Day 17 – APM terminals, Yangshan Deepwater Port, Dinner with Nestor Gournaris

Time to try to catch up in my postings …

This was a long day of travel; however, it felt like home visiting the ports. The APM Terminals allowed us to see the operations of the port. There was a large command post with monitors that coordinated all the loading and unloading of the cargo ships. The logistics is just amazing.

A side note – two students missed the bus. By some amazing feat, these two students found us at the ports. To read more about their adventures check out

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Day 22 – West China School of Medicine & West China Hospital, Train to Chongqing, Intercontinental Hotel, Changyu Wne

We visited West China School of Medicine & West China Hospital in the morning. The Hospital was established in 1892 and now is ranked either 1st or 2nd research hospital in all of China. The Dean of the Hospital gave us an introductory presentation about the Hospital and Medical School. They partner with Duke and Harvard Medical in the States. They also are involved with Telemedicine with 524 hospitals. They educate 200,000 students/year. The length of stay has dramatically reduced from23 days in 1993 to 9.5 days today.

During the presentation, there was an eruption of loud noises and banging on the conference doors. For the first time I felt a little concern about safety. We were told that a patient passed away and that was the reason for the outburst of violence and noise that was occurring outside of our room. The Dean of Nursing left the presentation to address the commotion occurring outside. The doors inside were manned and braced by Chinese men and the doors had been locked from the inside. After about 10 minutes, the commotion subsided. Not sure how it all was resolved.

We were given a tour of the facilities. The campus is very lovely with multiple gardens; the architecture was also very historical. It was graduation day for many students The hoods on the graduates were very beautiful and had a flower design lining. We also visited the outpatient clinic that sees 10,000 patients a day. It was very crowded.

We headed to the train station for our trip to Chongqing. The train terminal was vey spacious and modern. I broke down and visited the McDonalds for lunch (a double cheeseburger, fries, and coke). It was amazing how consistent the cheeseburger and fries are — coke is different. We boarded another bullet train, although this one was not quite as fast or new. The trip used to take 6 hours; it took us only 2 hours.

We arrived at our next hotel, Intercontinental. This hotel is not as nice as our previous hotel and we are still working out Internet issues. However, the location is downtown and provides the students many evening options.

Trey hosted a wine tasting with three varieties of Changyu red wines. Not quite the same as Italian or French, but one variety was not too bad.

Denise and I were hungry and we went in search of dinner. We wandered the main street and passed the Liberation Monument. Here is a short description from

In 1940, the Republic of China government in Chongqing built a wooden memorial at the site to commemorate Sun Yat-Sen who was the first president of the Republic of China and was considered the “Father of China.” In 1945, the Republic of China government built a monument in its place to celebrate the victory in WWII. And in 1950, the People’s Republic of China government named the monument. In 1997, the Jiefangbei Plaza was built around the monument. It measures about 400 meters by 350 meters.

We found lots of stores but very few restaurants. We tried some side streets that had very local street food but we passed in this. We ended up at Pizza Hut across from the hotel. It was edible. (It appears we should have gone right instead of left to find restaurants. We will head out tomorrow night in search of local cuisine.). I also bought some local gardenias and air freshener with hopes of improving the smell in my room.

Sean is out with some of the students…

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Day 21 – AETOS Capital Asia (real estate)

“Real value in a changing world”

Today’s topic focused on real estate in China, both residential and commercial. The real estate investment firm, AETOS Capital Asia, shared their experiences with making real estate investments in China. They practice a focused laser-like strategy to find partnerships through joint ventures for high quality real estate projects. AETOS has experience and expertise to minimize risk for their investors and find projects that provide positive ROI. They focus heavily on governance and relationships. Two areas that have been consistently mentioned by all the companies we have visited. It is important to understand that ownership (I.e., leases that last 70 years) is very new to the Chinese population (past 10 years). Also, 70% of the Chinese hold no debt on their real estate purchases. One reason for this is there is no alternative forms of investment for most Chinese. Austerity measures in China have also had an impact on the real estate market.

