Saturday, March 25, 2006

Day 24 March 23rd Thursday (a very long Thursday) On the way home

Well my whirlwind tour of Asia is coming to an end. I am glad to be headed home. I have been to some amazing places and seen some great things.

I am sitting in the San Francisco airport as I write this. It is a little weird to think that the majority of these people are probably just beginning their travels and I am wrapping mine up. The perspectives are probably a different too, their days are just beginning (well its 11am so may be not just beginning) and I have been traveling for about 20 hours.

I read all of the books I brought…..see 5 was not too many J. In fact I just bought another to get me home, although odds are I will be a sleep before the plane even takes off. I only slept for about an hour from Hong Kong to Tokyu and then maybe only 45 minutes from Tokyu to San Francisco.

I can’t wait to see Kevin, take a shower, and be “attacked” by Duke and Maggie. Oh…to sleep in my own bed…..

Day 23 March 22nd Wednesday – Hong Kong

Jane and I met around 11 at the Central ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island. Neither one of us really had anything we had to do today so we decided to hop on a bus and go to Stanley Market, the Murray House and what ever else might come up. I swore I was not going to do any shopping in Hong Kong. Well, I just couldn’t resist so I bought a couple of small pieces of art.

Murray House was moved in the 80s so that a bank tower could be built in its place. It took Hong Kong about 10 years to finally put it back together…it ended up being a 3.5 year puzzle and when they were finished they had 6 extra columns. You will have to check out the HK pics.

After a little shopping and a much needed beer and a little lunch we headed back to the other side of Hong Kong Island and then grabbed a ferry to the Kowloon side. I dropped my stuff off at my hotel and then we met Jane’s sister in Mong Kok (the spelling may be off on that one). We wandered the streets there for a while. I had the spiciest bowl of noodles I think that I have ever had. We then headed back to Hong Kong Island to have a beer on “ex-pat” row. This area is really a bar area that seems to cater to the younger professionals and expats. We ended up in a bar had a live band that could sing everything from Alanis Morrisette to Steely Dan. I stayed out entirely too long and was only able to get about 3 hours of sleep before having to leave for the airport to head home.

All in all I am very glad I went to Hong Kong.

Day 22 Monday March 20th – Hong Kong

This morning I grabbed the ferry to Hong Kong Island. (2.2 HK Dollars...about .25 US). Once there I headed for what I thought was Victoria Peak in Victoria Park. This meant I needed to grab a subway and head East a couple of stops. When I made it to Victoria Park and checked in my guide book for where I should look for the tram stop up to the top of Victoria Peak I figured out that I was mistaken thinking that the Peak was in the same named park. So I grabbed the subway headed West. The HK subway system (MTR) is really laid out quite well. It reminds me of Tokyo's. I rode the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak (it was nothing like the one up to Corcavada in Rio, but cool in its own merits). I can't believe how steep the climb was. Once at the "top" I grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to the real top of the peak. This was about a 1/2 -1 mile walk up a road. There was really no side walk but very little traffic. I took some pics at the top (couldn't really see much due to the overcast) and then headed back down. Once down off of the peak I headed for the starting place for the linked walking tour: I saw some strange stuff on this tour...a store selling only dried fat, a shark fin store...a store selling dried fish and lizards... The antique street was cool.

I stopped at the Man Mo temple and then headed on to find the escalator. When I finally found it it was a relief. I really didn't want to walk up those stairs. This escalator is 800 M long and there are 20 that make the whole line up. From 6 am to 10:00 am it runs down and then from 10:20 to midnight it runs down. Once to the top I walked back down.

I caught the ferry back to the Kowloon side and then on to my hotel. It is nice to see clean water (in the channel) vs all of the brown water in Beijing and Shanghai.

I ordered room service for dinner...a club sandwich and fries...It is the first non-asia meal I have had on the whole trip. Breakfast hasn't been completely asian, more of an asian interpretation of a western breakfast.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Day 21 Sunday March 19th - Hong Kong

Well, my bag was only 16 lbs overweight. I guess that is not too bad for how much I had in it.

My first vision of Hong Kong was its smog. The hills on the islands would be beautiful, if you could see them.

I checked my suitcase at the airport. The airline broke the handle on my suitcase (well after Beijing the handle woudn't stay down and Dragon Air broke it off) so I was more then happy to check it at the HK aiport. This way I only have to lug it around two more times. After I checked my suitcase I proceeded to get Hong Kong dollars and then hop on the airport exress train to Kowloon where I grabbed a cab to my hotel.

Cantonese and English are the languages of choice here, so I had a bit of a problem with the cab driver. His English wasn't very good and my Cantonese is non-existent. So eventually he called someone on the phone and had them translate for us.

I am staying at the YMCA. I know that sounds wierd. They have hotel rooms for a very reasonable price (about 1/3 of what I would pay across the street at the Intercontinental or next door at the Pennisula). It is clean and functional. Much nicer then the places I stayed in Beijing or Shanghai. I checked in and dropped off my stuff with no issue. After I was all settled in I went out for a walk down Nathan Rd. The walk ended up being quite a tour (several hours long). Once back at the hotel I read a little and then called Kevin.

Not a really exciting day, but a good start.

Hong Kong is much more like Tokyo then it is Beijing or Shanghai. I can't really think of a US City like any of the 4 cities I have been in on this trip. They are all so different. Hong Kong has a huge amount of traffic (both auto and foot) and bikes are practically non existent. Cabs are everywhere and cheap, although I was kind of thrown around the back seat of my first one like a ping pong ball.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day 20 Saturday March 18th - Last Day in Shanghai

Today was my last day in Shanghai. Vera and Patrick and I met in the lobby
around 10 to spend the day wandering. We headed down Nanjing Lu to the
Shanghai Museum of Urban Planning. My world traveling friend Melissa
recommended I see this. The 3rd floor has a scale model of Shanghai. There
are also scale models of the deep water port and of the airport. It was very
cool to see. After the museum we made our way to a massage salon also
recommended by Melissa. Dragonfly was to die for. I wish I had known about
this place earlier. We were able to sneak in for a hour long head and
shoulder massage. I fell a sleep during it. Man, did it feel good. After
the massage we headed to the Bund to catch a ferry to Pudong to have dinner
at the Hyatt. The smog was as thick as fog so we didn't really have that
good of a view, but it was still nice. After dinner we walked to the
nearest Metro stop. Vera headed to the Mag Lev (high speed magnetic train)
to go to the airport to pick up her husband and Patrick and I headed back to
Nanjing Lu so he could do his last minute shopping. The MTR/Metro was
extremely fast. It only took a couple of minutes to get from Pudong to the
Nanjing Lu, which if look at a map is a significant distance.

