Hey there, O faithful reader...
Man, what a long time since actually posting. Since I last posted, quite a lot has happened, and included in that was the fact that my wife and I visited China with Brian and Caris, Bryan Cheung, Alice, and Dave, to go spend time with Mark, Ivan, and Shepherd.
What an experience! There are a few times in everyones life when travel truly changes you in ways you were completely not expecting.
The China trip was one of those times.
To begin with, nothing really changed my view of flying during this trip. Except maybe that I need a height-ectomy. Flights both ways were pretty much par for the course of my normal flight experiences: painful.
But the actual trip more than made up for it. I will also say that the pleasure of this trip is completely due to the grace of the people we were visiting with. Had Jessica and I gone by ourselves, we no doubt would have come back with a vastly different experience.
We were made to feel completely at home, and even though our Mandarin is limited to Ni hao and Xie Xie (Hello and Thank you), we were able to get by because of the patience of the people we were with, and the patience of the Chinese :)
The first day, I will say, was really rough. We landed with too little sleep, and the city was very overwhelming at first. Luckily though, we fell into sync with the local timezone the night we got there, and were not jet lagged at all.
This was also the very first time in my life that I've traveled internationally and did not get sick, and that is quite a big deal to me :)
I got to me a lot of really great guys, and I will always remember Steven, Gavin, Sai, and Dale because their patience with the language barrier, and their hard work learning the Liferay theming system. They were incredibly friendly, and I do miss being out there.
Surprisingly, I don't think my comfort level was stretched too far. More than anything, I was really curious about things, but the odd thing was that while I thought the whole personal space thing would cause me grief, it's strange how oddly liberating it is to be squashed in a moving metal can with other people and have no concept of moving your arms, let alone "personal space".
The food there was quite good. Some things, not so much, but for the most part, most everything I tried, I really enjoyed (of course, the same is said when I eat anywhere, which suggests I'm not so much a worldly foodie, but more just a person who likes eating).
Of course, eating at a Chinese McDonalds and Pizza Hut were actually pretty strange.
The food outside of the chains were where the best food was found, though. Dumplings, wontons, and the normal Chinese fare we're all so familiar with was there, but so was live sashimi (where they cut off the flesh of the fish and leave it there on the plate moving its mouth...), chicken-head-kabobs, and all sorts of different and exciting items.
I DID manage to get my Diet Coke fix. It was glorious.
However, the first day went a bit rough in getting it, but due to the persistence of our friends, we did manage to complete the quest, as you can see below. The first machine I tried took my money, but wouldn't give me the Diet Coke. I had to settle for a freakin Fanta! But we would prevail:
Also, our office there is freaking AWESOME. I don't envy the internet speeds, but the office is so nice.
I could go on and on with vivid detail, and I might in future posts, but I will say that I learned some really amazing things while I was there.
One is that how I think I am coming across to people is often very different than how I actually am. I learned that when I interact with people, a lazy tongue and an eager ear go further than they're often given credit for.
I also learned that the people I am lucky enough to not only call co-workers, but friends, are insanely patient, loving, and kind, which humbles me that they deign to consider me a friend as well.
Lastly, I learned that my wife is much more adventurous and patient than I really knew, and I'm not only glad she got to go for this trip, but just overall incredibly grateful for the opportunity to experience it.