To learn more about the variables that are influencing real estate growth and investment, Mr. Ng from Jones, Lang, and LaSalle shared some of the research his company has recently published – China50: Fifty Real Estate markets That Matter. He started his talk by asking the group. How many of us could name 10 cities in China, 30 cities, 50 cities? I quickly am reminded of how little I know about China.

In the afternoon, we visited one of the projects that AETOS invested. This is a residential community that is part of a much larger development in South Chengdu (this is also the area where the national government is relocating in Chengdu). We visited the high end 44 floor condo (taking liberty with this term) development. There is currently 80% occupancy and it has been open for less than a year. The starting price is about $1 million USD. One interesting takeaway is there is no oven in the model kitchen. Here are some pictures …







After this visit, we headed off to another development – Luxe Hills Community. It was very similar to Kingsmill. While touring the facility, we happen to run into an expat Kurt Bozenhardt with Chevron (a graduate of University of Alabama). He and his wife were very friendly and gave us an impromptu description of their lives in Chengdu. Sean found his profile on Linked In — what an interesting person. He provided us his business card and offered to provide us an opportunity to visit him and Chevron in Chengdu.




For out last evening in Chengdu, Trey treated us all at one of his favorite Hotpot restaurants. Earlier in the week, I had the spicy Hotpot, this night I stuck with the more mild version. If my mom was here, she would not believe the food I have eaten. For me pig tendons or pig intestines are probably the most out there. Sean on the other hand has tried everything and anything!!




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Day 16 – ABB Engineering, ABB Automation World, UVA club Shanghai Reception

Photos …















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Day 15 – Tencent, Rockwell Automation, The Pearl

We started our day with a visit to Tencent. Our presenter was a lawyer from Mergers & Acquisitions. I found the discussion vey informative. Tnecent is the …. Tencent was an early mover in the internet realm in china with their product This is a form of IM. Tencents captured a large segment of the Internet users. They quickly expanded into the online gaming market which is very profitable in China. Over 50% of Tencents”s venue is from gaming. They also are expanding in the social network area. My take of Tencent is it is a blend of AOL, Facebook, Google, and Amazon (they want to be the one stop shop in China for the Internet). Will they expand outside of China??? Definitely a company to watch…

side observation – The presence of the Internet and the role of censorship and government regulation creates a very complicated and tenuous relationship with the end user. The China laws are changing — for instance, they are now requiring that user MUST use their “real name” for signing on to blogs and other social media sites. However, when I asked locals about this, they indicated they still had pseudonym names. It is my understanding that it is the Internet providers responsibility to make sure “real names” are used. It will be interesting to follow this and see if and how this law will be enforced.

Our next visit was across the street to learn more about Rockwell Automation

Days are so busy. Hope to finish sometime. Here are photos …











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Day 14 – Global Semiconductor Innovation and Manufacturing in China SMIC, Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, the Bund, a Local Restaurant

We began our day with a visit to SMIC. SMIC is a Chinese company that make semi- conductors. They produce semi-conductors that are lagging one generation from the current technology. They are focused on the fabrication of semiconductors versus design. So if you need a semiconductor for one of your products, you contract with SMIC and they that the will produce it. This is a very competitive market with the Taiwan company,TSMC, having the majority of market share. A very interesting fact is that the demand for semiconductors in China far exceed the capacity that China companies produced. The gap for semiconductors is greater than the gap for oil.

We had a very interesting speaker from SMIC, Matthew Szymanski – He was previously the U.S. Congress as chief of staff for both the House Small Business Committee and the U.S.-China Interparliamentary Exchange . When the Democrats took over in DC, he and his famIly moved to Shanghai. He definitely has a passion for China and for SMIC. He shared with us the history of SMIC. He also explained about the unique community the SMIC has developed for their employees — Living Quarters. He explained about the schooling for employees’ children. It is a very progressive school for China. In addition, we visited his personal home. Although many homes may look worn from the outside (due a lot from the condition of the air), they are very nice inside. He told us how everything was constructed and any modification was possible. I need to find some of these construction workers for our Kingsmill house.


We were originally scheduled to head to P&G however they had a surprise QA audit so we had to reschedule. We were given the afternoon to explore on our own. I tried to get Sean to join me to visit the Urban Planning Museum but he decided to sleep. I headed to the museum on my own. It was very interesting to see how the city had changed over the past 150 years and more specifically how much it has changed from 1996. The city has been transformed over the past 15 years.



