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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My impression of Beijing changes every time I visit.   Compared to my last trip in Sept 08 (right after the Olympics), I noticed the following changes, both big and small.  Of course, the entire world has also shifted quite a bit over the past 6 months or so.

  • Traffic is a bit worse than during the Olympic period.  Apparently they have moved from a “driving every other day”  system to a “driving 4 out of 5 days” system.  All traffic controls will be off in April, so perhaps back to normal.
  • Beijing looks more weathly across the board.  6 months ago, I noticed young people being particularly wealthy (or at least in their display of wealth).  This time around, I would say that an average Beijinger does not look much different than someone from any other major cities.
  • Beijingers look more content, for people up to say, 50 or 60 years old.  I used to be able to see the worries off people’s faces from everyday toll.  Not so much this time around.
  • Cab drivers have become less talkative; minding their own business
  • Lastly, at least among the educated elite there, there seem to be an acceptance that some form of social or political unrest will come over the next decade or so.
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Took some time to update both the Beijing page, and added a page for Guilin/Yangshuo.  Also added some travel resource links on the sidebar…

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Customer Service

Customer service is certainly not one of China’s strong points.  I have a new view on service, however, after a few trips to Beijing.  If you define customer service as a proactive behavior, then China scores terribly.  If you define customer serice by what you can get done, it’s actually not bad at all.  You just need to ask.  Sometimes not once, not twice, but multiple times.  Actually, I mispoke – asking is a bad idea.  Demand, otherwise you will set yourself up for a rejection.

This seems to be the same in India as well.  In a CNBC speicla called “India Rising”, a call center staff made a comment that Americans are very polite.  Even if they’re really upset about something, they’d ask (rather than demand) certain things. 

Point to self: do as the Romans do!

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On a recent trip to Beijing, I met an American who was on his first visit to China.  He made a comment that he’s a bit disappointed about Beijing because it “didn’t feel like China”.  I wasn’t quite sure how to respond since, 1) if that was his first visit, how does he know what China should feel like?, and 2) it is true that Beijing is looking more and more like any other international city – at least for the areas where foreigners usually visit.   

Reminds me of what a local told me while I was in Thailand a while back – the odd phenomena that westerners like to see poverty in their travels.  We do tend to equate poverty to culture for some reason. 

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