May 5, 2012

Ni Hao!!

I would consider myself a seasoned traveler

of Asia, Mexico, and the US.
but that's about it. 

For the record, I have never been to Europe or South America. 
While I would like to, my hubby is a proud American who likes to keep his feet on the ground, unless he is doing something adrenaline related and would be highly resistant to the 15 hour flight, let alone a few other reasons I [might] tell you about some other time...

(L-R) High rise shot of Taipei 101 building, [center] Joshie Klein in front of  Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall entrance, Cho Tofu (translated=Stinky Tofu),  a food stand at Taiwan local night market, the Taipei National Concert Hall National (no nails or glues used on this construction but it is 100's of yrs old without fail!), [bttm left] scooters waiting at a red light in Taipei, lily pads in bloom in Shanghai koi pond, sea tubes at an open market fish courtesy of Teresa Klein and Yvonne Curiel. Thank you ladies!!

Now in contrast to my hubby who has been lucky to travel to 3 states in one country....I have traveled to the island of Taiwan three times, and been once each to Hong Kong and Shanghai, to Mexico City and some surrounding areas, Cuidad Obregon and Cancun, and that is just the international trips!

Each time I traveled, I went on behalf of some apparel company that sent me for work purposes. Different companies each time. When I was younger the flights would make me feel like a celebrity even though I would fly economy class, I would still act as if I was first class all the way. The trips  were  always packed full of early breakfasts, long introductions, bright and curious night markets, tea, long lunches, factory tours, new smells, more tea, short introductions, business meetings, scooters, late dinners, shopping, shopping, shopping…the beattle nut girls, dr. browns coffee in a can,Taipei101, cho tofu, grand opening Burger King HK, ‘hey pretty girls, over here’, and, and, and….ohhhh…..
Somehow I barely remember working on those trips!!

This year I might be lucky enough to travel [again] to Asia in August. I was thinking back over all the different trips, and how each trip shaped the next. My experiences transitioned from being the naive student to becoming the seasoned teacher. I realized that so many things that have become second nature to me might be helpful to someone who is taking their first jaunt to the Far East [you know you fly west to get there?!] While there are currently 3 trips planned this year for the R&D team at my company, I am 1 of 3 people traveling that has been there before. I am sure many of them have traveled to many other far and away places that I NOT have been, disclaimer- *I have been to Asia, all over the US, and Mexio, but that’s really it.* So, I am not sure if my perspective will apply to all international travel, but I know it is all true for any Asian country where you plan to travel outside the traditional tourist areas. Either way, here is the advice I might offer them…

1)    Wear skirts and close-toed shoes as a uniform.
This is for a few reasons. A- factories are very hot, wet and dirty- you will want your feet covered at all times and the skirt will keep you from overheating. B- if you have to use a squatty potty you will more easily be able to do so in a skirt and the shoes will keep your feet dry- pants, well lets just say my first trip to Asia was wet in so many ways ;) C- some areas can be tropical, which means unannounced rain. Again, you will be happy your feet are covered!

my polyvore 'perfect outfit' for a day at the factories!

2)    Eat what the locals eat, the whole time.
     You know, its like, when in Rome! I suggest that you do not deviate from this, or risk tummy issues. On my first trip, my boss and mentor Amy, told me this trick and then insisted we begin immediately! So there, in the SF airport food court, we had ramen soup on our way out of town, then after a 14-day tour of Asia, we bought the long awaited McDonald’s french fries at that same food court in SFO. There are, again, multiple reasons for this rule- A) Chinese food is best in China. In the same way that my mom’s spaghetti is much better than her kung pao chicken, the kung pao chicken in china is much better than the spaghetti. You won’t get sick eating what they eat everyday, just say away from the raw or fermented stuff…self explainitory…but you could get sick eating their chicken parm. Get it?  B) the easiest way to get through the meals, (and there will be a lot of expected business meals) is to just tell your host what protein you prefer then let your host order for you. Trust me, it will be good. No, actually, it will be amazing- in my experience it was. Keep in mind that at large dinners, much of the protein will be brought to the table whole meaning with its head in tact, and it is always considered a delicacy, so they might try to put it on your plate. You may politely decline to which they will be elated, because then they get to eat it ;) If you’re squeamish this is good to know BEFORE it arrives at the table.

