When I imagined China before this trip, I am sure like most, the images were of rice paddy fields, old faces of the village folk, and smart new cities bustling and over-crowded and somehow different to Australian cities and behind the faces of the Chinese people I thought there would be the all-powerful Government directing every facet of their lives, all of its 1.5 Billion citizens.
 Seems that I was not far off in some ways but I have to admit it is all very different in special and encouraging ways.
 I travelled to China via Hong Kong, in fact off the plane and straight into a mini-van booked to pick us up and to carry us to Guangzhou (I now know pronounced GuangJoe- the dash means to draw-out the O sound).
 Of course first you have to exit Hong Kong (so look after the small white slip of paper which is your re-entry ticket). Then 500 meters down the road is the imposing (not architecturally but psychologically) border crossing guard stations and the ominous parking bay to the right of the guard stations and besides a building beyond the doors of which it is best not to have to go. So you hope the driver is not told to divert to that bay. Actually, the driver joined the end of a very long line of cars and people movers and slowly progressed to the tollgate like structures and the closer we drew to the stations the more relaxed I became. The progression was constant and in my mind this meant the process was a regulated one and nothing out of the ordinary.
 The driver collected our passports and when he moved into the tollgate like driveway structure, he handed them across to the very stern faced boarder crossing officer sitting at a terminal. The driver then opened up the door on the same side as the officer so they could see our faces as they peered over the top of our documents. Just as well my passport picture was dour and non- smiling since I had been up since 3:00 am that morning and in total it was now 14 hours of being on the move. I supposed those officers (as are all customs officers the world over) are used to accounting for bags under the eyes and glazed looks of mixed terror and excitement.
 Seconds passed by as the computers did their job and then the OK came back to allow us into China. I am not sure if my expression changed when the officer handed back our passports to the driver, but inside I was relieved and excited.
 The driver pulled slowly out of the driveway and we were in China. A matter of 50 meters and we were driving into a busy parking lot to purchase some water for our one and half hour drive to Guangzhou. People everywhere already all seemingly on their way into or out of China.
 Then out of the parking lot and soon on to a highway, not unlike any you would expect anywhere in the world. The multiple lanes guided us to more toll like gates and a lowered boom. The driver stopped and pressed a button to eject a token for the toll-way. The boom raised and the high concrete walls and a smooth tarmac with overhead signs, indicated a 120 kilometres per hour maximum speed limit, over the three lanes heading north.
 Our driver was clearly of the view that 120 meant that it was the minimum so apart from me being eager to view the surroundings, I kept a wary eye on the road, the other drivers and the attention span of the driver, since it seems that talking and SMSing on the phone while driving is OK in China. Oh and by the way, Hong Kong cars are Right Hand drive, a relic of the English occupation, while China is Left Hand drive, so the car was now on the Right hand side of the road, the transition magically happening as we drove across the border.
 The view from the van was uninspiring as there was a small belt of green flat lands each side of the highway and beyond depending on whether there was industry or housing, and a seemingly endless repetition of multi-storey apartment buildings. Each building seemed to be much the same, having four upright blocks side-by-side and all about 20 stories high. All much the same grey colour and many windows festooned with the washing hanging off frames or frames arranged within indents between the blocks, also for hanging clothing to dry. I will refer to such apartment buildings many times since the greater proportion of Chinese people who live in and near large cities are apartment dwellers.
 Remember this is about a100 kilometre trip and the apartment buildings never seemed to end not only along the highway but it seemed for kilometres outward each side of the freeway. The seemingly endless array of apartments was interspersed with some industrial areas, a river and associated industry and shipping and ever present was the haze. I am not sure whether the haze is permanent but this was a Sunday so maybe it gets worse during the weekdays (remember Saturday's are considered a work day as well in China).
 I was not quite sure when we actually entered Guangzhou as the density of apartments did not seem to change that much, but the taller office like buildings started to appear. I am not talking about a collection or cluster of office buildings I mean tens and hundreds of office buildings, many under construction and some empty upon closer inspection as you could see through the glass facade and upper windows.
 The tollway extended through parts of the now city, as I could see the local traffic on roads adjacent the toll way. Not much more than a glimpse into local life at this time, as we sped to our destination.
 Traffic started to slow, 70 kilometres per hour every so often, and the number of cabs jostling for position grew. That meant that I had begun my experience of true city traffic in China. First, there are rules. However, I am sure the ones on show are not written down anywhere. You give way to the pushy drivers since I am sure there is no insurance to help for the cost of dent repair. Second you stop when you absolutely have to and otherwise keep moving as the guy behind may not expect you to have stopped. Third if you ride one of the many electric driven bikes (of all shapes and sizes) you go where you like when you like and drivers just go around you.
 I saw very few push bikes people of all ages had electric bikes. Bikes were being used to carry long, short, wide and tall loads, sometimes in between the rider and the steering handle bars and sometimes on rusted iron work extending behind the bike or having their own wheels. Some riders shared the ride with children, friends and family and no-one wore a helmet.
 The roads seemed to cope with a steady stream of bicycles mainly on the left hand side but not unusually sometimes straying across all the lanes of a three lane roadway to get to their destination. Some of the riders did not care that they rode - at speed - completely against the direction of the traffic flow. Some did not care that the stop lights (yes they have them) showed red. If there was no or little traffic, the cyclists just drove across the intersection. Drivers are able to make right hand turns against the red so this put many bicycles riders at risk but I never saw an accident, many near misses but never a collision.
 While we are on the topic of the traffic and traffic lights, most traffic lights are electronic, which allows some but not all of the green lights to count down from 10 before the change to orange. Also helpfully some of the red lights countdown from 10 before turning green. This makes lots of sense to me as the banked up drivers can be ready to move all at once from their standing start and through the intersection.
 I thought we had entered downtown once the roads became like typical city roads. Not so different to any large city. In fact apart from the Chinese language signage on buildings and road level shops the city seemed like most others. However, I did not realize that this same look would go on for kilometres. Not just one or two kilometres but ten to fifteen.
 Eventually we arrived at our hotel, our refuge in this large metropolis for the next three
nights. The lobby was like any other I have seen around the world. No overtly obvious Chinese decor, but subtle and functional Chinese hints such as the lotus flower design of the centre piece. The staff, small statured young gentlemen quickly collected our suitcases and led as to the lobby reception desk. Clean and neat as you would expect. The reception ladies all impeccably presented, all with dark black hair in a neat bun behind the crown of their head. I made the observation later that, women in the service industries wore buns and those (especially young women) in the professions wore their hair long or short but rarely in a bun.
 I am here in China on behalf of Madderns Australian Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, a partner (token grey haired wise one) along with two talented and well organized Madderns attorneys, Eva Bu (Chinese Qualified attorney) and Dr Kin Leong (Australian Qualified attorney and Mandarin speaking (as well as Cantonese)) to take part in three seminars in three different cities (Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Ningbo) with the seminars being partly about Australian patent and Trade Mark law. In Guangzhou and Shenzhen we were co-presenters along with a Japanese Patent and Trade Mark Attorney firm Shinjyu Global IP. Our audience would hopefully be an eager audience of Chinese attorneys who own their attorney firm, who work for a firm or work for a corporation as well as Chinese company owners wanting to learn about IP. Two of the seminars were jointly sponsored by the Guangzhou chapter of the Chinese Intellectual Property Office, who are eager for Chinese corporations and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to learn about Intellectual Property (IP) and use the IP system locally and abroad and in Ningbo the seminar would be sponsored by a local firm One Win.
 My trip had been organized at short notice so I did not do the normal research about China and the places I was going to be, therefore I was happy to be heavily reliant on Eva and Kin for the practical aspects of travel in China. In fact they were so well organized I need only tag along and speak when required. Ends up that that is exactly what happened.
 I therefore took a look and learn approach to this trip with one very onerous exception, which I created for myself. I wanted to end each of my talks with two famous Chinese axioms - spoken in Mandarin. Wow. Talk about ambitious. Would it not have been easier to just deliver my talk, ably translated sentence by sentence by Kin, sit back and respond to questions. Yes - but the challenge was part of the experience -as it turns out - an experience to cherish.
