China Never Sleeps

</aAs I am in my last full day in Shenzhen (this trip at least), I had a productive weekend and Sunday in particular. But I am far from the only one to be productive as Shenzhen is busy seemingly seven days a week. I awoke early at the usual 5:30AM to the sound of construction outside my hotel room (I have yet to adapt to the 12 hour time difference and I also have heard rumblings that the PRC is considering adding time zones in China).

Shenzhen is building new subway lines all over the place with a plan for total of 12 subway lines – or so I was told. Consequently there is construction almost everywhere in the city. People are working on a Sunday and college students at the University are moving around and about the campus as if it were a Monday or any weekday for that matter. One of the big reasons for China’s rapid rise is its citizenry’s desire and willingness to go above and beyond in everything they do.

When do the Chinese sleep? I have absolutely no idea. I’ve been getting by on 4-5 hours per night while I am here and I suspect that the people around me are getting the same or less sleep than am I. The area near our hotel in University Park is a bit dusty and of course construction filled. Walking around at night – anytime from 8PM – 2AM you find people outside (the weather is warm and comfortable) milling about, shopping, cooking and eating. There are many outdoor food stands and like street food should be, the food looks and is tasty, cheap and wide ranging. Tony Bourdain of ‘No Reservations’ would do well to check out and around Shenzhen.

People work hard yet despite that they find time to play hard too. I have become fond of Moutai – Chinese liquor that is comprised of five different grains and can be found nearly everywhere and in varying degrees of quality and expense. Last night we drank two bottles (there were five of us) of really expensive Moutai – I was told that a small glass would be 50 Yuan – a little less than $ 8 dollars. I guess that there could be 30 small (1 ounce) glasses in a one liter bottle. You can do the math. Everyone toast one another constantly throughout meals – you never drink alone and I suspect it is bad form if you do.

Business discussions are woven in and around dinners and social engagements – something that I don’t mind at all and in fact even enjoy. The Chinese people I have met on both of my business trips are warm, inviting, and extremely concerned with my well being and that I am enjoying my trip and will come back to China soon. They have nothing to worry about as I continue to be fascinated by China and its people.

My now good friend Dr. Yufu Cheng has been my lifeline as my Mandarin is far from being what you would call proficient. At times I get frustrated at my inability to process the Mandarin (I tend to understand maybe 10-20% of full Mandarin conversations) and reply in real time. My tutor Grace Brennan will be happy that I kept on trying but learning Mandarin will be a work in progress and not nearly fast enough for my desire.

China never sleeps. When people do it’s not for long – something to which I can attest. Yet I wake up each morning energized and ready for the day. I can do this for a week or two at a time but I value sleep highly and believe I would have difficulty staying sharp if had to do it all the time. But maybe I’m wrong about that?

Americans should take note of the Chinese people’s willingness to constantly drive and push forward. After seeing the Chinese work I feel Americans are far too comfortable with the status quo even when economic times are difficult as they are now.

It should not be seen as a threat but a motivation. I will have more time to think about that on my 15 hour flight back. I’ll pick back up from the other side of the planet. Zai jian!

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
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