Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
7Trip End Mar 17, 2007
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First, we had to attend a meeting cum briefing session by our investee co about their business progress in China. We discussed broad business strategies, challenges & opportunities ahead. Opportunistic aspect seems abundant even at Guangzhuo (GZ) alone although they have other business centres such as in Beijing & Shanghai.
Guangzhuo (GZ), known as Canton in the old days and also refered to as Kwangchow, is the third largest city in China with a population of around 12 million in the urban zone alone. Imagine that! I googled somewhere and it said GZ is considered a beta world city with estimated 24 million residents within the area, second largest after Tokyo
It was a good company briefing and discussion session. Its what we came for. To see for ourselves, the operation and prospects on the ground. Our investment was to ensure that they grow their wings in China. Thats what they did and they did great :).
Next major stop would be to the multimedia and animation centre at the Technology Park. But we had some time in between. So they brought us for a quick walk at Shangxia Jiu Lu. At first I thought it was a mall. Nope, its a pedestrian only shopping area. Reminded me of Hong Kong and people say its better and cheaper to shop here in GZ then in HK. Another famous shopping area in GZ is Beijing Lu. We didn't go there coz of time constraint. Afterall, we were here for business
Shangxia Jiu Lu is a restored traditional shop area housing many local and international branded shops. "Shop what you want but always haggle for the right price, we only have 45 minutes", said a friend. Now hanggling is what I like though I still pale in comparison if compared to the wimps n skills of my wifey. Sometimes I felt embarrased on the way she haggled. Asking 80% mark down??!!! But she surprised me many a times. Hmmmm, so I need to learn from her but perhaps that means more shopping? that means I was not hanggling enough? That means I should polish and master the skill further. Unfortunately she wasnt around this time but when it comes to haggling, I will always be reminded of her :)
So we walked down Shangxia Jiu and the sales girls ever so sweetly tried to entice us into their premises. "Sir please buy, Sir please look, cheap Sir, very cheap....." etc...etc. By now, one thing impressed me about GZ girls/ladies. Noooo, not how beautiful they were, but on how fashionable they were. GZ, being near to HK, is one of the most fashionable cities in China. Their high boots, thight jeans, long coats, fashionable caps and hoods, sunglasses etc. what hv you in vibrant colours and shades. Its like Milan of the east. They really know how to be fashionable and some were head turners indeed ;P ...LOL
We went into a shop selling traditional and modern clothing for man. I bought a white Bruce Lee's type silk drape (normally worn in those Kung Fu movies, you know those that make sounds whenever you make fast hand movements just like in the movies?) adorned with beautiful woven dragon motives on it. I luv dragons. Just dont know why. LOL. My chinese friend said " Buy , its cheap", then he said something to the salegirl, I'm not sure what, probably and I'm just assuming that he wanted her to give me a good price for it. Guess what? I stupidly bought it. Yeaaahhh.....stupid me. Well.....I like it but when will I ever wear it? To what occasion? Its now hang elegantly in my closet, not being worn in any occasion. I'm not sure until when it would be there or perhaps I should just give it away or better still, ebay it?
Talking about Kung Fu, there was this eating franchise that really got my attention in Shangxia Jiu and all around GZ. Its called, what else, Kung Fu.....LOL. They had Bruce Lee as their main logo. I was told its a fast food outlet like McD but offering local food stuff. You simply cant miss it. Its bright yellow and red with the staff wearing jumpsuit like attire in yellow!!! I didnt try it out so no further comment on the food but Kung Fu & Bruce Lee in Yellow stood out like a sore thumb
We then proceeded for lunch cum meeting again. This time with some bosses of Citic Bank at Citic Plaza. It was a great lunch where I was educated on two subjects. Nooooo...... not about business, but about food. My fav subject...hu..hu... Firstly, the story of a lychee tree and its fruits that fetch handsome value. its the most expensive fruit? really? I thought durian is the king of fruits. A single rare lychee,fetched a record price of 555,000 yuan (67,000 US dollars) at an auction in GZ. The lychee was produced by a rare tree named Xiyuangualu. It is said to be more than 400 years old and yields only a small quantity of lychees per year. The Xiyuangualu lychees began to serve as tributes to the imperial court (Qing Dynasty) then and enjoyed worldwide reputation as the "king of fruit". Hmmm, how would it taste like to be as expensive as that? Must be heavenly superb, I guess. Secondly, its about the fish that we ate which is only available in a certain river where you can even eat the bones. Yes the fish taste awesome, deep fried simmered with soy sauce. Unfortunately, I forgot its name. How could I ? Its some kind of a river carp. I tried to Google its name, but failed. Well, to keep the story short, I aet the bones. I used to munch fish bones with other fish helpings but this time, theres nothing left :) Hmmmm........ Life is full of new experiences & surprises
We then visited an animation production house at the Technology Park. Interesting stuff on how digital animation & cartoons were made. After that we proceeded to a media studio producing local TV contents. Well, all that glamour looking presenters, stage and studios were actually staged / filmed in a non impressive building. Hmmm.....Life's a stage? Well, sometimes perhaps.
We went back around 4pm before our next itinerary which is dinner cum business get together. Instead of resting in my hotel room, I took the free time off to venture out on foot to see if I could find a local muslim or arab restaurant. I saw several while on the road around town. Yippy.....I was in luck. Theres a huge arabian restaurant nearby called 1001 Nights. Wooah.....it was great to finally find something to eat. I mean to eat heartily. :) I ordered some prata and nan bread with some mutton tika to go with the bread. Not bad, considering the need. I took their business card just in case I would need to come back again one day. Hmmm, they got 3 outlets in China, one each in GZ, Shanghai & Beijing.
That night, it was the highlight of the day
Fisher Village is said to be a very famous restaurant. Some brag that its world famous. I'm not sure about that. They also have a hotel called Fisher Hotel. Man oh man, this place is massive. I mean I'd never been to anything bigger than this. Its shockingly massive, grand, elegant & extraordinary!!!! , both in dining size and varieties of seafood to choose.
its 4 storey high building complete with escalators just like in the malls, with over 4,000 seats capacity, 140 deluxe private dining halls, with the ground floor devided into 3 parts, large dining area, aquarium area, and kitchen area. They have everything from Crocodiles to snails to water cockroaches ha..ha.. yes they do! I saw snake like thingy, (never bothered to ask them what they were actually, hopefully eels but pretty sure they look different, maybe water snakes, you can eat that?), puffer fish, mudworms, horseshoe crabs, turtles, freshly butchered aligators meat ....man you name it
Its kinda open system at the groundfloor, visit the aquarium galleries to pick your likings, select them, inform them how you would like it cook, you can watch the chef cook your meals over the glass divider or just wait at your table for the fresh food to be served.
We were at one of those private dinning halls upstairs complete with in room LCD TV and Karaoke system. There were about 10 of us including a film star from HK who was in GZ for some shooting session and was invited to join us for the dinner. It was a big spread and heavy dinner indeed.
Guangzhou is massive and they really demonstrated that to me simply by sampling a portion of it.