Archive for April, 2010

Online check-in tickets

My tickets are in-hand and I'm ready to go...


My flights are confirmed and I’m checked in all the way to Basel. With a bit of luck and a following wind, I’ll be home tomorrow.

Never has German sounded so sweet: Ab Donnerstag, den 22.04.2010 gilt der reguläre Flugplan. Damit bietet Ihnen Lufthansa wieder die gewohnte Planungssicherheit.

Or, in other words, flights are back to normal and I should be able to fly home tomorrow.  It’s only been two weeks, but the uncertainty of the return journey and squeezing in three cities means that it feels like I’ve been away much longer.  I know I was in Taiwan only a week ago, but it seems like ages.

It’s definitely been a trip of new experiences.  New foods, new friends, new massages.

I don’t know if it was a sense of adventure or just sheer boredom that encouraged me to try an ear massage, but I can add it to the list of life’s more bizarre experiences.  It wasn’t particularly unpleasant, but I can’t say that it will be at the top of my list on my next visit to the spa.

One more day, one more banquet to get through tonight (Peking Duck, so I can’t complain too loudly), one more sleep…  then home.

Time to hit the local grocery store to try a few of the local products. 

Fermented mangos

Mangos = good. Fermented mangos = ???


Fruitery Jelly

Fruitery Jelly. Because no one can resist "fruitery"


Tsing Tao beer

Tsing Tao beer. Because you can (almost) never go wrong with beer. China produces more beer than anyone else in the world, so they must know a thing or two about what they're doing...

A rainy morning in Beijing

A rainy morning in Beijing


It’s the talk of the day around here: business travelers stranded around the world due to the eruption of a volcano.  By the end of the week, I expect that I’ll be able to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull easily as my own name.

I’m currently stuck in Beijing – I’d planned to be here until Thursday, but my entire team is stuck in Switzerland, so I’ve had to cancel most of my planned agenda.  I’ll still travel onwards to Dalian in two days to make a short courtesy visit to the team there, then hopefully I’ll be able to catch a plane back to Europe at the end of the week.  Everyone is taking things in their stride and being as flexible as possible; meanwhile, our local counterparts are being very gracious and accommodating under the circumstances.

I was in Taiwan last week, and the rest of the team are struggling to get home.  They’ve made it as far as Bangkok (normally not a bad place to be stuck, but with the escalation of the red shirt protests and the threat of a counter-protest by the yellow shirts, and the ever-present threat of rising tensions & violence, I’m not sure it’s a great place to be right now).  One of my colleagues didn’t possess a visa for Thailand and was unable to clear immigration, so spent two days sleeping in the airport before finally catching a flight to Athens.  From there, he’ll catch a ferry to Italy, then make his way to Switzerland using a combination of trains, busses, and rental cars.  And he’ll have quite a story to tell at the end of the day.

Beijing is cold and wet, not exactly an ideal place to be stuck.  Around me at the hotel, all the talk is the same: when can we go home?  We’re all in the same boat…

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Chinese receipts, neatly stacked in a single pile

Chinese receipts, neatly stacked in a single pile

After waking up early this morning, I thought I’d try to sort out some of my receipts.  They’re all written in Chinese, so this was easier said than done.  But I’d just about managed, and had them each sorted into little piles by expense type and date.  I hadn’t labeled anything yet, figuring I’d label them when I came back from breakfast.

I switched the Do Not Disturb light on, afraid that housekeeping might clean the desk.  As I walked down the hall, the housekeeper asked if she could clean my room.  Against my better judgment, I let her clean my room – with the inevitable results.

All my receipts, neatly stacked into a single pile!

Taipei 101 tower at night

Taipei 101 tower at night

View from Taipei 101

The view over Taipei from Shin Yeh 101 restaurant at Taipei 101

View from Taipei 101

The view over Taipei from Shin Yeh 101 restaurant at Taipei 101

Time for a few thoughts now that I’ve had a little time in Taipei.  Having a great trip so far, making good progress in our meetings.  As always in Asia, our local hosts have rolled out the red carpet for us and are showing us everything the city has to offer.

Taiwan reminds me much more of Singapore than of mainland China – modern, clean, efficient and with a real business focus.  The hotel is superb, and there is a huge variety of food on offer here, reflecting the many Chinese immigrants that bring with them culinary traditions from around the country.

Spiny lobster with yam puree on fresh tomato

Sauteed crab with spring onion and fried noodles at Shin Yeh restaurant

Sauteed crab with spring onion and fried noodles at Shin Yeh restaurant

We were treated to a ten-course seafood banquet at Shin Yen 101 restaurant the top of the Taipei 101 tower (until recently the tallest building in the world).  It was a great meal and an even more amazing view.