Friday morning Alfred picked me up from the hotel about 7:15 to take me into Beijing to catch the plane home. He showed up with very nice gifts for me and my family from Ann Lee which was completely unexpected. I hope I was able to convey how deeply touched I was by the gesture.
With the traffic cross town in Tianjin to get to the toll road and the traffic on the outer (5th) ring road in Beijing it took almost 3 hours. This is for distance of about 70 miles. Yes that is the fifth ring or outer loop as we might call it with four more inside. If the traffic was that bad on the outer ring I don’t even want to think about what it must be like on the inner ring road.
Much of the area between Tianjin and Beijing is open country side with farm fields. With the population concentrated in high-rise apartment buildings the cities are not spread out as they are in the US. Tianjin a city of more than ten million is as best I could tell not as big as Austin. On the drive to the airport Alfred and I discussed many things and I obtained a much clearer view of the structure of Xiandai and some insight into the people who work there. I come away from Xiandai with a deep respect for the people and the company culture they seem to be creating. I come away proud to consider them friends and partners.
My lasting impression of China is that it is a place that works often against all odds. It works often in spite of its government, it works in spite of the crowding and the traffic and in spite of economic decisions and circumstances that are completely out of the control of the average person there.
Saying goodbye to the last of my new friends I started my long journey home. My flight was at 12:00 noon on Friday and after 17 hours of travel I landed in Austin at 4:00 PM the same day.
In answer to a couple of questions that were posted on this blog but never addressed in my posts:
1) The tee shirts I purchased on Wednesday at the local mall had Chinese characters and said a variety of things including “Hero”and “Pretty girl”
2) My girlfriends are not at the Daughters of the American Revolution but rather at the Daughters of the Texas Revolution.