Hey, Haven’t You Left Yet?

Travelling the Silicon RoadWell, no, I haven’t. Judging from the very first reader comment generated by this blog (see the second entry), It dawns on me that we haven’t made it clear exactly whether or not I’m actually in China yet, and if not, when exactly I’ll be going.In the immortal words of Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain.”

It wasn’t until recently that I was sure when I would be going (see the first entry). There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is, this is essentially a month-long business trip, and there are a many logistics to be worked out. Some of them are still being worked out. Try setting appointments some time on the other side of the planet where people are getting into the office about the time you’re getting ready for bed, and there is often a language barrier to boot. It ain’t always easy.

But the flight reservations have been made; plane tickets have been purchased. My Chinese visa is in my passport. China, here I come: I arrive on Beijing late in the afternoon, on Saturday, October 8th. I leave Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6th. In between those two dates, I’ll be spending time in Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, Xiamen, Chengdu and Shenzen.

Here’s an example of one of the many bumps on the on-ramp to the Silicon Road. I was originally slated to leave a week earlier. However, there seemed to be a sense of reluctance — if one can gather a sense of anything from an email — on the part of the initial companies/people I contacted in Beijing to meet with me the first week of October. I didn’t think much of it, but then one of Reed Business’ folks on the ground there in China that is assisting us with this project — and we are eternally grateful — finally set us straight. That week marks a national holiday in China, National Day, which is celebrated over the course of the entire week.

Sounds suspiciously Western, stretching a holiday out for an entire week.

But I digress. National Day/Golden Week is one of three weeklong holidays in China; the others are the Spring Festival, corresponding with the Chinese Lunar New Year, and International Labor Day/May Day. The Chinese government instituted these weeklong holidays seven years ago with the dual goals of giving laborers extended time off at different points throughout the year, as well as boosting domestic tourism. It’s worked so well that it puts a burden on the domestic Chinese travel infrastructure; according to some recent news reports many people are reluctant to travel now during these holidays because of the crowds at train stations and such. Many have begun to campaign for a more flexible holiday structure as well.

Trouble in worker’s paradise, perhaps?

In any event, it’s not the time for someone to travel to Beijing and conduct business, namely my business of interviewing people about their business — because they won’t be there. One would think, with all the reading that I’ve done about China lately, I might have known about this, but the first I or my colleagues at E-News heard about it, was when our colleagues in Beijing pointed out that it might not be the best week to start on the Silicon Road.

Electronic News Travels to ChinaOne of the reasons I was chosen for this assignment was the fact that I had never been to China, and that I would be experiencing it for the first time. Of course, if I had more experience with traveling to and in China, I might have known this right off the bat. But then that’s half the fun of a project like this — and traveling to some place totally foreign and new to you — discovering it for the first time.


P.S. I’m pleased to see that a few readers have taken advantage of the ability to comment on these posts. I encourage everyone who wants to, to feel free to do so. Suggestions, praise, and complaints: we welcome them all.

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a blog entry of mine that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. While its former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge), as far as I know, this blog content isn’t hosted anywhere else on the Internet, hence my reproduction here.

Original Comments

at 9/29/2005 12:54:57 PM, Ron Bauerle said: I assume you’re arriving Sat. Oct. 8th, not April … Ron

at 9/29/2005 2:31:02 PM, Cliff said: While you are at, see if you can find out how a country as big in geographic area as the US can function on one time zone and no daylight savings time. I have been to China more than 100 times since 1979 and have never been able to figure this out.

at 9/29/2005 2:58:46 PM, Clements E. (Ed) PAUSA said:

I think you are missing an important part of the Semiconductor scene in China if you do not visit the industrial parks in Suzhou (China-Singapore Suzhou Idustrial Park)and TianJin (Xiqing Economic Development Area).

at 9/30/2005 2:52:03 AM, Marto Hoary said: I am interested to know if you have been advised to learn any Chinese language prior to your visit. Or more appropriately, I would be interested to know if, during your stay in China, you see the need for a suitable crash course in a Chinese dialect for western business visitors to China.

at 9/30/2005 6:16:57 AM, Hong Wu said:

Hi Jeff, This is Hong, a Chinese native who spent 6 years in the US (earned a PhD in EE at Cornell Univ). I returned to Shanghai, China in 2003 and have worked in the semiconductor foundry industry since then. Shanghai’s Zhangjiang and Jinqiao Hi-tech parks are two must-see’s. Particularly, in the foundry bloc, you should take a look at SMIC and HuaHong NEC(& HuaHong Group).

BTW, HuaHong Group could become a “virtual IDM” in the near future. As for the life in Shanghai, it is pretty much like in most of the metropolitan cities in the US except that many of the local people may not be able to communicate with you in English freely. 🙁 Anyway, take it easy and enjoy your trip in China. Welcome to Shanghai/China! Best Regards, Hong Wu

at 9/30/2005 9:26:01 AM, Glen Stevens said:

I have just returned from my first trip to China. To say that you will have an eye-opening experience is a tremendous understatement. I left with a better understanding and respect for the “China Machine”. I’m looking forward to reading about your experience!

at 9/30/2005 12:38:25 PM, Sam said: I like the idea of a single time zone. Too bad USA is not on a single time zone — it would simplify a bunch of things.

at 10/2/2005 10:32:21 AM, Stuart said: Take it from a guy who’s been to over 50 countries including China and absolutely loves the Chinese food served in America: 1) take a lot of granola bars with you 2) get a couple of those travel rolls of Charmin and carry one on your person any time you’re out of the hotel.

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