My China Exploration Trip 2017

In Coffee-Trips, Machines by Angelo CarboneLeave a Comment

You already may have recognized that I'm a passionated globetrotter and explorer. In my last post about the HOST 2017 I wrote about the Chinese companies attending the exhibition. I'm always curious about everything having a concern in the coffee business, therefore it was obvious for me to visit China once again in order to explore business opportunities and fetch inspiration. Luckily I have a German friend, living in Shanghai, who shares the same interest and helped me to organize a brief round trip through China.

Back home I immediately wrote down my impressions and like to share them with you. Hopefully you can grap my enthusiam about the country, people, culture, food and last but not least the coffee-related business opportunities.

At the end of this post you can see an unordered list of pictures I took. Please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions or maybe your own experience with this beautiful country.

Yours Angelo

Itinary One

My trip began with the flight from Frankfurt-Airport to Shanghai-Pudong. Exactly 8819 km distance.
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11 hours just for me

It's a long distance but I took the chance to relax and prepare for my stay.
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I'm starving

Although the on board service during the flight was great I urged my friend in Shanghai to have some local street food. I looked forward to this for hours.
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Exploring the scenery

After some delicious snacks I was ready to explore the surrounding area. I like to dive deep in local sceneries and environments where the real live happens.
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Shanghai secrets

The next day I strolled along in Xujing, a part of Shanghai-Qingpu. An area where you barely find a "laowai" (Chinese slang for foreigners). I love neighbourhoods like this because they are authentic and let me experience people and culture. I didn't intend to visit the well known hot spots, I wanted to see the differences and wanted to learn more about the unknown places.
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Food market

My personel advice for those who really want to get to know people, despite where you are, is to go to local markets where the natives do their daily shopping. The offered products are an indicator of the prosperity and the day to day life. Here I found a stunning range of fresh and excellent food.
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Itinary Two

On day three we started our round trip to some factories in China. About 1000 km west from Shanghai there is a region, well-known for metal-processing. This region's center is Zhengzhou, located in the Henan-Province. The area around Zhengzhou has the largest population worldwide, approximately 100 million people! We flew from Shanghai to Zhengzhou and then drove by car 300 km to visit the first factory.
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Of course - coffee related

I'm a coffee guy, so I was interested in manufactures producing things for the coffee-industry. We visited a factory which produces coffee roasters. I really was amazed how inventive these manufacturers are. They are innovative and totally motivated to prove that they are able to produce high quality stuff. They want get rid of the general opinion to produce cheap, low quality products. It was obvious that this is a hard task they have to deal with but the results I saw where great. I talked a lot with engineers and managers, they are open minded and are willing to learn in order to meet the requirements our European market demands.
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Rich in Contrasts

Unlike European factories you can see in Chinese factories big contrasts indicating the change from old to new. We took a picture in front of a high-tech CNC-machine in a very old plant. The plant and the surrounding looked like 100 years old but the managers and their staff are very well trained and produce highly customizable parts. I really had to admit that my first toughts, when I saw the plant, had been: "Oh my god, let's get out of this place". Later I thought: "Oh my god, let's be aware, if they keep on this development they'll become hard to beat competitors".
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Get to know each other

I must know the people I deal with. I must know their way of thinking. That's not out of sheer curiosity, it's because I must feel comfortable when talking or negotiating with them. In order to get to know each other we had a typical Chinese busines-dinner. If you don't know this, be aware, you have to drink a lot of baijiu, a very strong Chinese brandy. If you refuse it, your host will be very offended. We had a great night, with amazing food and baijiu. Most important was the atmosphere with interesting talks and the honest wish to get to know each other, each other's culture and way of thinking. I've learned a lot.
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The next day

The next day we also visited factories producing coffee roasters and parts for the coffee industry. For this reason we stayed in the 10 million city Zhenzhough, not nice but large. That's really a big difference to cities we are used to. I've necer seen so much buildings near by each other. As said, it's not nice but a very powerful region. These are the place you understand what the Chinese people mean when saying: "We want to realize the Chinese dream" - for this they endure a lot.
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Workers Day

In did not only talked to managers and engineers, I also searched for the contact with the regular workers. I wanted to know what they think, how motivated they are and what kind of skills they are able to provide. Therefore I discussed with them about technicial details and possible improvements. Again I was astonished about their interest and motivation to do things in a better way. A lot of them are good craftsmen with good ideas and, due to their experience with lack of material and possibilities, very inventive. I left the Henan Province with a lot of new knowledge and experience and think I'll come back again.
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A Day Off

Back in Shanghai we went on exploring the Chinese culture and people. Of course we started this with typical food. Luckily I'm a food lover and prefer exeptional local food others would refuse. We visited a hot spot in Shanghai, yes that's right a place I normally avoid because I don't like to be in touristic areas. But this hot spot was different because the only tourists had been Chinese people. The place is called Qingbao, it is a very old quartier with very narrow, crowded streets. You feel like beeing in acient China. And the food part? Unbelievable! There were countless street food shops with a great variety of different snacks. That was marvellous!
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I'm a bit sad

Time flies. I had to go back home. Of course I was looking forward to go back to my family but this time in China was great. I met a lot of people, had nice talks, deep dived in the culture and I'm sure I expanded my horizon. I found a lot of answers and was able to get rid of some doubts.
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Back Home

Now I'm glad again because I'm back home. Please believe me, it is really worth it to visit China. Try to escape the common tourist paths, explore the country and the people, you won't be disappointed. Furthermore China is a still growing economy and a country that will become more and more important on the stage, so it's never a mistake to be engaged with it. Please don't forget to scroll down and see the other pictures I took.
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As promised here is an unordered list of pictures I took in China. I leave them uncommented so you can enjoy them and may become eager to visit this nice country.
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