Our second day in Beijing was extremely tiring. We all woke up at 5AM, but it felt like 5PM because we were extremely jetlagged. Some of us decided to explore our area a little for breakfast. My friends Linda and Tierra came with me to a bakery around the corner from Bei Way to get some breakfast. We decided to try a "iced latte", and some type of pastry with fruit. The pastry was good, but the iced latte was not what we expected. It was OK, but not what we are accustomed to from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. After breakfast we got on our bus and drove through the "rings" of Beijing to reach our destination. Beijing has these "traffic rings" that are literally circles going through the entire city. Imagine 5 large rings surrounding a city, and that is what it is. The outer rings are where we stayed, and the inner rings are deeper into the city, such as where the Birds Nest is (where the Olympic Games were held in 2008).
We went on two "business" trips. Our first stop, was the United States Embassy, in Beijing. The embassy was really cool. It was extremely strict as far as security. We weren't allowed to take pictures on the grounds. When we went inside the Embassy, our electronic devices were taken by security, as well as our passports. One of our professors "secretly" snapped a picture of the Embassy building when we were on our way out. :)
Two people at the Embassy lectured us about the government and economy of China. Andrew Billiard and Irv Messinghe were our presenters. Billiard is in expat working in China, originally from the United States, as well as Messinghe. During this lecture we were given with great detail the intricacies and processes of the Chinese government and economics. Billiard told us we would see any 'shanty" towns in China. This was only our second day in China, and we were all wondering what he was talking about. Billiard explained to us that shanty towns meant areas of China where homeless were living in filth with no resources. During the lecture, I had to agree with Billiard. From the ride to the airport to our dorm rooms at Bei Way, I didn't really see any homeless people grouped together in a "shanty' town. China's government is trying very hard to keep the urbanization and development at a steady pace in which everyone can keep up, to insure that these shanty towns do not develop. From that statement, you can clearly see the communistic views of China. I do agree with the Chinese government in this case. If you want to better the entire country, you cannot grow rapidly. The growth must maintain a steady pace, in which the middle class can keep up with
The remainder of the lecture describes how China is becoming more modern. We Americans still view China as a third world country, struggling to keep up. Yes, the western side of mainland China is very much that view, but the east coast is almost similar to New York City. I remember during my prerequisite course before my trip to China, my professor said, "You are going to wake up in Beijing and feel like you are in New York City". Don't get me wrong, Beijing is not all Broadway and flashing lights, BUT Beijing was urbanized and developed. However, some major aspects Beijing lacks in are sewage systems and air filtration. The toilets in our dorm room were very hard to flush, there were actually signs that told us to dispose of our toilet paper in the trash cans. That took a little while for us to get used to! Also, we learned very quickly that everywhere you go in China, you need to take toilet paper with you, as none is provided in bathroom stalls, like here in the US. In addition, we finally got to see the "American" view of the Chinese bathroom. A "hole" in the floor as a toilet. Don't get me wrong, yes it's a hole, but it really is a toilet sunken into the ground. The second aspect Beijing still needs to work on is the air quality. I understand that Beijing is a huge city, occupied by 20 million people..but there has to be a way to implement recycling and other eco-friendly processes to create better air for its people. My entire group felt the side affects from the bad air: trouble breathing, stuffy noses and headaches.
After we left the Embassy, we headed to lunch near our dorm rooms in Bei Way. Typical Americans, we opted for a place that served "pizza" and free beer. We were in for a treat. The place we went to was called Stairway to Heaven. We were seated in a small room with couches and a large table to eat on. We all ordered pizza. To our dismay, the pizza was actually really tasty. The beer was also good. We got a huge mug of Beijing Beer, and we really enjoyed it. We also were given about 3 bottles of Corona each. We couldn't believe that our waitress just kept bringing out all of this beer. At the end of our meal, we were totally in shock over the price. For one personal pizza the mug of beer and 3 Coronas, it only cost me about 8 US dollars. We were even more shocked when we left our waitress a tip, and she came chasing us out of the restaurant telling us we gave her too much money. We then learned from our tour guide Karlis, that normally tips are not expected in China.
After lunch, we hopped back on our bus and went to Ingenta Publishing Technology. Ingenta is a publishing company that works with companies to produce published material. From Ingenta's website, they describe themself as a "Publishing Technology to serve the international publishing world, academic/scholarly and trade, books and journals, digital and print. We (Ingenta) offer a complete service from the point of content acquisition through to consumer delivery. In the fast paced digital world, our services are designed with tomorrow’s market in mind. Supply chain to social networking, scholarly research to semantic web, Publishing Technology provides practical and accessible solutions and does the hard work for you. Our brand heritage speaks for itself, combined with our future proof new products we will work in partnership across the publishing industry to deliver your business success."
While at Ingenta we had the opportunity to speak with the CEO, Henan Sun. Ms. Sun explained to us her personal life, how she got involved in the publishing world, and how to start a joint venture business in China. She told us that she attended University in London, and studied publishing as well as computer technology. She said that he degree with computers has been one of the most beneficial aspects to her career. Everyone in my group was stunned by her capability to speak English. She attened college in London, so her English had the British accent. I found Ms. Sun to be extremely intelligent. She has two college degrees and is currently working towards her Masters degree, all while being a CEO of Ingenta, a mother, wife, and also a professor at a nearby University in Beijing.
Ms. Sun also talked about the possibilties of starting a joint venture business in China. In order to start a joint venture business in China, you must have a Chinese company. Additionally, to start a business in China, you need to be a Chinese citizen. Ms. Sun said it is very easy to start a business in China, similar to the United States, you send in papers similiar to US's "Articles of Incorporation" as well as other official documents. I learned a great deal about doing business in China from the time we spent at Ingenta with Ms. Sun and some of her staff. I greatly appreciated the time they took out of their day to meet with us.
When we got back to our dorms that day, we were extremely tired. We were literally running on fumes. I think all of us passed out on the bus from Ingenta back to the dorms. It was a nice 1.5 hour nap. One thing we got used to was napping on the bus. Since there is so much traffic at every hour in Beijing, we had long bus rides which turned into great nap opportunities!
Our group at Ingenta, with Ms. Sun.
Ingenta's company logo in their Beijing office.
My lunch group enjoying our lunch at Stairway To Heaven.