China 2007

Here is my travel journal from my trip to China, which was centered upon my presentation at the 2007 eBusiness conference at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. I posted a bunch of pictures on Picasa.

I love to stretch business travel opportunities. For some years, I was able to expand an annual conference trip to Tokyo into a week-long solo vacation. And last year, I was invited to submit a presentation to the e-Business conference at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. While I would have to pay my own way, I was certainly interested anyway. And once we were able to plunk down the tuition money for our college freshman, I started planning in earnest. The conference was only two days, but let’s add a day after for networking. And, how about a day or two to acclimate in Shanghai. What about the family? Maybe put them on a Yangtze cruise so I could concentrate at the conference. But that’s lots of money, and let’s be honest, I like to travel alone sometimes. The nights might be awkward but the days are glorious. What about the language? I already knew a few characters from my Japanese. MP3 Chinese lessons are readily available, and they became a staple of my daily ride to work.

Now some empty nesters could act all threatened if their spouse developed a raging interest in another country and started avidly learning its incomprehensible language while fantasizing out loud about one day living there. I wondered, was my fear of creating fear in my partner added paradoxically to the glamour of seeing my way to a potential brand new life. We avoided collision early on. I invited Mary to join me on this trip, the plan expanded to include Beijing, and a second week. She added her customary touch of perseverance to our expereience. I probably wouldn't have gone to a salsa club alone.

Just Another Asian City: Shanghai, May 21 to 24

Going Up the River: Wuhan, May 25 to 28

Quick, While It's Still China!: Bejing, May 29 to June 3


Then what?

For a few days I felt I'd forgotten my Chinese. But I'm recovering from that and I've enrolled in a Conversational Mandarin course at City College. I've been dreamily browsing web sites for immersion courses in China, wondering which schools are fraudulent and which might offer real value.

I will look into offering a one week course at the conference in Wuhan in 2008. Why the hell not? It makes a great resume item even if nothing more comes of it.

As in Japan, I've been close enough to expat life to de-glamorize it. But unlike my experiences in Japan, I feel that I have stuff to build on, and the personal flexibility to follow up on my interests. I can grow my language abilities without having to wind up a pathetic shadowy figure in the back of some Irish bar.