Thursday, November 6, 2008

We made it home...

We made it home last night. Jenny, Eileen, Amy and Raul all came by to the apartment to say goodbye. We spent most of the last days cleaning and packing up the apartment. We left our apartment at 3:30 PM. Jenny hired a van to take us out to the airport. I expected them to drop us off at the curb and was surprised when the driver and his partner escorted us and our baggage right to the check in counter. We flew out of terminal 3 which was newly opened for the Olympics. The place is vast and it felt strangely empty. We ended up having pizza hut before we boarded for our long flight home. Luckily the plane was not full and we were happy when a man moved from our aisle giving us an extra seat for Olivia. We left right on time. The flight was pleasant enough but Olivia did not sleep well. She took a 2 hour nap falling out around 10. She was up most of the flight and fell asleep for another 2 hours before we landed. We arrived in Dulles right on time. We deplaned followed the herd and ended up going to the wrong customs hall. Lucky for us one of the flight attendants told us we were in the wrong place and put us with airport staff that could help us. We had to wait about a half hour for our bags to come over. They arrived and we went thought customs and were off to our connection. The connecting flight left the terminal on time but we did wait about 30 minutes in line waiting to take off. We finally got back to Albany at 11:30 PM. My Mom and an nephew Dan picked us up and we were home by 12:30 AM. 21 hours door to door. What a trip!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tiananmen Square National Flag and Wangfujing Street

With only 3 days left in Beijing one starts to think...What do I want to see before I leave? I was interested in seeing the National Flag come down. Since the raising of the flag occurs at sunrise and the taking down happens at dusk we opted for the latter. Sandy has been wanting to visit Wangfujing Street which is a short distance from Tiananmen so we decided to bundle to 2 together. We left the apartment around 3:30 and took the subway down to Qianmen. The square was full of people apparently there for the same reason we were. We were able to get some pictures of the Soldiers and the Workers memorial statues on either side of Mao's tomb. In the past this area had been blocked off to visitors. This is the soldier's memorial statue:

Us in front of the statue:

Close up of some of the figures:

The Hero's Memorial:

The crowd gathering at dusk:

Even the street sweepers gathered to show their respect:

The flag is slowly lowered down the pole. I had thought that they'd play the national anthem but I was wrong. The honor guard takes the flag down and places it on a smaller pole and carries it over to Tiananmen gate and the ceremony is over:

After the ceremony was over we hopped on the #1 subway for 1 stop to Wangfujing Street. This area is a combination of 5th Ave and Times Square all in one. It is a pedestrian only street that is lined with expensive designer name shops as well as cheap souvenir shops.

One of the unique attractions is the snack street. Snack Street is a small alley off of Wangfujing where you can buy snacks. This is a picture of the gate:

The alley is lined with small stalls selling assorted delicacies such as...
Scorpions and Sea Horses:

Beetles on a stick:

Star Fish and Lizards:

Sandy is wondering what all these things taste like...
What is that your eating? Looks like yak eyes...

The alley was swarming with people and was very crowded:

Me and Olivia at a souvenir stand:

It was time to go as you can see Olivia is passed out in the pack...

We leave on Wednesday and we'll see what we can do before we leave...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

我 的 一 圈 朋 友 Our circle of friends

Over the past 4 months me Sandy and Olivia have been lucky to visit many sights around Beijing. The sight seeing was secondary to the purpose of our time here in Beijing. My purpose was to fill the role of the Autotask ambassador for our Beijing operation. Over the past 4 months I have been working out of the Beijing office managing my team here as well as back home. I have been acting as a mentor to the entire team here, imparting my knowledge and training the team in the Autotask ways. Sandy gave English lessons to the team and from what I was told she was the the most fun teacher that they ever had. I have to say I often heard laughter coming for the conference room while she was conducting her class. The people here are really great. We have always felt very welcome and the amount of hospitality that we have been given is immeasurable. I would like to say thanks to everyone on the team and take this opportunity to introduce the team to my blog readers.

This is Jenny. Many of you have met her through previous posts. Jenny is the Director of the Beijing operation and our hostess. Without the help of Jenny we would have a hard time managing our day to day routine here in Beijing.

This is the QA team. From left to right 1st row - Linda, Amy (team lead), Sandy, Monica, Emma. 2nd row - Alex, Forest, Olivia, Shawn, and Lisa. Missing from the picture Raul.

Development Team 1 left to right. Kevin, Strong, Us, Cheney (team lead) and Jason.

Development Team 2 left to right - Ying, Us, Eileen, and Brent(team lead). Missing from the picture Frank.

Development team 3 left to right - Robert, Jacky (team lead), us, Derek and Peng.