 With the formalities of registering at the hotel we were escorted up to our rooms. The lifts, the corridors, the room key, the luggage trolley were all exactly like anywhere else I had ever had a hotel room. This was not a five start hotel but the room was well up there and the rate very reasonable.
 We agreed to meet in the lobby in an hours' time. Great I need a shower, shave and a change of clothes. Surprising what hot running water does to revive the body and soul. The amenities were great and very familiar. Even the electrical power sockets accepted Australian plugs (but only if they had an Earth post) and also the two pronged European plug (no Earth post required though).
 We were immediately off to meet local associates for dinner, Kin with me and Eva to meet others she knew. Ended up we went to the same restaurant over the road. Here was my first foray into the Chinese food experience.
 First thing I see, as we approach the open front door of the restaurant is a long table located across the rest of the restaurant frontage. The table supported stainless steel trays holding a large variety of seafood. Not sure why it's located outside, wouldn’t the chefs prefer to have it nearby. Would it not spoil outside, but then I notice lots of ice below the seafood. Oh well there must be a reason - open mind, open mind, watch and learn.
 The associates had reserved a table above the hubbub of the ground floor. As we make our way up the stairs, or what we thought were the stairs to the upper floor, I saw my one and only squat toilet during my trip to China. The two doors to two toilets were open and visible to the passing foot traffic making their way, as it happens, to another restaurant behind where we were meant to be going. Back we trek and find the correct stairs to a small balcony overlooking the restaurant and our waiting guests. They were very welcoming and although they did not speak a lot of English I at least greeted them with a 'Nee How', which brought a smile to their faces. More likely because my pronunciation turned my well-meaning greeting into something different but their very respectful treatment of everyone thus gave me the benefit of the doubt. Intonation of tones rising, lowering (as over a waterfall), steady, and high to low to high again, are the four basic sounds to the more than three thousand words of the Chines language. I am in awe of Kin and his relaxed attitude to speaking what to me must be the hardest language to learn knowing that not only does he speak the language he writes it as well. Eva of course has learnt English which when you think about it is replete with words that are spelt the same but mean different things in different contexts, and she learnt English from knowing Chinese.
 Our hosts quickly enquire whether I would like to eat. I say yes and they usher me downstairs to do what I thought, was to order my food. I am led to another table covered in pots full of what I am not sure and asked (mostly sign language) to point out what I want. At this point Kin is still up stairs so I am on my own. I am not even sure how after selection the food is provided to me. Do I find a plate, do I select the food and someone else gathers it? I do not know but I do know one of my hosts is waiting for me to select.
 Well here goes. I look carefully at each of the insides of the bowls and I recognize vegetables, broccoli, round things that look like mushrooms, a strip of what looks like tofu, and noodles in a sauce and green things floating in the sauce. They all seem OK to eat so I point out each dish. The next bay has trays of yellow things which I guess are intestines of some animal, red things which I guess are livers and hearts, dry things which I am really not sure of at all, and hanging things which I can see used to be ducks flying about the place until they weren't. I pass on these tasty delicacies. Then I am led outside to the row of seafood laden tables and asked to choose.
 By this time I am sure my carefully chosen plate of vegetables will suit me fine. So I pass, but my host insists. I can see black, pink, yellow, white, grey, silver, and red fish. I am not a great seafood eater and never much of a fisher person so I am going to have to wing this one too. I choose a small silver fish assuming I will have it filleted and grilled, which will suit me fine as I need some protein to go with the vegetables. My host talks at a million miles an hour to the waiting waitress and I assume she has also ordered for the rest of the table.
 Back to the table and we speak a few words about how they are looking forward to the seminar in Guangzhou the next day. I suddenly remember I have to practice my axioms. Kin has tutored me and he has broken down the words into phonetic equivalents, written them down, with additional notes to show which part of the words go up, down, etc. For the life of me I cannot remember any of the words. After a thinking effort (I hesitate to think what my strained thinking facial expression looked like to the associates) I remember one of the words and then rehearse it in my mind and get the tone wrong - I am sure. Tomorrow is it - I will never get it right in time.
 I quickly shift out of those defeatist thoughts when a large plate of sea snails is presented to the table. Seems like we are to share them. I can't imagine the four if us eating them all. A double- pronged toothpick like fork is supplied to each of us, and thankfully one of the associates shows us what to do. First take off the disc-like hard cover that is attached lightly to the snail awaiting us inside. I should point out that the snail is cooked. After a bit of stabbing and digging the snail foregoes the safety of its shell and is ready for my taste buds. Down the hatch they say, but in this case it seems a pity not to chew a little and savour the taste not only of the snail but also the juices in which it has been cooked. Very nice but hard work. This did not deter me, and since it had been about four hours since I had eaten on the plane, five more snails were extracted and eaten. Yum.
 Green tea is served at almost every meal. I do not mind tea and actually prefer green tea to milky tea bag tea. It is served by the host to all and then if you perceive a lull or your neighbours typically small cup is low, then pick up the teapot and serve away.
 Next to arrive is a scallop on its shell covered with, I do not know what, but after prying the scallop from it shell along with its topping, down the hatch and very nice it was. Best to wait for your host to start, but sometimes if you are the guest or the most senior you need to start eating. I was sometimes confused by this protocol and thought it safe to always wait for someone else to start, unless told to by the host or most senior person at the table. The Chinese are very forgiving of those who do not know better but I did ask Kin and Eva occasionally what was expected.
 OK now it gets interesting. The dishes start arriving at a great rate and I expect them to be placed in front of each person. The first dish I see is the fish dish, but instead of one fish there are four. Cooked whole and grilled, which I think is all for me. I'm not going to be able to eat them. What a waste. However, they are placed on to the rotating surface in the centre of the table. The first of many more dishes with my selections therein, plus a few unknowns.
 This is communal eating, but there are rules, but again it depends on the setting and company. In more formal settings there will be two sets of chopsticks, one for scooping and picking up food from the communal dishes and the other for eating with. However, in most situations, especially amongst friends or those considered friends, one set suffices. You should also seek out the napkin supply, as you may need many of them as the meal progresses. You use the napkins to wipe your mouth, to wipe your face if needed and I used them to clean off parts of the chopsticks that became slippery to hold.
 The meal was progressing well with the conversation flowing between Kin and the associates while I concentrated on picking out the bones in the fish and sipping tea. I loved the strips of tofu and ate many of them. Then Kin informed me that I was eating pigs’ skin strips, deep-fried and flavoured with spices. I was not deterred as I thought they tasted great. The lesson here is that it is sometimes best not to know exactly what you are eating. If you like it, you like it, without prejudging it. Isn't that what we tell our kids when we want them to taste something new? Turns out I also ate some black fungus, really tasted like smooth mushroom to me, which is what a mushroom really is anyway. Sometimes colour can be deceiving.
 After the meal it is customary to offer to pay for the meal. You offer to pay a couple of times but then accede to the wishes of the host. I am very grateful for the generous hospitality shown to us by all our associates in China.
 The walk back to the hotel was short but still interesting, in that the traffic was thick and not unlike any other busy Sunday evening anywhere in the world. Lights were flashing, the people were milling in the streets and everyone seems to be happy going about their enjoyment of the city and its restaurants.
 Back in the hotel I stayed up with a few glasses of wine and rehearsed my Chinese axioms. I did not seem to be getting better but at least I was trying.
 We had been in China less than 24 hours and it was breakfast after a broken sleep due to being anxious about the seminar the next day and a meeting early the next morning with a large potential corporate client.
 Breakfast in this hotel was mostly Chinese dishes but at least they were identified in English as well. The selection included porridge and steamed buns (sweet and savoury), rice, unusual vegetables in oil, and rice. Bread for toast, jam and cereal and hot milk were available also. What I needed was coffee and a pot was available as was hot milk. Boy did I need a coffee. Little did I realize that this hotel would be the last to supply coffee and my coffee withdrawal would soon begin!
 The corporate client was for Eva and me to attend. A number of months previously we had responded to a Request For Tender (RFT) and our China team had put a great response together. A Chinese language RFT had been created and submitted and we were eager to know where the process was at.
