Steve's China Blog

Monday, August 29, 2005


I am not sure how I got into this picture. Oh well, this is a few of our people in the IBM Japan group who work in here Dalian. The tall lady next to me is Yukie. She was here for several years and returned to Japan on Saturday. She said she would like to come back and work in Dalian. She was really nice, and I hope our paths cross again some day.

On Saturday a few of us went out for Kareoke (above blurry picture... they sure love kareoke here!), and then went out for dinner at a really nice restaurant called One Times One. No one seems to know why it has that name. After dinner we went to a place called Augustus Pub to see a band that we saw at the Beer Festival a few weeks ago. They're from the Phillipines and were pretty good! I'll have to find out what the name of their band is.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Whenever I am out walking around town and the weather is nice I always see people sitting around playing games. There are a lot of people near where I live that seem to be retired, and you'll see a lot of them playing games, such as cards, mahjong, or Chinese chess (which is what's being played above). They really get into playing too. I even saw some people playing cards on a very windy day, and a few cards flying away didn't stop the game. Eventually it started raining and that ended the game. I found a website that shows how to play Chinese chess, and if I ever get time I would like to learn how to play that. It looks easier than mahjong, which I always get beat at.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Work stuff

I usually don't talk about work much, but this week has been pretty busy. We are starting up a new program to help our people speak better English and Japanese (depending on their customers). We even have one person from one of our offices in Australia, Sue, who has been in Dalian the last few weeks helping. So, besides my normal workload, I am going to be mentoring between five and ten people to help them improve their English. I am hoping that in the future we'll have a similiar program to help us foreigners improve our Chinese.

On Friday we had a meeting of all of the people from our office here in Dalian (pictured above and below). Besides the "How we did in the first part of the year" and "What we are going to do in the second part of the year" discussions, there were some awards for outstanding service. My team here got an award for all of the hard work we have been doing supporting our global products.

As part of the award we also get to go out for dinner someplace and can expense it to the company. The three of us decided we would go out somewhere next Saturday, and that it would be the three of us and we could each bring a guest. I am not sure who I am going to invite since I wanted to invite Sue, but she's leaving Dalian before next to Shanghai for a few weeks and then back to Australia. Working for a global company has its good points and bad points, I guess.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

What's in a name?

If you could pick a new name what would you choose? Most Chinese that I have met here that have started learning English select an English first name for themselves. I was kind of curious why people picked certain names. A lot of people pick names because they like the sound of it, or it sounds similiar to their Chinese name, or they use the name of some westerner they admire. Of course, it works both ways... I have a Chinese name also. It's Yi Shu (pronounced Eee Shoe) which means a great book or a great read, and is pictured above in Chinese. I let my friends and co-workers here pick my name, and they chose this name since I seem to be very knowledable about a great many things. I like it.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

TV Stardom?

Today was an interesting day. My company here has its office in a part of Dalian called Dalian Software Park, which is zoned for high tech companies. Dalian Software Park decided to make a film talking with various people about Dalian and Dalian Software Park from all of the different high tech companies in Dalian and I was invited to attend. From IBM we had one person from China, one from Hong Kong, one from the Netherlands, one from Japan and myself being filmed. Basically, we just said how much we enjoyed living and working in Dalian, how nice the people were, etc... There was some speculation in our office about where this film footage was going to be aired. Some people were saying CCTV (China Central TV... the national channel seen every where in China) and some said on the Dalian TV channels, but I think it is going to be used to promote Dalian Software Park to other high tech firms who are thinking about opening offices in China. Who knows though, maybe I'll become a star! No... no autographs, sorry. Hehe

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Typhoon Matsa

Typhoon Matsa came ashore south of Shanghai and then turned north. It came back out into the ocean and when it got to the southern tip of Japan it split in two. Half went out into the Pacific Ocean and half came up the Yellow Sea towards Dalian. Lucky it was moving fast and went by us quickly. Hopefully it won't turn around and come back!

