Hong Kong with the boys: It started before my last trip in Sept, when Peppe decided he wanted to come to China with me. For a variety of reasons it didn’t happen then but as soon as he heard I was going to Hong Kong in November he was determined to join me. Once the decision was made he recruited Giuliano to join him. So it happened…on Nov 3rd I left John at home and went to Hong Kong with the 2 boys. I went to work and the boys went on a holiday they would never otherwise have dreamed of. I spent my days at the HK Wine and spirits fair, pouring and talking wine while the boys explored every nook and cranny of this “exotic” place. I am not sure who’s feet and legs were in worst pain at the end of the day: me from standing all day, barely able to take a minute to sit or even go for a twinkle since I was alone in the booth or the boys with new blisters every day from walking, walking, and more walking. Over the 4 days I hardly saw them, except for dinner on the first and last night and the last day of the fair, which was open to the public. On Nov 9th the boys leave for home and I take the train to Guangzhou.
After the HK fair I’m off to the wine fair in Guangzhou. I’m staying at the Langham Place, located very close to the fair complex, a 5-star hotel booked by the fair organizer. It’s nice to be in a luxury hotel again but, unlike the hotel in HK, which was located in WanChai, there is nothing close by. Not that it really matters since, like HK, I’ll be spending all my time working.
Having done 2 fairs back-to-back it’s interesting to note the differences / similarities of the 2 fairs:
Booth set up day in Hong Kong: the booth is ready and the samples have been delivered. It takes me no time to get everything ready for the next day.
Booth set up in Guangzhou: it’s a construction site. The place reeks of paint and building materials. The floor is covered with so much stuff that it’s like an obstacle course to get to the booth. I ask what time it will all be done and I’m told by noon (in a little less than 2 hours). So I call the delivery company to tell them not to deliver the samples yet and that I would ring them around noon when the booth should be ready. Knowing that everything takes a little longer than planned I give them until 2:00, figuring that all should have been done in 2 hours so 4 should be more than plenty of time. Well I forgot…this is China. In the end it’s 4:00 before I could call the transport company to have the samples delivered. I spend the 2 hours talking to a Portuguese exhibitor who’s in the same situation.
Fair organization in HK – smooth. No surprises. Clean glasses are delivered to each booth before we arrive and dirty ones are left on the counter for pick up at the end of the day…the atmosphere is professional and orderly.
Fair organization in GZ – there’s a form to fill out to get the glasses, ice, etc. That’s OK except that it’s in Chinese, which I, naturally, can’t read or fill out. Luckily I hired a translator who can take care of it for me. Oh, and we need to leave a deposit, which, of course, no one told us about before…
Fair hours in GZ are from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM but about 15 minutes before 6:00 the lights start to go off and the cleaners start moving in. On the last day, when the fair is supposed to end at 5:00 PM, at 4:30 the construction crew starts dismantling the booth. We actually watch the booth being taken apart while we still have a customer at the counter….
Noise: Naturally fairs are noisy events but GZ is migraine inducing noisy. Imagine having a cheesy lounge act in the next aisle. At some point it’s so loud we have to shout to be heard.
HK is noisy but you have not experienced noise pollution until you spend some time in a city like Guangzhou. I walk around Beijing Street in GZ city center Thursday night, my last day in GZ, and cannot take it for more than 1 hour. So many people, all talking – to each other, on their phones, to themselves…and the Chinese are not really the whispering type…when they talk it’s at the volume that most of us yell at. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been here or maybe it’s living in a small town but I can’t remember it having the same effect on me all the other times I’ve been here.
Friday, Nov 14: Early morning start. Flight leaves at 8:30 AM. Long trip home but I’ll be home before midnight Friday night.