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July 22, 2008

My first mainland China business trip covered two major cities in Central China: Chengdu and Wuhan.

Below a list of what I have started to call “out of body experiences,” as when they are happening I suddenly feel I have stepped outside of my physical body and watch the episode from another perserpective:

1) Listening to Chengdu distributor explain why he put stickers of “Nemo” and“Mickey Mouse” on our prized Aveo collection of insulated mugs: “they are too white”

2) Eating sushi in the back of a audacious Chengdu taxi while colleagues chomped down on life-sized beef slices (famous local food)

3) Introducing myself to our the buyer of our largest retailer whose Japanese company requires all employees to wear hideous uniforms with red bow ties – regardless if you are a manager or working on the shop floor

4) Accidentally forgetting my and my colleagues’ laptops in the back of a taxi and then waiting for 2 hours until we could locate the driver who eventually brought them back

5) Driving along the streets of Wuhan with three from my team and our distributor singing to “Brother Louie”

6) My colleague ripping the back of his pants on a airport seat and having to wear his extra shirt around his waist – tucked into his belt – the rest of the night

7) Listening to explanation from China Eastern Airlines for cancellation of flight back to Shanghai: they “lost” the plane

8) A bus load of “cancelled” passengers driving around Wuhan at 10pm looking for the hotel the airline would put us up in for the night – driver was also lost

9) Opening the door to hotel room carpeted in black (original color: beige)

10) Getting a phone call after one hour in the hotel that we are to go to back to the airport for our flight to Shanghai