Commuting back and forth to work over here can be a harrowing experience. Anyone familiar with Asia will agree that the driving style is a mixture of chaos and zen - cars seem to move randomly from lane to lane (and I say "lane" in the loosest of ways) and everyone cuts everyone else off. It's the automotive version of the way Chinese crowds work - no notion of waiting in line and priority of place. It's just about getting where you're going as quickly as possible.

Shenzhen is a crowded city with lots of traffic. A good portion of our ~45 minute commute is either trying to get to the expressway or get across the city. Cars move quickly in a never-ending game of chicken.

Once outside the crowded downtown, things open up and you get an idea of what it was like ten years ago. I remember lots of hills, huge expanses of red-orange dirt and a patchy canopy of trees. The sides of the road are lined with huge campuses emblazoned with odd-sounding Westernized names. Whether it's a literal translation of the actual company name or a description of their goals, there's no mistaking that the ownership is local.

Those little patches of greenery are the exception, however. Most of the streets are lined with aging high-rise apartment blocks that are desperately in need of a power wash and a coat of paint. There's a perpetual curtain of laundry hanging in every window and the "indoor" plumbing was clearly an afterthought.

There's an upside to all this madness, though. No matter where you are, no matter how long you've been in the van, you can always get something to eat. They even deliver.

The glamor of business travel

First of all, let me apologize because it's been so long since I've posted. Not that I really believe that there's a dedicated group of folks out there just aching to know what I've been up to, but more because I was starting to really enjoy this and I've been neglecting it. Well, hopefully, I'll be able to do better - at least for a while.

That being said, I thought I would take the next week to give folks a taste of the "business travel" life. I'm sure many people have a notion that going somewhere on business means great food, lots of partying, and is generally a boondoggle. Let me be clear - business travel is (for me) nothing like that. It's darned tiring first of all and it's also hard to be away from home. A phone call is not the same as being there (despite what the phone company would have you believe). So without further ado, here goes.

Step 1: The Flight

Company policy is that we fly coach rather than business class. The UA planes on the Asia routes are some of the oldest in the fleet - and the ones on the Hong Kong schedule are no exception. Ah, stowing bags on a 747 ...

This is one of my colleagues bracing himself for the 14.5 hour flight. Yup, that's right - fourteen and a half hours. That translates into three "meals" (I can hardly call that slop we're fed a "meal"), four movies, two short subjects, four Disney Channel sit coms and a bunch of time looking at the Map Channel. Note all that leg room - hey, we're in Economy Plus!

In economy, there's no choice of program - you get what you get. So, I do my best to make good use of the time. Generally, that translates to knitting and reading. I did this:

Two copies of The Atlantic, a copy of Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters and the pattern from the current Rockin' Sock Club. The yarn is Sockotta by Patons, rather than the BMFA yarn that came with the kit as I thought the kit would be too stripey. Imagine my surprise when this stuff started striping! I thought it would be more "flecky", but I'm liking the way the sock both looks and fits. I didn't get to either the magazines or the book because it took almost 10h to do the one sock, but that means I have them for the flight back!

When I'm here in China, I keep my sanity by hitting the treadmill every morning. I'm generally awake at 3am so that gives me a chance to wake up, watch a movie, have a cup of coffee and a Clif Bar before hitting the gym at 5:45a. The workout room doesn't "officially" open until 6a, but the world is down there competing for treadmills well beforehand. I've been stuck on an orbital before and it was not an experience I'd like to repeat. Anyway, the outcome of all that activity is this:

Yup, sweaty running clothes hanging up in the shower. It pretty much takes 18h for stuff to dry since it's so humid and I'd rather not pack wet clothes. This is my equivalent of "flying the national flag of Singapore".

Finally, I always leave a bit of a mess in the bathroom when I head out for the day. Toiletries, grooming aids and such strewn about on the beautiful marble top.

I'll show you what they do tomorrow. If only I got this kind of treatment at home!

Hibernating ...

Not dead, just BUSY!

Good news - house sold. Furniture tomorrow.

Bad news - going to China ... again.

Blog more when over there. Lots of catch-up (knitting) to do!