Pepperdine Asia Trip

Seeing it once is better than being told 100 times.
bai wen bu ru yi jian

Ref. – Zhou Chongguo, Han Dynasty

International Session Assignment

Course Objectives:

  • Sensitize the students to and increase their understanding of international business and management dynamics
  • Acquire first hand knowledge of external environmental factors (economic, social, government, legal, industry, markets, etc.) that impact success in the development of a global strategy.
  • Study leadership and human characteristics and dynamics manifested in conduct of business in other global settings.
  • Become familiarized with international marketing and sales.
  • Gain knowledge about international operations and manufacturing programs.
  • Explore human resource management and labor relations.
  • Develop awareness and sensitivity to cultural and national factors impacting global strategic management.

Pepperdine International MBA Asia trip.

Travel day (Friday)

Friday night came and our trip was finally here after months of preparation our adventure to explore Asia was to begin. I picked up Tom H., Tom K., and we drove to Jerry’s to meet the driver to take us to the airport. I had a near scare losing my wallet for a long 25 minutes, but thanks to Tom H’s help and cool head we found it. We arrived at LAX with plenty of time to spare, and were happy to meet up with our colleagues making a party of eight. It’s interesting taking a flight at 1:45am I had this feeling of being sleep deprived even before starting the trip. It didn’t help that I was not sleeping all week due to my head spinning with deadlines at work, school and this trip. All things considered it created a nice chance to sleep on the plane. We boarded the Cathay Pacific 747 and heading to the seats in the back. It was great having the group of eight on the same plane. The group of eight was Lucian, Tom K, Tom H, Raf, Steve, Rick, Jerry, and Mike. We had a very smooth flight with a great airline. I recommend Cathay Pacific they provide a good experience while travelling, and a really nice crew.

1 – PKE team of 8

Day one (Sunday)

After what seemed like an eternity on the plane we arrived at Hong Kong airport early Sunday morning. The Hong Kong airport is a clean, quiet and efficient. It reminded me of Arlanda airport in Stockholm and was a nice contrast compared to the disrepair of LAX airport. Arriving into Hong Kong was a pleasant experience and exciting entrance into Asia. Our driver was waiting for us, so we drove into Kowloon and checked into our Hotel the Shangri La Kowloon at around 9am. The hotel was beautiful with a large lobby with plenty of art, and a beautiful fountain in the center clearly we couldn’t have been had a better hotel. The staff was dressed in white formal uniforms, and they were incredibly friendly. We checked into our rooms and had a small break. Raf and I were neighbors on the 17th floor and were surprised to find a treat of tea and fresh pears in the sitting area of Raf’s room with the beautiful view of Victoria harbor and Hong Kong Island.

2 – Shangri La Kowloon

The team of eight (Rick, Mike, Tom, Tom, Jerry, Steve, Raf, and Lucian) decided we needed to acclimate by avoiding sleep and seizing the day. The weather was hot and humid, it felt like Hawaii, only with more humidity. We decided to hit our first destination which was the Peak in Hong Kong wow was it amazing. The Peak was on the top of all the “top 10 lists of places to go” in travel books. Greg boy’s was my number one list though, and always trumped other lists. We took the extreme vertical climb on the Peak tram straight up to the highest point above the city where you have an amazing panoramic view of all of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and all the surrounding areas. It is an amazing site with the towering buildings including hundreds of apartment buildings, and beautifully designed corporate buildings, a very dense city without traditional houses, or suburban sprawl in site.  The primary schools were inside high rise buildings. The people in Hong Kong are incredibly nice and many of them speak fluent English. English and Chinese are Hong Kong’s two official languages with the Cantonese dialect being the most commonly spoken in the territory. English is the language of business in Hong Kong and most can easily be conducted in English. The three primary religions in Hong Kong are Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. On a particular taxi ride through the city the driver asked me what was happening with the U.S economy and mentioned AIG. I thought that was interesting how truly visible and global our current U.S financial crisis was to the common man. As this was a learning experience for me on and how truly interconnected and interrelated the world’s economy is. I noticed a AIG sign on one of the high rises, and pondering are example and impact on the world. It was an interesting time to be travelling as an American.

