January 10, 2012

Beijing Day 3 (10 Jan 2012)

It was D-Day today, the reason I’m in Beijing for. The office opening was scheduled to start at 11 am but me and Phil had to be in much earlier to check on the set-up. As with any event, always expect Murphy’s Law to be in play and today was no different.

First up, there was a thick smog that brought visibility down to 100m. I thought it was a romantic fog only to read in news reports later that that it was a bad smog that resulted in over 100 flight cancellations and the air quality indexes were off the charts.

We had a lady taxi driver and locating our ulu office was a challenge with visibility reduced. At one point we passed the business park but I didn’t know how to tell her to u-turn and had to call a colleague to give her instructions.

We made it to the office eventually, late but so were the others because of the unexpected weather.

There was mad rush to make sure everything was in place, lift floors were lined with carpets, flower stands delivered.

There was an internal town hall first and we had a PA system set up but for some reason, they cleared the system after the speeches even though the microphones were more important for the customer event! Luckily they were able to come back and set up again in time!

The food was a bit late though and had me fretting when it would be set up as customers were already starting to arrive. The event started at 11am but the facility manager only arranged for the food to be delivered at 11, whereas we would have preferred everything to be ready by 10.45am.

At the last minute, there was several changes in the line-up for the ribbon cutting ceremony too which caused confusion but it all worked out in the end, no one in the management team suspected anything amiss all morning!

The whole morning’s proceedings ended ahead of schedule and we then headed back to the Ritz for the scheduled media briefing in the afternoon.

It was a good turnout and everyone was very pleased by the level of interest. Our sales head turned out to be the star of the show, all the reporters wanted a piece of her after the Q&A instead of the CEO, I guess the language was a barrier even though we had interpreters on hand.

While some 1-on-1 interviews took place, I walloped the mini buffet and drafted an article for the intranet that the CEO wanted up by today. That done, Phil stayed on for a management team dinner while Sarah and I ventured out for dinner and a spot of shopping.

We took the super-crowded subway to the Silk Market, a good place to shop but had to bargain a lot. I bought a couple of cardigans, a top for Mildred and some games for the kids.

Then we had beef noodles for dinner at a chain called Yonghe and called it a night. On the way back, I stopped by a supermarket to pick up a bag of chips and just had a nice long soak in the tub. Bliss.

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