Seeing Taiwan

Today was tour day.  Dr. Po Chien Li graciously offered to take us around Taiwan and show us some of the sights.

The day started off a bit unusual, as I was seemingly adopted by an elderly Chinese couple from Toronto.  I held the elevator for them at the hotel, and the rest is history.

After breakfast, I parted from my new Chinese parents and the group left with Dr. Li.  We visited a famous temple in the morning, then headed out to the coast for a look at a small fishing village, a seafood lunch, and then up into the mountains to a village that used to be the center of gold mining in the region.  Back to the hotel and another day in Taiwan is behind us.  We have free time the next two days, before we leave for Vietnam.

Here we go, out to see Taiwan.

This is one of the famous temples in Taipei.  It is still in active use.

Jimmy, at the temple.  Jimmy is our go to guy for ordering food in Taiwan.

The gang posing with a ship in Bishan (literally: green sand) village.

More hamming it up in Bishan.

Some of today’s fresh catch.  Our lunch was a cornucopia of fresh seafood, straight from today’s catch.

Here we are at the Gold Ecological Park in Jinguashi, a historic gold and copper mining town.

We took the opportunity to learn how to pan for gold.

Shanne got the gold fever and discarded her pan and began to rummage through the dirt with her hands.  We had a hard time getting her away from the village.

That’s all for today.  Check back tomorrow.

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LEDS, MBAS, and Karaoke

What an amazing (and long) day.  I daresay the group will tell you that this has been our best day yet.  We visited Solteam Group in the morning, and learned about their Switch and Optical businesses, learning from their top management.  Then Solteam treated us to an amazing lunch.

After lunch we took a trip out to Yuan-Ze University to meet with Dr. Jonathan Ho and a group of his MBA students.  We had a short presentation, and then the students took us around campus.  We then had a terrific dinner with Dr. PC Li and some of the students.  We finally got back to the hotel around 10pm.

This welcome met our group at Solteam HQ.  This sign was made using their LED technology.

Dr. Li, of Solteam’s board of directors, introduces the company.

Jack give us an overview of Solteam’s switch business.

Our group with the Solteam representatives.

Our team mixing with the MBA students from Yuan-Ze University.  They hit it off right away.  This was a great event.  For many Taiwanese students, their greatest aspiration is to study and work in the United States, and they were eager for knowledge of the US.

Some from both groups, hamming it up in front of the library.

Above:  A little international hello to Abigail and her classmates.

Above:  Folks from both groups getting into the spirit of Karaoke.  Our American students were good, in a fingernails-on-chalkboard kind of way, but our Chinese students were amazing.  Below is a video of one of their songs.  It is a little dark, but the sound is the important thing.

That’s all for today.  Cultural tour tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

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Taipei: Day One

We hit the ground running in Taipei today.   This morning we visited TE Connectivity, formerly Tyco Electronics.  If you have followed these blogs over the years, you know that TE has been an incredibly good friend to Clarkson, and as always, that trend continued today.  TE was gracious and informative.  They showed us where they stand in the fast paced world of the electronics industry and gave us a great introduction to Taipei and what it is like doing business in this region of the world.  Many thanks to Jill and Vicky and the rest of the TE team in Taipei.

After lunch we visited the corporate offices of the Far Eastern Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Taiwan, with businesses in 10 different industries.  We had a video presentation and then Q&A with some of the officers of the Group.  It was a great visit.  Thanks to Dr. PC Lee for his help in arranging the visit.

We went out to Shilin Market for dinner.  The Market is a crazy busy place for eating and shopping.

Above:  Jill Huang presents to the group at TE Connectivity.

The group watches a TE employee in their testing lab.

Dr. PC Lee answers questions at the Far Eastern Group HQ.

Shanne and Robin pose with a Terra Cotta Warrior at the Far Eastern Group.  Even a Terra Cotta Warrior would not stand between Shanne and a shopping bargain.

Images from the Shilin Market.  Cheap, delicious local food meets crazy crowds.

Until tomorrow.

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Sayonara Tokyo, Ni Hao Taipei!

Japan’s loss is Taiwan’s gain.  We left Japan this afternoon for the next leg of our journey, Taipei!  We also rejoined our comrades from the Hong Kong group, so we are 12 once more.  We have a busy schedule of business visits, a guided tour, and finally some free time on the weekend.

Reflections on Tokyo:  What can you learn about a culture in a few days?  And is what you think you learned accurate?  I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I will share our perceptions of Japan.

There is a strange mix of cultural influences in Japan.  On the one hand, they are a polite and serene people, on the other, there is a frantic energy in much of what they do.  They seem incompatible but it seems to work here.  The people were unfailingly friendly to us, but they also moved fast, always focused on what they were doing and where they were going.

