I was thrilled to be invited to meetings in China, and after completing the visa process and studying the professional culture, I headed to Beijing around the time of Chinese New Year. Experiencing the local business customs in person was very interesting…including proper business card exchanges and a traditional hosted dinner with heaping plates of food. Speaking of food, I enjoyed the cuisine I sampled, and absolutely fell in LOVE with Peking duck…the city’s specialty at the famed Da Dong Restaurant. One eats the crispy skin with sugar, and the chef prepares it tableside with a proper duck being cut 180 times.
Sometimes, I can’t believe my blessings, as I was in Beijing during the final days of the spring festival (Chinese New Year). This means fireworks every night and big red lanterns hanging from the buildings all over town. The last day of the festival, a big group of us headed downtown and had a delish dinner before enjoying the view of the celebrations from the penthouse bar of a swanky hotel. Imagine seeing a panoramic view of more than ten full-scale firework displays—underneath your feet! I also enjoyed an hour and a half foot massage for around $20 on Friday evening, as well as gallons of real jasmine tea…both quite the treat!
After the business portion of the trip, Saturday was a tourist day, as my Finnish colleague and I spent the day visiting some pretty famous sites: the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, a silk marketplace, a jade factory, and…the Great Wall. It was astonishing to see some of the ancient parts of the city and learn more about the mythical Chinese animals, like the lion statues that guard the entrances to palaces and buildings. A tour bus was the best way to see a lot in a small amount of time, and I felt completely at ease as discovering some of China.