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Beer Festival (part 2)

Saturday I joined about two dozen co-workers and guests and went to the China International Beer Festival again (above). Since we had more people than the first time we pretty much just stayed in one spot to keep from getting seperated. The place we stayed at had some decent Chinese beer and some good entertainment (below).

After we had a few beers at the festival some of us headed over to a kareoke place and hung out there for awhile. Everyone eventually talked me into singing a song, which was the only song on the kareoke machine that I have ever sang before and that was Country Roads by John Denver. I now apologize to all of the dogs that were within a mile of the place whose ears had to suffer my singing.

After kareoke a few of us headed over to JDs (above) and danced away the rest of the night with some Russian girls. I finally got out of there and made it home around dawn. Sunday was a lazy day spent finishing the new Harry Potter book, watching a little TV, and snoozing.

Today I had to get up early and come into the office to take an English language proficency test. The only reason I think I had to take the test was so that the company could say that all of its employees here had been tested and had some proficiency in the English language.

I think we must be getting the edge of a typhoon that is approaching the coast to the south, since it was pooring rain (and still is pooring rain). The street out in front of my apartment was like a shallow river, and I wasn't going to be able to get across to the bus stop there, so I took a cab into work. As I was waiting for a cab a bus came down the shoulder and sent a huge wave up on the sidewalk. I saw it coming and stepped back in time, but a couple next to me didn't and got soaked. The forecast I saw on the internet shows rain for the next nine days too. I thought someone here told me they didn't have monsoons!

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

I sure miss....

Someone asked me the other day if I was homesick. I have only been here a little under six months and have been so busy I've never really thought about it. Since I am going to be returning to the US next month for vacation (and hopefully some training in Florida) I am not really concerned about it. There are things that I miss from back in the US, but there are things I like here also. So, without further ado, I present my first top 10 list....

The top 10 things I miss from the US -

10) Clothes dryer. No one here uses clothes dryers... we hang our laundry out to dry. This may not seem like a big deal, but it would be nice to do laundry and have the whole process done in a few hours instead of a few days.

9) Wildlife. Maybe it's just living in the city, but I miss going outside and seeing squirrels, rabbits, a deer or three, and a wide variety of birds every once in awhile. Maybe I should get out of town more often.

8) Driving. Speaking of getting out of town, it sure would be nice to head out on to some highway and drive around every once in awhile. It sure is going to seem strange back in the US driving alone in a car after being packed into a bus every day like a sardine. I miss my Corvette. ::sigh::

7) Books in English. I like to read, and reading IBM manuals is not that much fun. My boss just got back from Amsterdam and picked me up a copy of the new Harry Potter book... in English. Yeah!

6) Clean air, water, and streets. Those $1,000 litter fines work better than you think.

5) Tex-Mex food. Actually, I miss all of the variety of foods available in the US... Tex-Mex just happens to be at the top of the list. Fajitas, burritos, tacos, tamales, nachos, cheddar cheese, salsa, jalapenos,... (starting to feel like Homer Simpson. Mmmm... doughnuts).

4) A real internet. I really miss being able to surf what ever I want to at really fast speeds without my ISP going down every other week.

3) Excellence. Sure, you might get bad service or a bad product every once in awhile, but on the whole these things are much better in the US than most places in the world. Capitalism is a wonderful thing!

2) Individual voices. The power of people being able to speak out against what is wrong, incompetent, or corrupt is a powerful thing. Independent thought or constructive criticism here is not only discouraged but it's looked down upon and can land you in very hot water. Chinese complain about this, but end up just saying mei ban fa which literally means 'there's no way'. I loathe that phrase.

and the number one thing I miss from the US is... Family and friends, of course!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Beer Festival (part 1)

This last Friday I took the day off (or I should say night off) from work and went with a few co-workers to the China International Beer Festival. This is a yearly festival in China and a few years ago they started holding it in Dalian. It runs from July 28th to August 8th. They serve over a hundred different types of beer and a lot of food. The story I read about it said they had German beer and food, but I didn't find any German food. We did find several types of German beer and tried a bunch of them. It was a fun evening, and I am looking forward to going back this weekend before it closes.