I convinced Sean to walk with me down to the Bund (an area along the Yangzte River. There were many people strolling along the waterfront walkways. On the way back to the hotel, we took a lot of side streets to get a feel of the local environment. We did manage to stumble upon Deloitte’s office in Shanghai (an omen for Sean?). It is interesting how shops are focus on very few products in a certain consumer category. We walked by 12 small shops that sold blow dryers (easily over 100 choices in each shop). I am not sure what differentiated one shop from its neighbor. We also walked by shops that had whole carcasses of meat hanging (guessing cow, pig, and sheep). We then found shops dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables. I find it all very interesting. As we get closer to the hotel, their are shopping malls everywhere!!! There obviously a lot of money in Shanghai.

For dinner, a group of us followed Trey as he led us to one of his favorite local restaurants — Yue Lai. We had enough people to fill up two tables. We let Trey and Lin (one of our Chinese students) pick out our entrees for the evening. We had learned earlier that the lazy Susan you find on Chinese Tables is often referred to as the Circle of Death during business meals. The Chinese client will select entrees that many Americans will have never tried (or thought about trying.). Some of our entrees included duck tongue, frog, gizzards and string beans as well as more recognizable items such as rice, noodles, dumplings, chicken, and clams. I really enjoyed the clams however there were some potent red peppers in this dish. Sean and a couple of other students tried the pepper — after five minutes their taste buds returned. After dinner, we went to a bar, Barbarossa, in People’s Park. It was a nice evening to sit outside and enjoy a Mojito.

The students headed out for the night — off to bed for me…





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Day 13 – Shanghai Museum in People’s Park, Lowe’s Global Sourcing Visit, Fenxiang Clothing Accessory Market (i.e. Fake Market), Gong De Lin Vegetarian Restaurant

Sean arrived today at noon. He left Athens, Greece the day before and traveled to Shanghai by way of Moscow. While in Europe he visited Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Assisi, Delphi, and Athens. He managed to find the Radisson in Shanghai with no problems.

Prior to Sean’s arrival, I visited the Shanghai Museum in People’s Park.


To get to the museum, you proceed beneath the park, through a maze of shops. There are many malls underneath the city, where you catch the subway. Below is a picture of the floor in this mall area – a beautiful carving.


The museum is filled with many high-quality artifacts from China’s long history. The earliest piece I saw was from 3600 BC. There were areas dedicated to jade, calligraphy, furniture, currency, pottery… The museum reminded me of the Smithsonian however it is more elegant. The lighting was optimized for the collection you were viewing. It was very spacious and allowed me the opportunity to casually stroll through the exhibits.




In the afternoon, we all headed over to Lowe’s Global Sourcing Shanghai Office. We were met by Scott Jenkins, Vice President Asia Sourcing. His LinkedIn profile describes him as

A hard-charging, customer-focused international executive with 20 years of combined retail, global sourcing, and product & vendor development expertise, along with a successful track record and deep knowledge of international office management, restructuring and operations, manufacturing, direct sales, retail sales, merchandising, P&L management, quality assurance and logistics / supply chain functional areas.

Accomplished tactician who clearly understands team development and motivation, private brand product development, product planning and procurement processes (international and US domestic), product launch and post-launch management, channel sales strategies, sales force development and management, national account buyers, merchandising and promotions.

A strategic business architect and negotiator with disciplined oral and written communications abilities.

Enthusiastic, persistent, persuasive and results-driven leader who’s disciplined, focused and dedicated to performance excellence.

This is an accurate description. He did a great job of providing students with honest and sincere answers to their questions. He also told of about his family life. It is evident that he is very happy as an expat in Shanghai.

After learning about dealing with vendor relationships in China, we headed off to the Xiatiandi area (this is the same area Denise and I had visited the previous night). The students strolled through the area determining the best place for happy hour. Denise and I left the group to head back towards the hotel. We decided to walk back (about 25 minutes). I needed a larger handbag to carry around to company visits. We ran into one of our students, CJ, who is a Chinese native. He joined us on our outing to the Fenxiang Clothing Accessory Market (i.e. Fake Market). We were fortunate he was with us because our original directions were incorrect. He was able to ask about its location and after a couple of tries we found the market. Time to Bargain – I ended up paying 50 rmb ($8.00) for a knock off Longchamp bag.