 First we had to get there. Hail a taxi, as you would do anywhere, and first thing I do in a car is put on my seat belt. I reach for the belt. I find it where it should be but have to reach to the extreme top of the strap to find the buckle, which is not a good sign as far as I am concerned, since that would indicate it had not been used recently. My suspicions were confirmed when I reach for the receptacle for the buckle and it is not by my side. I tentatively push my fingers into the crease between the back of the seat and the base of the seat where I think it should be. Still no joy. I look for the other receptacle for the seat beside me and do not see that either. Maybe I need to push harder into the seat. Then I start thinking whether that is a good idea. I do not know what is between the seats. I look more closely at the area where they should be and see no evidence whatsoever that they exist. I finally resign to the fact that they are not fitted and hope the taxi is not in an accident.
 Seems the morning traffic is going to make us late but then we make up time by honking the horn at every vehicle that wants to slip in front of us. Seems that the Government has stated that horns are not to be used unless absolutely necessary and that flashing of lights is in the best interests of order and to reduce noise pollution. Not much evidence here that the memo got through.
 We arrive at a building complex for the corporation we are to visit on time. A smartly dressed young guard steps forward to greet us. I am glad Eva is with me as the conversation ends up with us being ushered to a window where a lady officer (also in uniform) looks up a record and issues us visitor cards. Not much different to many other corporations I have visited but seemly more daunting because of the language and very official looking guards.
 Our host greets us at the gate, I am introduced and say "Nee How" and our host smiles and says my greeting was well said. Great I am getting better I think, or this is Chinese for lets “be kind to those that try to speak Chinese”. Our host is a relatively young head of the IP legal department of this large corporation and he leads us to a six-story building and up a lift to the first floor all the while chatting to Eva. We walk past office cubicles; again not unlike I have seen in countless offices. Some are manned and many are empty. Seems as though there is room to expand and from what I know of the corporation they are going places not only in Asia but hopefully further afield into Australia and beyond on a larger scale than they are currently.
 We enter a large board room and take our seats and a young male attorney and a young lady turn up and introduce themselves with the exchange of cards as I also exchange cards with our guest using both hands to pass me card as they do so to me. The discussions begin and I am silent most of the time as Eva probes their plans and response to the tender we provided. It seems they are asking lots of questions, which I think is a good thing and Eva seems to have command of the answers. Then I get my first question, which Eva translates and it seems that they are concerned about the liability they may face if they do not respond to a letter of demand in Australia. They are receiving them in the US and it is causing them some grief and uncertainty. I answer the question and Eva translates. I am not quite sure I have satisfied their query but they do move on to another question and I answer and then another one. The young attorney and the head seem to be on a roll and I think this is a good thing, since Eva seems to be dealing with the to and fro well. Then more speaking between Eva and them while I look on intently, shifting my gaze from speaker to speaker as though I was following a tennis ball and seemingly giving my full attention to the conversation. I have learned to mimic (not in a creepy way) the body language of the group and so when they fold their hands and lean on the table so do I, when they lean back in their chairs in a relaxed way so do I. This seems to work and they become more relaxed as do I but I do not know exactly why. We are all human after all.
 The meeting ends when the questions run out and my impression is that it went as well as could be expected. We asked to visit them, they are in control of the process and we are guests vying for their work. I found out later that the process has not finished and we are not likely to be chosen but we hope to work with the Chinese firm that we hope will be. Swings and roundabouts as they say.
 We exit the building complex by handing in our visitor cards and Eva calls for a taxi. Again where would I be without Eva? It does not take long and the taxi arrives and we are on our way back and the roads in this area of town are quite, but it soon gets busy as we wend out way back to the centre of the city. Eva suggests a diversion to a local landmark, the Canton Tower, which we passed on the way. It is a 600 meter tall steel structure in the form of a spire having a shape at the top which is said to resemble the shoulders of a woman turning to one side. You would need to see the brochure pictures to see this feature and my description does not really do it justice. I opt to go up to the observation level and Eva and I buy a ticket 168 yuan (A$36 and US$26) and I am on my way with instructions to meet in an hour and half at the ticket entrance.
 The tower observation level is 450 meters off the ground and the elevator is packed like sardines in a can, we are in China, and this is a popular attraction.
 We speed upwards at a rate of about 8 meters a second since I counted the seconds over the height. The observation area is spacious and the floor-to-ceiling windows provides a grand view of the sprawling city that is Guangzhou but the haze obliterates the detail in the distance, I guess at about 30 kilometres. None the less the city is huge and the office buildings, which I described earlier, are evident in every direction as are the apartment buildings. I am struck and in awe of the structure itself, as the multiple angled columns of about 600 mm diameter are located right out side the window. Joins between each rising column are there to be seen and I am appreciating that the jointing process had been repeated numerous times all the way up to the observation tower and beyond another 150 meters, which makes me appreciate the Engineers and workmen that created this imposing structure.
 I walk about the 360 degrees of the observation area and hanker for a coffee and a sit down to appreciate the view, but I only have 25 yuan and their coffees are 34 yuan (about A$8 US$ 6). Why did I think I could get away with having such a small amount of cash and a credit card? Cash is king in China more of which I will describe later.
 I missed out going to a higher-level not quite understanding the instructions told to me in halting English at the ticket counter. Oh well, I was satisfied, as it added to my Sydney GPO tower, CN tower Toronto and Seattle Spire experiences.
 I had finished earlier than expected so I walked about the exhibition area at the base of the tower and learned about the construction and took lots of pictures of pictures of the tower being created. All very impressive.
 I found Eva waiting in a McDonalds near the entrance we had agreed to meet at. I could not resist looking at the menu and was surprised (or was I) to see a Big Mac on the menu pictured having a grey coloured bun. What the!. Seems that this is just McDonalds catering for the local market. Hey, who am I to judge. I am in fact told that the KFC chicken burger is tastier in China than elsewhere because of the frying and spices used to cater for local tastes.
 Back towards the hotel but we have a lunch appointment with a Chinese associate in the oldest restaurant in Guangzhou, aptly named the Guangzhou Restaurant. It was a magnificent looking restaurant exiting the lift. Eva and I were ushered to a private room and greeted in excellent English by the attorneys. This time I was able to converse and join in the banter. One of the attendees was an attorney in training who had nanotechnology expertise and the others were mechanical engineers. We spoke about how young Guangzhou was. It seems that there was little to the town 20 to 25 years ago and now it was a new city and thriving metropolis. There were many things to see and do but we would have little time to spend doing other than the seminar the next day and then were we off to Shenzhen.
 This restaurant was very formal and some indications of that were: two sets of chopsticks, one black set for eating and one white set for picking up and placing the food on your plate or in a bowl; linen napkins and table cloths; and body temperature face/hand cloths.
 The food menu was presented in a leather bound book and there were pictures, to help the likes of me, but very much what I noted in most restaurants. I also noted the central rotating table portion so I cottoned on that this would be communal eating session, so I deferred to our host to order the food making it clear that I was up for almost anything.
 The food was presented beautifully and I was just as impressed with the tastes. We had a great lunch and the lunch was over too soon. We did however have time to sit on some very impressive chairs in front of the Guangzhou Restaurant wall mounted sign and some pictures were taken.
 We then returned to the Hotel for a meeting with the Japanese firm representatives and more food and an early night in preparation for the seminar the next day. I had to leave the room to go to the bathroom= and by the way the bathrooms are all, in the main, signed in Chinese and English or the use of Male and Female character symbols are used. But for the Male bathroom the Chinese
word character is shaped like a bigheaded rugby player [page9image15344] . The Female bathroom Chinese word character is [page9image16072] and could be said to look more like a woman, but I just looked for the rugby player.
 It was on the way back to the room where we were having our meal that I received for the very first time mention of my height (6’2” 188cm) by a petite waitress who passed by me, saying in English “Your so tall!!”. I smiled as I was surprised to hear English from the waitress and was not quick enough the retort to her well-meaning comment of surprise and carried on to the room to finish of the lovely meal.
