Yesterday was a fantastic day. Anders and his team had an off-site business/team building exercise. It took place in Uni Town. It’s an island located about 8 or so miles from here. On this island are 10 colleges of Guangzhou University. There are about 120,000 students enrolled. There is a nice park with trails, BBQ pits, and even a small amusement park. That’s where they started their day.
It began with the business/P&G mumbo-jumbo stuff. Andrew and I were not invited and would have graciously opted out of that nonsense. They broke for lunch which was a BBQ. When Andrew and I arrived it was in full swing. All the food was laid out, the pits were hot and people were already eating. Not a bad time to arrive, although we wouldn’t have been allowed to do anything anyway. It was a bit different than what we are used to but it was good fun. I ate grilled meatballs, a chicken wing, grilled octopus, grilled tofu, enoki mushrooms, eggplant, toasted bread with honey that was so delicious I had 2 pieces, star fruit, and toasted marshmallows. The marshmallows made it feel like a good ole American BBQ. The octopus and tofu were not what I would normally eat but they were cooked for me and very nicely offered up so I could hardly say no. Andrew pretty much had all of his food cooked for him. Everyone went out of their way to make him feel welcome. All of the food was washed down by a very sweet herbal tea that is a local specialty. It wasn’t bad but a lot sweeter than I like. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.
Then came the team building exercise and that’s what Andrew and I went for. There was a bicycling and orienteering afternoon planned. We were divided into 4 teams with a leader appointed for each. It was a bit sexist as all of the leaders were men. What’s up with that? Anyway, I was on Anders’ team. Of course they had him as a leader, it’s very Chinese to pay the boss respect. Andrew was leader of another. It was quite funny because the directions and rules were in Chinese! The goal was to stop at 5 sites and either take a picture or perform a task and take a picture. We had 3 hours to finish and report back to the McDonalds parking lot. Yes Sue, I said McD’s parking lot.
The bicycles were interesting. There had to be 2 tandem bikes/team. I was going to ride with Anders until D arrived. Anders’ sweet admin doesn’t know how to ride a bike. She is so darn cute. No problem, I kind of wanted to ride on my own anyway. The seats were all way too low and there were no gears. My bones are still a little sore from the seat. 😦 Helmets? They don’t exist here unless you do it for sport. It was no big deal as there wasn’t much traffic on the island.
We were off and in the beginning we were all together in one group. We had to have our picture taken as a group in front of a building. I’m not sure which college it belonged to but it was architecturally amazing. It sort of looked like a man’s handlebar moustache. Then the fun began. By the second stop teams were starting to be more spread out. The third stop was a fun task. We had to get a person to buy a package of feminine napkins called Whisper. Andrew told me that he was confused for a minute until they pulled out the pack of Whispers and realized what was going on.
After that stop we had a bit of a hill to climb and let me tell you, without gears it was not easy. I had to stand up on the pedals to get up the hill but I was so glad that I didn’t have to stop. If I had had my phone I’m sure I would have called Ben. There was not one point where I had to stop and walk my bike the whole afternoon. The last task was to have our photo taken with some black swans that are on one of the campuses. I whispered to Anders as we were walking down to the pond that we could buy them at the grocery store in the meat section.
Andrew’s team came in first and won by a lot. They were a good 15 minutes ahead of the second place team. We were the 3rd team back. I just did not want to be the last person to ride across the finish line. I think the team that came in 4th pulled back so that the boss’s team wasn’t last. They do that here. Gotta let the boss save face (and by proxy his wife).
It was 2 ½ hours of riding around the island and campuses. In the end we figured we bicycled 8-10 miles. I was so impressed by how new, modern, and beautiful the buildings and grounds were. Every single person we asked to take our picture, help with a task, or stopped for directions could not have been nicer. It was a bit like The Amazing Race though because we didn’t have time to enjoy any of it. I will definitely be going back to rent bicycles and tour the island, at a much more leisurely pace AND with my own camera.
I was the oldest person and able to keep up with the youngun’s, I didn’t fall off the bike, I don’t think I embarrassed Anders or Andrew, and I experienced a very different part of GZ. I really enjoy his team and they always make me feel so welcome. It is one of my favorite days in GZ.
I had computer/internet issues yesterday. Sorry this didn’t get out. We’re off to Beijing this morning. Can’t wait. Anders has been there before but it’s the first time for both Andrew and me! My camera will be burning up.
7PM – 57°