Thursday, June 01, 2006

I hope they make it...

Well, it is my first day back at work in Yantai. Can't say I missed it, but I am glad to be back. My business trip to Europe went really well and it was great to see my friends in Beijing.

From Budapest I took a train to Bratislava (no, I haven't seen Hostel) and met up with my boss Max, and my co-worker Rolf. Unfortunately I got ripped off by the cab driver getting from the train station to the Holiday Inn, but oh well. We toured a factory outside of Slovakia that makes coupling heads (the thingys that attach a trailer to a car... not the most exciting thing in the world, but its what we do) and then had a fantastic Slovakian lunch (had onion soup and turkey stuffed with mushrooms and smoked cheese). We left the factory after lunch and drove to Kesckemet, Hungary and met our host and potential business partner at the Aero-Hotel for dinner. I must say, I didn't want to try the Steak Tar-Tar (I didn't like it when I had it in China), but I tried the raw hamberger meat here, and it was amazing. Absolutely fantastic! If you ever have the chance to try it, get off your "its-gotta-be-cooked-for-me-to-eat-it-high-horse" and try some. People have been eating this stuff for centuries... if it were going to make you sick from eating it, the restaurant that serves it would already have been closed down. After dinner we check out the factory owner's airplanes (the restuarant was on a small airfield... and yes, I that was a plural of airplane). This guy owns a Diamond Jet, a two seater stunt plane, a glider with takeoff engine, and an ultralight. If there has ever been a clearer indication that starting your own factory is majorly profitable, I have yet to see one. Hzabo (the owner) said that later in the trip we might be able to go up in his planes for a lesson in acrobatics and not throwing up while doing a loop-de-loop combination barrel roll, but unfortunately we never had enough time.

The next few days were full of business meetings and factory tours. I won't write too much about it, because no one reading this really cares, but I will say that it went well and we will almost certainly be building a new factory in China with this Hungarian company to produce axles.

Next it was back to Beijing to make sure Fargus, Josh, and Eli had managed to find their way from the fei ji chung (airport) to the bing guan (hotel). I met up with them and we had some good times together. Johan and I showed them around Beijing, including the Fobidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square (no, Eli... we can't re-inact the tank/student scene without getting arrested, Mao's Tomb (the "Mao"soleum... thank you Tim), the Great Wall, the Lama Temple, Bei Hai bar street, and many others. On Wednesday it was time to bid them adieu and see them off to Xi'an. Over then next two weeks or so they will go to Xi'an, Guilin, Yangshou, Shanghai, Yantai (to see me again), Beijing, and back to the US. Lord knows if they will survive, but if they do I am sure they will have some fantastic stories and pictures.

Now, does anyone have the number of the US Consulate in Beijing lying around? I've instructed my friends to call me with their one-call from prison thing. They do get that in China, right?