 The next day the seminar was to be given in the afternoon. A large room with about 70 places is set up and early that day we all help getting a copy of each of the presentation slides, firm brochures and give always into a pouch provided by the Japanese firm. The 60 to 70 attendees that had indicated they would be there in a few hours would each be given a pouch of goodies. The power point slides were tested on the projection system and all is good. Success setting up is not always the case, but the conference systems in China seem no different to those types of systems anywhere else.
 The seminar is part sponsored by the China IP Office (CIPO) and the seminar speakers are escorted to a special room. Gigantic and imposing chairs are set up about the walls of the special room. The speakers are seated and waiting. At that time I did not know this was going to happen and it is all very different to any seminar I have ever been involved in. The Deputy Head of the local Guangzhou IP Office enters. A lovely woman is introduced to me as the Deputy and she graciously begins speaking in very halting English to me. Then the Japanese speaker converses in Chinese as does Eva and Kin and the conversation seems to be very jovial and relaxed. The Deputy is very friendly and it seems encouraging and this sets the scene for a great meeting.
 We all walk a short distance to the seminar room and take our seats. The Deputy is introduced and she provides a speech (reading from prepared notes) and everyone including the speaker claps politely. Then the speakers are introduced to the attendees and since it is all in Chinese I need to be told by Kin to stand up, as my name is hidden in all the Chinese being spoken. First part done.
 The Japanese team are first and one of them is a Chinese guy, who was born in China, moved to Canada (so his spoken English is distinctly Canadian) and is now working in Japan. He speaks all those languages and delivers his presentation in Mandarin over about 1 and a bit hours about the Japanese patent system and fine details about entering the Japanese national phase and using the Global Patent Prosecution Highway.
 The audience of about 60 studiously listens, takes notes and as requested saves any questions for when the speakers have finished. This is typical in China and although I would have been comfortable receiving any questions during my talk, Kin advised me that that was not the done thing.
 There is a break and I grab some of the sweet buns to get my sugar level up but no one approaches me although I am standing near the groups of mostly young attorneys chattering away. This is typically a time for useful interactions with the attendees since although I am one of the speakers I like to make myself accessible and if I hear an interesting topic being spoken about I can usually get some comment in and I am then involved in a group discussion. Great way to get to know your audience and you never know what will fall out of the tree, so to speak.
 Kin is up next. Kin has prepared slides about the Australian patent system and delivers about 45 minutes of information all in Mandarin. He is relaxed (not like me at that time, as I am nervous about my final words in Chinese) and gets a chuckle or two during his presentation. He ends his presentation by introducing me.
 My time has come and it is time to perform. I have travelled to the northern hemisphere, all the way to Southern China from Adelaide, South Australia, and people have taken the time to be there to hear the Australian attorney speaking.
 "Nee How" seems a good way to start. Smiles straight away and I am speaking to the audience one sentence at a time in English, my first sentence is off script, it was not discussed and was not about the slides, but Kin valiantly (I think) translates roughly, my feelings about how great it is to be in China and Guangzhou for the very first time, how I am impressed with what I have seen and how much I like the food. I say it and no reaction. Kin says it in Chinese and there are more smiles.
 I begin speaking to the slides. I had not prepared a script as the subject matter was something I know about and I just spoke about what came to mind and mentioned on the slide. It helped that I was speaking one sentence at a time as the delay till the next sentence allowed me to get the next thought processed, and then what I was to say just flowed out. I am sure Kin was using license with what I said since my one sentence seemed occasionally to become three long Chinese sentences.
 I had at least prepared a hand written script for my axioms and I had placed it below the computer keyboard in front of me. The last slide appears unexpectedly (remember I am winging the spoken word) and my eyes search frantically for the script. I hesitate, forget to take a breath, but launch into the first axiom.
 JoW Ta’ Shi d’ spills clumsily out of my mouth.
 Pour fow' Sher Joe- then flows much too quickly out of my mouth, and the talk is finished.
 I am too preoccupied with my poor pronunciation to notice the audience, and my moment is gone.
 I return to my seat but am soon back on stage for the Question and Answer session. This seems to go well and although Kin deals with the questions as does the Japanese firm, a couple of questions are directed to me. I respond with answers and Kin translates. Then it is all over.
 It was great to have some of the attendees introduce themselves afterwards and I see and greet some of the associates we met the first night and at lunch the previous day.
 Someone congratulates me on my Chinese. Thanks, I will take that and relish the positive feedback. I tell myself the next time I will slow down and they will think I have been speaking the language for ages.
 Past 5 pm by the time everyone has left the seminar room and I need a rest but no time to go to my room for a small break. We (all the presenters and their team) all make our way to a private dining room in the same hotel.
 Very formal this time as the head of the Guangzhou IP Office is in attendance.
 The head of the Guangzhou IP Office is a jovial man and although he does not speak English, he does know how to say “Hello” and he good naturedly accepts my “Nee How Ma” which translates to “g’day” and “owyagoin t’day”. See Australian can be just as confusing.
 The conversation jaunts along and occasionally, Kin who I have carefully organised to sit beside me, translates some of the conversation, which turns to the fact that the Chinese IP Office was pleased to sponsor the seminar because they are eager to educate Chinese IP professionals and SME’s about IP, just not local IP but overseas IP. I take the lead and explain through Kin that our firm is of a like mind and that we provide seminars to local businesses provide education session in technology parks, lecture to high schools, universities, and support business plan competitions, and the Entrepreneurial Start-Up community. The Head of the Guangzhou IP Office listens with interest and then states that his Office is a leader in such education and that our seminar is but one of the many initiatives he and the Chinese Government are taking to improve IP education. Indeed, they are developing a web-based Chinese language patent searching tool which will allow Chinese IP developers and inventors to more easily search the available patent records of the world to check whether their IP is novel.
 The conversation continues and the food keeps coming, beautifully presented and a great variety of tastes and colour. This is partly to satisfy the hunger of the group but it should also be noted that it is bad form for there to be empty plates on the table. In Western society this would mean that we all had a good fill and did not want to leave anything on the plate lest it be wasted. In Chinese society to have empty plates means that your guests are leaving hungry so any empty plate is soon replaced with a full plate of food.
 The Head is the most important person at the table and he graciously fills our tea cups, he serves us a slice of a gigantic bun prepared especially for our table of nine people, and he also makes the toasts. A very comfortable experience, lovely food and a great evening had by all.
 I am glad it finishes relatively early in the evening as Kin, Eva and I along with the Japanese group are being driven to Shenzhen the next morning, for our group to go and see a possible new corporate client and for the two groups to present the next seminar that same day.
 Our hire cars arrive on time but we are a little late getting into them and Eva, Kin and I have an appointment in Shenzhen with a Medical Devices Corporation before we deliver the second of the seminars. Eva in her careful way has timed things to happen for a reason and slight delay will not be a problem, but the drivers of the two cars are eager to make up the perceived loss of time.
 Let the race being. We are in a people mover while the Japanese are in the latest Lexus saloon vehicle with shiny alloy wheels and power to burn. Thus begins the great race to Shenzhen along a six and four lane toll-way. I am sure the young drivers think they are playing a digitally created race game and the lane changes and slick moves are precisely made, they scan the vehicles ahead making their moves to take advantage of the gaps and slower vehicles to find the most efficient path forward. Thankfully, we survive but I hardly rest my gaze, doing the same calculations as the drivers, lamenting with them the slower drivers and the large almost gangly trucks. We are more than on time and once in our hotel we quickly drop off our luggage and hail a taxi.
 Shenzhen is another large city that has started some 10 kilometres before we get to our destination hotel and then we travel another 5 kilometres to get to the Medical Equipment Corporation. We make our way to the allotted address and are confronted by a 40 storey office building in a busy office building area which if I closed my eyes and opened them again I could imagine in Chicago, San Francisco or Sydney downtown. It turns out that the Corporation was not in existence before 1990 and this purpose built building is one amongst four or so in the near vicinity housing their R&D and administrative personnel and having a total employee count of over 4000.
