I asked our host, Sherry, what they were there for, and she said "To wish us a happy meal". Oh, so maybe that's why I had indigestion later...

After that, they drove us to visit the Forbidden City of Shenzhen. Very nice, very old, and if it hadn't been so freezing we would have spent more time there. I had brought my scarf and mittens, but my ears and nose were very very cold. After a running tour, we browsed some shops, where Sherry got yelled at by one of the vendors. She was helping to translate/negociate for us, and she said to us "Don't buy this, it is too expensive." Apparently, the vendor was mad and told her something along the lines of "You should be helping me to rip off these foreigners as we are both Chinese." After some more browsing in stores, we got quite tired and went back to the hotel. It was just the three of us for dinner, as we had begged off. The other two asked me what I wanted to eat and I said "Anything but Chinese". So we went to a nice French restaurant in the hotel. I think we were the only French/french speaking in there. The menu was in English and Chinese, which I found funny. The food was quite good but the waitor made me laugh because he kept whisking my plate away in his overeagerness before I was quite done. It was strange for me to be in a French restaurant, speaking French, with French, but with Chinese waitors. The price of the food was very low, but the french wine was very very expensive.
(what animal is it? You decide.)
mardi 27 novembre 2007

After a late bedtime and another early start, the three of us flew to Shenzhen, a two hour flight from Shanghai. This city is in the northeast of the country, near North Korea. When we got off the plane, we were immediately struck by how cold it was. There was snow on the ground. Our new hosts met us at the airport, and shuttled us into the city. I immediately felt like I had been transported to the Chinese version of Minnesota. Can I get a “yah sure you betcha” please? We checked into our hotel, another Four star place, with plenty of luxury shops in the lobby. I was hoping that being in China and with the exchange rate that I could maybe afford say a pair of Armani socks or something, but nope. Nothing doing. I really can’t understand why designer clothing is so expensive and why people actually buy it. Why do you need a scarf for 200$? Anyway, after another huge meal in which our hosts ordered way too many dishes for us and which we could have done with a good 3-4 dishes less, we went to visit their factory. We spent several hours at their factory, then went, again, to eat. This was at a place with individual dining rooms, a big round table, and a lazy-susan in the middle of the table to facilitate the passing of dishes. Some highlights included octopus soup, shish kebobs, raw salmon, tofu (firmer this time) and many many others that my memory is blocking out for self-preservation. We rolled back to the hotel and went to bed.
lundi 26 novembre 2007
The next morning, Monday, I woke up around 7, got ready, and went for a little stroll. There was a Starbucks across the street. I went in, wondering exactly how to say "Gingerbread latte" in Chinese. Luckily, I wasn't required to mime it, because they had it written in English. They also had the Chinese characters, which made me wonder exactly how Gingerbread Latte is translated into Chinese. If someone knows, please tell me.
We ate breakfast in the hotel, and then met up with our Chinese hosts and drove to their office/factory. We toured their factory, talked technical and price details, went to lunch, and then early in the afternoon drove back to our hotel in Shanghai near the airport. While the one in Wuxi had been very nice, this hotel was your basic near-the-airport kind. We took a taxi ride back into Shanghai (about an hour drive for a whopping 15€). We walked around, again admiring the lights of the city. There was a park filled with people, mostly middle-aged couples, dancing. No one asked us to dance, but I might have said yes if they had. It was like swing-dancing but slower. We found a restaurant and had dinner. It had a few other foreigners eating there as well. We had some Chinese wine (not terrible) and several different dishes such as tofu (which I normally like but this was too soft), some meat dishes, and then the two guys had crabs. We all got slightly tipsy, but managed to get a taxi and get back to the hotel without any incident.
dimanche 25 novembre 2007
I am now back from my grand tour of Asia (okay, China and Korea for one week, but it was my first time on the continent after all).

