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August 22, 2016 | Guangzhou and its surroundings

A quiet start to the week for a change, because my next appointment is not until Wednesday. This is a welcome break in the programme, because with all the interviews and meetings packed into the last week, I have got a lot of catching up to do in writing and researching. Besides, the hot, humid weather in Guangzhou makes it almost impossible to spend any amount of time outside, and you end up going from one air conditioning unit to another. Janet from the Guozhu Precision Mold Sales Team has been an absolute godsend over the past few days in all sorts of ways, whether in finding a pleasant Chinese restaurant, where only the locals go, or helping me with the correct pronunciation of the traditional Chinese mooncake, which are everywhere at the moment. The mooncake is a typical traditional pastry, which can have both sweet and savoury fillings and is given as a present (and eaten) as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The classic version has a sweet filling, containing seeds of the lotus plant, as well as two hard yolks that are intended to symbolise the full moon. Thanks to Janet, I have now just found and bought this cake!

It's Tuesday and I still have not received definite confirmation of my appointment tomorrow at Huayan Precision Machinery. Finally I get through to my contact Mr Liao on my mobile, but he is on a business trip in Sri Lanka for a few days. Not a problem as it turns out, as he puts me through to Mr Yao, Sales GM, who, it transpired during our conversation, was clearly unaware of any impending visit, but kindly agrees to make time in his busy schedule for me tomorrow. Next day I was picked up promptly by a member of staff, who takes me to mould and machine manufacturers Huayan. The company has around 600 machines in the Chinese market and is currently looking at also gaining a foothold in Europe and the United States. Once at the plant, I spend a most interesting day with Mr Yao, who previously worked for Chem China and Husky and knows the market inside out. For lunch, he takes me to a local hotel where of course Dim Sum is again on offer. I’m already absolutely certain that when I’m back in Germany, I will be pining for Dim Sum... Back at the hotel that evening, I suddenly have a crazy idea: dinner at the local Thai! And very nice it was too!

Thursday, the day before my return home. Today I am visiting Bericap at their subsidiary company in Zhuhai, built in 2014. The journey takes about two and a half hours. We arrive at around noon and before getting down to work with my interview partner Mr Eric Eng, one of the Bericap team takes me for a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. Here the unbelievable happens: the menu is almost exclusively steaks – of every conceivable variety. Well, I could hardly say no. Unfortunately my Bericap host speaks not a word of English, but thanks to the wonders of digital technology we manage a little bit of conversation with a translation app, although the translations are sometimes less than helpful. With the meal over, I meet up with Mr Eng, and an interesting question and answer session follows, completed by a tour of the production lines with Sumitomo, Netstal and Arburg equipment. The plant supplies from here mainly the well-known sauce bottlers Lee Kum Kee and Hai Tian. On the way back there is heavy traffic on the outskirts of Guangzhou, so I don’t get back to the hotel until early evening.

Friday, and my flight home. The rain is bucketing down. I linger in my hotel room for a few extra hours, as my flight does not depart until late evening. This gives me enough time to write my reports and maybe even go out for a little stroll, if the weather should improve. It does, although I need an umbrella because it is still drizzling a little. What a pity that this time I have not really got to know the city. But with Chinaplas coming up in 2017 I will be back and perhaps have a little more time to explore. Now I'm at the airport waiting for my flight to Frankfurt and thus ends this part of the China Roadshow. But before too much longer we will be back again for the China Brew China Beverage Exhibition.

Stay tuned, there’s a lot more excitement to come!

Yours

Kay Barton