Day 17 – Shenzhen: BYD, Lenovo and leaving China

After more then two weeks of traveling through China mainland, our last day in this large country has arrived. At 7am everbody had to be checked out. Unfortunately not all of us got their laundry back which caused a dalay of  20min. Enough time to get a cup of coffee from Mc Dondalds to strengthen us for another busy day. The visits of the companies  ‘Build Your Dreams’ and Lenovo was sheduled for this day.

Arround 10am we arrived in front of the gate of BYD in Shenzhen. First of all, the company was introduced in a short speech where they clarified that BYD is more then just a car manufacturer. BYD embraces three businesses: IT, automobile and new energy. Everybody wanted to see the production plant but due to their strict rules we could not visit it. The disappointment was only short-lived because BYD showed up with a big surprise. We were given the unique opportunity to drive with the electric car e6. A strange feeling since there was absolutely no sound of engine. This proved us that China is also preparing their future, zero emission & zero noise.

After a short stopover at Mc Donalds, specialists from Lenovo showed us the production of the well-known  ThinkPad notebook. Hundreds of Chinese workers stood at the assembly line, doing not more then one or two actions, an engraving impression. Thanks to this, the picture of a simple and standardized notbook became its face. Now we know all the procedures behind it.

Another intersting day, packed with a lot of impressions reached its end. We left China mainland behind us as we crossed the border to Hong Kong.

Day 11 – Guilin: Subachi, Tea Plantage and Student Meeting

After having a few hours of sleep, our trip continued in the early morning. We met a 7.00am and were directly driven to the airport where we took a plane and flew to Guilin. The first stop there was Subachi, a company that manufactures straps for luxury Swiss watches. The insights into this industry we got there were very interesting since nobody couldn’t imagine how the procedure of this strap necking is. In order to produce a leader strap there are around 30 steps to go through. A normal employee in this company is working around 10 hours a day, is not allowed to talk and earns on average 200 Swiss Francs a month.

After this interesting tour we checked in at our hotel in Guilin and got introduced to local students. It was a clash of two different worlds while the Chinese students were very nervous and excited, we were very aware to avoid any cultural mistakes. Together we went to visit a tea plantage where we got introduced to the deepest secrets of tea and even walked through the tea fields. Already having a lot impressions in mind, the day got even better. In our individual groups, joined by designated Chinese students, we went for dinner. So again – round table. Actually it was very delicious and of course very amusing. Although it was already late and the students were supposed to be back at their dormitory, we decided to go for karaoke. The group of two different cultures formed to a very successful coverband and had fun together until the early morning.

Day 9 – Hangzhou: Visit to Haining City Lili Leather Garments Co. Ltd, Nicelink Home Furnishings Co. Ltd and Tannery

The day 9 was characterized by chinese midsize companies in the area of Hangzhou.

After a little delay in the morning we started the day by bus in direction to Haining City. The first company we visited was Haining City Lili Leather Garments Co. Ltd which manufactures and exports leatherwear. We were impressed to see the whole process of producing leather jackets of the company. We had the opportunity to see the different divisions starting with the designing of the clothes, followed by cutting, sewing, sticking and packaging. Afterwards we were able to see the final product produced for customers like H&M, Esprit, Geox, Pierre Cardin, Only and s’Oliver.

The second company we visited was Nicelink Home Furnishings Co. Ltd which produces and exports sofa covers. This company has also a very deep value chain, producing in-house excep the used leather. It was impressive to see the size of the production hall and the many engaged employees. Very hungry we ate close by the company in a Chinese restaurant. It was delicious.

Finally we were guided through a tannery where we were able to see the different steps of producing usable leather for jackets. The company puts emphasis on the cleaning of the chemical production liquid. They collect and transfer it to a central cleaning water station where most of the waste is being removed.

Day 6 – Shanghai: Free time and acrobatic show

On Sunday, there was no official schedule. The students enjoyed the free day in the beautiful and exciting city of Shanghai which offers lot of opportunities. Some students went shopping, others sightseeing, others had to recover from the night at M1NT.  In the evening, the students with interest in acrobatics took the chance to visit the Shanghai Magic & Acrobatic Troup at the Shanghai Magnolia Theatre. The show was very impressive – a great combination of traditional and modern music and performance.

Day 5 – Shanghai: World Financial Center / Yuyuan Garden / Chinese Opera

First day in Shanghai was drawn by many breathtaking impressions. With recharged batteries, we met at 10:30 at the hotel lobby to start our sightseeing day with Dr. Rüttimann. We were walking through urban canyons, crossing the main shopping area but always the tremendous skyscrapers in the field of view. And then the first big highlight of this day: Observation platform of the “bottle opener” (World Financial Center), the newest and tallest skyscraper with a height of 492 meters. At the 100th floor the city was lying below our feet and the view was fabulous. It has to be mentioned that this very modern city is by far comparable to any other big cities of the world.

After receiving a birds eye of view of Shanghai, the tour continued with walking along the Bund Promenade and a nice cruise over the Hangpu River. On the other side, we went to see the Yuyuan Garden which was built in the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. Yuyuan literally translated means Happy Garden. At the late afternoon the official part came to end. Our big group spread over the whole city.

