June 6 to 14, 2006 - Suzhou and Hong Kong
Overview Click on the map to enlarge
Here is a map of southeast China to show where I went. I've superimposed the dates and routes of the trip to indicate my travels. Traveling from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG) takes about 15 hours and goes approximately over the north pole. The return flight takes about 14 hours and goes anywhere from near the pole to south of the Aleutian Islands. I believe the airlines simply try to avoid headwinds in the jetstream on the westbound trip, and to maximize tailwinds on the eastbound trip.

Notice that I didn't fly directly to Shanghai from Chicago. Flights to Shanghai are actually a little more expensive than flights to Hong Kong. Since I needed to travel to Hong Kong on the way home, it only cost half as much to purchase a round trip to Hong and a second round trip to Shanghai as it would to do a 3-way (Chicago to Shanghai to Hong Kong to Chicago). The trip there was a little grueling... 15 hours to Hong Kong, a 3 hour layover, then a 2 hour flight to Shanghai, before a 2 hour drive out to Suzhou... whew!

1 - June 8, 2006 - Matt's Apartment Click on an image to enlarge
Click on the map to enlarge
The map above will give you a little better idea of where Suzhou is relative to Shanghai (about 80 miles west). Wujiang, where we plan to open a molding facility, is a few miles south of Suzhou. One of the things that makes travel in China a bit more difficult, is that there are few local maps in English. Likewise, I can't imagine there are too many maps of US cities which are in Chinese.

You can see that Matt's apartment is brand new. It's a bit on the "modern" side, but quite comfortable. He could use a little more furniture, but he had just moved in when I took these. The kitchen is on the small side, by our standards, but, I think, typical of apartments in mainland China with separate kitchen areas.

The views off his balcony are pretty cool. Notice the canal which runs next to his building (row3, column2). Suzhou is known for it's canals. I've heard that it is considered "the Venice of Asia". I really like the little walkways near the tennis court, because it's so... Chinese! Instead of making a straight, boring walkway like we would, they have one that not only wiggles back-and-forth, but also changes in width! There's great attention to detail, in artistic matters, but very little in more practical aspects. Notice that although the building is new, the railing is already showing signs of rust.

While we were on the balcony, there was a huge ruckus as someone ignited a batch of fireworks in front of the Dio Coffee shop across the street. Matt says there's construction going on in the building, and the workmen use the fireworks to frighten off "ghosts". Really! The lower right corner photo is the apartment building from the ground.

Click on an image to enlarge
2 - June 9, 2006 - Takin' Care of Business
One of our tasks in Wujiang, at this time, was to apply for a license to do business in China. Matt and I first met the people from the Wujiang Economic Development Group when they were traveling through the Chicago area. Left to right, Jennifer, Jimmy, Matt, and Angela, they were incredibly helpful in getting us moving. The application is 53 pages long, and Angela translated it into Chinese, for us to sign, in about a day! We got to meet Angela's husband, her son, Chin-Chin, and her mother-in-law.

The lower pix show the empty lot, on our customer's property, where the building will be constructed. It will be small, only about 10,000 square feet, but we have great hopes for the venture.

3 - June 10, 2006 - Suzhou Walk
3a - Eastbound The first 3 pictures were taken at the park, just south of the Dio Coffee shop. You can see it in the shot from Matt's balcony above (row 3 - column 3). The first two show a playground area, complete with green rubbery matting. I liked the bamboo grove, but have no idea how they get to the inside to service the inner plants... it's so dense!

Once through the park, Matt and I started walking east, back toward Shanghai. It's sort of an urban, divided highway along this stretch of road. Either side of the road, for at least 15 miles is SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park), but only the first few miles are developed so far. They obviously have big plans for the future.

The reddish strip on the sidewalk (top right) has raised bumps, so blind people can feel the texture and walk straight down the sidewalk.

The canals and lagoon are almost as interesting as the activities going on. There is some use of modern devices, such as the guy with the hedge trimmer, but notice that the grass trimming is being done with one small power mower and one small army of people to remove the clippings

Click on an image to enlarge
I think the small vehicle driving down the street (row 5 - column 4) is for concrete. The batches are obviously much smaller than the big concrete trucks we use. I've seen big concrete trucks at different construction sites in China, so these little ones aren't as big as they go, but might be useful for smaller jobs.

The gardens are meticulously cared for and beautifully designed. Notice how the trees are all hand wrapped with rope. There's a LOT more of that on the other side of the street (below). Colorful flowers are everywhere. That funky shaped metal thing with the metal spheres is a bus stop (row 6 - column 2). The spheres are seats. There are a number of identical sites around the city.

I have no idea what those 2 guys are doing among the lily pads (row 3 - column 1).

3b - Westbound
Click on the image to go to a page of "Westbound" photos
I'm trying to keep the number of images on this page down to a reasonable number, so it will load quickly. The rest of the trip photos are on other pages with about 40 to 50 pix on each. Obviously I'll keep the verbal meanderings close to the photos to minimize flipping back-and-forth.

Anyway... the Westbound photos show the extensive park, on the south side of the street, which we walked through on our return jouney to the apartment.

4 - June 12, 2006 - Star Ferry
Click on the image to go to a page of "Star Ferry" photos
Click on the map to enlarge
I took quite a few photos during the ferry ride. Most of them turned out pretty well.
Matt and I returned to Hong Kong from Shanghai on June 11. On the following day, we took the ferry over to Central to meet with our accountant in Hong Kong, and sign the final papers for the registration of Dimension Molding Asia, Ltd. It is now a registered Hong Kong company.

We also went to a small visa business, which Matt uses to renew his visa, and applied for business accounts at the Bank of China, in Hong Kong.

5 - June 11 to 13, 2006 - Jordan and Central
Click on the image to go to a page of "Jordan & Central" photos
My hotel (the "Evergreen") was in Jordan, so I've put together some random photos I took in Jordan, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Tsing Yi. They're on the same page as the "Star Ferry" photos from above, so just scroll down a bit once you get to the page.
Click on the image to go to a page of "HK Business" photos
6 - June 12 to 13, 2006 - Hong Kong Businesses
One of our neighbors, who teaches International Business at a Aurora University, asked if I would speak to her class about my travels around Asia. Although I'm not much of an expert, most of the students haven't traveled outside the U.S., so they might benefit from a few minor insights.

Since I agreed to the talk, I decided to take a few photos of retail trades in Hong Kong, and these are the results.

7 - June 11 to 13, 2006 - Matt & Coral
Click on the image to go to a page of "Matt & Coral" photos
Actually, there are only a few photos of these two... and not very good ones. The problem is that they're on to me. They keep watching to make sure that I'm not taking their picture. I have to be really sneaky to get candid shots of them. If you thought I was sneaky before, I'll tell you that I'm improving!
8 - June 13, 2006 - Hong Kong Harbor at Night Click on the image to go to a page of "Night Harbor" photos
Way back last June, Meg and I saw a fireworks display across the harbor. I've just found out that there is a "show" every evening around 8:00 pm, involving music and buildings!

Again, I'm saving a little space, and loading time, by putting these on the same page as the "Matt and Coral" photos above. Just scroll down a bit after clicking on the image at right.

9 - June 14, 2006 - Hong Kong Airport
Click on the image to go to a page of "Airport" photos I never thought my Finepix S5100 would focus through the window glass of the airport terminal, but it did! I was so excited (and I had nothing better to do), that I took a number of photos of the airport with planes landing and taking off. Some are pretty cool.

They're on the same page as other photos above, so scroll down after clicking on the image at left.