The Silicon Road

Travelling the Silicon RoadIn October, 2005 I spent a month in China, traveling across the country and investigating its semiconductor and electronics industries, with the goal of separating the reality from the hype. An excellent opportunity to stretch my wings a bit professionally — but it turned out to be a bit of a watershed event, personally.

While travel abroad certainly wasn’t new to me, it was the first time I had the opportunity to spend that much time in one country, mixing with the locals, eating their food, and learning their culture. I think I learned as much about myself as I did about China, and I often think about going back. In spite of what can be said of China’s government and politics, both external and internal, its people and its culture are amazing.

Lion and MaoI more or less decided on the plane home to America that I wanted to not just travel but live abroad, and began to think seriously about making it happen. You see, I’d picked up a disease while in China; I’d gotten the bug, as one expat I met on my travels put it. Four years and two months later, I bought a one-way ticket to  Southeast Asia. But I digress.

The powers-that-be at the now defunct Electronic News dubbed the project the Silicon Road, a play on China’s Silk Road, obviously. The project had its own microsite at Reed Electronics’website; the Silicon Road site aggregated all of the copy I filed from China, along with a corresponding blog and photos from my travels.

Anyway, those travels started out in Beijing, where I was graciously hosted and assisted by colleagues at Electronic Business China (EB China was an ENews sister pub — also long gone). They were invaluable to me, assisting me on the ground and providing a student interpreter who accompanied me on most of my trip; he also proved invaluable.

A screen cap of Electronic News' Silicon Road blog map.Then we moved onto Shenyang (via overnight train, sharing a room on a sleeper with two other curious Chinese travelers) in northeast China; back down to Shanghai; onto Xiamen, a former Dutch colony on the coast across from Taiwan; inland to Chengdu, capital of Szechuan province (and home to some of the best food in the world); and finally to bustling Shenzhen and Hong Kong, that international jewel of a city.

The Silicon Road microsite is long gone along with Electronic News, but the news stories from China remained on EDN. The blog was still there for a couple years, but it is now gone, as well. Fortunately, when I got laid off from ENews in the spring of 2006, I had the foresight to grab a copy (albeit an unwieldy one ) of the microsite using Adobe Acrobat. I’ve used that to reproduce the blog entries here.

As explained at length elsewhere, I’ve also reproduced here many of the news stories that I filed from China as part of the project. While those stories can still be found in the EDN archives, (and I have linked to them in the body of each story reposted here), they are getting more difficult to find with the passing years.

Electronic News Travels to ChinaRather than wait for them to suffer the same fate as the blog, I’ve chosen to preserve them, as I’ve done with my other clips, for antiquity. No more having to worry about losing clips to ownership and content management system changes. No more updating links.

And before you ask, yes, I ate dog, among many other exotic things; no, I didn’t eat monkey brains. Pretty sure that one is a myth, at least as far as China is concerned.

The Silicon Road news stories

The Silicon Road blog entries

Addendum, August 2016: It’s been over 10 years since then; in that time I’ve been across the globe a few times, moved abroad and dealt with numerous trolls (some on the Internet, some in real life).

I’m a bit embarrassed about how I flew off the handle a few times while in China back in 2005, in response to what were obvious trolls. Keep in mind, blogging was still somewhat new back then; Facebook, for example,  wouldn’t open up to the public for another year.

I’m also a bit embarrassed about my rather obvious naïveté about traveling abroad for a month, now that I’ve spent several years abroad. But it is what it is; I’ll leave it up for posterity — and my own amusement and bemusement.

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