We returned to the hotel around 9pm. I finished all of my packing as I have
to be in the lobby tomorrow by 5:45 (checked out and ready to go to the
airport). My suitcase weighs a ton. I am definitely over 70lbs. Once I get
to the Hong Kong airport I will check it at the airport and leave it there
until I fly home on Thursday. I have been able to pack my carryon in such a
way as to only need it while I am in Hong Kong.

Now for sleep. And on to Hong Kong tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Day 19 Friday March 17th �C Shanghai

This morning we were spoken to by Clark Johnson of Petters Group. Clark
graduated from the MIM program about 3 years ago and now is the GM and
president it of Asia for Petters Group. Petters group owns the Polaroid
brand (recently purchased for dirt cheap) and works as a liason between
retailers (like Circuit City) and the factories. Really they just put their
name on the products that the big box stores want and source them for them.
It was interesting to hear his stories and how he got to where he is.

After Petters group, a couple of us decided to wander "Food Cart" row and
just pick up food as we went, sharing amongst all of us. It was really good
food and by doing it this way were able to sample many different kinds.
After the food we still had some time before we had to head to the clothing
market to pick up the clothes that we had had tailored so we walked down the
Bund (I bought a kite.I asked her how much, she said 150, I just kept
walking and said 50, eventually she met my price with out me ever having to
stop and haggle��I never restated my price or changed it) It is amazing how
that works.

At 4:30 several of us met in the lobby to go to the "suit"place together
to pick up the clothes that we had tailored. Man do I hope that Kevin's
jacket fits him.

At 7:30 we met to go to O'Malleys to celebrate St. Paddy's day. That was a
weird experience. As soon as you walked in to the courtyard it was like you
were back in the states at a frat party. Strange to experience in Shanghai.

After a couple of hours there (expensive beers) Patrick, Siska, Vera and I
headed to out find food. We told the taxi driver to take us to Nanjing road.
He was a little confused as this road is a couple of miles long and he
didn't know where to drop us off at. We just had him drop us off at an
intersection. We grabbed a bite (several bites of several little dishes) at
a very nice restaurant and then headed back to the hotel for Mah
Jong returning to the hotel around 11 pm.

Day 18 Thursday March 16th - Shanghai

After sleeping in until about 9 we got up and got ready for our last day of
business formal. We were to meet downstairs at 11:45 to board the bus and
head to EGL in Pudong. Since we missed breakfast upstairs (which really
wasn't some thing feel bad about missing) Yachin and Vera and I went
downstairs to a little bakery and got some rolls and then over to a
convience store where we bought warm cans of coffee and milk tea. We feasted
in our room, which was a disaster area as Yachin and I had started the
packing process.

EGL was good. 4 expats (not all from the US) spoke to us about what they do
for EGL and then we had the opportunity to talk individually with them about
what ever we wanted. It was interesting to listen to their biggest challenge
in China, attracting and retaining staff. This seems to be an issue that
spans regions and industries. Because things are changing so rapidly in the
cities people will jump companies for even the slightest difference in pay,
but then may return in a year. But as with EGL, a lot of training must be
invested in each new individual as they don't know anything about logistics
or providing it as a service.

Once back at the hotel and after a quick bite (at the same place Gabby and I
went to last night) a large group of people walked to the Bund for a cruise
on the Huang Pu river. It was great to be able to see a small section of the
river and be able to look at both sides of it.

After the river tour several of us made our way to the night market, which
is really knock off central. After some wandering around and only purchasing
a set of dice (to go with my mah jong sets) and a little Buddha I met up
with some of the others. There was a woman trying to sell them DVDs. John
talked to her and we followed her to her stash. Which really ended being
down several alleys and pretty soon we found ourselves standing in her
family's kitchen. Well really only Oscar and I fit in the kitchen the other
four were just outside. After much discussion we were led upstairs to where
the real stash of DVDs were. We all purchased between 10-20 each. This has
got to be my strangest China experience yet. Afterwards we headed back to
the hotel.

Back at the hotel Yachin and I both tried to pack. Yachin is leaving for her
home town of Nanning on Friday and I just wanted to see if all of my stuff
would fit in the 2 suitcases I have. I think it will all fit, the true test
will be when I pick up Kevin's coat tomorrow and if that will also fit.

Day 17 Wednesday March 15th - Shanghai

The group went to Baosteel today. It is the largest state-owned company in
China. I did not go, I was able to arrange a visit to the Nike Suzhou HJ
factory in Taichung. The GM and VGM (General Manager and Vice General
Manager) arranged for me to be picked up at 9 from the hotel. I met my
driver downstairs at 9 and proceeded on the hour drive to Taichung. Taichung
is very close to Suzhou and very close to where I was yesterday. He was
able to drive much faster, then the bus, and weave in and out of cars. I
think that the traffic lines and rules are purely taken as suggestions. I
heard that if you get in an accident it is determined on site who is at
fault and that is when you pay your fine.

Once at the factory we stopped at the security gate where I received a VIP
pass. I said xiexie (thank you) to the guard, this surprised the driver
because he turned around to me and said "Ni shuo zhongwen ma?" (You speak
Chinese?) I replied with Yidiar. My laoshi should be proud. Well not really
as I have only used a fraction of what I learned.

Sally Feng (the Export VGM) met me in the lobby and took me upstairs to
introduce me to the John Changchien (the GM) and the ASM VGM (I can't
remember his name). John and Sally gave me a nice presentation on the
factory and Feng Tai (the Taiwanese company that manages the HJ factory for
Nike). I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot. After the presentation
Sally walked me around the facilities. I saw Airbags being made, the
warehouse, shoes being made (including rubber mixing, soles, midsoles and
uppers). It was all great to see and helps to add to my perspectives on Nike
and what we do.

After the tour Sally and I visited for about a half an hour while we waited
for lunch time to roll around. We talked about Nike, Feng Tai, her time at
Feng Tai and HJ, my Chinese, her English, etc. At one point I was
"inspecting"the shoe she had on her desk when she asked if I liked Nike
shoes. I of course said yes and before I know it she has asked me my size
and is on the phone getting me a pair. This is something I completely did
not expect. Lunch was good, I think it was the "Managers" cafeteria. After
lunch Sally and I talked for another 30 minutes while I waited for the woman
who I was going to share a car with back to Shanghai, to wrap up her work.
I was a completely rude American and did not bring Sally and John "Thank
You" gifts. So once I am home I plan to pick up some Moonstruck chocoalate
and send it to them. They were very gracious hosts.

