Wednesday, July 30, 2014

3 cities, 3 weeks, phew, I'm exhausted and ready to come home!

Hi all,

I meant to post stories and photo's during my trip, but this trip was VERY busy and I just didn't have any free time to update my blog.

Today is my last work day on this Asia Business Trip. It has been a very good trip - on a number of levels - but I'm ready to head home on Thursday July 31st.

So before I share my photo's and stories, let me put my work trips in context for you.  First, let me say that I am really thankful for my job and overall really enjoy the people I work with and the interesting work I get to do.  I truly enjoy these trips, not so much for the adventure of it, but because I get to know the people in my company that my dept supports and it is really a joy to see how they use the systems and processes my team develops to do their jobs.  Each group I meet is unique and fun in their own way and I'm always impressed with their professionalism, expertise and passion for doing their job well.

If I didn't ever get to work with them 'face to face' I would never know them as well or appreciate the work they do.  I also wouldn't get to really see the impact of the projects and initiatives we work on at corporate so I am truly thankful that my company sends me on these trips for these reasons.

But, the trips are very difficult.  Mostly because they take SO MUCH energy.  I know you've all had 'one of those weeks' at work.  You know, the type of day or week where you have a ton of things to do, and then 3 new urgent things pop-up that destroy your plans.  You wind up going 100 miles an hour, doing 10 million different things and work through lunch, then stay an extra hour or two after.  You finish exhausted and feel like you still left 100 things undone.  You finally give up, head home and collapse on your favorite chair.  If you are like me you grab your favorite drink (wine or tea) curl up with a dog (or two) and read mindless facebook posts or watch shows like 'america's got talent.'

Well, when I'm on these trips, every day is like 'one of those day's.'  Everything back at corporate is still going 100 miles an hour so you have to stay on top of that and you are working really hard to help the training group.  During training breaks, users come up to me and ask 'side questions' which I"m happy to answer but i"m lucky to get to the bathroom once or twice during the day.  the day ends (2 hours past normal) and I just want to go sit in comfy chair, but instead I have to navigate a foreign city street and/or public transportation.  the signage is great, but it still requires a fair amount of 'paying attention' to get to the hotel.  Once there the decision is what to eat.  I don't want to wimp out an eat at subway so I try to find a local restaurant with a picture menu.  I scan it, make a best guess that what I'm ordering is not jellyfish or eel and then taste the food.  No vegetables in sight.  Some of it tastes good, some of it doesn't.   Most of it appears not especially healthy, but it fills the void.  Now, sometimes the dinners are REALLY good, but generally they are just average and very different from what I normally eat.

Now that my appetite is satisfied, I head back to my hotel room and there is no comfy chair, doggie or mindless TV.  So I sit on the bed or at the desk and while I read mindless facebook posts my work inbox rapidly fills with about 30 e-mails per hour.  When I travel in Asia, I am 12 hours different from the US.  So when I return from dinner at 8pm, it's 8am in Boston and the e-mails start flying - many with URGENT in the subject.

So I muster a little bit of extra energy and answer e-mails for 2 hours and then collapse in my bed trying to get my mind to still and get some sleep.

And then the next day it starts all over again.  Oh and let's not forget the 14-18 hour trip to get here and adjusting to a 12 to 13 hour time difference and jet lag.... okay, enough on the tough stuff, on to the fun stuff...

So, as you look at my pictures and read my stories, keep in mind, yes it's interesting, yes it's exciting, but yes it's really exhausting also.

So, a few highlights of the trip.

First, my training partner convinced me to go to a rave party on Saturday night in Taipei/Taiwan that was happening at the hotel we stayed at.  We were at the W hotel (very glam and hip) and we hung out till 1:00 am listening to techno hip and looking at the beautiful people of Taiwan that showed up at the club.  I was the OLDEST person there......

Second, going to 'Bread of Life' church in Taipei Taiwan and LifeHouse Church in Tokyo.  Both were great churches, full of the holy spirit, friendly people and great pastors who has a real gift for teaching....

Third, going to Maokong on a 'Hello Kitty' gondola.  Enjoying lunch and tea ice cream from a tea house at the top of the mountain range.

Fourth, surviving Typhoon Matmo's direct hit to Taiwan with no issues what-so-ever.  They closed the office and we stayed at the hotel and the neighboring area.  Lots of rain and wind, but no issues.  Took advantage of the day off to catch up on e-mails and drop off laundry for 'same day service.'

View from my window at the W of Taipei 101 during the typhoon.
Above is the 'same day' laundry spot.  Since my training partner was asian, she had no problem finding this place in an alley near our hotel.   She knew how to speak mandarin so I trusted them to take my laundry in. Never would have done this on my own.  Notice the birds outside and the cramped space... yup it's asia...

Fifth - getting to know the team at our regional offices.  We had people travel from India, Korea and China to join the training.  I think you can figure out which one is ME!  Only non-asian in the room.  This is Taipei...

Below is Tokyo...
Sixth - going to Tokyo Disney Sea....

All the rides were in Japanese.  All the people were Japanese.  They had some pretty incredible rides.  We went on 'Journey to the center of the universe' twice.  I also visited Cape Cod (ha, ha... it looks just like it, made me very homesick!)

Seventh - eating sushi, a coke slurpee (yup they have them in japan) and various flavors of shaved ice....

Eighth - Singing Karaoke with some of the ladies from the Tokyo office.  They loved my rendition of 'I'm sexy and I know it' and '9-5'.  They did some awesome singing - both in English and in Japanese.  It was a lot of fun.

Ninth - instant messaging with the team back at corporate in Boston.  Many days, the tech team or my other co-workers were the last people I conversed with before bed and then the first people I conversed with in the morning.  It was great how well they supported our training program when we had system glitches, user access problems or just needed to see a happy smile face ping the IM at 11:00pm.

Tenth - Finishing the last training class, well at least for Asia.  I have 5 more training classes to teach, but except for Europe in August, the others are all driving distance from Boston.

As we concluded each training class, my training partner would create a graphic for the local audience with some type of image we thought we resonate with them and the message 'practice, practice, practice' in their local language.  Below are two of the images we used.  The first is an image of a chinese fable.  The second is an image we used for Japan.

It is now after midnight on Wednesday.  Tomorrow I have some souvenirs to buy before I catch the 'limo bus' to Narita. I will so enjoy walking onto that airplane, seeing familiar American (and Canadian - I'm flying Air Canada) faces and sinking into my seat.  I won't even mind the long flight because I'm going home.  My dear husband will meet me at the airport and I'll greet my two doggies when I arrive home (oh and I'll also greet Sarah and Ivan if they are home) and I'll collapse in my own bed, so thankful to put my head on my own pillow!

Thanks for visiting my blog today.   Have a great day.

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