Friday, November 10, 2006

Dalian, China: Scout-It-Out

Brian has been in Dalian for the past several days. I chat with him every night - either on a phone with a crackly connection - or on Skype, with a severe lag and echo. Hard to say which I prefer.

The first time he called, there was a delay and crackle, which made it almost impossible for me to hear him. I thought he said there were icebergs in Dalian, when what he really said was he could use Skype in Dalian.

So he called me back. The second time, the connection was slightly better. At least I was able to make out what he was saying. Following are some quick updates and observations so far...

First, the job. The opportunity is looking really good. Loads of responsibility. The people in the office are very enthusiastic and very eager for him to join. He is super excited. So fingers-crossed, we'll be moving to Dalian soon (Ha! Good thing I just finished unpacking).

Brian reports it is a clean city, even when compared to a place like Singapore. The folks at the office have gone out of their way to find a Western doctor and an apartment for us. I was very concerned about water. I think I can sleep better at night knowing both Coke and Nestle supply clean, filtered water to the city.

Now onto the culture. As I have lived in Hong Kong, very little surprises me. The Chinese have figured out a way to employ as many people as possible - I guess they've had to, seeing as how China has a population of 1,200,000,000. Something that would take one person to accomplish in the US, takes at least three people in China. It's almost as though they make up jobs, or assign managers to projects, just for the sake of making people managers.
For example, in Brian's office there are three ladies in purple track suits (no silly, they aren't oompa loompas). They spend their entire day walking around the office cleaning, putting things away, etc. There is also a tea lady. Yes, she makes the tea. When I was working in Hong Kong, we also had a phone cleaner, who would literally visit you twice a week to clean your phone.

Brian has also commented on how crazy the streets are - for example, he saw a car going the wrong way around a roundabout. There is no such thing as pedestrian right of way. It's more like "walk at your own risk." I've heard people literally drive on the sidewalks as well. Interesting.

Oh, and my favorite... The Chinese government officially turns on the heat in December, so people across Northern China are freezing their tails off at the moment (there are currently snow flurries in Dalian). A company can pay the government to turn on the heat in their building, but in doing so, they also pay for the heat for all the other businesses in the building. Residences are treated differently. You can pay for heat as you need it.

So that's the news from the streets of Dalian, China. You heard it here first.


I am embarrassed to say that I have not had a pedicure in over a year (one is not supposed to get pedicures while pregnant and after having a baby it is so much harder to find the time...).

The woman who was doing my pedicure was clearly dismayed at the condition of my feet. I wanted to explain to her that our place in Switzerland had slate floors, which were gorgeous, but absolutely dried and ripped apart my feet.

Chase sat quietly on my lap the entire time. She focused every ounce of her being on what the woman was doing to my feet. She sat absolutely still for almost an hour. It was amazing.

There were a couple other women getting pedicures as well. They chatted with Chase as if she was a regular, getting her regular color (pink, I'm sure). It was hilarious. I could tell that Chase really felt like she was part of the club.

The movie, The Devil Wears Prada, was playing on the TV. It was in English, with English subtitles. The subtitles were so terrible I found myself laughing out loud. For example, at one point the subtitle had the word corpse in place of where someone said "of course."

Maybe the translator was taking the title of the movie too literally?