I returned to the hotel around 2:30 in the afternoon so I decided to head
out and wander around for a while. I walked down Nanjing Lu for a while and
then turned and headed towards Yueyuan (where were went the first night) and
then I turned again and headed over to Pudong. I didn't get to the ferry
to Pudong until about 4:30. I paid the 2 Yuan for the ferry ride and picked
up 3 postcards (2 Yuan each) and jumped on the ferry to Pudong. Once in
Pudong I headed to the Jinmao tower (Grand Hyatt) and rode the elevator up
to the 88th floor where I mailed my postcards from the highest post office
in the world. I was the only non-asian on the ferry, which was a little
strange, but I was pretty used to it after my afternoon of walking around
downtown Shanghai. It took several confused looks and a lot of pointing to
figure out how to get to the elevator that would take me to the top. The
first guy I asked about the post office said there was no post office, just
an observation deck and then pointed to a closed door.

Once down from the tower I headed back to the waterfront to try to find the
Bund Sightseeing tunnel, to take back across the river. It took me about 45
minutes to find it as I walked along the river rather then on a street so I
passed it. On the Shanghai side of the river you are hassled to buy
everything, but I was never hassled to buy anything on the Pudong side. I
didn't really know what to expect with the tunnel. Turns out you pay 30
RMB/Yuan to ride a little gondola like car under the river. The tunnel is
filled with fluorescent lights, weird music and a voice calling things out
like Rain Forest, Lava, etc. My guide book said to take this tunnel for
transportation purposes only and not for the 'site-seeing', I definitely
agree with this.

Yachin had left me a note saying that a group of people had gone to dinner
at a crazy seafood place, at 6:30 and she left me the address in Chinese so
that I could give it to the cab driver if I wanted to meet them there. Since
I didn't get the note until 45 minutes after she left it I decided I would
just go out and grab some dumplings. I went to the dumpling place down the
street from the hotel. I went in and asked for the English book (since I
don't know menu in Chinese). I ordered dumplings and soup. This didn't
fill me up so when I got back to the hotel I stopped in the lobby and got
ice cream and cookie like crackers. I was halfway through my ice cream when
Gabby knocked on my door to see if I wanted to go get dinner. Since I was
still very hungry I did. We went down the street from the hotel to a tiny
little place where they were starting to close up (it was 8ish by now). We
proceeded to order with pictures (us drawing them), Chinese characters
(gabby can read them because she can read Japanese) and spoken Chinese. We
ended up with some very good rice-vegatable dish, kan pao chicken and a
tomato-mushroom-egg soup. (at one point during the ordering the owner
brought out a tomato to confirm that was what we wanted in the soup.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Day 16 Tuesday March 14th - Shanghai

Yachin and slept way too late. We had to be on the bus at 8am and we woke up
at 7:30. We were able to get ready in record time and make the bus.We were
headed to Suzhou for the day. It takes about an hour to get to Suzhou from
Shanghai, distance-wise it really isn't that far but traffic is horrible
here. Once in Suzhou we visited the Garden of the Humble Administrator. This
is a very nice garden, supposedly one of the 4 nicest in all of China. Some
of the trees were starting to blossom, I bet in 1-2 weeks the place is

After the garden we had lunch with Tracy Granda who is the GM for Benchmark
in Suzhou. She is the first female GM for Benchmark and the first (maybe
still the only) female GM in the Suzhou Industrial Park. One of her Program
Managers sat at our table of 7, so we had a chance to quiz him.

After lunch we headed to the Bosideng down and clothing factory. Turns out
this factory is the largest Apparel exporter in all of China. It was great
to see the process for making clothes the cutting of the material (with a
basically jig saws, a huge machine that lays the fabric out, the sewing
room, and all of the rest --- Not to mention the down in the workers hair as
they sewed away). Not only does Bosideng manufacture for many multi national
brands like Nike, Columbia, Gap, Old Navy, etc but it also manufactures for
its own brand that is sold in China. They currently have the strategy of
moving their personal brand on to the world market. I wonder if this is
going to create a conflict of interest between itself and the other brands
it manufactures for as it will be a direct competitor of all the brands I
just listed. It will be interesting to watch.

Once back at the hotel several of us wandered to the Copyright Infringement
market which is in a shop (up stairs and behind a false door). I only picked
up a couple of DVDs. They had quite a selection of purses, coats, watches,
ties, belts etc. They will even spend the time with you to tell you which
ones are the good knock-offs and which ones are the bad ones. Once Jason,
Brooke, Gabby and Arhen and I were done here we headed out to find food.
Gabby tried to take us to a street with little food stalls but it turns out
we were too late (past 8 by now) so we found a restaurant that was closing
and got them to stay open. The food was great and the beer was cold. What
more do you want. Oh and it cost about 1.50 US each.

More Mah Jong was played tonight. I actually one a game too.

Day 15 Monday March 13th - Shanghai

It was entirely too cold this morning to run, according to Accuview weather
it was close to 26 F. There was an optional trip to the Shanghai Museum
this morning. I went. There was an exhibit of Forbidden City items that are
not displayed at the Forbidden City. It was very good. I also walked around
the rest of the museum with Oscar and saw items like Stamps, Bronze work,
pottery, porcelain, Buddha statutes, clothing ranging from all regions of
china, etc. It is amazing what the Chinese were doing at times when
Europeans were still beating each other up with Rocks.

Later in the afternoon we all boarded the bus for the US Consulate and
Commercial Service. The presentation by the commercial officer seemed a
little canned, where as the comments from the Commerical analyst were much
more real world.

Upon returning to the hotel about 15 people made a pilgrimage to what has
now become known as Patrick's Tailor. This is really an open air (covered)
market place where there are hundreds of stall set up by tailors where you
pick your pattern (either from a magazine or what is hanging up), pick your
pattern, bargain the price and then get measured. You pick up your clothes
between 2 and 5 days later. I used Jeff and Jason as my clothes models for
Kevin and ordered a wool overcoat to be made for him. Jeff made me try on a
stunning Oriental silk jacket that I then proceeded to purchase. Many thanks
to Siska for getting me a good price. I have no idea what I will wear with
this jacket or what I will wear it too, but I couldn't leave with out it.
As people finished their orders they made their way back to the hotel. This
of course included a near death experience for Vera, Jason and I when we
tried to cross the street and got whistled at by the cop to get our butts
back on the curb as traffic was barreling down the street. Once we finally
made it across the street and caught a cab yet another cop yelled at our cab
driver because he picked us up in a non-cab spot. Really this yelling is
just some stern looks, lots of waving and some whistles on their whistles.

