China - An Odd Day Edition

A strange, informative and interesting day lies ahead! I think I just captured this trip in a nut shell. Nice work, self. 

This day was odd, however, for several reasons. I'll let you in on them as we go through. 

First: breakfast views! Yay!

First Oddity: Yi's accessorisation. 

Yi got them all and shared them and bought them for other people and other people's siblings, resulting in lots of hugs. Which is excellent, because Yi is one rare Chinese gentleman who is happy to give out hugs. 

I'm onto you, Yi. 

Today we visited two companies; overall, not the most helpful of the lot, exposure to new and interesting things is never a bad thing. 

First is Suzhou New District (SND) which is basically an extremely huge technology business park, about an hour's drive away. Like a lot of China, it has a helluva lot of construction, with that odd and distinct this-is-all-brand-new-and-no-one-is-here-oh-god-please-come-populate-the-place kinda of feel. 

Main building, with a bit of a security hiccup. 

Bec taking in the local sights.

In an extraordinarily fancy board room with waitresses constantly filling our tea cups, presenter Edward Wang gave us the SND lowdown. 

With Isabella and Wai Sin. #Chester

Unfortunately for me, my eyes couldn't deal with it. Not even slightly. It was as bad as Clarins, if not worse. Actually, a lot worse, because the teachers were sitting right across from me this time around.

Afterward, David came up to me and said quietly, but sniggering, "Are you okay? Tim and I were taking bets as to whether you'd actually put your head on the table."

Anyway, retail/lunch therapy! Realised in retrospect that we put a lot of trust in our friendly yet enigmatic bus driver, but alas, here we are at our supposed planned location of a massive shiny shopping centre literally in the middle of no where. This is still SND. It was still empty.

Mini SND! For real estate purposes.

Lunch time! With a food court, but Chinese style - massive, fast, efficient, messy and fuss-free.

This is hilarious because it's French for "cabbage cream". And because the French are weird, the word for cabbage can also mean "sweetheart", so it's also "sweetheart cream" which can be as stupid or creepy as you decide it to be. See, look at this multicultural education you're getting. 

All the stores were pretty much the same - compare it to a food court in Australia, it tells quite an interesting tale regarding branding and its importance here.

I also still don't understand the prolific use of plastic food as a kind of menu; like it's great for us, who would be unable to order a damn thing any other way, but surely they're not there just as a hurdle over language barriers. Maybe it's more efficient? Instead of a long conversation outlining what you want and menus and different dialects and descriptions, you just point. Many Asian restaurants in Australia do the same thing (though with varying success, as they can sometimes look like someone got plastic surgery on their vomit), and it's just a really strange way of doing it.

Extraordinary fried rice made to order.

This place was different - make your own soup, choose your own ingredients! Like a mini mart. 

There was a few random hours to kill. Lucky for us, we found a games parlour. 

Is that even what you call them? I just realised I have no idea what you call them. "Games parlour" sounds so...retro. They're usually just called Timezone or something? Anyway. Who cares, because we found one.



Mario Kart to the death (of Bec, alas. So close).

Iz showing how it's done (surprisingly not by screaming and throwing the ball wantonly at the net. Which started to move. Which was alarming, okay).


 In which it took all our money and we couldn't get it to work or make it not BeyoncĂ©-level difficulty or two player or work out which limb went where, and when we asked the bloke working there for help, he responded to Whitney with, "Why? Your friends can't dance..." IT'S NOT MY FAULT YOUR MACHINE IS STUPID.


Universal gesture of WTAF. 
Then Steph added her unique interpretation to the necessary arm movements.

There's a video, but I think if I published it, even Steph would hunt me down and exterminate me. 

For the sake of argument, let's just say I won (which I did at air hockey, so technically yes).

Still bloody hot everywhere, so went in search of ice cream. Found Chinese supermarket. This was definitely interesting.

Juxtapositions again, this time between the isles super branded and packaged things with fresh fruit and veg still with branches attached.


Haw haw haw! Kinda.

After intricate team and decision management: success! 

Very confused branding. 

Later we visited Bluescope Steel, originally an Australian companies with many successful business ventures around the world. Here, the presentation was short, because most of it we saw first hand with an actual tour through the astronomically large plant. 

We got to play a bit of dress up. 

This was all really awesome until you remember that it's at least 40 degrees outside with at least 243% humidity, and inside a huge, still, steel factory, it's even more oppressively awful. The machines weren't even on, which was extremely disappointing. I wanted to see some steel grinding action, dammit.

Anyway, here's our presenter Jane Xu, plus #Chester and Sam.

Another oddity: most of the kids went back to the hotel (cited "exhaustion" and "study" as excuse, psh) but a few of us cooler people stayed and had dinner with the teachers, which was an interesting experience. 

Mainly because it was under a giant pair of pants. 

At a legit Mexican Cantina.

Having a proper burger. Sweet, sweet burger. 

Begone, Chinese food. I ate half of it before I realised I had to take a photo. SEE WHAT I DO FOR YOU, BLOGGERNAUTS. 

So a burger after so much Chinese food was a bit like:

(not sure if I mean the burger in this visual metaphor to be the cookie or Tom Hiddleston, so you decide) 

Fun fact: I've been home for a good while (remember how I am generally a slow arse) and I have still yet to have Chinese food again.

Our walk to and view from the Cantina however was a good one.

China, in an image?

So you remember how Suzhou is a small town of roughly 12 million, and all I saw were 2-story white washed buildings and canals? 

Turns out this is where the 11.99 million live.

It's like the Gold Coast, times about 70, and it doesn't end. I saw no evidence that any of it ended.


Odd social things - marketing discussions with teachers, examining previously mysterious youth, relationships and drinking habits of said teachers, and finding out Jimmy can barely finish one beer. 

Fun fact though: Jimmy knows a ridiculous amount about cars, and used to be the best drifter in Singapore.

Maybe keep other fun facts to myself.

Sam's set.

Stay classy Wai Sin.

IT'S GETTING DARKER. Which day tends to do, I suppose.

Shiny new, scary, ridiculously huge and intimidating part of Suzhou, it was nice to see you, and whoa.

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