Random Thoughts from Beijing

I’m in closing in on my fourth night of my sixth trip to China since September.  I tweeted tonight with a photo of Spidey next to a PapaJohns box.  It’s been that kind of trip.  Working all the time requires comfort food once in a while.

As I told a colleague via email the other day — life with an international team can seem glamorous – and it can be, but it often isn’t unlike a trip to Denver or Phoenix or Albany.  Personally, I love traveling.  I like the experience on the airplane.  I like the different cultures.  I also like the challenges of starting up businesses in new places.  International business is what I studied years ago, and now I’m getting to use it again.

But the trips, even to a places like Beijing, are becoming less and less of a hardship.  Let me tell you about my day today.  I didn’t have any meetings in our office, so I decided to stay in our apartment and work.  It started with a 6:30am run in our club, which has about 15 treadmills, full weight equipment, sauna, steamroom, whirlpool, etc.  Yes, that’s a hardship.

Next was a bowl of Frosted Flakes – just like home.  As I ate, I watched the Caps and Canes via Slingbox, simultaneously checking NCAA tournament scores on espn.com and participating in a Caps chatboard on Japers’ Rink.   All this time, I’m connected wirelessly to the Internet.  Again, big hardship.

I did work, rest of the day in the apartment.  I got a lot done.  I left the building only once today —  to walk a block to a Starbucks, where I said “grande black coffee” and got one 18RMB later.   In many way, this day could have taken place in Akron or Richmond or Boise.

(The best part about China may be the time zone difference for U.S. sports.  East Coast U.S. games start at 7:00am here with the 12 hour time difference.  I never have to stay up late to catch multiple overtimes!  I caught the Yankees winning the World Series at 11:30am.)

I’m hoping against hope to get out somewhere in Beijing tomorrow.  We’ll see.  I know tomorrow starts with sleeping late, but after that, it will be a challenge to avoid work.


Spidey in Beijing; Singapore Recap

This morning, I boarded SQ802 non-stop from Singapore to Beijing.    While I can’t say I minded leaving the heat behind, I carry with me a very positive feeling about Singapore and look forward to going back.

(If I can fly again on Singapore Air, I’ll go every time.  Six hours today in a massive business class seat.)

Singapore, not surprisingly, had a European feel to it.  After so much time in Beijing (I’m on my sixth trip since September) I wasn’t prepared for that.  Yesterday, I was in a shopping mall that included a glamorous Starbucks, a massive grocery store, plenty of food and, for you health nuts, a GNC.  Plenty of high fashion here and clearly people who want to have fun.  There was fantastic seafood – love those tiger prawns!  I’ll also give in to stereotypes and admit that it was a very, very clean city.  You can’t really walk along the streets and smoke.  There are designated smoking areas.

So now I’m in Beijing for 8 days.  It’s 50 degrees cooler and, as usual, no real sun to speak of.  I guess that means it’s time to get work done?

Spidey in Singapore Day 2

Did I mention yet that it’s hot here?  The Weather Channel app on my iPhone says 75% humidity.  That turns a livable 86 degree day into a 96 degree day.  It’s just past 10:30am on Sunday here, and I’m firmly entrenched in my hotel room waiting to meet a colleague for lunch at 12:30.  Curried fish heads, I’m told.

I had pepper crab yesterday for lunch.  Think Maryland Crabs – but instead of Old Bay spice, imagine lots of pepper.  I mean lot’s  of pepper.  The crabs are slightly bigger as well.  Thank goodness for the lobster bib.  From there, we trekked over to the island of Sentosa.  Sentosa is where Singapore’s first casino is located.  They are building an amusement park there and a few hotels.  There is a beach and a few other attractions.  Unfortunately, the view from the beach is port of Singapore, complete with tankers and cranes, etc.  Not very appealing.

We braved the heat to go down the Sentosa Luge.  We went three times.  Think less about a luge in the winter olympics and more about a sled on wheels going down a hill.  The best part of the ride was how it cut the heat of the day.

After a well-earned nap (and relaxation in my private massage chair in my hotel room!), we went out to Newton Circus Hawker Centre.  Here think a big, outdoor, over-priced, tourist-attraction eatery with local Singapore seafood cuisine.  We had large tiger prawns, calamari and sting ray.  Then I got to experience the Singapore MRT, the very clean subway to get back to the hotel.  It’s SGD2, per ride, which is about USD1.40.  However, you get 1 Singapore dollar back, if you turn in your fare card at the end.

Day 3 promises to be a bit calm, with work taking over.  After all, work is the reason I came here.

Spidey in Singapore

Arrived in Singapore yesterday morning.  I have one word to describe Singapore — f*ing hot!  Ok – so that’s two words, and, as “they” say, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.  My hotel is about three blocks from our office here, but I was sweating like a pig by the time I got there.  I have my room set on 10 degrees Celsius – about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, just to keep it at a reasonable temperature.  I’m drinking a lot of cold Diet Coke but, like many places outside the U.S., ice water itself is tough to come by.

Nonetheless, I’m very excited to be here.  I’m on to Beijing on Tuesday, but I have plans to come back here for a longer trip in early April.  That means that, among other things, my plans while I’m back home including buying some summer weight dress pants!

To get here, I took Singapore Air 21 direct from Newark to Singapore – that’s over 18 hours in the air direct.  It’s a great flight.  I slept for about 10 hours and arrived refreshed at 6:30am local time.  I was able to work an entire day and head out for a few drinks at night.  Our first stop was the New Asia bar on the 70th floor of the Swissotel.  (Those you who follow me on Twitter already know this! http://www.twitter.com/LifewithSpidey)  Our next stop was a restaurant called Indochine.   It was a large place, but we sat out near the water.  It was still hot, and two Tiger beers did the trick.

Today (already Saturday), I’m going to try to get out a bit to see the town, after the Caps-Lightning game finishes on Slingbox.  It’s 1-1 in the second period as I write.  I’ll settle down to work tomorrow and Monday.  The trip is also giving me some good face time with my new boss.  She’s been a friend for a long time, but I think we’re making a good transition.

Check the Twitter feed for more updates.

So Much for Regularity

In his new book “The Business of Happiness,” Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis writes of six tenets to live by.  The third tenet is “Personal Expression.”  Mr. Leonsis believes that everyone needs to have an outlet, be it art, writing, or, as he puts it, singing in the shower.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but I will.  (I’ve got an 18 hour flight to Singapore coming up next week.)   I think Mr. Leonsis (can I call him Ted?) is right.  That’s why I started this blog.  I just haven’t kept it up.

I’ve been Tweeting a lot lately, but I think it’s time to move beyond 140 characters to something a bit longer.  I’ve been reading a lot about travel and a lot about hockey.  There’s some interesting stuff out there that people might be interested in.

Bear with me.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m hoping this is the start of something (again!).