Some students enjoyed bargaining at the Bazar, purchasing faked watches, bags, t-shirts and so one. Others spent their time in buying tailor made suits and business clothes, visiting the Shanghai Cunfucian temple or taking a ride with the high speed Maglev Train. The evening program started with an old, traditional Chinese Opera, continued with a roof-top bar and ended in a premium club where we enjoyed the Shanghai nightlife.

Day 2 – Bejing: Forbidden City, Swiss Embassy and Beijing duck restaurant

Our first official day in Beijing started with a wake-up call at 7am. After breakfast with sushi and noodle soup we met at the lobby to walk to the Forbidden City. With myriads of Chinese people we walked through the large historic sight. Our kind tour guides gave us interesting information about the Chinese history. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. In ancient times, there were over 8’000 houses within the walls and it would have take about 6 days to see the whole place. After the tour we climbed the “Kohlenberg” which is located right behind the Forbidden City. Everyone was exhausted when we reached the summit, but the view was teriffic. Continue reading

Day 15 – Beijing and the Forbidden City

Day 15 was the final day of the International Management 08 class in China. After numerous check-ins and check-outs in various cities and hotels we packed our bags for the last time and left the splendid Prime Hotel.

Our first stop of the day was the Tiananmen Square. It is the largest city square in the world with 440’000 m2. It is named after the Tiananmen Gate which translated means Gate of Heaven’s Pacification. The gate separates the square from the Forbidden City in the north. On the southern side, the square borders to the Qianmen gate. After we crossed the Tiananmen Square we entered the Forbidden City at the south gate, walking underneath the oversized, 1.5 tonnes heavy portrait of Mao Zedong. The Forbidden City was China’s imperial palace from the Ming dynasty until the end of the Qing dynasty. It comprises 980 buildings and covers an impressive area of 720’000 m2.

The next stop of the day brought us to Tian Tan, the temple of heaven. The temple complex was built during the same time as the Forbidden City and was used by the reigning monarch to pray to heaven for good harvests.
Since the temperatures in Beijing were rather low, the students were looking forward to the warm restaurant and a last traditional Chinese lunch.
The afternoon brought another interesting insight into the Chinese culture with a visit of a traditional Chinese tea-house. We learned about the importance of tea and its ceremony.
Our last sightseeing stop before dinner was the Hutong area of Beijing. It is known for its traditional buildings and the small narrow streets.
The most famous dish you can get in Beijing is probably the “Beijing Duck”. To round off a successful study trip, we went for a last dinner and enjoyed and exquisite meal and reflected on the past two weeks.

Day 14 – Quiet Beijing & Near Sights

One day after Lunar New Year, Beijing was empty. But the fact that there where just few cars driving was a perfect precondition for our sightseeing day in and around Beijing. We got to our destinations quickly and there was almost no smog! The first stop was at the Badaling site of the Great Wall. It was simply impressive to see a small part of the 8851km long wall. We were very astonished by the imagination of how many hours of work had to be put into this monument. Sporty people of the group started to talk about how it were if one would organize a (half) marathon on the wall; those were also the people who felt the urge to run instead of walking slowly. The decision to take the steeper route rewarded us with an even better view, plus we had a good laugh looking at the other side, where the majority of tourists went.

After an unsatisfying lunch (one of many in China so far) at a huge tourist restaurant, we proceeded to the Ming Tombs where 13 emperors are buried. One of them is Zhu Di, also called the Yongle emperor, who changed the capital from Nanjing to Bejing in the 15th century. To have a glance on his burial place, one has to pass various gates and buildings. Continue reading

Day 12 – Chau Doc to Saigon & New Year

Day 12 started with a busride back to Saigon and the students had the rest of the day off. Since we had been in this hotel before, we all felt like coming back home. Some days before, many students had ordered a tailor to come to the hotel. By now on day 12, the suits, shirts & ties were delivered – some were ok, some were not.

The highlight of the day clearly was the new year spectacle.The

streets were jammed. Music at every corner, wild dragon dances and beautifully decorated trees let us feel the magic of Ho Chi Minh City. The park near us was packed with flowers, orange bushes and bonsai trees (a bit like their version of our christmas tree custom), the main street was also filled with flowers, lanterns and sculptures of all different sizes and colours, and there was a general party atmosphere.

The wonderful firework concluded the night and increased our excitement for the following adventures in Beijing.

Day 08 – Good Morning Vietnam

At day 8 we dived into the Vietnamese culture. After a long trip from Shenzhen, China, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we finally reached the tropical climate. Due to a delayed arrival, we cancelled the first sightseeing part of the city. The day started at ten o’clock with a modest breakfast compared to the impressive one at the Shangri-La in Shenzhen. However, the friendly atmosphere of the city warmly welcomed us right from the beginning and we went to the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of Ho Chi Minh City. The presentation was held in an unusual surrounding as it took place in a display room in between teddy bears and other Vietnamese export products. The woman holding the presentation was talking about the general economic situation as well as the influence of the WTO entrance. Additionally she focused on the emerging sectors and provided a broad outlook into the economic future in the year 2020. One major focus is set on the service sector, accounting now for 38% of the GDP, including the fields of finance, tourism and infrastructure. Continue reading