I’m in Thailand. It’s beautiful. The weather is warm and that warmth speaks to my soul. The town i’m in is known for it’s tourists. Tourism accounts for almost 100% of the income here. I’m staying in a small guesthouse for backpackers and foreign tourists. Everyday people are coming and going from some sort of crazy adventure. Boat rides down the river, scooter rides through the mountains, elephant treks, cruises down the Mekong River to see Laos and Cambodia, and guided tours through Buddhist temples. I don’t fit the mold. I don’t fit in. I’m not exactly on vacation yet. I sit downstairs by the pool every morning chipping my way through emails and creatively working on the next thing on my plate while scores of college-aged people sit at the tables nearby with their Lonely Planet book in hand planning the adventure for the day.
I’m not exactly on vacation yet, but i sure love the vibe of where i get to setup shop. It’s nice to mix things up, to work in different environments and around different people. It makes me think differently.
If you’re into specifics and want to know what i’m working on, here’s a little sampler:
- Creatively planning a conference for 650+ coworkers.
- Planning a banquet for those same coworkers to celebrate 30 years of work in China.
- Planning a 30th anniversary celebration in Hong Kong that immediately follows the conference.
- Several other odds and ends, but those 3 are the majors right now.
Hey blog readers… let’s catch up!
I’ve been hopping around quite a bit lately so if you aren’t following me on Twitter (which is where i most frequently put updates) then it’s likely that you don’t have any idea where i am or what i’m up to. Let me start from the top:
I was in Beijing for a long while. A very long while. I was part of a massively important event in October, i stayed through the November cold (celebrating my birthday and Thanksgiving), and even most of the December deep freeze (celebrating Christmas). If you know me well at all then you know that i hate cold weather. I was made to live in San Diego, South Florida, or Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In late December a last-minute trip to the US popped up. I spent 4 days in Chattanooga, TN meeting new people and speaking about China at a conference. Then i spent 4 days in Atlanta meeting even more people at another conference (which changed the world in 4 short days. For real.). Then i spent 2 days with my family (where i saw my grandmother for the first time in 6 years!!) before flying back to Beijing. I spent 2 1/2 days in Beijing before flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now i’m nestled comfortably in 70 degree Chiang Mai. Life is good. I’ll be here for the next few weeks preparing for a conference, putting on a conference, and then to Hong Kong for one day to put on another event to celebrate our organization’s 30th anniversary (pics to follow).
It feels like a busy time, but it’s a glorious time as i bask in the sun, sipping on Thai ice coffee, and spending quality time with a few people that i only see a few times a year.
Hopefully, i’ve had the chance to see a few of you during these travels. If not, then hopefully our paths will cross soon.
I’m not a brilliant reader. I’m not one who gets up at 5 a.m. every morning to read 3 chapters of whatever book is at the top of my list. Heck, i hardly even crack open a book while on long flights (i know, the travesty, right!!??) However, for as long as i can remember, i’ve loved to read. There was a day when people actually called me or emailed me to ask for book recommendations. And there was a day when i had an answer. For now, i don’t know if i can recommend any books with any level of wisdom, but i can tell you what i’m reading at the moment.
Currently, on any given day (with maybe a few days in between) i could be seen with one of these books in my hand:
- The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice
- The Confessions of St. Augustine
- Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China
- The Spirit of Cities: Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age
What are you reading? Anything you’d recommend?
One good thing that the Chinese have going for them is that they seem to be easily pleased. Sure, this poses a problem when it comes to pursuing excellence, or innovation, or some of the bigger things we want to see this great country accomplish. However, when it comes to the simpler things in life it’s nice to see how easily pleased they can be.
Ever since moving to Beijing I tend to most often observe their easy-to-please nature while riding the subway. And i saw it again today. It always cracks me up, even to the point of audibly laughing to myself. Let me keep this short and just tell you what happens. I want to warn you first though, because it’s likely you won’t think it’s very funny or entertaining until you see it for yourself.
Imagine you’re in a subway car and all the seats are taken, there are few people standing, but this is far from the crammed subway cars people often imagine when they think of Asian public transportation. It’s just a normal day. It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday and a small army of people are trying to move across the city. This is not a big deal. Just pop in the headphones, know how many stops you’re riding, and hold on. So here’s where the easy-to-please Chinese concept comes in. I see this all the time. All. The. Time. Someone gets up from their seat and the nearest person to that seat rushes over and shoves their butt into the seat as fast as possible. The next moment is the golden moment. More often than not, that person who just sat down starts beaming with a smile like they just found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If their excitement can’t be contained in their face then they start bouncing their legs up and down. It’s like they just got a fortune cookie saying they will inherit a million dollars – or i guess Ren Min Bi in this case. It’s simple, it’s a normal everyday occurrence, but it’s like their whole day or week or month was just made perfect by that one moment where they got a seat on the subway. And so i usually let out a soft chuckle and feel a little warm happiness inside for them and their accomplishment. All is right in the world when the longings for the subway seat gets fulfilled.
And now i realize that perhaps i am the one who is far too easily amused.
Since post-Thanksgiving is officially the appropriate time to decorate for Christmas a few friends and coworkers got together at our office to Christmas-ify the place. We put on some Christmas tunes, baked a few cookies, ordered some pizza and everyone pitched in to decorate. It’s now beautifully ready for a month of Christmas celebrations. I tried to a take a few pictures, so here ya go:
Each year our office staff and friends from around China gather together in Beijing for a big Thanksgiving blowout! It’s incredible. Everyone contributes food and a helping hand in preparing for the day. This feast is usually a feast for about 100 people. I could write about it all day, but let me let the pictures speak for themselves.
Last week was my birthday. I’m not one to make much of my own birthday, mostly because i don’t like the spotlight of it all. However, this year was loads of fun and i felt overly special thanks to the generosity and creativity of Jenn. She went way above and beyond what she should have done and made the entire week a week of celebration.
We started the weekend with an afternoon together in my favorite area of Beijing. She took me to get chicken wings for lunch (one of my favs) and then a very relaxing, put-me-to-sleep massage afterward. Once we were nice and relaxed from the massage we spent some time together hanging out, eating cupcakes, and enjoying the day. Later that evening two of our friends joined us at a delicious Spanish restaurant. Jenn did her homework because apparently this restaurant was voted to have the best tapas in Beijing. They certainly lived up to the hype! Amazing!
The next day we went shopping at one of my favorite markets in town. Mostly just for fun and to pick up a couple of things for other people, but a day at the market is always a good time. The bargaining, the knock-off clothes and toys, and the bustling crowds is a recipe for some laughs.
Finally, Tuesday was my real birthday. It was mostly a normal day, but she made my favorite Mexican cheese dip as an afternoon snack and an amazing chocolate cake for dessert. mmmmm!!! To wrap it all up, she surprised me with a video comprised of short clips of my friends from all over the world wishing me a happy birthday! What a wonderful surprise!!!
I’m not much of a birthday person, but wow, what a great few days of being pampered and treated like royalty. I could get used to that.
Here are a few pics!