Denise is vegetarian so we have been looking for vegetarian restaurants. This is harder to find that I had imagined. We had passed Gong De Lin Restaurant on our way to the market. It advertized itself as vegetarian and it was. We ordered a variety of vegetables, rice, tea, and tofu. All was good except the tofu. We didn’t realize we had ordered “stinky” tofu – it is worse than its name implies.

Sean was out with the group. I didn’t hear him come in but he said he had a nice time with the students.

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Day 12 – Journey to Shanghai, Radisson New World Hotel, Yu Gardens and the Bund

We rose early today as we bid goodbye to Beijing on our way to Shanghai. We traveled by way of the Bullet Train in business class. This is definitely the way to travel. The seats were very comfortable. I got to see a lot of agricultural Industry. Many people working in the fields, a horse pulling a farm tool (tilling), some machinery. From my remote view, it agriculture appears to me labor intensive along this stretch of China. As we approached Dhanghai, the views of the water were intriguing. It looks like a lot of aquaculture occurring. Upon our arrival at the train station, we were met by our travel guides.








We are staying at the Radisson New World. A very nice hotel located directly across from the People’s Park. I quickly realized that Shanghai is very different from Beijing. Shanghai is much more cosmopolitan. In the hotel, there were people from all over the world. There is also a lot of wealth in Shanghai. We passed Gucci, Rolex, Cartier, Harry Winston, and the list goes on…

We checked in quickly and traveled to the Old Shanghai area. We visited the Yu Gardens. It was very peaceful. We learned about feng shui and the importance of family. Afterward, we walked around the area. Many in the group went off to find street food. I haven’t been nearly as adventuresome with trying the unknown foods. I did visit one of the jewelry markets. I found a ruby and diamond necklace for only 29M RMB about 4.5M USD — don’t think I have large enough credit line on Visa to get this.

In the evening, Trey had the woman he uses to make all his suits visit the hotel. For two hours she and her crew measured students as they picked out fabrics for suits and shirts. A tailored made men’s suit costs about $240 USD and a women’s suit $140 USD (some fluctuation with fabric and options — more than I could process). I did get a gray pants suit. She will return Thursday night for fitting in case any alterations are necessary. I am not sure where I am going to put this since me suitcase is full. Sean arrives tomorrow so hopefully he might have a little room.

Denise and I headed out to find a nice restaurant for dinner. We ended up in the Xintiandi Area of Shanghai (an affluent area with many excellent restaurants). I broke down and ordered western food – a delicious salmon entree with steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes. The larger group headed to the Bund and a night out on the town. I headed to bed.









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Day 11 – Yonghe Lama Temple, Hutong Tour, Rickshaw Ride, Dinner with a Local Family

This morning was designated free time. It was nice to take some time to catch up on email and enjoy a less hectic morning. It also gave me time to pack my bags and backpack. I haven’t bought anything but I still had trouble getting what I brought with me into these two bags. A side note – I spent considerable time researching for the perfect luggage to bring with me on this 2 months odyssey. I ultimately bought a 20 inch roller bag – Timbuktu Co-pilot and the corresponding Timbuktu backpack. Sean saw the luggage and decided this was the way to travel so I ordered a second set (in a slightly different color) for me. I am very happy with this luggage. If it holds up throughout my journey, I will definitely have to write a positive consumer review for Timbuktu.

We started our afternoon with a noon meal. We have had no shortage of authentic Beijing food. The meal consisted of many choices pork, duck, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, rice, soup, ending with a whole fried fish. I am getting proficient with chop sticks. I may adopt these as my new utensil when I return to the states. We have several students with various food allergies. So far we have been able to make sure to identify any dishes that may be off limits.