The focus on efficiency is evident here.  Very little is superfluous.  Everything is only as big as it has to be.

For the traveller, Japan is an expensive place.  The language barrier was far greater than we anticipated, Perhaps the most difficult our groups have experienced outside of mainland China.

The people, the culture, the architecture, the natural beauty of Japan:  all made for an unforgettable trip for us, short though it was.

And now Taiwan is our host.  Very different in many ways.  Check back to follow us on this new leg of our journey.

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Temples, temples everywhere

A long day today.  We visited Kamakura, a town on the coast.  It is a picturesque little spot that is simply loaded with temples.  We spent the day out there, and then headed to Yokohama to have dinner with Rina Taguchi.  Rina is a friend of Dennis and works for a measurement and testing equipment company in Yokohama, so we took her to dinner and picked her brains a little about her business.  Back to the hotel late and exhausted.  Tomorrow we leave for Taipei.

Here is the group entering the Kotoku-in temple area.  It is quite cold.  Much colder than we were prepared for.

We want to give a big hello to Abigail Williams.  We want Abigail to remind her dad to watch both ways before crossing the road.

This big guy is known as the Great Buddha.  The statue dates back over 800 years.

Here is Adam at the second temple that we visited.  Adam has been on an all-ice-cream-diet for the last little while, but we are slowly introducing him to solid food.  Speaking of ice-cream, several of us sampled an ice-cream that this region is known for:  Purple sweet potato.  It was very good.

Leanne, Adam, Blake, and Stephen climbing the temple area steps.  Stephen is holding one of the boxes of swords some of the group purchased outside the Great Buddha temple.  Yes, swords.

This sign is unusual, but very true.  There were hawks everywhere, like seagulls but with sharper beaks and claws.

And finally, here is the group with Rina (far right).  Many thanks to Rina for taking time to meet with us and share with the group.  Rina also recommended our trip to Kamakura, which we greatly enjoyed.

Until tomorrow.

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A glimpse of the future..

We (the Tokyo group) visited the Panasonic Center today.  The center is a corporate showcase for cutting edge environmentally friendly technology.  It was amazing and encouraging to see the advances in turning everyday technologies into green technologies.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs for most of the center.

After the Panasonic Center we did what more visitors to foreign lands should do:  We wandered.  No plan and no destination.  It was the right choice.  We met some friendly people and saw some amazing sights.

This is Jameson doing Jameson-ey things.  Ask him about the Panasonic Center.

Stephen, Leanne, and Jameson with Mario, on the 2nd floor of the Panasonic Center, which was dedicated to video gaming and advanced learning through technology.

After the Panasonic Center we had lunch (Italian, of course) and started to wander.  We wandered into large groups of people, mostly girls, dressed as Anime characters.  We don’t really know why.  But they seemed happy to pose with us for pictures.

They liked this building, so here’s a picture.

Here is the gang on the Bridge of Dreams, an amazing piece of architecture.  I tried to get a photo of them jumping in the air, but I snapped a moment too soon.

Jameson and Dennis with Lego Buzz Lightyear.  This was in a large Mall we visited.

That’s all for today.

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Tokyo: Day One

Our first day in Tokyo was pretty uneventful.  We arrived to our hotel around 4:30 pm, got cleaned up, and went out to explore a little.  It is cold and rainy.  A bit colder than we expected.   Tokyo is a bustling place.  Everyone seems to be in a hurry.  The language barrier is a challenge, but we’re muddling along.   Today we intend to visit the Panasonic Center and sightsee around Tokyo.  Check back later for details.

Above:  The gang at the Burlington Airport, eagerly anticipating 30+ hours of travelling.

We left Taixu (Eddie), Shiguang (Jimmy), Guannan (Robin), Jia (Jason) and Xiaoyang (Shanne) in Hong Kong.  We were not able to obtain Japanese visas for them in time for the trip, so they will enjoy the hospitality of Taixu’s family and explore Hong Kong for a few days, and meet up with us in Taipei.  We will miss them but HK is a great city and they will enjoy it.

The rest of the gang here in Tokyo, feeling the spirit of Anime.  **

We are here for a number of reasons, but one of the primary is learning how business is done in Asia.  The way that goal is realized is often surprising.  On the long bus trip from the Narita airport to our Tokyo hotel, we met a gentleman from Pittsburgh who works for a Quebec company with manufacturing and sales offices throughout Asia.  We learned as much from him on that bus ride than we have from many of our more formal visits.  Thanks to Bill Howden of Exfo and hope he and his wife enjoy their time in Japan.

**  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

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