3)    Take the red eye, there and back.
      Because of the time difference, I have found if you leave Saturday night from California you will arrive in Asia early Monday morning. Your body can sleep on the flight and wake up rested and ready to start your day! Then you will work a full day and be ready for bed at a normal time. While this doesn’t completely fool your internal time clock, it helps. For return flight, if you leave late Friday night from asia you will land late Friday night in California. You then have the whole weekend to recover from your jet lag. BTW- I have heard it takes 1 day for every hour time difference to fully recover from jet lag. Some people have it easier than others, get your sunshine upon your return, it will surely help!!

4)    Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist and take lots of pictures.
      Because, P.S. you totally look like a tourist. Yes, you DO stand out ;) LOL. So, go ahead, bring your camera everywhere, and take WAAAAY to many photos. Trust me, if you don’t, you will regret it.

5)    Give someone a copy of your ‘stuff’.
      Call me paranoid, call me over protective, maybe I watch to many crime investigation shows on tv, but I always like to tell my friends and family exactly where I will be and when. What if I were to have my bag stolen with my passport and id, I would have a hard time boarding my return flight, right? So, in efforts to be over-prepared for the ‘what-if’ scenario, I always make copies of my complete itenierary (flights/hotels/etc), my passport, driver’s license, & at least one local factory contact, to inform my work team, my mom/dad, and my husband. Probably a little overboard, but it is really just one email, and it makes me feel a lot better.

6)    Let your banks know you are leaving town.
      You only need to do this if you plan on spending your own money when you travel. If you do, call you bank and your credit cards to tell them when and where you are going to or else they will most definitely assume your card is stolen and put all purchases on hold. This can be a little difficult when you are trying to pay for your hotel. Remember that the time zones are completely different, so getting someone on the phone at your bank while you are traveling is almost impossible. This entire point is based on my personal experience. Take the 5 minutes, make the phone call, it will save you a massive headache.

With all of that said, stay up late so you can experience everything each city has to offer.
You might only get this one chance to don't be a wuss...
And if you are going for work, everything is free, so take advantage of the extra perks!!

Oh, did I say there are perks???
Just kidding.There are noooo perks when you are traveling for work.
It is all work. Just work.
Ahem, ya...

"Double Happiness"
found via google images,
but on a really cute blog!!
[click the photo...]

So, take a lot of photos, ask people to take pictures of you with things or people, throw the peace sign in said photos, buy something to commemorate one or all of the experiences, eat something weird-but fully cooked, ask around to find real local experiences- not the hotel staff, but maybe the waiter at the tea house or the girl at the factory. Laugh it off, be open, and have fun, you will remember this for the rest of your life!!

What was your favorite place to travel?


Anonymous said...

Loved this blog!!As I'm getting ready to fly to Hong Kong tonight, it reminds me how lucky we are to have this perk in our lives. I guess I will stop complaining about the upcoming sleepless night and just enjoy the experience :-)

Jenna Tunes said...

Great read. Loved the outfit you put together as a suggestion for going on a tour.

Faye said...

Do I have to pick just one favorite? I learned so much about the culture of each place I've traveled that they all become my favorite....Spain, italy, Portugal, Greece, morocco....but the most unique had to be Gibraltar. It was like being in London in the middle of Spain (and yes it really is a rock)!

Rachel K. Lincoln said...

@ Faye, you should do a post on LiveBakeLove about the tgechniques or recipes you learned in the various places you've been! You are so well traveled!!
@Jenna, polyvore is truely amazing, I think target has the skirt for $15 right now!
@ first commenter- glad I could help, enjoy your trip!!

luckyme623 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beckieM said...

what a fun read!! makes me want to go with you on your next trip :)

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if you open up your suitcase in China and I pop out! lol!! Take me with you! lol.

This is a great post, so lovely to read about how to survive traveling for work. I've only ever traveled to live in a place to then start work in that actual country. This is a great perspective.

Makes me think about planning another overseas trip....eventually though. I adore Encinitas so much I may never leave. ;)

Faye said...

BTW, the first commenter was Yvonne : )

the pattern

Just as soon as you think nothing will ever be the same fall back into life's steady pace. L I F E  R E M E M B E R S  T ...