Once back at the hotel about 18 of us went for Hot Pot. Hot Pot is two pots
of boiling soup stock (typically one spicy and one not) that you proceed to
cook meat and veggies in. The spicy broth comes with tofu and duck blood.
The duck blood is congealed and looks like tofu. 2/3 of the way through I
finally tried it. There was really no flavor. So far the exotic foods I
have eaten are bull frog (fried and stir fried) and duck blood.

Yachin, Jim and Siska taught Vera, Patrick and I how to play Mah Jong later
that night. Vera and I lost every time with both Patrick and Siska winning
twice each.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Beijing Pictures

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tokyu Pictures

Day 14 Sunday March 12th - On to Shanghai

Most of the day was spent traveling. We checked the luggage in as a group.
We were only supposed to have 1 checked bag each, we all checked about 2 so
we were seriously overweight. I think it cost everyone about 10 bucks.

Once in Shanghai we stacked all of our luggage together to be loaded on a
van while we took a bus to the hotel. After unpacking and sending my laundry
out several of us met to walk around (Gabby, Yachin, Juey, Oscar, Jason,
Matthew and John). We walked down the Bund (which is a big sidewalk along
side the Huang Pu River and then in towards Old Town. I bought a Mah Jong
set Yaching bought a bamboo scroll. The bargaining is quite fun. I get
better at it each time. We had dinner at a restaurant in Old Town. By the
time we finished it was dark and much colder then before so Oscar, Jason,
John and Juey caught a cab home and the other 4 of us walked back along the
Bund. Shanghai (downtown) is on one side of the Huang Pu River and Pu Dong
is on the other. At night all of the buildings on both sides are lit up, it
was really quite nice. This was also when more of the ��pocket�� salesman
come out, where they pull something out of their pocket to see if you want
it. They have to be pretty discreet as the police crack down on them.

Once back at the hotel I read up on Shanghai so I could figure out what I
want to see here and Yachin made some phone calls. I also worked on posting
my pics from Beijing and Tokyu.

Yachin is going to teach Vera, Gabby and I how to play Mah Jong later
tonight too.

I will post a link to the pics shortly.

Day 13 Saturday March 11th.

I slept until 10 today. Yachin and I went to lunch with Jason, Oscar and
John, down the street from the hotel. Afterwards Corey and Mehmet joined us
for the trek to the Summer Palace. We really only had a couple of hours
there so we walked up and around the ��mountain�� and then down into the
streets of Suzho. We saw the marble ship. It appears that the Empress
Dowager really was a piece of work. She spent China��s military budget on
the Summer Palace, as a tribute to the Navy she was supposed to reinforce
she had a huge marble ship build along the lake (that was also man made).
Beijing is pretty flat. There are some hills along one side it is flat. The
Empress Dowager wanted to have a lake, so a lake was built (by hand) and
built the hill that the Summer Palace is built upon.

After we walked through the Summer Palace (in no way seeing even a fraction
of it) a couple of us decided to head over to the Pearl market. I picked up
a strand of black pearls and now wish that I had bought a second set of
white ones. Alas, there is always Shanghai.

We ran into some of our fellow students at the Pearl Market so we went to
dinner with them and then came on back to the hotel.

My plan is to be in bed by 9, I just have a couple more things to pack up
and then I should make it.

Our luggage needs to be downstairs at 7:30 with us boarding the bus at 8:30
for the airport. It is only a 1.5 hour flight to Shanghai so we should be at
the hotel by 2:30.

Day 12 Friday March 10th.

This morning we had a presentation and discussion with Shelby McKean from
NarrowGate. She is Todd McKean��s wife (from earlier in the week) and is the
managing director for NarrowGate, the company they set up several years ago.

NarrowGate works with factories (small goods factories) to help them come up
with a work plan to improve their processes and environment in order to
better meet the compliance requirements of Brands and Multi-Nationals. It is
a small company (4 consultants, Shelby and Todd��s father). It was really
quite inspiring to listen to her. It gave me several ideas for paths that I
could take with my career at Nike.

My allergies are raging right now. I am sneezing a lot and on the verge of
an asthma attack all of the time. I know it is the smog and dust in the air
here in Beijing. The dust is coming from the Gobi Desert. There used to be
trees between the Gobi Desert and Beijing but they were cut down years ago
and now it is just a big dust bowl with industrial and metropolitan smog
mixed in. I finally saw the sun today, it looked a lot like some futuristic
vision of the world in 100 years.

We went shopping at Wang Fu Jing. Yachin and her friend Bing Bing negotiated
me a great deal on four Chinese prints representing the seasons. I also
picked up another English-Chinese and Chinese-English dictionary, along with
an additional carry on suitcase.

Yachin set it up so that we could all go to the Chinese Opera in the
traditional tea house setting. It was great! I bet it is even better when
can understand all of the words. Yachin did a good job of translating.

After the opera we were all standing outside the tea house waiting for cabs
to take us to the Karoke place when we were accosted by several beggars. I
was ignoring them which evidently pissed off one woman enough that she hit
me. John promptly yelled at her. Man do I wish I knew how to say ��Go to
Hell�� in Chinese. Eventually as we are all milling around trying to get a
cab a bus driver offers to take us to the Karoke place in his bus, for 100
Yuan. I can��t believe we took a bus. One of the public transit ones.

Karoke was great. They just started bringing in cases of beer. Only the
first couple of cases were cold, after that they were all room temperature.
Karoke ended at about 2 so some of us went on to ��Ho Hi�� and others went
back to the hotel. The little hole in the wall (literally) in Ho Hi was
practically closed but of course they stayed open for 7 westerners. We
finally called it a night at about 4:30. I am too old for this crap.

Day 11 Thursday March 9th.

Patrick and I met for our daily run. Both of us were pretty stiff from the
Great Wall the day before so we made it slow and short. I have had a
scratchy throat since half way through Tokyu. I think it is due to the smog
as it has not turned in to a full blown cold yet, just a scratchy throat.

This morning we listened to a talk on Leadership development in China. The
woman is an independent consultant/headhunter working here in China. She has
been here for 10 years and is from France. She has some very interesting
things to say about HR issues in China, particularly what it takes to keep
an individual and how you should go about growing them.

