Gaungzhou January 16, 2007

19 01 2007

2007-01-16 (Tuesday)

I still haven’t got the sleep thing right.  0400 is NOT when I’m supposed to wake up.  I last woke up about 20 minutes before my alarm, and noticed that my Internet connectivity at the hotel STILL sucks rocks… C’est la vie.  Down for breakfast..

“Sorry Sir… not included”

No!!!!! Not again!  We went through the routine again, and again we danced the dance.  I DID get breakfast though, and then headed down to the front desk (just like I did YESTERDAY!).  I explained to them that I don’t want to keep getting asked EVERY time… just bill it to the room…. PERIOD.

“Oh, Yes sir.  I’ll put a note on your room file”

Sure… we’ll see.

China is an interesting place to work.  Everything happens in its own way.  I was reminded again why I chose NOT to try driving the last time I was here.  Out here, on the outskirts of Guangzhou it is just as crazy (if not more so) than it is in the downtown area.  After the drive to work I find I need a few minutes to just regain my resting heartbeat!  Between scooters/motorcycles/cars/pedestrians and bicycles it’s amazing that we survive the drive every time.  People change lanes randomnly, and the only real rule appears to be if you’re a car you have the right of way over a motorbike, motorbikes have right of way over pedestrians.  Pedestrians… bottom of the totem pole.  It seems that it’s better NOT to signal your lane changes because then someone else might see you and get the same idea, taking your previously staked out little piece of the traffic flow.

Electrical standards are not quite the usual CSA.  The 160A breaker just sits in the warehouse with the bare wires available for any fool touch…. Nice.  Love it.

Apparently my servers all settled, and I had a working DC on Tuesday morning.  This was great, since I could now login and not have to have my electrons travel all around the world for a change.  It was a day of network wiring fun, and compromise appears to be one of the key words to surviving here in China.  I think we’ve ended up with a decent setup for networking.  The test will, of course, come when people actually try to USE the stuff… Eheh.

Tuesday was a bit harrowing, but I made it through the work day.  Now the hard part was to begin.  Dinner.

I figured I’d start with having dinner at the hotel on the first night, so I went to the front desk and asked them which of the hotel restaurants would be a good suggestion for Chinese food, as I knew they had Western as well.

“Do you like Sichuan, sir?”  (Everyone calls you “Sir”  I feel so OLD)

“Yes!”

“OK, you go out of the hotel and then turn right.  2nd floor near corner”

Obviously she didn’t QUITE understand my query.  No worries.  I’m game.  “Can you give me a bit better directions?  Perhaps you can write the name on a piece of paper so that I can see if I have the right place”

“Just one moment, sir.”  (Just one moment is the phrase that means “You’ll be lucky if you see me again, or I’ll be back before you can even exhale”)

Bellhop shows up, “I’ll take you there, sir.”

“Uh… OK”, say I – somewhat confused.

Sure ‘nough this dude takes me about a block over to the restaurant and says “Have a good dinner!”, turns around and is gone.  Didn’t sit there waiting for a tip or anything.  Wow!

I went up into the little second floor restaurant and was greeted very pleasantly in Chinese. Only.  Uh Oh!  OK – I indicate that I’m just one person for dinner and I get a table.  I got the menu and started perusing the pictures.  After a short bit, a waitress comes by to take my order… In Chinese. Only.  I’m not sure what to have.  The hostess comes over to help (thinking that two people speaking mandarin makes is sooo much easier?) They both are pointing at something on the menu and nodding their heads while speaking at me.  I nod too…. and then there’s a pause.  They look like they think I might want to order more.  I try to indicate that I’d like to know how big it is with my hands, and making “Full tummy” motions with a questioning look.  Quite comical.  That got NOWHERE.  So… I say no more, while waving my hands in the “no more” fashion.  Away goes my waitress.  Tea shows up, and I’m happily sipping away, while she comes back and asks something else in Mandarin.  We figure out that she’s asking about drinks.  What kind?  I dunno.  She disappears again and comes back with a beer. (500ml bottles are the norm).  Gives the quizzical look, and hovers with the bottle opener over the beer.  I try to ask “How much?”, but then think…whatever!  Let’s just get me my beer.  So, I nod again, and she opens it.  I indicate via my quality mandarin hand gestures, that I’d like a glass.  Poof!  One glass.  Good cold refreshing beer, albeit quite light.  Only 2.5%!

My dish showed up shortly after that.  It was a HUGE rack of 3 pork ribs (full length pork ribs) arched across the plate, and smothered in chilies and chili oil!  I did expect spicy food though, so I was OK with that.  It was REALLY good.  That one dish stuffed me.  It’s a good thing I didn’t order anything else – I wouldn’t have been able to touch the second dish.  As it was, I was taking home a doggy bag from this meal to spice up tomorrow’s lunch.

Two beers a plate of giant ribs later, I was heading back to my hotel, contented and ready for the 3rd and 4th hour of 24.  I got settled in, realized that I had no Internet connectivity to speak of (Boo Hoo!) and started watching my show.  Holy crazy episode 4!  If you’re a 24 fan, you’ll know what I mean!

2300 came around and it was time to rack out.  I figured I’d sleep well.  Not so much. I woke up again at 0330 and tossed a while before falling back to sleep again.  Damned jet lag.  Tomorrow (Wednesday, I’ll have been here half a week already… Time flies!)

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