3. Mike at the top of the “Peak”

Amazing how everyone lives in towering 50 story apartment buildings. I loved the bamboo scaffolding, swamp coolers hanging from the high rise windows, and laundry clothes lines in every window. Another interesting note. I didn’t see a single bird while I was in Hong Kong. Where did all the birds go? At the top of the Peak We had a really nice lunch at Tien ye Chinese restaurant with beautiful views of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and Victoria bay. The food was fantastic and reasonably priced. I had an amazing dish with shrimp curry, and  noodles, with chicken Satay. Rick had a signature citrus dish with tiny pieces of grapefruit which had a spicy kick. I had to taste it was very yummy, and I would love to know what the name of the dish was?

Next we decided to do some shopping Hong Kong style we caught two cabs and all snuggled close and went over to Stanley’s Market on Hong Kong Island nestled along a bay on the Eastern China sea.

It was an amazing bazaar of shops, tightly wound together in small alleys with lots of people everywhere. There was plenty of negotiating and every possible product you could imagine. It was a fun afternoon. Once we were all shopped out and explored enough for the day we opted to go back to the hotel to catch our breath and relax. I decided to take a swim in the pool at the hotel. It was really refreshing with a current stream which allowed you to perform a full swim while staying in place. We than proceed to have dinner and drinks at the Intercontinental Hotel sitting right on the bay on the Kowloon side. It was amazing with a gorgeous dining room with 30 foot tall panoramic glass highlighting arguably one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Another Greg Boy special travel tip. As our dinner arrived and at 8pm sharp the skyline light show began. It was a synchronized show of about 10 to 15 buildings with lights flickering, zipping, and shining up and across each building with the center of performing arts as the center piece. The show was amazing and lasted about 15 minutes. After dinner we had a nice walk on the avenue of the stars which was Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s walk of stars. There were tributes to Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan among many other names I didn’t recognize. The time had come to go home and sleep. What a great first day.

Day two (Monday)

I woke up on Monday after a full night sleep and felt great. We decided to go to The Hong Kong Museum of Art. It was fun to take in some of the local art history and culture of the Chinese people. The museum was really nice and they were currently celebrating a special exhibit honoring the Horse. The horse is a significant figure in Hong Kong and Chinese history. The Museum covered both Chinese and Hong Kong art including Chinese Antiques, Chinese painting and calligraphy, and contemporary Hong Kong art. I really enjoyed the calligraphy and reading about the history spanning the different dynasty’s, and the reflected changes over the years. I didn’t realize the level of art and form of expression calligraphy  was to the Chinese people. I also enjoyed the pottery and specifically the Chinese Buddha’s I didn’t know there were so many different Buddha’s? My favorite was during Liu Song dynasty Bodhidharma he was not the typical happy Buddha you normally see. He was credited as the transmitter of Chan to China (Zen). Go Bodhidharma!

We had lunch with the entire Pepperdine team at Café Kool in the Shangri La hotel. It was a nice lunch and we got to meet some of the people from the other classes. I had my first Oyster for lunch and my second one too. It was good, but a bit slimy. We went to Hong Kong Island on busses with the big group and arrived at the American Club Hong Kong overlooking the South China Sea it was very nice. We saw two speakers Mickey Austin from Next Horizon an Expat running a company on outsourcing back office systems to China, and Stephan Lau Chairman, EDS Hong Kong and he discussed in-depth on data privacy issues on the Internet of Information…..of things…..and of People. It was a great pitch on Privacy with an international twist which I enjoyed as its one of our hot button issues today with online advertising.

Day three (Tuesday)

On Tuesday we checked out of our rooms and loaded our whole group onto two busses to make our trip to Shenzhen. Our first stop was inside Hong Kong a massive campus of technology buildings at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP). Our guide was Karen Cheung and she provided a brief introduction followed by a tour of the facility. They provide a full range of technology services to become a major international center of innovation and technology development. It’s a great concept based on the same concepts as Silicon Valley’s incubators with much more. We ran into a local Hong Kong individual who was building his business in the center. It reminded me of a collocation for your off-shored engineering staff?

