Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preparing for a Typhoon

Hi friends,

Well, as mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, here I am in Taiwan, a few hours before Typhoon Matmo (or Typhoon Henry) hits the Island.  Don't be alarmed, no-one else here seems to be the least bit concerned about the storm, so I guess I'll take my cue from the locals.

Taiwan is an island off China.  I am in the capital city of Taipei which is on the northeastern corner of the island.  The storm is projected to hit the middle of the island and then move along and hit China a few hours later.  Currently they say the storm will hit here around 2 am and in the morning there will still be heavy rain till after lunch.

I think they expect the storm to just dump a lot of rain and wind as it quickly moves over the island, but unlike hurricanes that hit the east coast, that have no-where to go once they make landfall, it will be just coming in and moving out quickly.  I guess we'll find out.

The local office of my company is closed tomorrow.  To accommodate the meetings I am leading, we rescheduled one meeting to today from 4:30-6:30pm and then we'll start early on Thursday and end late in the day to cover the meeting agenda items.  I have no idea what we'll do tomorrow at the hotel.  I'm hoping I can go to the gym and maybe read a book.  Most likely I'll just answer e-mails from corporate all day long while the rain batters outside my window.

So, my trip to Asia is going really well.  I am in three cities over 14 days.  First we went to Shanghai, China, now we are in Taipei Taiwan and next week we go to Tokyo Japan.  I am here at our regional sales offices training the sales team on our new pricing software - Vendavo Systems.  Normally I visit these sales offices about once a year to review pricing policies and re-affirm training to the users.  I always travel with my boss on these trips, but this time I am here with one of the Vendavo consultants.  She was born in Malaysia and speaks several languages including Mandarin.  I can't tell you how much more interesting it is to be in China with someone who knows the culture and language.  Normally I get along just fine with the phrase Shay - Shay (thank you in Chinese), a credit card and a smile.  But I have no idea what I'm eating most of the time and have no understanding of the things I see around me.  Now, with my co-worker by my side, the whole city has opened up and I am really enjoying being here.

She does take a bit of advantage though... where-ever we go, I'm always asking 'what is this.... what did he say.'  She is like my Chinese Wikipedia.  She confessed yesterday that she only really knows 75% of the time and makes it up the other 25% of the time.  I thought that was hysterical and told her to keep answering everything.   But be warned, my source of information on these countries is now not to be trusted!

The other cool thing is that we are like two peas in a pod, only with a 20 year age difference.  Like me, she's a high intensity - go-getter kind of girl.  She is a christian and shares my same faith. She is a business woman specializing in pricing systems.  She is outgoing and adventurous.  She reminds me a little of me at 30 years old, only me at 30 if I took the path of a career instead of a family.  Oh and me if I had a lot more self confidence and poise at that age.  She's also a lot smarter than me at any age, but that's a good thing.  I like hanging around smart people!

I also like hanging around with her because she is challenging me to learn new things and try new things.  For those of you over 50, you know how much we prefer to just keep on doing things the way we always have, but I do know, it's good to learn at any age.

She encouraged me to learn to write Thank You in Chinese, so when we gave the host of our training a gift card, it would have the Chinese characters.  She drew the symbols out on the white board and then I did my best to copy them onto the thank you card.  She giggled when I started 'writing' because I put the lines in, using a very different 'order' than a Chinese person would do.

She also encourages me (not forcefully but gently) to try new foods.  Below I am enjoying shaved ice with pineapple from a food court vendor in Shanghai.  Normally I would not dare to try this type of food because I would have no idea what was in it!

Saturday night she talked me into going to a Rave party with her at the hotel bar.  Ba ha ha... me at a Rave party!  I managed to stay awake in the bar till 12:45am. Probably because the bright lights and loud beat were pulsating through the room.  It was fun, but boy did I feel old there and my pillow felt really good when my head landed on it at 1:00am.  I justified staying up so late because hey, in Boston it was only mid-afternoon!

On Sunday I recommended we head up to the Maokong mountain range.  This is an area where you take a gondola ride for about 30 minutes to an area of Taipei famous for tea.  We took the Hello Kitty themed gondola to the top and then enjoyed lunch.  We visited a tea house and tried some tea flavored ice cream.  It was a fun afternoon, but really, really hot! Oh and I was told that Maokong means 'meow kitty' in Chinese.  That could be right, or there is a 25% probability that it is totally made up.  I will never know!  Oh and in case you didn't know, I'm a huge Hello Kitty fan so I had a lot of pictures taken that day!

The tea house with a special tea ceremony set up.

The view from our lunch spot.

The views today were not as pretty.  When we left the office at 6:45pm, it was raining already and the streets were very crowded with traffic.  It was difficult to find a cab and for a ride that normally would only take 20 minutes, we were in the cab for an hour.  Thankfully we got back to the hotel with no issues and we are hunkered down for the night while the storm approaches.

Attached to our hotel is a shopping mall/transit station.  We were able to get a quick dinner at the mall food court and not step foot outside.  Below is a picture of the mall.  It was pretty crowded for a night when a storm was approaching.

I had something like Won Ton soup with a noodle dish (similar to pad-thai) and a honey tea drink.  It was delicious.

Oh and below is some crafty goodness for your enjoyment.  This is a card I made before I left for my trip. It's a shaker card.  The inside circle is a pop-out plastic overlay and inside are colored buttons that shake around when you pick up the card and move it.  It's a fun card with MOVEMENT.  

Well, that's my update so far.... stop back by later this week to find out how I weathered the storm and for more photo's of Taipei and/or Tokyo.    Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Make it a great day!

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