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Visiting Tropical China: Paradise is Where You Find It

Korean Food

Today I got an early start, preparing for the first supplier site visit of the trip. I met Stan at 0700 for breakfast and strategy. The breakfast buffet was outstanding; the strategic planning, not so much. Oh, we covered a nice variety of topics. Since this is a totally new effort, though, we’re not quite sure what should happen, and what will happen. So our strategy is to pray and wing it play it by ear adjust to the realities as they slap us in the face magically appear.

Our site host gathered us up about 0800 as planned, and we headed out in the light rain to go to Dongguan and the site. It’s a pleasant enough drive, and only took an hour in spite of traffic and the weather. Roads continue to get better over time here, and that’s making business easier to transact all ’round.

The site was very nice, and we began the discussion in good form. By lunchtime, though, we were beginning to flounder just a bit. I argue it was low blood sugar. I know it couldn’t be caffeine starvation, our hosts plied us with a continual stream of strong coffee and English tea. (I wonder: Does caffeine poisoning have the same symptoms as low blood sugar?) So we did the only thing we possibly could do at this point: We adjourned for lunch.

A funny story about coffee and tea before we move along. Our host, Kevin, asked if we wanted “tea or coffee” to begin our morning. We said we would take either one. So of course, they brought us both. In ample supply. I knew by afternoon we’d be hard-wired and taking lots of breaks. Maybe this is a new business strategy? Hmm…

More Korean Food

We were taken off-site to a very swank Cantonese restaurant, at the Metropolitan Yiking Hotel: The Hoi Wan Seafood Restaurant. Not the one in Hong Kong, but about as good! Lots of animated discussion about prospective dishes took place between Kevin and the waitress, and then the meal began.

It was wonderful. Full Cantonese place settings, appetizers and pickles, and lots of tasty dishes (including dim sum) were placed on the Lazy Susan and shared around. A surprising number of the dishes had chile spice in them, of one kind or another. I’m used to Cantonese being milder, with very little chiles or zesty spices. This stuff ranged from tongue-tingling to borderline hot. Outstandingly tasty!

There wasn’t any real mystery, though; our host had heard Stan talking with me about spicy food, and the rest is history. This also affected dinner, as it turned out.

The afternoon saw us completing our assessment in record time, with good results overall. We learned, they learned, and we all have ideas about how best to proceed. Now we have to write the report (oh, like, yea) and build a joint action plan. This work is grueling, I tell you. Extremely challenging.

So we did the only thing we could do at this point: We adjourned for dinner. At a Japanese restaurant that serves Korean food…

The Team

We got settled into the dining room in fair order. At least they didn’t make us sit cross-legged on tatamis; I’d have needed extensive medical reconstruction after a couple of hours of that.

Stan and I sat back and enjoyed the proceedings. We hadn’t a clue what was being ordered, but we knew it would be tasty and plentiful. Our host didn’t want us to starve on his watch! Quickly the table began to fill up with lots of Tasty Bits. Most of them spiced with chiles. A couple varieties of kimchi, just to get things started properly, and then some drinks. Tsingtao beer in the oversized bottles that are so prevalent in China. Tea, of course. A few other appetizers, to be sure we didn’t fall asleep while waiting.

Entrée dishes were prepared near our table on a gas stove, then delivered piping hot to our table. Plate after plate of them! The way we ate them was to take a large lettuce leaf, add a piece of meat dipped in spicy chile-garlic sauce, then top with pieces of vegetables, garlic slices and green chiles. Stan and I both agreed, the green chiles were sneaky hot. They didn’t seem bad at all to begin with, merely zesty. By the time you’d finished chewing, though, you were extremely grateful to have a fresh glass of cold pi jiu within reach.

We ate and ate and ate, and still there was food staring back at us. All the kimchi disappeared, and pretty much all the meat. And the beer, of course! So after some more discussion and experience-sharing, we chose to adjourn. Another big day ahead tomorrow! Thanks, Kevin, and Frieda, and Martin, for a great day and two memorable meals…

Enjoy the (Flamin’ Korean) Heat!

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