Afterwards we boarded a bus for Nokia in the BDA (Beijing Development Area).
The manufacturing process at Nokia (well really an assembly process) was
really quite different then that of Lenovo. Lenovo was surprisingly manual
intensive where it appeared that Nokia was not. Nokia also owns its Xingwan
Industrial Park within the BDA. It has brought in its suppliers and had them
set up shop in the park so that Nokia is able to operate with zero
inventory. The order is placed the parts arrive, the phone is assembled and
shipped out all within 24 hours.

The BDA is a special zone in South West Beijing where companies get land for
free and income tax is 15% rather than 30%.

Mitch set up dinner at the Peking Duck restaurant for everyone. Evidently
this is a very famous restaurant in China and has been in operation since
late 1800s. It was quite good and amazingly cheap. I think the beer was 5
Yuan each (Much larger then ours at home) and dinner came out to be 23 Yuan
Jeff, Jim, Patrick and I all came back to the hotel (while many others went
out for beer) and got 11 US dollar massages at a hair salon down the street.
It was fun to try to talk to the girls in Chinese. Our broken Chinese and
their broken English.

Halfway through the massage I called off the run for the following morning.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Day 10 Wednesday March 8th

I slept until almost 9, which means I got 10 hours of sleep the longest yet.
I really needed it to, as I had been running on about 6 every night and that
is just not sustainable for me.

By 9:30 we were off for the Great Wall. We went to the Wall at Badaling
which is about 1 hour north west of Beijing. We stopped at the Friendship
store on the way which is evidently very famous and should have reasonable
prices. The prices were really what you would pay in the US. I didn��t buy
anything as I am told I can get all that I will want from Wang Fu Jing and
be able to bargain the price down to practically nothing. We had lunch here
and then continued on to the wall.

Several of us made a big loop on the wall. It is wider than I thought after
several people told me that it is small. Some of the steps are extremely
steep and then there are places where they should have put steps in but
didn��t and it is so steep you slide down. Good thing for the updated hand
rails. Oh yea there are also several camels and horses that you can get your
picture taken on. At the end of our loop there was a roller coaster and what
we thought were Sun bears. I paid 5 Yuan (less then a US dollar) so we could
feed them apples. That was fun. Although you had to get them right in their
mouth or they wouldn��t take it.

Kevin told me that they used to be able to march soliders two abreast on the
wall. I don��t think that would have been a problem at all. I can��t imagine
having to run up and down it. The story is that this huge undertaking was
done to keep the Mongols out by one of the first dynasties and swore to
defend it to the death. Well the Mongols had a better idea and bribed the
gate keeper who let them in and they proceeded to conquer the Chinese. Now
there is an HR issue.

We went to the Chinese Acrobat show once we returned to Beijing from the
Great Wall. It was amazing. These kids couldn��t have been more then 14 at
the oldest. They were like Cirque du Soleil in training. Sully went and
talked to the owner and got them to get Jason up on stage so that we could
sing happy birthday too him. He

Day 9: Tuesday March 7th.

Patrick and I met for a run at 7am. We went a different way out of the
hotel. It was a much faster run then the day before. I was craving a fast
run and I needed. Now to just get a long hard one it. I don��t really expect
that to happen here, maybe in Shanghai or Hong Kong. On the run we talked
about the differences between Beijing and Tokyu. I commented that it
appeared that Beijing was quite as advanced as Tokyu. Patrick made the
analogy of Tokyu and Japan are refined while Beijing and China are more
rough. Now that I have spent more time in Beijing and seen different sides
of it (granted I still haven��t seen enough to make a true statement) I
think that a blanket statement like ��Beijing or China are Rough�� can��t
really be made. The vast range of income, lifestyles and social-economic
backgrounds is so large that one statement does not fit it all.

After breakfast several of us headed to Tiananmen Square or Tian��anmen
GuGong. I don��t really know how to describe it other then surreal. To
think of the history of the square, both in the more recent past and as far
back as the emperors. It all blows my mind. We walked across the square to
the Forbidden City and made our way in side. They are doing renovation work
on both the Forbidden City and on the two free standing gates at Tiananmen
Square (The gate of Heavenly Peace and another that I don��t remember the
name of).

We took about 2 hours to walk through the city. There is no way that we saw
it all. You just have to look at the pics to get any sort of idea for it. We
exited out the back after ending in the garden. Yachin, Kelly and I caught a
cab to the Tea House where we are going to go to the Opera on Friday. Yachin
had to pay for the tickets up front. We also had lunch there and then
hurriedly caught a cab back to the hotel to make it in time for the 2
lectures. The first lecture was from a lawyer that has been in Japan, China
and Hong Kong for the last 18 years. He had some great things to say. He
also recommended several books I now want to read one of which is ��600
billion Customers��

The second speaker was Todd McKean who has been in and out of China for the
last 20 years. He originally worked for Nike as the Retail manager here in
China and then later as the labor compliance director both in China and
globally. He also started a consulting firm called NarrowGate, based here in
Beijing that focuses on helping factories make the necessary changes to meet
their audit deficiencies as according to labor practices. Todd is now the
General Manger for Trek Bikes here in China. He had some very interesting
things to say both China, Nike and Trek. Sully asked if I would go to dinner
with him and several other students, I gladly said yes. We really didn��t
let the poor guy eat as we picked his brain for the entire 2 hours.

I returned to the hotel around 8:30. I worked on my blog for a couple of
hours and tried to get a hold of Kevin at 10:30 my time (6:30 am his time).
No luck so I went to bed.

Patrick and I had decided not to run the following day as we were headed to
the Great Wall.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Day 8: Monday March 6th.

I met Patrick and Brooke for a run around 7:30. Supposedly our hotel is a 4
star hotel. It does have many facilities, but seems a little run down and
dingy. Yaqin said maybe it is a 4 start by China��s standards, not by the
US��. It really needs a good cleaning��ie the walls and carpets. We got in
last night around 11:00. Our luggage didn��t show up until about 12.

Patrick went out for dinner at 12 and didn��t get back until 2ish. So he was
still a sleep when Brooke and I called him to see if he was going to go
running with us. He got his butt out of bed and went. We ran very slowly. We
headed towards the Temple of Heaven. I even go to ask directions in Chinese.
The crossing guard just pointed. Evidently we didn��t quite make it to the
Temple of Heaven. We ran around the outside of what we thought was Tiantan
(Temple of Heaven). Turns out it was really Longtan park and lake. It took
us about 50 minutes total (very slow run for Brooke��s sake). We saw Tai
Chi and old women ballroom dancing. China is definitely different then
Japan. It smells like a construction site, which can be explained by all of
the construction going on for the upcoming Olympics in 2008. Hutongs (old
traditional neighborhoods) and other buildings are being torn down to be
replaced by brand new buildings every where you turn. The traffic is
constant. I have also never seen so many bikes.

