Thursday, November 13, 2008

Waiting for beams to get out of jail...

My trip to China went well. I spent a week in Zhuhai (quite humid even in October) and the second week in Shanghai. My first trip ever to China, and it was just a lot of fun overall. Air quality definitely was not as good as here in America, but otherwise you just really get a sense that China is just this really booming, growing place (I stayed in the cities, no rural visits for me). Labor and goods are darn cheap! - you can stuff yourself on an elaborate lunch or dinner for hardly nothing, like $6-8. My chopstick skills got pretty good too. Lastly, my work colleagues went above and beyond in taking me out to see stuff - thanks guys!

[Edit: thought I'd add a couple of pics and thoughts from my trip.]

This is some random street in Shanghai; note the long pole things used for drying laundry:

I was amazed at how many bicycles you see in China. Sometimes after people would get to work in the morning, you'd see a hundred old bikes all lined up and locked to a street fence. It was no big deal to see office workers pedalling down the street going to work (including women, in skirts and heels). This picture is actually of a bike rental place, but it gives you an idea:

People seemed very thrifty. Old bikes (and motorcycles!) don't get thrown out, they just keep getting fixed and used and fixed and used and.... Kinda cool.

Traffic was especially crazy in don't want to drive there, and you have to develop some extra guts to be able to cross roads. Despite the craziness, I never once saw an accident.

One day I had the chance to take a Shanghai subway during morning rush I know what sardines feel like! :-) Amazing to see how hard the folks trying to get on the train will shove the people in front of them.

Last China thought: you don't see too many fat Chinese people, or at least I didn't. At least in the city they seem to get a lot more exercise than the average American's I'm used to being around. I joked a bit with colleagues about feeling "white food guilt" over there.

Anyways...shortly after I left for China my beams showed up in Seattle, but obviously I was not here to go get them through customs, etc. So when I finally got ahold of a customs broker last week, he was a bit alarmed that I had waited almost two weeks to get in touch. Apparently after two weeks the Federal customs folks get suspicious of the delay and may take possession of the shipment? He also said that infrequent importers (uh, that would be me...) tend to get more attention as well. Long story short, the Federal custom folks apparently decided to do some extra examination of my beams and I won't be able to pick them up until next week. I have this image of fierce German Sheperd guard dogs sniffing and drooling all over my new beams in their opened crate...hope they're ok.

The broker guy was also somewhat incredulous that any sailboat part could cost as much as the beams did...guess he's not much of a boat guy. And this led into the long explanation of "well, actually I'm building a boat" to "well a trimaran has three hulls..." to "so these parts I'm getting connect the floats to the main hulls..." It all seems obvious to me now that I forget a lot of normal folks don't even know what a trimaran is.