October 22nd, 2008

People to People Technical Communications Professional Delegation to China—Day 3

I woke up at 2:00 after 4.5 hours of sleep. I got up for about a half hour as I wasn't falling right back to sleep. Once I lay back down, I slept until about 6:30. I had the most vivid dreams at some point during the night—not exactly sure if they were during the first hours of sleep or the latter hours.

Two of the dreams where about having gone back to the U.S. to attend a local STC meeting, and then realizing when I was back there, that I was supposed to be in China. I panicked wondering how I was going to be able to get a flight back the same or next day, and how incredibly expensive it was going to be.

The first time I dreamed it, it was so real that when I woke up I was so overwhelmingly relieved to already be in China. When I feel asleep again, and it started happening again, I actually said to myself, in the dream, "I know this seems so real, but I know I'm just dreaming. Wake up."

I have been able to do this in the past with dreams that are so scary that I want to wake up from them. However, it did not work this time, so once again, when I woke up I was incredibly relieved that it was a dream. Weird.

One of the first things I did this morning was to spray, a very small amount fortunately, some hand sanitizer into my mouth instead of the Zicam I had with me for my cold.

Breakfast this morning was a complimentary buffet, as it will be each morning we're here at the Swissotel in Beijing. I overate, and I overate bad things—way too many carbs. It was all good, though, and I hope to make better choices the next two mornings. We'll see.

There were two incredibly hot men in the area of my table, both Swedes or somewhere of that origin, so not dark-haired and hairy like I'm usually attracted to. They both had on jeans that made me think of the lyrics from that country song Badonkadonk: "Lawd have mercy how'd she even get those britches on?"

I had good mornings from Paula and Kathy, and then Linda stopped by my table to tell me that people are having a hard time accessing livejournal.com (for our group blog), which stressed me out. Nothing could be worse than having recommended a blog provider, and then it not work. Especially since the blog provider Linda wanted to use was blogger.com and she said she had no problem posting to her personal blog on it.

I may have to break down and pay $14 to access the Internet in this hotel, and see if I have any problems posting. Grrrrr.

We had an "In-Country Briefing" this morning from 9:00-11:00, in which we were filled in on what to expect throughout our entire trip. Alexia took a couple of pictures, since she was our blogger for today.

Shawn introduced "Richard" who will be the guide for the guests in their touring while we're in meetings. We covered how to say hello and good morning.

The rest of the briefings covered the following topics. I've put the details behind a cut. Click on them if you're interested in reading them.

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After this briefing, some of the delegates helped Linda dole out the many gifts brought by everyone. We put them in separate bags in order to facilitate presenting them to the various groups with whom we'll be meeting over the next 10 days or so. I, "Mr. Organized" himself, forgot to pack my gifts.

At 11:30, our group left for an afternoon of shopping and sightseeing. On the way to our first stop, Richard, our local tour guide for Beijing:

pointed out various venues from the recent 2008 Olympics.

Here's a shot of some of the housing used for the athletes. You can still see the Aussie flag left in one of the windows in the upper right-hand corner of the photo.

Upon arrival at the Dayi Friendship Store & Restaurant, which is government run:

We first toured the Cloisonne Factory inside,

where we watched workers hand make the various cloisonne products available for purchase in the retail section of the building.

After the factory tour, but before shopping in the retail area, we had a very filling lunch in the restaurant, also on site here. Our delegation of 20 sat around two large round tables, with a lazy Susan in the middle, and a family-style lunch ensued, with the following menu:

After an hour's worth of shopping time, we boarded the bus and headed to our second, and final, stop of the day, the Great Wall of China. Here I am at the entrance:

It was quite foggy (mixed with pollution) today, and this is about a good a distance picture of the wall that I was able to get:

The steps were incredibly steep, and the path very long to get to the very top turrets, and only a few of our delegation did it. At one point, there was a young couple in front of me, the lady of which was in these totally non-sensible shoes for such an occasion was stopping every 10 or 15 steps, obviously struggling through the climb.

There were just a couple of picture-worthy signs along the way, my favorite of which was:

Coming down went much more smoothly, and quickly, than going up. Here's a shot of the four members in our delegation with whom I walked down from the top with (along the wall from top to bottom): Debbie Davy, her son Konrad, Kirsten, and her mother Jeanne.

We left The Wall at 4:30, and as we got on our way, Shawn handed each of us a gift-a certificate stating that we had climbed The Great Wall, signed by himself and our delegation leader, Linda Oestreich.

We had about an hour ride back to the hotel, and upon arrival I think most of the delegation agreed to meet at 7:00 for dinner, which was on our own tonight. Shawng had recommended a very nice restaurant right behind our hotel, but I really wasn't hungry (an absolute rarity, of which I decided to take advantage), so I bowed out for the evening.

Back in my room, I uploaded the day's pictures and worked on my blog a little before taking a break and falling asleep for about an hour. When I woke up, I finished this blog entry, including re-sizing the photos for this entry, and then I rehearsed my presentation, which I'll deliver tomorrow morning at our first professional visit. I'll be very relieved when it's done. Have I mentioned that I hate presenting?

I went to bed at about 1:30AM.