I heard from someone that although the exchange rate between the US dollar
and the Chinese RMB is approximately 8RMB to 1US, the buying power of 1RMB
is the same as that of 1US. I guess I kind of believe this. Although so far
I have really only purchased food.

Breakfast in the hotel was ok, nothing super special. We toured Lenovo and
listened to a manger from there. He was very passionate about Lenovo, China
and the potential of both. He had an interesting background which included
work as a diplomat and employee of Motorola and the Chinese government.
Lenovo recently purchased the PC brand of IBM. Their manufacturing
facilities here in Beijing included a lot of manual labor. A single line
manufactures all desktops that customers order varying by components.

For dinner John Lee set up a reservation at A Fun Ti. A middle eastern
inspired restaurant that has become something of a tradition for the MIM
program. The food was very good. We were entertained by belly dancing, a
snake and a little bit of martial arts. After much alcohol all of the
restaurant guests end up dancing on the stage and on the tables. Yes, we all
did it. Even Sully and Jeff. I have some priceless photos!

At about 10pm the lights came on and we all left the restaurant. Many
students were going to go on to Ho Hi (a local bar district). I decided to
head back to the hotel and get some much needed sleep. I was out by 11: 15.

Day 7: Sunday March 5th.

Sunday morning I met several people in the lobby to go to a flea market near
the Meiji shrine. Evidently this particular market only happens on the 1st
Sunday of every month. It was a beautiful day. Up until Saturday we had
cold, windy dreary days. Both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful. At the
flea market I negotiated for a Japanese abacus and purchased a Sake set
(blue porcelain) for about a $1 a piece. I got 2 bottles and 4 cups. I later
broke one of the bottles so I am glad I bought 2. The flea market is right
next to a shrine where we saw a photo shoot for a traditional wedding. Kelly
and I got some pictures with the one of the Shinto priests and I got a
picture of 3 older ladies in traditional Kimonos.

We walked to the Japanese Bazaar store. This store was amazingly reasonably
priced. I bought 4 Japanese prints that I will frame when I get home. Man
do I wish there was a inexpensive way to get furniture shipped home, I saw
some antiques I really liked. As it turns out the street the store is on is
one of the streets that Patrick and I had ran down earlier.

We headed back to the hotel where I met Vera and Yachin for lunch in the
Food Show. I bought some tea and headed back to the hotel to drag my 70lb
bag to the lobby. We left for the airport around 1pm.

At the Narita airport your checked bag goes through security even before you
check in at the ticket counter. Once you are checked in you then go through
Passport control and then security. The Narita airport really doesn��t have
very much to offer in the way of food in the International concourse. I
worked on my posts while we killed the 2 hours before our flight.

I really enjoyed Japan. I want to bring Kevin back and see all of things I
didn��t get to see. I didn��t get a chance to see Kabuki (Japanese Theater)
or to Ginza. There are so many areas to explore that a few partial days can
in no way cover it.

Day 6: Saturday March 4th

I met Saori and several others in the lobby of the hotel at 6:30 to go to
the fish market. The Tsukiji fish market is the largest fish market in the
world. It serves 12 million people a day with 4000 tons a seafood worth
around 3,000,000,000 Yen. That is about 30,000,000 US. This place has
anything you could possibly want from the sea. We missed the auctioning
(which happens around 5am). Instead we walked up and down the aisle, which
like everything in Tokyu is very cramped. I saw whale, whole blue fin tuna,
what looked like snake, eel, HUGE scallops, to name a few. You really have
to check out the pics of this one.

After return from the market I grabbed a chai from the Starbucks that was
across the street from the hotel. Evidently this is Starbucks most
profitable store. Both times that I went in it was not really packed, at
least at the counter. But then there is a large seating area on the second
floor. I bet the seating area is busy as Japanese do not eat or drink on the
street. I grabbed my chai and returned to the hotel to meet up with the
group headed to Hakone. I was the only one on a very busy intersection to
have a cup of coffee in my hand.

About 14 of us met to make the day trip to Hakone. Hakone is a area of Japan
that is about 70km west of Tokyu. To get there you have to take a 2 hour
train. Once in Hakone you can take a bus to Lake Ashino-ko. This is
Japan��s Crater Lake. Apparently on clear days you can see Mt. Fuji. I did
get a shot of Mt Fuji from the train while on our way to Hakone but by the
time that we got to Lake Ashino-ko it had become overcast and you could no
longer see it. We ate lunch in Hakone and then got on a very cheesy pirate
ship/ferry to travel to Owakudani. On the side of Lake Ashino-ko you can see
a red gate (in my pics) rising out of the water. Evidently this is the gate
to a local shrine. In Owakudani we transferred to a gondola where we
traveled up to Togendai. Togendai is where you can see the sulphorus water
from the active volcano. Once here we rode another gondola to a cable car
somewhere above Hakone. The cable returned us to the original station we
arrived in by train. By this time it was 5:30pm. We had arrived at this
station around 10:45am. We walked up the street a little ways and found an
onsen or hot spring. We relaxed in the hot water for about an hour and the
rapidly dressed to meet the last train that was leaving in 12 minutes. We
were all pretty much zombies on the train home. It had been a very long day
of travel. Totally worth it!

Once back in Tokyo, 8 of the 14 wandered around Shibuya looking for a place
to eat. Half ended up at a burger joint (I think they mainly sold shrimp
burgers) and the other 4 ended up at a 100 Yen sushi joint. Yes, that is $1.
It was good, not great but good. Vera, Jeff & Kelly and I then walked past a
restaurant serving dessert on our way back to the hotel from the sushi. We
decided we could use a drink and dessert. We talked about the MIM program,
faculty and fellow students. Afterwards we went on to the hotel.

I slept like a rock!

Day 5: Friday March 3rd.

