April 26, 2006
Shipping a vehicle internationally...After 5 years of roaming the roads of latin america, the Jeep is now on its way back to the US. It's held up amazingly well... The plan is to ship it from Ecuador or Peru to Panama.
From there. Robyn will drive it back to the US for me while I am in China. That is -- if it ever gets there. Shipping vehicles internationally has to be one of the most difficult industries to deal with these days... Quotes for containers varied from $1200 to $3000, and took an average of 10 emails to even obtain, involving literally dozens of people, and as many abbreviations. (vsl = vessel, for exmpl. :-)
CSAV offers ro/ro service, which does not require a container. It is not quite as safe as using a container, but at least in theory it should be much more economical... their pricing is a bit unclear at this point, though.
I will post a full report on how this went, for the benefit of future travellers...
April 16, 2006
Arrival in ChinaI still have a bunch of pictures from the Bolivia trip, but no time to put them up. So I'll skip them for now, so I can at least post something semi-up-to-date.
The plan for this trip was to simply be in one place for a while, and get lots of software work done. My friend Adeh from California has been living in China for several years now, and I have been wanting to visit him. When I heard that he was looking for a job right around the time that I realized I needed help, I decided that now was the time to go...
I arrived in Hong Kong on April 2nd, a sunday, so I had time to look around a little in the afternoon -- I would not get my Visa to enter China until monday. Hong Kong is as fascinating a place as I expected... and also as crowded as I expected. And as.. err.. efficient as I expected.
What surprised me was just *how* international this place is. I have seen a lot of places with cultural diversity, but this place beats them all. In Germany, if you take any 3 random people, you can be quite sure that at least two of them have a similar background. In California, it might take 20, but in HK.. 100?
For dinner I had some of the best turkish food I've had outside of Germany (yes, Turkey is on my list of places to visit...), figuring that I would have plenty of Chinese food in the coming months.
Another thing I liked was the combination of the old and the new... they really *do* use bamboo for scaffolding during construction, and groceries are delivered from the supermarket in woven baskets. Very nice.
On day two, I met up with Adeh, which was quite surreal. We had not seen each other in 5 years. We had some excellent indian food for lunch, in a converted apartment on the 5th floor of a random building. Adeh was introduced to the place by an indian ex-coworker.
After that we went to a computer market and picked up a Macbook for him and an LCD display for me. It was all very efficient, except for the part where I had to call me credit card company three times to convince them that I was indeed spending money in Hong Kong. I had never seen so much computer hardware in one place, and the salespeople were as knowledgeable as Fry's personnel is clueless.
The real adventure started when we arrived in Guangzhou, in China, and Adeh found out the hard way that his Visa had expired. Oops. So he ended up having to go back to HK, while I was stranded in a no-english-zone with an ATM card that didn't work (I had used it once in HK, and it stopped working... go figure). But the subway signs had Pinyin, and buying a ticket followed the same procedure as in OK, so I made it to the apartment ok, and everything worked out fine.
The next day we picked up some necessities such as whiteboards, live shrimp, and towels, and had more hardware delivered. Setting up a basic office was every bit as easy, if not easier, than in the bay area. And certainly cheaper...
The shrimps flopped around happily in their plastic bag while we picked up the whiteboards, until they made a very nice dinner.
A few days later we got an ex co-worker of Adeh's on board (very smart kid!), and right now we are interviewing software testers...
Some more random images: