Friday, January 8, 2010

Day Trip to Mainland China (Guangzhou)

Considerably colder weather and rain showers marked our trip to Guangzhou. After making it through Chinese customs, we met our tour guide and proceeded to the bus. Luckily none of us were quarantined for swine flu symptoms and our arrival went off without a hitch!  Our first stop in Mainland China was Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is known as the “father of modern China” as he led the people’s revolution that expelled the tyrannous leadership and led to great reform and progress in the region. The memorial is an amazing building built in traditional Chinese architecture. The real beauty of the building is easily seen from the outside, and there is a large statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, which gazes out over the city of Guangzhou.

Main entrance to Memorial Hall

Group photo outside of Memorial with a statue Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in background

After a short visit at the memorial we again boarded the bus and headed out to a traditional Chinese lunch.  The restaurant was situated upstairs above a traditional Chinese market and it certainly provided us with a taste of the local cuisine. Our meal consisted of a seafood soup, mushroom salad, sweat and sour squid and fried duck, and the typical fried rice and egg rolls. While the meal was best described as a “branching out” experience, it was great to sample a traditional Chinese meal. After lunch (and after several students satisfied their remaining appetite with McDonalds and Pizza Hut), we were given the opportunity to browse the market and further our bargaining skills.

Enjoying the local cuisine

After a short bus ride, we arrived at a Buddhist temple, which consisted of several traditional Buddhist buildings, the most noticeable stretching nine stories into the air. The main attractions and photo opportunities were two separate temples; the female temple consisted of one large female Buddha, and the male temple housed three large Buddhas sitting side by side. Unfortunately, we were dealing with time constraints and could not stay long at this temple and we then boarded the bus to our next destination.

A look at one of the buildings at the Buddhist Temple

The final stop of our day in China was a meeting with executives from Next Horizon, an accounting and finance outsourcing company based in Guangzhou. The office, which is located on the 34th floor of the Onelink Plaza building, would normally provide an amazing view of the city, but the cloud cover and light rain obstructed our view. Witman Hung, the executive vice-president, led the presentation before leaving for a meeting in Hong Kong later that day. As a co-founder of Next Horizon, Mr. Hung was able to explain to us the nature of the company and why companies such as Adidas and Synovate can benefit from their services. Its services include advisory, support, support services spin-offs, and web-based services.

A look inside Next Horizon

The company is still quite young, only founded in 2007, and currently consists of roughly 100 employees, most of whom work in the Guangzhou office. Mr. Whitman expects significant growth and anticipates having 3,000 employees in the next few years and assumes to turn a profit as early as July of this year. After the presentation, we were given a tour of the office and were able to see the employees in action working on the various accounts. After descending the 34 floors back to the ground level, we boarded our bus for the last time that day to the train station, a ride that was prolonged due to heavy traffic and rain. However, our tour guide for the day, Macey, entertained us by singing various songs, including the Chinese national anthem. After bidding farewell to our well-spoken guide, we boarded the train for the 2-hour ride back to Hong Kong.

Macey singing the National Anthem

(Posted by Alex Ferris and Jack Carroll)

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