Patrick and I got up to run at about 6. Corey joined us. They let me set the
pace, and yes it was slower. We headed off to the park with the Meiji
shrine. Somewhere along the way I got hot so I took off my jacket and tied
it around my waist. Pretty soon we approached a bike along side the road. I
caught it with my jacket and it was flung around behind me. Right into
Patrick's knee. There was a Japanese man walking along beside us (we were
passing him). He cracked up laughing! We continued on to the park and ran a
loop through the park trying to find the shrine. Corey stopped to ask a
Japanese man if he knew where the shrine was. Of course he didn't speak
English so we went on. Pretty soon we came upon a westerner and asked him.
He pointed us towards the gate and said to go out the gate and to the left.
The security guard wouldn't let us run in the park with the shrine ("No
Sports"). So we walked in to the shrine and looked around and then came
out. I asked Patrick if he had more clothes for running in Beijing. (He only
brought a t-shirt and shorts). He didn't but said he was planning on
purchasing more in China. He asked me if I would rather he bought
"knock-off" Nike's or Adidas. I said Nike, as long as it was spelled
correctly and the swoosh was right. At least then he is sporting the right

We had a very good lecture by a Japanese economist that has studied in both
Japan and the US along with working in both countries. He gave us a full
spectrum view the Japanese economy from World War II until now.

For lunch, Yachin and I went to the "Food Show" underneath the hotel and
in the subay station. It really is a HUGE food market. We took the food back
to the hotel and quickly ate it before taking off for Kamakura. Some where
along the way we lost half of the group. I followed Saori and some full
timers to Kamakura. Kamakura is both a town and a giant Buddha. Kamakura is
about an hour from Tokyu. The actual bronze statue was built in 1242. I
have pictures on shutterfly that I will post a link to later. After the
Buddha we walked up to a shrine and temple. Words don't do it justice, you
will have to look at the pics. The shrine was up on a hillside/cliff. You
can see the pacific ocean, extremely old temples and walk though a tunnel
that was carved out by the ocean. All very cool.

We ate dinner in this tiny little town (evidently many Japanese have second
homes here). We ate at another Oknomayaki place. I thought I knew how to
cook it from my previous experience the night before. So I start to dump the
stuff on the grill and the owner comes over and yells at me and puts it back
in the bowl and then proceeds to cook it a different way. In case I didn't
say before, Oknomayaki is a Japanese pancake with vegetables and meat. I had
Yakisoba, which the woman didn't even bring to the table to let me try to
cook it. I guess I can't feel too bad Saori did it wrong too.

We browsed through the 100 Yen ($1) store by the station while we waited for
our train. I got some chopsticks and white chocolate and strawberry kitkats.

On the way home we evidently got on the wrong train and ended up 1 JR (Japan
Railways) stop past where we wanted to go. So we had to get off and get on
another train to go back to our subway stop and then ride the subway to the
hotel. Bless Saori's heart, she was a very gracious guide while we were in

Once back at the hotel I promptly fell a sleep.

Day 4: Thursday March 2.

Since I was out until 2am the night before I slept until 8. We all rounded
up to head to Asahi brewery. Asahi tastes a lot like Bud Light. I am sure
that is not what they wanted to hear. We couldn't figure out what "Super
Dry"is, when we asked the QA manager at the brewery he said "Super Dry"
is "Super Dry". The brewery is spotless. It is about 70 km outside of
Tokyu and it took about 2 hours to get there. We didn't actually see
anyone working other then the tour guides. I think they built the building
specifically for tours as there were long hallways with nothing in them but
"touristy" stuff; barley to sniff, hops to sniff, a little video to watch.
Cool. The actual line was down for cleaning. They showed us a video at the
viewpoint for the line so you could get a sense of it, but I am sure it is
not the same.

Once back in Tokyo we decided to go to dinner in Tjshimana. It really is fun
to figure out what subway line to ride and which stops to get off of. Tokyu
has a very convoluted subway system with multiple lines and multiple layers.
We found the Onomayaki place that Patrick had been to before. Onomayaki is
a type of Japanese food that is cooked on a griddle on the table. It is cut
up meat and vegetables that are chopped up and 'grilled' and then made
into a pancake. The first one the waiter graciously made for us, the second
one we made (poorly but still tasty). The desert was excellent! It was a
think crepe like pancake with either sweetened bean paste or apricots. Very
tasty! There were 9 of us that went that night. They couldn't seat us all
together so we split up. We were the only westerners in the restaurant,
really the only westerners on the street. The four boys (Corey, Jason, Jim
& Mehmet) sat together. They just happened to have 7 girls sitting next to
them. One of the ladies spoke English so she helped them order. Afterwards
she came over and helped us order. At one point the 4 guys broke out the
phrase book and the Japanese girls start looking in the "romance" section.
We heard something about "I'm hot" and just cracked up laughing. After
dinner we ran into Jeff, Kelly, Mo & Siska.

Corey started asking if the Japanese girls knew of UPS and showed them his
UPS ID. They didn't, so he asked about DHL, still didn't know it. When he
asked about Fedex they knew it. They showed the girls Jim's Columbia id,
they new of that and they knew of Intel. He came over and asked if we had
anything with our work logo on it. I handed him my Nike badge. When he
showed that to them they erupted in giggles and applause. I them gave them
my business cards which they then proceeded to enter in to their cell
phones. I am expecting a call from a non-English speaking Japanese on my
office phone any moment. The girl who spoke English very happily said that
she had 4 pairs of Nikes, clothes and a bag. Yachin got up and went over to
ask what they thought of Nike and whether they like to buy it. They
enthusiastically said that they did.

We ended up buying the wrong subway tickets so the Subway conductor sent us
a different direction back to the hotel. We successfully made it around
10pm. Can I just say, Skype is awesome! I called Kevin and afterwards
promptly fell asleep.

Day 3 Wednesday March 1st.

I got up and ran with Patrick at 7. We wandered over towards the park with
the Meiji shrine in it and then headed over to the National stadium and back
to the hotel. It was about 40 minutes. It was amazing the difference at
night and in the early morning. I think the Japanese business day starts
around 9, which would explain why at 7am we got some extremely funny looks
and the streets were empty. We only saw one other runner and he was a
foreigner too.

After a "western breakfast" we all jumped on a bus and headed to Nissan's UD
(Ultimate Dependability trucks) factory. To go 30 km it takes 1.5 hours.
Traffic is that bad h ere. But then when you think about the fact that there
are 1.2 billion people living on a land mass the size of Japan, which is
mostly mountains and unlivable it begins to make sense. I think that our
guide said there were 12 million people living in Tokyu.

It was interesting to be able to compare the Nissan plant to the
Freightliner plant in Portland. Some similarities and some differences. More
on that later.

