This morning we had breakfast at the hotel (Howard Johnson – Huaihai) in the French Quarter, checked out, and headed to the office which was on the 19th floor of a 28 or so floor building.Â The office itself consists of one large room and a glassed in conference room in the corner.Â The remaining space is taken up with five cubicles for the team with a copier and supply corner and a coffee/tea and fridge in another corner.Â The view was very impressive.
Pretty quickly, Eva and I headed out to visit and tour the testing facility that will be testing some plastic material used in one of my projects.Â It was quite a large lab with the ability to test almost any plastic material spec desired.Â The equipment looks very well cared for but the space was pretty well full so they were acquiring a second location nearby to effectively double their floor space.Â I was invited back in a few months to visit and see the new addition.Â Maybe I can use that one year, multi-entry visa.
We picked up some of the rest of the team and headed to lunch.Â It was quite the spread and new dishes just kept coming.Â There was beef, mushrooms, red sweet potato, and shredded greens.Â More interesting though was the 2 x 2 x 2 in pork pieces with three distinct layers of 1/4 skin, 1/2 fat, and 1/4 meat.Â Sorry kids, the fat was yummy.Â Another surprisingly good dish was the dried, salted, whole fish.Â Yep, the whole fish was good.Â We also had a whole white fish soup that was decent for a guy that prefers fish grilled of the salmon type.Â Probably the one that I thought would be hardest for me to stomach was the eel.Â It wasn’t so much the eel, since I’ve had it before, but the size and texture; having a look and feel more of dark, wide noodles..Â It was okay but I stuck with one serving.
Chopsticks are the standard place setting with a large ceramic spoon used for soupy items.Â So, when in Rome…Â This was my serious introduction to eating methods of the Chinese.Â There were a lot of giggles and instructions as I stumbled through the basics.Â Our driver, Lynn, seemed to always be on the look out for me, re-showing me how to hold the chopsticks and on occasion suggesting I give them up for the spoon.Â Eventually, someone did find me a knife and fork which I did not use until the very end when my hand got tired.
The restaurant was different than we are familiar with.Â It seemed to be designed for group dinning and each group is given their own room.Â In this case there was a long hallway with several rooms with double doors on each side.
After we returned to the office, I spent about an hour with Lulu discussing wire harnesses and what she needed to be successful in sourcing material for our manufacturing facility here in China.Â I think in that hour I was able to learn, understand, and communicate more information than weeks on a similar project done a few months earlier.
About mid afternoon five of us jumped into the van and headed to Hangzhou, about 2 1/2 hours away.Â We are staying at Xiha State Guest Hotel on West Lake and it is a very beautiful location.Â So much so, that it is said this place is next to heaven.Â Unfortunately, by the time we got to town, it was dark.Â I also found that everyone needs ID to check into a hotel; at least the ones that we visit.Â Foreigners are required to show their passports and here they were photo copied and visas were confirmed.Â No passport, no bed.
The room was nice and, design wise, about like the room the night before but the bathroom was much smaller and without a tub.Â There seemed to be a lot more “special” touches though.Â On the desk was a 10 x 12 x 2 inch covered box with all sorts of office supplies, including a stapler.Â The coffee table had a supply of fruit with a couple of plates and a knife wrapped in a small towel.Â There was a little tea/coffee nook in the hallway with a little covered box holding the tea and coffee items.Â Wine and wine glasses were on an upper shelf.
We had another “different” meal, at least for me.Â The restaurant was in a separate building from where our rooms were.Â A tablet was used to review the foods and make the selections and I think, once complete, wirelessly sent the order to the kitchen.Â They made sure that there was at least a bowl of fried rice and a dish of beef on the table for me.Â In addition to that, we had a deep fried shrimp dish, a cabbage dish, a bamboo and pepper dish, battered and fried whole silver fish (looked like battered onions), little artichoke like dish, mushroom soup, and most interesting, jelly fish, soaked in soy sauce or without.Â Of course, lots of tea and again Lynn kept an eye out with helpful chopstick hints.