August 2008

After two weeks of frustration, I’ve purchased a new camera. It seemed a waste to miss out on all the amazing sights and the little dude just wasn’t cutting the mustard. Picked up a nice Nikon D80 and an 8G card. Battery lasts forever and it holds about 450 shots at 10Meg each. Rock and freakin roll! The first set of results are HERE. Attempted several time laps shots among other things. You can also see our Chinese cadets trying Mexican food for the first time, as well as our latest meal. (And some people actually thought we were going to starve! I’m telling you… goose liver sauce is the bomb!!!)

We’re planning a trip to Nanjing this weekend, so I probably acquired the new photo rig just in time. No dead battery an hour into the trip this time!

Everything is going very well. It’s still hot as hell, but I’m slowly getting used to it. I don’t start sweating the second I turn off the shower anymore. Will update again after Nanjing unless something interesting happens!


This place is amazing. Jet lag is pretty much gone, although I do have some odd days when for no apparent reason I’m wide awake at 5am. I’ve seen so much and have gotten so far behind on my updates here. I guess there’s just been too much to do! So that being said, here is a quick summary for the main categories of my life in China.


The people at the company we are here to work with are amazing. Everyone here treats us very well. Our meetings are very productive and I think they are learning as much from us as we are from them. We attended the celebration for the raising of the first pillar for the new plant. They had lots of fireworks of course. You can find pictures from that event in the gallery. We’ve gone to eat with several of the guys from here as well. Dinner is always a good time!


I’ve gotten pretty good at getting around. I walk more than I ever have. Not because I have to but because sometimes it’s just easier. I’ve gotten really good at running the taxi as well. Did my first EMT service the other day when a girl on a scooter got hit by a car. I rolled up and there was an english speaker who also spoke good Chinese. I asked if she was an EMT and she said no. I did a quick assessment and determined that without a doubt that she had a broken leg. Said she didn’t hit her head. Leg was not compound, but deformed. They informed me that it couldn’t be broken because she stood up once. I told them not to let her do that again. Emergency medical care here would make any U.S. EMT cringe. Have a friend named Thomas who has been very kind about teaching me some survival skills. Got propositioned by several hookers. Tried a million different kinds of food. Had Burger King in Shanghai! I’m going to buy a new camera soon so my photography should take a major step forward.

Not a whole lot to cover really. Matt and I are planning a couple of trips in the future. My main goal right now is to do my job, learn Chinese, take lots of pictures and enjoy my time here. I believe none of that will be a problem!

Keep an eye on the gallery. I just put some more up today and will be adding regularly!

Peace out!


I boarded a plane from Peoria, Illinois for a two hour flight to Atlanta, Georgia. There I took a train from one concourse to another where I boarded a Delta Boeing 777-200 for the trip to Shanghai. This plane is huge. (Note to self… bring snacks next time!)  During the sixteen hour flight, I had the pleasure of meeting Becky and Emma. They are a mother and daughter traveling from Maryland to Becky’s home in China. Becky is a Chinese citizen who is married to a US doctor. Emma is a US citizen born in America. I had a wonderful conversation with Becky about differences between the US and China. Emma, upon first impression, is a shy five year old lady. Then I got to meet the real Emma who is by no means shy! Boy what a swell kid. She amazed me with her knowledge of her family which is distributed throughout America, Europe, and China. What a great opening to the trip.

Upon arrival in Shanghai, I had the immediate realization that I wasn’t in Illinois anymore. Of course the most noticeable difference being the fact that 99% of the people were Chinese. We passed through customs with no problems. Everyone seems to be very nice.

I’m noticing something else. The people working in and around the airport are all young and clean cut. It is apparent that the Chinese are very particular about who is representing them to new arrivals.

We meet with Colin Wong, our company asset in China. Colin and his driver are going to take us for a two hour drive to Suzhou. This is where the fun begins! For the uninitiated, driving in China is a whole new experience. I lost count of how many times I thought I was going to die. And those painted lines that denote lanes… more like a guideline than anything. Colin thought that next time we should have a drink at the airport before the drive to Suzhou. I agree.

We arrive at the hotel and are surprised (sarcasm) to find that the wire transfer from work has not come through. The next thought was that we will secure the rooms with our personal credit cards. Sorry, but I don’t think my daily limit is going to work for a three month hotel stay. Not even in China. Eventually Colin gets us taken care of and we get to our rooms. I don’t even bother to really check it out as I’ve been up for twenty four hours and all I really want is a shower. The water smells a little funny. It doesn’t feel dirty, just smells funny.

All cleaned up and time for dinner. Colin picks us up and we head across the street to the restaurant. There we meet Alan, Oliver, and Emily. These are our new company cadets. Alan is very quiet. I think Oliver has a permanent smile on his face. Emmy is equally outgoing and kind. So here sits the whole team for this adventure. I don’t think I could ask for a more wonderful group. Throughout dinner Oliver and Emmy were having a great time exploring the differences between China and America with me. Oliver really wants to work on his English, so we agreed that he would help me with Chinese and I will help him with English. Emily also helped me to properly pronounce schezwan. (As in schezwan beef) Although I found myself feeling very far from home, I also felt a profound sense of excitement and comfort. That this is going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

After dinner we stopped at a small store to get some essentials. I’ll have to go back and shop some more, but had a great time identifying US products with Chinese packaging. The good news is that they have my brand of toothpaste, soap, and shampoo here!

Next, Colin takes us for a quick drive around Suzhou. I will have to take the time to photograph this place, but let me assure you that this city as absolutely astounding. One word, lights. I could go on forever just describing what I saw in the next half hour, but I’ll just get some pictures instead. This place is truly amazing. I love it here.

Back home for sleep now. I’ve been up for at least 28 hours and have only slept for about an hour before leaving. Sleep comes quickly. Oh yeah, and the floor feels like its moving. You know, like the plane.

Pictures are in the image gallery.