 We arrive at the allotted time at the small visitor office where we are greeted by the head of the IP department (again Eva has excelled at gaining access to the most appropriate people). We gain our passes, not as intimidating as previously the case, and are walked into the building and through electronic pass gates again not unlike I have seen in many corporate buildings.
 The meeting goes well and I present some of my slides from the seminar to the five attorneys that have given us their time, although they still occasionally check their mobile phones and occasionally leave the room to attend to business, again much like any other corporate environment. There are some interesting questions but it is clear afterwards that this company is just starting its IP travels through the world and Australia is on a long-term plan.
 The head of the department then takes us to lunch, to a purpose built building with two floors of canteens for the employees who are streaming out of their offices and walking to the building. We are ushered to what appears to be an executive floor with an executive dinning area, where a table has been reserved for us. The menu is positioned on the table and there are 6 set menu plates offering a variety of meals. I opt for the pork and others for the chicken accompanied with a variety of vegetables and a bowl of plain white rice. The host asks for a broth of what I am not sure but it tastes great and is a nice lead in while we await the meal. It does not take long as the meal plates must in the main be prepared well ahead of time. People stream in an out as they take about half an hour to consume their lunch and talk to their work colleges while seated about the linen covered tables. A very efficient dining room manger moves about the room approaching each dinner and offering a card reader with a readout of the meal they ordered, the employee swipes their ID card and I assume payment for the meal is recorded with a beep.
 The head of the department then takes us to the ground floor of the building we originally entered where there is an extensive display of the most impressive medical equipment including: x- ray machines, ultra-sound equipment, a fully equipped operating theatre and multi-specimen assay equipment. On the way out I see the only indication that we are in China being the 6-meter by 4- meter Chinese flag hanging in the enormous foyer.
 We soon return to the hotel with time to prepare for the seminar, which is being held in the same hotel. The hotel is a modern affair situated in a 40 or so storey building, with the hotel occupying some 15 floors (starting from the twelfth floor reception area upwards). The foyer is ultra- modern and the lights which are set into hemispherical indents in the ceiling, change colour from purple, to blue, to green to white, to and orange as does a sculpture to one side of the foyer. My hotel room is also modern and large, having a separate sitting room, large flat LCD TV and spacious office table located adjacent a bed room and bed that could occupy a family of five which is situated but segregated, by a wall to ceiling curtain, from an area having smoked glass panels, forming a toilet cubical and a shower and on the opposite wall two basins far enough apart to fit another small person lying down on the bench between. Again the room rate is very reasonable for this high standard room.
 I digress, as our busy schedule requires us to prepare for the second seminar and we are in the throes of getting the projection system checked over. Seems that the green light component of the projector is not working and the slides look washed out and of course are not the pleasing professional colours they are meant to be. Much setting and resetting of the system and checking of the laptops, but it is not possible to set things as they should be. We carry on, as the show must go on.
 The China IP Development Association and the China IP Office are hosting this seminar and a gentleman from the Association is introduced to me. The exchange of cards takes place and I should mention again that you should receive a person’s card with two hands, carefully look at the card, look on the two sides of the card and make sure you are seen to study the card, then place –in the case of a man wearing a jacket/coat, the card in to a pocket of your jacket, preferably a top pocket but never into your trousers and especially not into the back pocket of those trousers and if you are a woman you place the card in a pocket, if you have one, or in your hand bag, possibly in a dedicated holder. You should also hand your card over with two hands and you will sometimes be surprised at how long your card is looked at, but this is a sign of respect. It helps to have Chinese character representations of your details on your cards, remembering that most recipients will feel comfortable reading Chinese. This is an important part of doing business in China and you should learn as much as you can about these processes.
 The seminar goes to plan my axioms are delivered much =more clearly that the last time and the questions and answer session is lively and in particular one attorney from an International Company based out of China asks many good questions. Pity that Madderns cannot act for them but I am sure our goodwill has been improved by our participation in this seminar.
 Kin is off to see associates that evening, while Eva and I have the opportunity to seek out a restaurant that serves traditional noodles of the area from which she grew up in China, the city that is associated with the Terracotta Warriors. The restaurant is not one that she has visited before but it is well known. Eva fires up the equivalent to ‘Google’ and a Chinese equivalent ‘Google maps’ and location services on her mobile phone. I immediately feel that the similarities of life in China to most Western environments are greater than I ever expected. The map leads us a block or two South of the hotel, down a subway entrance and along a series of tunnels lined with small shops and eateries all busy with people, workers and small children of the owners sitting about the various entrances all talking and some tapping away on mobile phones.
 We arrive at the restaurant and it is clean and about half-full. We sit down and the young waiter dutifully provides the menu and I see others arriving and taking their seats about us. I leave the order to Eva, open mind, open mind - I look forward to a tasty meal, whatever parts of animals it may be. Eva is kind to me and the noodles she orders are meant to be authentic to her area and mildly spicy with chicken pieces and vegetables. We begin with a local beer which I am glad to have as the day of speaking has parched my throat and it is the chance to have a local brew TSINGTAO. I refrain from kicking the whole half litre straight back, knowing I will need to keep some for emergencies if the food tastes or spices are overwhelming. I start eating a Chinese burger which comprises a doughy white bun with a mash of meat between, very tasty.
 I note that there are a number of female couples eating together and a male and female couple in a booth across the way. They all look like young professionals, no more than mid-twenties and I confirm that they are likely on their way home, it is about 6:00 pm and it is typical for meals to be eaten in restaurants and street vendor locations, since it is also typical for a one or two room apartment to await them for a home. The apartments are only really a place to sleep and socialising is an important past time for young and old.
 I mention my thoughts and understandings to Eva and she confirms them and talks about the great imbalance in females to males in China, a legacy of the one child policy and the preference for male children (however I note just recently that that policy has been set aside so as to spurn economic growth). Seems that the females can be very choosy and the imbalance is causing very different dynamics in young society to that of other societies. We also spoke of the dependence that males seem to have on their parents but that is a phenomenon not isolated to China.
 My noodles arrive in a plate the size of a flying saucer and I do not have any hope of fitting it all in. I note that while Eva and I have been talking the couples are receiving multiple bowls of equal size and they are being consumed with gusto and the daintiest of young ladies are apparently hollow legged. The noodles taste great and I get about halfway through and mention that they seem hard, as I was expecting a soft noodle as ordered. Eva concludes the order was taken incorrectly. Another bowl is soon delivered and although I am almost full I taste them and they are just as good and I almost finish off the second bowl.
 Our meal is over and as we walk I see into a shed facing onto the path, and on the floor I see a pile of leftover food, and someone separating some things from other things. I do not ask Eva what’s going on, but clearly there is a market for such food, I suspect the chickens get well fed.
 Kin and I are off to Ningbo the next morning on a 6 am flight from the Shenzhen Airport, so an early night is appreciated. Kin are I get up at 4:15 am ready to go and a driver is there to pick us up at the allotted time. Traffic is sparse and but we are at the airport a little later than we wanted to be since the driver took a wrong turn along the way, I did not notice of course. What a sight the terminal building is - the clean white canopies with a million apertures in the roof structure which arcs across our view as we approach and seems to stretch kilometres into the distance.
 We go to the counter to drop of our luggage and as I am waiting inline I see a large 15 meter long banner with stylised ‘doves’ adorning the top right hand corner of the sign. The main writing across the sign is in Chinese but there is English wording below “Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War” This is the only Government notice I ever saw in China.
 Airport security is just like anywhere else I have been (always slow when you are in an apparent hurry) and of course I leave my iPhone emergency battery in the main luggage but it is meant to be carried on to the plane, so security ask me to remove it and then I place my bag on to a conveyor (not good) since the security officer is meant to do that, but it disappears behind the flapping barrier and then needs to be retrieved before I can leave the area. Kin is nearby but I am on my own when it comes to luggage infractions. Eventually it is all sorted (always keep calm and show respect for the people who are doing their best to keep us all safe).