Our next stop was the Yonghe Lama Temple. I realize I know very little about Buddhism. There were many visitors burning incense and paying their respect to the various Buddha statues found throughout the temple. I learned about the Chinese Buddha, the Tibetan Buddha, and the India Buddha. (We were not allowed to take pictures of the Buddhas.) There were also artifacts from the Qing Dynasty that were interesting. I remember burning incense as a kid. I also remember the 3 red Buddhas Dad had brought back from one of his deployments. This is an area where I definitely need more education to fully understand the significance of Buddhism.





Exploring a local Hutong was next. There were many stores. Some reflecting ancient trades and goods and other quite modern. There were many restaurants and bars. All this area is built around 3 lakes. There were people on boats on the lake enjoying their Saturday afternoon. There were also many pedestrians, bikes (some built for 4 people to ride), and cars all sharing very narrow streets. You definitely need to pay attention as you maneuver your way around. I visited a couple of shops that sold silk items and jewelry. Since my suitcases are full, no purchases were made. I did find gelato and had a scoop.




Our transportation to visit our local family that was hosting us for dinner were Rickshaws. We all paired up and traveled in queue. Our driver was very animated and we were often playing bumper Rickshaws with the one ahead of us. Dinner was held in a local family’s home. It is apparent how important family is in China. There were picture of the couple and their child on all the walls. Although the accommodations were simple, everyone was happy and we all had a great time. We returned to the bus by way of Rickshaw.

Tonight was an early evening since we are departing at 6:30am.








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Day 10 – Ruins of Yuanmingyuan, tour is Peking University by Guanghua School of Management, Peking Duck, and Peking Opera

Medical updates first (and hopefully last update) – My voice has returned; however my Chinese still has a very long way to go. Our student has been released from the hospital and is recovering remarkably well for just having surgery. She will be able to continue on the trip. As mentioned in my previous post, the medical care she received was outstanding.

As par for the course, we had another full day of activities. In the morning, we had some personal time so I decided to visit the Ruins of Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace). I don’t have a lot of time, but made the trip to see the beautiful botanical gardens. I have been amazed by all the flowers around Beijing. The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan had many trails, flowers, lakes, ruins, etc. that were very interesting and new to me. There was a very colorful bird I had not seen before but every time I tried to take its picture, it flew away. It became a game, the bird won (I have no photo of it.). I only wish I had more time to explore the entire park.






After lunch, our students were guided around Peking University by current Peking University students. A recent Forbes article compares Guanghua School of Mangement as the Harvard of China This was very kind of of the studnets to give us their time given the fact that they all have finals next week. The stress of Final Exams appears to be universal. We were able to tour inside the Peking Gymnasium that held the 2008 ping pong Olympics. I can imagine 5000 people watching ping pong.



We next visited the West Gate to capture a class photo. According to wikipedia

The university campus is located in the former site of the Qing Dynasty royal gardens and it retains many traditional Chinese-style landscaping including traditional houses, gardens, pagodas as well as many notable historical buildings and structures. There are several gates that lead into campus – East, West and South gates, with the West Gate being the most well known for the painted murals on its ceiling. Peking University is known throughout China, along with its neighbour, Tsinghua University, for their beautiful campuses. Weiming lake is located in the north of the campus, and is surrounded by several walking paths and small gardens.

It is a very beautiful campus.




For dinner, we heade to Quanjude Restaurant for the famous Peking duck. It was a great meal. Brought back memories of my mom making Peking Duck at our home. I can remember her using the spring onions to swipe the sauce on the pancake. Here, they dunk the duck meat directly into the sauce, place the meat on the pancake, add a few spring onions, and thinly sliced cucumber. All taste excellent.



After dinner, we attended the Peking Opera — different and similar to other Operas I have attended. The singing and costumes were elaborate. There were 4 short performances that told different parts of a story. They did provide English translation so I could follow the story line (The Drucken Concubine). We had the best seats in the house — front row. We were also served tea and light refreshments.


After the opera, the students and Trey headed out for more nightlife. We went by the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square — with lots of lights — very different at night. I was exhausted and took the subway back to the hotel. The subway is so easy to use, clean, and safe. I also had 3 of the local Chinese students with me. I understand many students didn’t arrive back to the hotel to the early morning. Sounds like they all had a great time enjoying the local culture. If you want to follow the blogs the students are writing (part of the class assignment), check out

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