Nanchang - Days 3 and 4

Although I have only been here 4 days, it seems like an eternity..... even Anthony mentioned that this morning - he must be getting sick of me. Yesterday was really pretty rough - still jet lagged out, we had to start the Training session for 20 people - all Chinese (all men, too, but what else is new?). As usual, I didn't sleep very well and haven't been eating much also.

As is tradition, the group goes out for dinner together at night. Most of the people attending the training session are local - from Nanchang, but we have about 7 people from outside of Nanchang - several from Shanghai, a couple from Tianjin and one person from Malaisia. Most of the local folks did not come out to dinner, but we were hosted by David, who is the Technical manager at the facility in JiangXi. This was a traditional Chinese banquet, at a hotel. It is all very interesting and nothing like the banquets I have attended in the US - in the US, you basically go to a restaurant and you might have a private function room, but most likely that is not the case.

In China, you go to a hotel and are whisked away - sent up the elevator ("lift" here) to one of multiple floors. There are service people (mainly women) everywhere - someone in the elevator to push the floor buttons and announce what floor it is ("Level 4 - Ladies lingerie", anyone?), someone to meet you as you leave the elevator to bring you to your own private suite. It is like walking to your hotel room, except that all of the rooms are banquet rooms. No screaming babies from another table. The atmosphere screams "hotel", but it is really a restaurant hidden beneath the hotel facade.

Last night's dinner was OK - I was very tired and really not into the unusual looking food. And if anyone should be accustomed to Chinese food, it should be me! But once I got over the look of the dish and ate a bit, things were OK. The food is brought by a guy on roller skates to the door of the banquet suite. You don't ever hear the kitchen - the food just shows up, served discretely by your own personal server (again, a woman). I didn't count the number of dishes, but I am sure it was over 15.

Tonight, we experienced another banquet - this one was a little more enjoyable for me, for some reason. Maybe I am finally over my jet lag or maybe I am now used to the unusual smells and looks of the city and the food. After dinner (and after I talked to Erica and Brian), I ventured out into the streets of Nanchang "after dark". I walked quite a bit - almost 30 minutes (and I was sweating buckets by the time I got back), and through my wandering and observing all of the people out in the streets, I was brought back to the time we spent the summer in Taiwan. I had just finished 3rd grade and nine years old. I remember walking the streets of Taipei with my older cousin - it was just as hot and humid then, I recall. Down one of the streets, there were street food vendors - cooking right there, over an outdoor fire pit, selling food. People around eating, kids playing, cars and bikes manuvering inbetween. That's when I recalled my experiences in Taiwan. Interesting how the experiences trigger memories.

Tomorrow is our hump day for the training session - we will also ride into the JiangXi plant to get a tour. Hoping for a restful sleep tonight................

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