We returned to the hotel around 5 and then went out for dinner which was an
all you can drink place. Almost everybody went from sober to drunk in a
matter of minutes. The food was good and so was the Sake and Sochu. Later
once everyone was drunk (and much laughing) we went out for Karoke. Vera
agreed that we would get our horrible singing out of the way and agreed to
sing together. I have some priceless video of Corey rockin�� out while
extremely drunk. Vera and I sang Lady Marmalade��horribly but very proudly.
After several hours (and becoming horse). Several of us decided to head
back to the hotel (around 2am). I can now say that I have done Karoke��in

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day 2 Tuesday Feb 29th

Breakfast at the hotel is included in our room charge, so Yachin and I had the Japanese style. It was good, I particularly liked the rice porridge and ginger stuff along with the little floral herb...

We had 3 different "lecture" sessions at a nearby hotel. The first was the former president and CEO of DoCoMo a cell phone company here in Japan. He has some very interesting things to say, particularly that he listened to what his employees had to say regarding new ideas about cell phones and service. He also felt very strongly about the voice of the customer. He mentioned that the 4 keys to success are information, knowldege and the ablity to challenge the status quo.

Several of us had lunch in a little "hole in the wall/ground" mom and pop place. It was great food. Gabby helped us out on the ordering. The look on the women's face when she figured out there were going to be 10 of us was priceless.

The next session was three ex pats and there experience. This was a really good session and am very pleased that Jeff & Sully were able to get them.

The last guy to speak was from Bridgestone....we learned more about tires then I think any of us ever wanted to know. He did have some good tidbits about an almost unsolicted takeover of Firestone in America...they did buy them out, just not very nicely.

As for Shibuya/Tokyu/Japan. I can't believe how many people are in this city. And they all seem very polite and forgiving over our blunders, particularly as we walk down the wrong side of the street or stand on the wrong side of the escalator.

Oscar, Jason and Yachin and I tagged along with Gabby to a noodle place for dinner. The 10 of us (there always seems to be 10 of us). It was such a great experience. Afterwards the 4 of us attempted to go Tokyu Tower. We thought we had it figured out which way to go. I walk up to the kiosk to buy a ticket. Of course I can't read it so I just start poking buttons on the machine. The secuirity guard came over and asked me where I wanted to go. I told him and he took me to a different machine and showed me how to use it. We got our tickets and headed to the actual train. We thought we were headed the right direction, ends up we got on a line headed in the oppsite direction and an express. The Japanese line up in two lines at each door. When the door opens they all step to the outside to let the passengers off and then rush on. This line was so full we decided that if one of us made it one we all had to go. It was as crowded as everyone says they are. No one was talking and I was laughing so hard I was crying. I don't really know at what, maybe the whole experience. People were reading, sleeping (yes while standing) and playing video games. I was waiting to be groped but it didn't happen. I had heard so much about it I just figured it would happen. It didn't. We got off two stops later, thinking were in the right place. Turns out we weren't. Some how we figured out we went the wrong way. We got on the oppisite train and headed back to Shibuya. This time it took 4 stops to get back to where we started. (and an hour later). We then made it to Tokyu Tower with out any other problems.

Along the way somewhere Oscar picked up a warm chocolate milk drink. It was tasty. We all had to try it. As we walked to the tower we passed a grocery store so we went in and wandered around looking at all of the stuff. Jason got a beer to drink on the way. The Japanese do not eat on the street and they really don't drink anything on the street. But it was late and there was no one around. We walked around the base of the tower and then headed home. I picked up milk tea drink (warm) and drank it on the way home. I really got some strange looks on the subway...probably because of the drinking in public thing. I don't know how Starbucks does here with that problem.

Finally made it home and crashed at 11. I delayed the next morning's run with Patrick from 5 to 7.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Day 1 - Feb 27 and 28 A Long Flight

So far my whirlwind tour involves a suitcase that is too heavy, not enough sleep and a very long plane ride.

The flight from PDX to SFO was relatively uneventful. I had a window and the center seat was empty so I was able to stretch out a little. Particularly nice knowing what I had to look forward on the next flight.

We were welcomed to PDX with a very long line at the United counter, but then when you are traveling with 50 of your closest friends, you really make your own long line. I knew my suitcase was going to be heavy, I guess I didn't know just how heavy. It is a good thing the International limit is 70 lbs as I was at 75. I removed a couple (five to be exact) of books and he let me slip by with 71. It was heart wrenching, but I cut my totalk number of books down from 8 regular and 9 travel to 6 regular and 8 travel. I sent the others home with Kevin. I had to have 2 travel books for each city, and so far I have used both that I brought for Japan. I am about to finish Anna Karenina so the 5 others will definately come in handy as I am not done with the long bouts of sitting in a seat for hours. Plus I loaned out a couple when people realized they had checked their books and had nothing to read for the flight to Tokyu.

The flight was 11 hours I think, including an hour on the runway at SFO. I slept a little while we waited on the tarmac. I asked for a window seat, which I got, but I was at the back of the plane so there was a space between the window and I, which meant I couldn't lean against it. I hate sleeping like that. They seated most of us together in one section in the back of the plane. I feel sorry for anyone who was not part of our group who was seated with us. The guy next to me was traveling home to Australia via Tokyu. Poor guy had to listen to everyone's talking and beer drinking. At one point it was utter chaos. People are wandering around, we are some where over the pacific and it looks like we are flying over a storm, the plane is bouncing around, someone is getting a bag down. I peek my head up and look around to see the flight attendent sitting in her jump seat waving her hand to have everyone sit down (due to turbulence) and very quietly saying "Sit Down". The guy who was helping someone get her bag down almost dropped it on someone else's head and several people were making laps with beers in hand. Utter chaos. I put my head back down and try to read more. I think I read about 400 pages. We were in a newer 747 so I had my own little tv screen with remote. I couldn't get the remote out of the arm and it didn't seem to work anyway. I couldn't turn the screen on or turn the light with it. No no movies for me. I read by the light coming in the window (after they dimmed the cabin lights in an attempt to get everyone to sleep. There was no personal adjustable vent either so I roasted the entire time.

Customs at Narita was a breeze. We hopped on two buses and headed to the hotel (1 hour 30 minutes). I was glad they got two buses (we probably could have squeezed on to one but we were all exhausted (it was about 3 am PST by the time we got to the hotel).

Several of us tagged along with Saori and Gabby (Saori is Japanese and Gabby is pretty much fluent) for dinner. We tried to go to a noodle place Saori remembered but it ended up being bankrupt and closed. So we went across the street to a "posh" bar for appetizers and a much needed beer.

More later.