 However, by this time the boarding gate is at least 20 minutes walk and boarding is in ten minutes time. Kin and I walk very briskly and just make it to the gate and then have to wait in the shuttle bus for some latecomers. As we are standing in the shuttle bus I note that every second person is on their mobile, again I could have been on any shuttle bus in any of hundreds of airports in the world and this is what I would see. The young man in front of me is playing, what seems to be, Candy Crush. I wish I had been able to ask to check.
 The shuttle bus stops next to a Boeing 737-800 shiny and apparently new to Dongahai Airlines and we all make our way up the stairs into the plane and take our seats to join the passengers that had arrived earlier. We are soon taxing what seems kilometres to the take-off runway and then we begin our almost 2 hour flight. There is no piped entertainment but the food is on par with economy food available on flights anywhere, with tasty fried rice, the only time I ate fried rice while in China as we fly North-East towards our next destination.
 I look out the window of the plane as we take off and note the early morning darkness transform into brighter light as we increase altitude and see the smog thick on the ground. As we increase our distance from Shenzhen the smog eventually thins out to nothing, so I can see the rugged green and grey landscape passing slowly below, at places rising above a blanket of clouds. Near the end of our flight I cast my view out of the confines of the plane and note a brown river snaking seemingly directly towards our destination and then the ubiquitous apartment buildings begin to appear just as thick on the ground as the cloud blanket I saw previously and for as far as the eye can see from a descending plane.
 The inside of the airport at Ningbo is a little like the New Adelaide Airport and has a similar scale and layout but services five times the population in the greater area about this city. A fast taxi ride taking about 30 minutes delivers us to our accommodation in what seems on one side of the middle of the city, but as you will now appreciate a city can extend tens of kilometres in all directions so I am only guessing.
 The building we are driven to is, which I learn later, one of many Industry and Economic Development Centres built to accommodate conferences, meetings and also provide accommodation for visitors from overseas and afar in China. The foyer is enormous and houses a detailed model of the surrounding area showing existing and planned office buildings, apartments, shops, lakes, roadways and parks.
 Interestingly, the hotel reception is a small area and Kin handles our interaction with the staff as they take our passports and then it is time to swipe our credit cards. We initially think it is a swipe machine issue as all of my credit cards and most of Kin’s cards are declined. Soon the manager is called and he takes Kin to another part of the center to try another machine. Finally, Kin’s personal credit card works and we are able to complete the booking process.
 My room is large and well appointed and my windows overlook a tree filled plaza and office buildings surrounding the plaza. It is not easy to see if the offices are occupied but I suspect that not all of them are. Our early morning flight has ensured we are both exhausted and we are able to rest for a few hours before we meet our hosts in Ningbo.
 Who would have thought we would be picked up by a new model Audi sedan and be whisked off to lunch? The driver is one of the owners of One Win, the attorney firm that has asked us to present at the seminar the next day, and her driving is careful and measured which is in stark contrast to the taxis and hire cars we have been in during our time in China. The roads are wide and not very busy in this part of town, which I gather is mainly an office precinct with a smattering of apparently high-end apartment buildings. The electric bikes are still evident as are taxis which speed past us as we travel at a much more moderate speed towards our destination. We turn into the driveway of a large building and down into an underground car par. Again, as I have been able to do many times during this visit to China, I could have closed my eyes for a moment, opened them, and would be transported to any underground car park in the developed world. The driver takes their careful time to find a park amongst the BMWs, Mazda and Lexus vehicles lined up along the walls and then we make our way to the lifts.
 When I step out of the lifts it is into the lobby of a Japanese Restaurant with the waiters and waitresses busily tending to the many tables of patrons. We are led to private room and before we enter we are required to remove our shoes. Just as well there are no holes in my socks that day. The doors to the room are the traditional patterned paper doors, which slide silently to reveal a very low table. I am not sure until I look twice and see a large void below the table and just enough room between the table and the floor for us to insert our legs under the table and sit on the floor. It takes a trip to China to have the experience of a traditional Japanese meal in the style of a Japanese emperor. I am impressed and looking forward to my meal.
 The associates speak a little English but Kin has to translate most of what I say when I thank them for this special experience and their willingness to host the seminar that we will be giving the next day. The food begins to arrive and the array of grilled fish, squid, scallops, and chicken, pork, and then lots of what I do not know, are all very meticulously prepared and beautifully presented in bite sized portions. The meal goes on for quite some time and I am grateful to have the time to savour what I am eating but I do need to keep the green tea intake up.
 We finish lunch and I again thank our associates for the very nice meal and their company. We make our way back to their offices, which are a block away from our accommodation. This time the parking of our car takes quite a long time, as there are limited spaces about the office complexes in the vicinity. In fact there are parking officials in appropriately official uniforms whose job it seems is to try and control the hordes of vehicle drivers from parking anywhere their vehicle will fit, including double parking. Eventually we double park our vehicle and leave a business card on the windshield to allow those who need to get their car out to contact the driver.
 As we walk a winding route through the office buildings I am mesmerised by a familiar sign with green and white letters arrayed across the full width of a STARBUCKS COFFEE shop. I know there are many opinions about the quality of their coffee, but when I have not had what I would call, a real coffee for about a week, this is like coming across an oasis. To top off my joy I learn they have Flat Whites, an Australian style of coffee and my favourite, which has become part of the extensive offering of this world wide coffee chain. Again our hosts are very generous and pay for our orders and have them delivered to their offices nearby but I note that the cost of a Venti Flat White is about $8.50 Australian which is about $6.00 US. Seems that the Chinese middle class are willing to pay for their coffee hit.
 We are quickly introduced to all the people in their office, enjoy my Flat White (which tastes just right) and then taken for a tour of the floor of the office building, which also houses other attorney firms and a small two person office set up by the Chinese Government to assist Small to Medium Enterprises to enforce their Copyrights. The Chinese Intellectual Property Office also has a branch on the floor below.
 It is time to go back to our accommodation, which is less than a block away and as we walk across the road between blocks we see at least one hundred community-use push bikes ready for rental by using a prepaid contactless card. I assume there are stations like this one all over the city and it is interesting to see pushbikes are the choice of community bike in this city.
 We freshen up and our hosts have offered to show us about the city and we are picked up in a vehicle arranged via a call to Uber, which is often used by the associate. It seems that Uber is having the same regulatory issues as everywhere else on earth as they are seen as a threat to traditional taxi services. We travel for about 45 minutes along wide streets which change to narrow streets which are busy with traffic (sometimes bumper to bumper) as day transitions to dusk. The construction workers on electric bikes and some motorbikes are on their way home, since their hard hats double as helmets. I note that many of the riders have a colourful rug that extends upwards from foot level and ends in gloves to cover their hands and falls over their forearms. It must get very cold at times. The silhouette of cranes across the orange sky is a reminder that this and, it seems every other city in China is growing at an unprecedented rate. We end up in a popular re-creation of an ‘old town’ version of early Ningbo.
 The streets between old architecturally interesting buildings are narrow and the crowd milling about and promenading the street is made up of families and young ones (mainly small groups of young women) looking at the shop windows full of great things to see and buy, marvelling at the upside-down colourful paper umbrellas and lights creating a bright canopy across a street for most of its length, and generally looking out for the best food in one of the many eateries and food outlets along the many streets that make up this small slice of an older time.
 My host stops along with us to observe an old man pouring liquid toffee from a ladle into intricate shapes onto a cool slab which becomes a butterfly shape and then just at the right time the man places a stick central to the butterfly shape, waits while the mixture hardens and then carefully scrapes the shape and stick off the surface and hands it to a wide-eyed child who turns to its parents and smiles. My host asks me, what is my Chinese birth animal, and although I am not sure, I say the rooster. He then asks the old man to make a rooster for me. I watch and see the toffee mixture fall from the ladle into lines on the slab that look much like the highways and byways of a major intersection, but slowly the tail feathers appear to take shape, the feather crest and a beak of a rooster appear. The old man quickly and skilfully adds more swirls to complete the rooster’s shape and attach a stick. Soon I have the rooster in hand and it is not long (maybe a little longer than the child’s butterfly) before I am crunching on the tail feathers and enjoying the extremely sweet toffee disappears over time in my mouth.
