Friday, September 30, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Guangdong

Received this road report from homeboy and China Hand Gavin M. and had to share it:
Since I am not a blogger, I couldn't put this on any "blog site".  But it has been such a day in my China travels, I thought I should document it.  Please see below for a good laugh...

Day started at 3:30AM...I was awoken by several drunken Chinese men yelling at the top of their lungs and fighting in the hallway just outside my door.  Couldn't get back to sleep so I climbed on-line to check e-mails...found out that my factory that is producing my Lowes orders has significant quality issues.  (QC from Lowes came in and tested failures at a rate of 35%). My factory includes at the end of the e-mail not to worry as the issue should be "no problem" to fix.  (ie in China speak, that means BIG PROBLEM)

So from there I decided to take a shower...cold water only as hot doesn't seem to be working at 4:30AM..

Got down stairs by 5:45 AM and checked out. The factory car from yesterday's factory visit is now taking my friend Edmond and I to the airport at about 150 mph. The driver, Arctic Chen, driving like a drunk NASCAR driver through Shanghai traffic. The driver said he picked "Arctic" for his english name because he thought it was cool.  (He told me this yesterday with a straight face.)

We made it to the airport and crammed into the coach section (Chinese airline coach seats are built for people 5'6" and under) of an over booked flight to Hong Kong.  Breakfast was served on the plane....noodles, fish and some kind of weird vegetable.  The Chinese man next to me kept falling asleep and resting his head on my shoulder...while the guy behind me seemed intent on coughing up a lung.

2.5 hours later we landed in dense smog into Hong Kong airport...couldn't see a mile and it smelled like burned trash.

We transferred to a high speed ferry for a one hour trip to the city of Zuhai, a "small city" of around 5 million located across the border from Macau...the "Vegas of China".  Smog so thick it was like smoking a cigarette.

Got picked up in van and driven recklessly and at high speed for another 45 minutes to our hotel.  Checked-in and dropped my bags in the room.  Room smelled as musty as a Florida basement after a hurricane.  Quickly left the hotel (It is now 2PM) and drive another 1 hour at recklessly high speed to a meeting at the largest garden tool manufacturing factory in the world (5000 employees).  Today it is closed except for the owner and his brother are there to meet with us.  Discussions begin over a 750 ml bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.  It's 3:30, cocktail hour.  Meeting goes until approximately 7:30 when the owner announces he needs to fly to his other factory about 400 miles away and staggers out the door.  I am wisked out the door and driven drunkenly by the brother to a sushi restaurant in a small town about 15 minutes away.  On the way there, it is misting and the roads are wet....I witness a motorcycle driven at high speed skid out and the driver land face first into the side of a mini van... he seemed OK but talk about concussion!!!!.... Fortunately, it wasn't the mini van I was in.  It was definitely a YouTube moment...except YouTube is not allowed in China, nor is Facebook... (Factoid)

Get to's sushi and there are cats at the front entrance....not a good sign  It's now 8:30.  Beer is served and so is a great big selection of raw items.  I eat some, but mostly stay with the beer and some Korean Kim Chi on the table.... The tuna looks a little old (and dark and smelly) and the other offerings seem a little warm...for me, this is another "not a good sign".

Finally say good nite to our host, after way too much beer, at about 10:30-10:45. We are driven at high speed and recklessly back to our hotel by a factory "driver"...another hour on the road.

There is a wedding going on at the hotel when we arrive back and there are many drunk Chinese people milling around talking loud.  I make it through the lobby and up to my room, but not without forgetting which floor I am on as this is the third hotel in four nites and it is all blending together (I actually stop at three floors before finding mine.)  Get to my room, and to my surprise, my key doesn't work...It must have been the workmen fixing the lighting on the floor when I checked in earlier (It was dark and I couldn't really see much as there were no lites on or windows in the hallway.)...maybe they triggered the electronic door mechanism.  Anyway, back downstairs, get a new key, work my way past the actual wedding party (They are very drunk) and back up to my room.  

I am now back in my room safe and sound.  The only english speaking channels on TV are Discovery and HBO.  HBO is showing some movie that went directly to DVD in the States 10 years ago and Discovery is a totally broken up digital image with no sound.  

I just looked at my watch and realized its been about 21 hour day....

Good nite now!

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