China Diary:
South by Southwest

[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]

Oct. 26: Fudan Feedback – Meet the Director of the Waiban Office to discuss how things are going, smooth over some early difficulties. I make it in time for my 4:30 tip-off and am hitting some outside shots and even making a few passes. Francisco, one of my students in both classes, comes into the game late and plays on my team.

Oct. 27: Winter Clothes – I have lunch with Kathleen, catching up on her Guongzhou visit. Next I shop with Jackie to buy a dark blue wool suit for just over a hundred bucks, and throw in a pair of suspenders. My waist is 36 inches and they give me the largest pair of pants available, which is still snug. Back home, the Waiban office rep comes over to give me mail receipts; seems my winter clothes and some books have arrived, so we pile into the van and head to the post office. Good thing, too, because the nights are getting cool. But for the rest of the week I will be in southern and steamy Guongzhou and picturesque Guilin which is further west.

Oct. 28: Guongzhou – I Leave for Guongzhou (Canton) this afternoon to give two lectures at Lingnan College of Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen) University. This is where fellow Fulbrighter Charles and his family are for the year. Guongzhou, located on the Pearl River that stretches into Hong Kong, is one of China’s oldest port cities with its citizens maintaining business connections in Hong Kong and Macao. Referred to as "Greater Hong Kong" and financed largely by overseas Chinese, the area is among the most prosperous in China and ranks among the largest just behind Beijing and Shanghai. Indians and Romans arrived in Guongzhou as early as the second century A.D. and Portuguese were allowed downriver in Macao in 1557 with the Jesuits following shortly after. Trade was eventually restricted through a handful of merchants who had exclusive rights. But it really opened its doors to Western merchants in 1785 (largely as a result of the British trading opium). It was developed into a foreign stronghold after the Opium Wars in the mid-nineteenth century when Britain also took over Hong Kong. For these reasons (as well as being the site of fifteen rival national governments and known for its rebellious streak), Southern Chinese have always been suspect by the Northerners. Partly as a result of this history, perhaps as many as ninety percent of Chinese in North America are of Cantonese descent. Lingnan College was set up in 1888 by friendly Americans as a private business school. It was absorbed by a new university which was named after the native son who headed the Nationalist Party here waging war against the Northern warlords and later became the first president of the Republic of China. Nonetheless, it remains pretty independent within the university structure and is probably the best business school in southern China. Wendy, a graduate student, meets me at the airport and takes me to the campus dining room for a late dinner.

Oct. 29: Conducting Business Research on the Internet – Wendy picks me up in the morning to tour the town. We begin by going to Yuexiu Park, site of the Sculpture of the Five Rams (the city’s symbol) and the Five Story Pagoda which is the only remaining part of the old wall but now houses the city museum (where I buy a dish from the Qing Dynasty). After we head for the Museum of the Western Han Dynasty of the Southern Yue King’s Tomb. It is on the site of the tomb of Emperor Wen, the second ruler of this area back in 100 B.C. when the area was known as the Yue Kingdom. Then, off for lunch. The Chinese have a saying that to enjoy the best in life, one has to be born in Suzhou (renowned for beautiful women), live in Hangzhou (renowned for scenery), eat in Guangzhou (Cantonese are known for eating anything with four legs except a chair), and die in Liuzhou (renowned for its coffins). So as we enter a restaurant for lunch I examine the cages and tanks housing the menu items. My exotic treat this time is a plateful of dragon louse, as well as some seafood broth (this time, I recognize about half the floating food). But I am here to give my lecture on "Conducting Business Research on the Internet" so I pick up my laptop and Lily, a faculty member responsible for visitors, escorts me to the computer room. We have a pretty good turnout and with a few questions finish by 4:30. So, Wendy and I take the ferry across the Pearl River, then a cab to the Chinese Export Commodities Fair. This is the biggest event in town and lasts a few weeks; it also draws a heck of a crowd. But it is getting late so we take a cab to Sha (sand) Mian (flat) Island where the Westerners were restricted during colonial times, and find a restaurant (again, with the menu items on display including a donkey, dog, bamboo rats, etc.). After dinner, we walk to the exclusive White Swan Hotel. Before going home, I find a bakery where I pick up a bagel for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Oct. 30: Business Ethics – I give my second lecture, this time on "Business Ethics." After, Charles and his wife and daughter along with his assistant Lily take me to lunch. Charles and I then stroll and chat. Later, Lily sees me off to the airport for  Guilin which Bill Clinton referred to as one of the most beautiful places he has visited. It is one of China’s more scenic cities and rates with Hangzhou as China’s most famous tourist attraction. (Many compare Guilin to jumping into a Chinese landscape painting.) This area was once under the sea, but millions of years of upheavals followed by erosion have left a scenic wonderland of lush valleys and rivers nestled among jagged cone-shaped formations. I take the minivan at the airport, and seated in front of me is Tai an electrical engineer from Hong Kong. He’s staying next to my hotel (I get a room with a view) and suggests we take the van to the edge of town then a taxi the rest of the way for about half the cost. I’m game. We later meet at his friend’s place, the Ragazza Pub. He goes out into the street to get me some spicy food on a stick. After a few beers I pick up the guitar on stage and accompany Tai to his rendition of "Hotel California." The Eagles need not worry, but the audience is appreciative. Later I cross the street to a disco where an American introduces himself as a marketing professor currently teaching in Australia. I give him my card: "Fulbright Lecturer." Heading back to the hotel I pick up a couple of tangerines; seeing my Fudan University T-shirt, the clerk throws in a third one. Last stop is to buy a couple of Guilin prints – a large one and a small one.

Oct. 31: Li River Boat Ride – The city developed with the building of the Ling Canal, linking the Pearl and Yangzi river systems. Today, the main reason for visiting Guilin is to take a boat ride down the Li River which President Clinton declared to be the most scenic in China. In fact, the Chinese term for scenery is shan (mountains) shui (water). The bus ride from the city to the docks is one-half hour, and the morning is cool and hazy. I pick up some fruit at the pier for breakfast. We float for about an hour then stop for a two-hour tour of a cave. There are many cormorants tied to floating bamboo as the local fishermen use them to do their work. Back on the boat we get lunch, and I am seated with a pretty international bunch. Also on board are Monique (she works for a U.N. organization affiliated with the University of British Columbia Law School) and her mother. After floating for three hours, we arrive at the village of Yangshuo. It is getting dark and drizzling as we take the bus back to Guilin where Monique and her mother treat Annie (our tour guide) and me to dinner. I pay for the pedi-cab ride to the restaurant.

Nov. 1: Guilin Bike Ride – My flight is in the evening and it is raining in the morning. Clouds clear by noon as I check out, so I rent a bike for about a buck an hour. It’s a rusty one-speed with failing brakes, a rigidly vertical kickstand, and broken bell. I nonetheless head down the wet streets with the wind blowing in my face, backpack slung across the handlebars, and squeaky chain, rattling bike, and weary bones creaking in rhythmic counterpoint. I wander to the edge of town and stop for lunch. The locals surround me. One notices a flat tire and takes the bike for repair. I show them my calling card: "Fulbright Lecturer." By the time I am done one knee is shot. I fly home first class, but what the heck; I deserve it.

[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]


Copyright 1998 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.