 We note a very long queue of people wending away from a doorway down one of the streets. Open walls about the doorway reveal half-a-dozen people busy twisting and moulding dough into thumb sized rolls and placing them in gigantic piles ready for frying in equally gigantic pots. I learned later when Kin kindly bought some, that they come in three different flavours and are tasty and crunchie.
 As we walk amongst the throng of people on this pleasant Thursday night we come across a glass blower. On offer to be made is an extensive array of figurines of animals, bowls, vases, and fanciful creatures including the most ferocious looking dragons. I note that he has sticks of glass in each hand, a bright yellow gas fuelled flame gushing up from a tube located behind his table of treasures and directly before his seated position. I am intrigued as he forms seemingly from nothing a figurine of a horse, places it on a steel shelf to cool in the evening air and once ready, hands it to a waiting child. I have grand children and I am short on time to buy anything from shops, as the trip is all business, so it occurs to me to have this skilled artisan craft some figurines for them. I discuss with Kin what I want to be made and he conveys my choices to the artisan who immediately commences to make the first of three figurines. I marvel that he uses two long glass sticks of different diameters and on the tip of the smaller diameter stick the neck of the first character begins to be drawn out of the end with the width of a body being added to by the larger stick of glass, both of which are being moved back and forth over the white yellow flame. Only then do I notice that the artisan has dark sunglasses on. The body is formed but then the larger glass stick is touched to the side of the body and a small horn shape is drawn from the head and the flame smooths the tip as the two parts are separated. Then again and again other horns are formed and some become elaborate whiskers wending their evil way forward and upward to sharp ends pointing in defiance at all those that dare to challenge the dragon. The tail is formed and the legs and feet are created so that the dragon can stand on a flat surface ready to spring to action. All too quickly the first and then the second and then the third figurines are finished, boxed and all I pay is the equivalent of A$12/US$9 each.
 There is much to see but we are getting hungry and we head towards the busiest restaurant, using the principle that the busiest will typically have the best food. It is so busy that we have to take a ticket and wait our turn. As we sit waiting Kin goes off to buy the doughy delights I mentioned previously. I notice a woman getting very agitated that her table is taking so long to be made available and she approaches the haggard looking supervisor of the waiting system at least six times while we wait, all the while more requests for entrance are being received. Seems that the place is really popular and if we get in we should be really grateful. Also while I wait, I observe an older woman tending to a small child, keeping the toddler entertained as they pace up and down the cramped corridor of the entrance to the restaurant. This would not be out of place other than the fact that it seemed there were no parents to be seen and I assume that the older Chinese generation were often required to look after their grandchildren in this enterprising work orientated Chinese economy.
 We are eventually ushered to our table on the second floor and Kin is yet to return so our host and I review the menu and we choose a variety of dishes from a picture filled menu but I am still unsure what exactly we have ordered and I also see a couple at the next table ordering soon after us.
 I now have time to look about me and realise that here I am in China and the view out the adjacent window readily confirms that, as I am looking over the top of the roof of the next building which is covered in semi-circular shells overlapping, row and upon row, extending from the edge of the roof to the tile capping lying lengthways across the apex of the roof. The capping ends with an upturned pointy cap just like you see in all the Chinese Kungfu movies. I imagine for a moment the Emperors Kungfu warrior leaping into view and then just as impossibly leaping into the window of the restaurant above the adjacent roof.
 Kin arrives to interrupt my imaginings with three bags of the fried delicacies, one bag for each of the flavours that are available. We all have a taste from each bag, which turns out to be a selection of either sweet, spicy, and what I call bland. Our drinks appear soon after and I have ordered a beer along with our host which goes down very well, but as I have done before I keep some for helping to quench my thirst and some to dilute any flavours that threaten to overwhelm me.
 The dishes start to appear and one in particular is said to be a local dish the name of which I cannot recall but I do remember that is a green vegetable in long thin shapes of 6 to 10 centimetres length in a slimy clear liquid. I find it hard to pick pieces out of the bowl with my chopsticks, but as I taste each piece I think that it’s like a mildly spicy cucumber. Best description I can give it but as it turns out, I quite like it and consume more, along with dumplings, and mushrooms and lots of other stuff that I taste and mostly enjoy. The beauty of eating from a variety of dishes is that I can choose to eat as much or as little of everything. I of course do not eat all of one dish but I am sure that the very friendly host would allow me to eat that way if I had difficulty with any of the dishes.
 We have to deliver the last of our seminars tomorrow so we make our way back into the traffic, this time later at night but early enough to get a good rest. While we stand on the side of the road waiting for our ride to arrive a top of the line BMW sedan parks at an awkward angle on the side of the road and a smart young woman alights and walks briskly into the old township leaving the car door ajar and the exterior and interior lights on. Ten minutes passes by and the driver has still not returned, which I find interesting since there appears to be no concern with the security of the vehicle. Just as our ride arrives the woman returns with a box in hand, gets into the vehicle and drives off.
 We again get our drive using Uber and our ride this time is a large four wheel drive which provides a high position to observe the other traffic, as well as the shops and people enjoying the evening.
 We get up early and down to the breakfast area for our last breakfast in China as we are off to Hong Kong in the afternoon, following the seminar. This time some of the dishes are unsigned or have Chinese language signs and although I do not know what some of the offerings are I am able to find enough that I feel confident eating. The seminar is being held in a lecture room in the same office building occupied by our hosts and we walk across early to set up and make sure the projection system is all in order.
 This time the lecture is over more quickly than previous times and my axioms are delivered slowly and more surely that ever before. It has not been that I have been surrounded in the Chinese language, it has a lot to do with making the effort in a safe and reassuring environment which has been the hallmark of the Chinese people that make my axioms seem to flow and they seem to have be well received. Job done and we are pleased with the overall reception of our combined efforts to deliver information to our Chinese audience.
 After the seminar we get to meet the office staff once again and this time there are pictures to be taken with Kin and I and some of the staff individually. I feel very important but a bit shy about being treated with such deference. We have brought along our luggage and we are soon to be getting ourselves to the airport but our host is going to the conference that Eva is attending in a city she needs to get to by plane, so we all go to the airport together. The trip there is a two-part process as our host needs to park her vehicle at home first, so we made our way via the busy city streets during mid-afternoon to their apartment building.
 The streets were busy with traffic and the ground level shops along the side of the streets all seemed open for business. I did not see any empty shop fronts and there seemed to be plenty of people walking along the streets. School children were more prevalent than I had seen so far, must have been the right time to catch them going home and along some of the city streets there were large, what appeared to be department stores. Again as I took it all in, the similarities of the city of Ningbo to cities all over the world took me by surprise and wonderment. We eventually, after some 40 minutes of driving, arrive at the underground park of an apartment building, but this time all the internal parks were taken, seems there is no reserved spot even for residents: such is the scarcity of parking. So we drove a short distance to a ground level external parking spot watched over by more parking attendants in uniform and then meet another Uber vehicle to take us to the airport. I am conscious that this vehicle trip is the last of my travels in China and I am still wide-eyed and trying to take it all in.
 The airport is soon in view and my trip feels more and more at an end. We enter the large waiting area and settle down at a food shop to wait the hour and half before we enter the customs area since we are flying direct to Hong Kong. The Wi-Fi is good and I am able to establish contact with my family for a short chat using FaceTime, the first time I have done so for a couple of days. It is great to be chatting with such ease and reassuring that I am soon to be on my way back to Australia following an evening and morning in Hong Kong.
 The flight is smooth and I am tired but still able to do some reading on the flight, which arrives quite late in the evening with darkness just settling in. Kin knows his way around the airport and guides me to the long lines of people waiting in well-organised taxi ranks, with different lines for the island and mainland destinations. There are many taxis and we are soon on our way. I am amazed at how Kin is able to now converse in Cantonese with the taxi driver as we scoot our way, first along the motorway from the island that was made for the airport and then through what seems like back streets to the hotel, located in the Mong Kok area of mainland Hong Kong. Traffic seems to stall and I note as we get to the slowest point that the reason is that tall stacks of crates of vegetables and fruit take up two lanes of the three-lane roadway. All the produce seeming to spill out of a row of buildings along the side of the road as they and it wends their way under a bridge. It is about 10 pm in the evening and the produce market area will restrict traffic until all the boxes and crates are cleared from the roadway. No doubt we will see that same produce in the many stalls along the sides of many of the streets of Hong Kong the next morning.