Next we boarded the bus and headed for the Hong Kong border. We left Hong Kong and were then in no-man’s land. Next we entered into China. It was an interesting experience with an old world communism feel. I had no problems entering but must admit I felt a bit nervous as they stared me up and down while I was waiting for the stamp in my passport.

4 – Into China – Raf, Mike, and Ed

Our next stop was to Shenzhen it was about a twenty minute ride in the bus with a real interesting view of the country and city. As we drove we counted thirty to forty high rise buildings being constructed. It was a powerful feeling of seeing “growth”. There are many rundown apartment buildings next nice shiny new buildings. We proceeded to have lunch in a local Chinese buffet. This was not Panda Express and some of the food was unidentifiable and very undercooked. I did try some new items but ate more rice and curry that anything. Tom and I wandered around the wholesale area for a bit looking at local wares. We boarded our busses and went to providence enterprise. Providence was an amazing manufacturing facility of anything you can think of from pool pumps and thermostats. After providence we went to Mission Hills golf course and hurried in and watched our panel speakers from Hasbro Far East. Wow what a beautiful resort, and on the largest golf course in the world. We made our 6am Tee time hoping the storm which was starting to blow would settle by morning.

5 – Shenzhen

6 – Providence – A Team

7 – Mission Hills Golf course category 8 Typhoon coming

8 – Mission Hills Golf course

Day four (Wednesday)

I woke up this morning with the category 8 Typhoon winds and rain blowing realizing our game of golf was not going to be an option. I tried calling and said I don’t mind. They stated in a very polite manner “sir we mind”. We collected back to the busses and left the beautiful resort and headed back to Hong Kong as to the hotel than over to the airport to go to Bangkok. It was a full day of travel and when we arrived at Bangkok it was early evening.

9 – Me in Bangkok airport

We all arranged cars and headed to our Hotel Ascott Sathorn in Bangkok. Does Bangkok have some serious traffic issues? It took us quite some time to get to our hotel, but it was worth it what a beautiful hotel. Bangkok has a really interesting vibe to it. Traffic is thick and very fast paced with thousands of motorcycles, and Tuk Tuk’s ruling the streets. Tuk Tuk’s are three wheeled motorized vehicles with a driver up front and seats in the back for the passengers. The entire group was reunited at the hotel with our India group meeting the Hong Kong group. We were now one large group and Demos met with us to have brief introductions followed by dinner at Aldos out by the pool. One interesting note for me was after I checked into my room I went down to the pool to see Demos sitting in a cabana across from the pool he invited me to sit with him and he said this is the best seat in Bangkok and invited me to stare at the hypnotic waterfall and experience the warm Thai breeze running across the pool. I meditated for awhile and felt refreshed. It was truly an eye opening experience and I felt a proper introduction to Thailand was made.

10 – Team SoCool

Day Five (Thursday)

We began the day with our first business trip in Bangkok and boarded the buses and headed to Bangkok hospital for two meetings. The first meeting was with Bangkok Airways the #1 privately held air carrier in Asia (since 1968). They are a family business with a great example of vertical integration controlling the airline, destinations, and the airports. Bangkok Airways integrates with Hotels, Hospitals, and resorts to contribute to the Healthcare tourism, or Medical tourism industry.

Our next meeting was at Bangkok Hospital and Medical Center (BMC)

Hyatt

Day Six (Friday)

Day Seven (Saturday)

Arrived in Phuket had dinner by the sea at night warm Thai breeze

Day Eight (Sunday)

Woke up to see the beautiful sites of Phuket and my view was amazing with panoramic view of the kata beach. After breakfast Tom and I decided to rent surf boards and venture into the stormy and mysterious Indian ocean. It was an amazing expiernce to feel the soft foamy, light blue, salty warm water as I paddled out into the waves. The waves and the cove were tough to read, but I got some great rides and it was just amazing. I have to mention also the sand here is so soft and fine its like powder. Tom and I both had Thai massages after the surf session and it was like a hard Yoga session. That night we went and saw Thai boxing it was really fun and what an expiernce.



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