I left Saturday afternoon from Marseille. Our flight was supposed to be at 12:10. The four of us, mom, dad, Alain and I arrived around 9:45. We sat and had a coffee and waited for my three traveling partners to arrive so that we could all check in together. Turns out, the flight, KLM to Amsterdam, was delayed two hours. Yikes. The airlines thought we would be able to make our connecting flight to Shanghai at 5:35, but there were no guarantees.

The other two travelers with me, T and P, arrived. The fourth was not going to be coming with us after all. We checked in, and then I said goodbye to mom and dad, who were leaving Monday to return to the US, and Alain.

Flights were uneventful, and we arrived in Shanghai Sunday morning at around 11 am. Did sleep a little on the plane, but the sleeping pills I had bought were not as powerful as I had hoped they would be. I wanted total knock-out and got fitful spurts. Ah well.

Made it through Chinese immigration and customs just fine, and found our driver. Thankfully the company we were visiting had sent their driver to fetch us. It was a long drive, we were exhausted, and apparently even Chinese have trouble driving in this area. So we made the drive from Shanghai airport to Wuxi, about two hours to the north-west. Three things that amazed my about China:
1) extremely clean, at least where we were. Armies of workers spent their time cleaning the streets. I wish Marseille would import at least 10,000 of them. There was also no graffiti anywhere. However, it is really true that they spit all the time. More on that later.
2) crazy drivers. They honk all the time, and will do death-defying stunts. I was glad I was sitting in the back. Many many people were on scooters and bikes. No helmets. Going the wrong way on the highway. Child in front (perhaps six years old) standing on the front of the scooter between the legs of the father who was driving, with the mother behind. Wow.
3) tons of new construction. Rows and rows of identical new apartment buildings being built everywhere.

We checked into our hotel and took off to explore the city. We had some horrid tea at this park area on the left, browsed the shopping areas, took photos, then went to eat. We asked at the hotel where would be a good place to eat. They made some recommendations. We went elsewhere. It was horrid- cold chicken and sun-dried hard as a rock shrimp. I could have choked it down, but the others wanted to leave, so we paid for what we had eaten and walked out. I felt bad. We found a place that can only be described as slightly better than hole in the wall. I was sure I would be sick the next day, but wasn't. It was fairly good, except for my octopus egg-crepe thing.
The lights of the city were amazing. Here is a picture of a restored temple. We went to bed early, being jet lagged and all.
mardi 13 novembre 2007
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We have been quite busy with visiting the sites of Provence and working on the apartment. This past weekend we bought, transported, and installed our new IKEA kitchen! So happy. Will post more about it when I get a chance, but not for another two weeks or so, as I am leaving next week for China and Korea for a business trip for one whole week! Yay!
jeudi 1 novembre 2007
Mom and Dad have now been here for a week. They arrived Wednesday, Oct. 24th. I went to pick them up at the airport, and had bought a bouquet of flowers. It seemed that everyone who walked past said "Oh, are they for me? Thank you." Their flight finally arrived, about an hour late and sans one piece of luggage. They promised it would be delivered the next morning (Thursday). After a day and a half of them waiting in the apartment for it to arrive, it finally did on Friday afternoon. The weekend we spent doing some work on the apartment, such as removing the large ugle glass/metal hood over the stove, sanding the walls, and applying a base coat to make the walls smoother. We also bought the mirror for over our sink, which Alain and I had been searching for for ages. We had found one we liked at Maisons du Monde, but the one that they had was damaged. They were having a "rupture du stock" and weren't sure if or when they would get another one. I called last Friday, just to see if they had received one, and they said yes, so mom, dad, and I braved Friday afternoon traffic going towards the Centre Ville. We parked in a parking garage, went and bought it (119€) and brought it back.
On Sunday we went to visit with Alain's family, to celebrate Pepe's birthday last week. Today, All Saint's Day, I have off from work, and I took tomorrow off as well. We are going to go visit different places in this area, such as perhaps the Camargue, Aigues Mortes, etc.
A year ago yesterday, we bought our apartment. It is finally starting to resemble something livable. But if I had known what I was in for (such as months of sponge baths in winter) I might have thought twice about it.
Happy All Saint's Day!

Blog Archive


Favorite Posts