 The hotel is great but I am eager to begin my writing up of this trip blog/report so I venture out to find some food. I take a card from the front desk showing the hotel name and address so I can show it to a local or a taxi driver to get directions back and I also have an application on my mobile which translates the English Street names (most of the Hong Kong streets have English names) into Cantonese for the benefit of the taxi driver, as not all of them speak English. I am only walking a short distance but it is easy to lose ones way in a city with lots of narrow streets and it being nighttime. I do not go far and find the equivalent of a Seven Eleven and buy some chocolate bars and a can of beer for consuming as I write, and I get back to the hotel safe and looking forward to settling down to begin my trip report – which lasts until 2 am and the report only reaches the end of the first day of my trip.
 Not until the next morning do I realise that this hotel provides, in the room, a mobile phone for unlimited use while in Hong Kong. It allows local calls and most importantly it is a smart phone and has maps, so with the hotel phone number and address stored therein, there is no reason a guest would get lost. What a great idea and service.
 Kin and I plan to meet at 9:30 am to get out and about to see some shops (mostly what Kin needs to do and I am happy to tag along) and have a traditional Hong Kong meal for brunch as we need to be on our way to the airport mid-afternoon. Kin has a list of shops he needs to get to, mostly food items, including a particular shop which has an extensive array of dried fish, fish parts, molluscs and even the exotic dish known as birds’ nest. We seem to walk for kilometres and Kin has the addresses and as it turns out, it was a good idea for me to bring along the free mobile phone, since we soon need to find out how to get back on track after a few wrong turns relying on Kin’s memory alone.
 I always say that the wrong turns are the fun part of travelling and we stumble across a number of streets that are packed with shops, and the first street is full of sports shoe stores, another street is full of electronic goods, another is full of women’s clothes, and so on. Kin checked out the sports shoes for his young son, but soon works out that the price is much the same as back in Australia due to the poor exchange rate at this time.
 The most interesting shop was the dried fish shop it was much bigger that the many street facing shops that serve delicacies out of their front windows along the streets of Mong Kok. I was overwhelmed with the shapes, sizes, variety and colour of all the seagoing creatures that were arrayed on the wall to ceiling shelves. Most products were available in bulk for the locals and some were prepacked ready for the like of Kin who is to travel a long way home. I did not need anything so I took the opportunity to do some more walking in the vicinity and take in the other shops fronts and styles of buildings. One shop had what looked like a hastily erected veranda, as the rains fall in sheets so they say, during monsoon season, but upon closer inspection the sheets of corrugated iron at all angles are nailed and hammered to stay into position, however precarious their tenure seemed, on the roughly hewn wooden frame work. This early in the morning, 10 am, since most local shops do not open till 11 am, the fold up tables lie against the poster laden wall of the shop front, each showing a dish that will be available once the chef has the pots hots and the food prepared. As I have mentioned before the Chinese love their food and there never seems to be a shortage of places to eat, and in this example, the surroundings seem less reliable than the quality of food on offer.
 Indeed, the shops were not all fancy high street shops and character restaurants; this is still a living area, as is noticeable by the apartment buildings, which rise above street level over the street level shops, with some windows bared and air conditioners seemingly teetering out of every other window. The local butcher is likely to be butchering the pig, cow or chicken in front of your eyes and then plonking the carcass onto the wooden chopping block poking out into the footpath to catch the eye of the purchasers to show the meat is fresh off the bone. I was not so sure of that sales tactic, since although it was relatively early morning, the heat of the day was rising and the sun in some places already streaking into the bottom of the city canyons. That would be the same sun which was beating down on those fresh cuts of meat that were laid bare and open to all the elements. I did not see any refrigerated counters in those shops.
 After walking for another half an hour we finally arrived at the traditional food eatery that Kin has promised is the place to eat when in Mong Kok, which turns out to be a small stainless steel kitchen with two large sliding windows at right angles with the smallest window facing onto a busy street with an adjacent lane and a well lit two walled roofed area extending behind the kitchen. Kin assures me it is highly recommended and it is very popular. We must be a bit early, as the old cook seems to be cutting up vegetables (that I recognise!!!). An equally old gentleman in a white singlet (at least its clean) is talking to his mates siting in the area behind the kitchen with about 24 wire frame stools arranged about five tightly packed rudimentary tables in the available area. The old gentleman has a dish cloth hanging from his belt and he occasionally uses it to dust off tables and chairs.
 We are early and cannot make a reservation so we go for a short walk and go to the cake shop that is also on Kin’s list of must go to places. Kin asks for some “old lady cake” or “wife cake”. I am hesitant to take anything that is a food back to Australia but Kin assures me that he has taken this type of cake back many times and it is no problem as it is a processed food, well seal packaged, and the Australian customs officers know of it well, just as US Customs officers know what Vegemite is, when Australians that cannot live without this spread as they venture overseas with supplies of the stuff in their luggage. However, it is the spectre of taking home to my beautiful wife, a cake called “old lady cake” that I am most concerned about. Turns out that there is a lovely story behind the name and not to spoil it for you ask about this story when in Hong Kong and eat some of this popular delicacy to celebrate your love.
 We return to the eatery just in time to get seats that have just been vacated and we are in luck to be seated together, since if there are two seats and they are separated the customers will gladly sit apart to eat there. The menu is short on options but that means what is on offer is all good and at a very reasonable cost. Kin recommends the fish balls and a traditional noodle dish with chicken and spicy sauce, which is the signature dish of this establishment. While we wait for our order, 5 people leave and 5 people take their places and just as I said the groups of people sit where there are seats which I particularly note is the case with an older woman and what I presume is her daughter, sitting apart, but both glad to be seated in this much sought after eatery. The patrons are jam packed, which is not unusual in Hong Kong, one of the densest cities in the world for population per square area. The patrons ranged from young couples, mother and daughter, to old men, to building site workers and to tattooed midrange Chinese mafia types (I exaggerated a little with my last example but my imagination took over for a moment as I took it all in).
 The fish balls arrive too quickly but when you can get the patrons in and out so easily quick service is paramount but so must also be the quality of the meal. I do not hesitate and sip the broth that the fish ball is bobbing about in with a spoon that is available from a dispenser on the table that also has lots of chopsticks in paper covers. The fish balls are next and tasty they are, as are the tofu strips (at least this time I am pretty sure they are tofu). Next in quick smart time the noodles arrive and the sauce is particularly flavoursome and I slurp away the noodles covered in sauce using my chopsticks. By this time nothing is too hard to eat with chopsticks and I start feeling like a local as I lower my chin close to the dish to catch all the food that I shovel in with the chopsticks, just like a local, although I can hear my conscience saying this is far too uncouth. But hey! I am in Hong Kong China and that’s how it goes.
 By the time we finish we are ready for a more leisurely few hours so we make our way back to the hotel to ready ourselves for the long flight back. On the way we stop at what I would call a Western coffee shop and I cannot resist a sit down and a hot coffee to while away half an hour of the remaining time in Hong Kong. As I sit down I take note of the surroundings and see that I have come full circle in my travels and thoughts about China. The coffee shop is in the ground floor of a giant atrium, which is located within a very large shopping and hotel complex. The architecture is bold and most likely expensive to build and fit-out. This screams out ‘where with all’ and confidence, which is exactly what, I saw in Mainland China. A ‘can do’ attitude that permeates the psyche of the young Chinese people we met. They know there are lots of things to learn, they know there is much to gain, and they have a belief that hard work will get them there. I also know that I did not see very much of China and that what I did see was on the back of a business trip arranged for me by very competent accompanying associates who speak Chinese, so my impression is a perfect example of the saying ‘your mileage may vary’ and your impressions will be different, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and hope that when you travel to China you will to.
Bill McFarlane © 2015
China Trip Report Oct 2105
with BILL'S EYES
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