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# Wednesday, 14 June 2006

My travel history is not a particularly interesting one: a trip to London with my parents when I was 14, another trip to Turkey last year. Other than that, nada. So it was with particular interest that I took on a business trip to China: for starters, I was eager to get into the business side of things at Monfort. Second, I am fascinated with Chinese culture and have been planning a trip to China in ages. Lastly, it's a paid business trip to another country... I'm being paid to do things I would never have been able to afford on my own. Obviously, I said yes!

Going on a business trip is quite different from going on a vacation and has its own set of rules. I had to get a business suit, business cards and similar crud. I'm not a big fan of clothes in general (Israel is extremely hot and I'm very averse to heat) and uncomfortable, constrictive clothes in particular, so it's no surprise that I have never worn a business suit. There is a whole etiquette involved: colour matching, the type of jacket, button placements etc. These are mostly trivialities, but it gets a little more interesting with ties: the first and last time I ever wore a tie was for my Bar-Mitzvah party, and my dad put the tie on for me. This time it wasn't really an option as I was going to Beijing on my own. Luckily the 'net has once again proven to be an indispensible information repository, and over a weekend I was able to successfully teach myself how to tie a half-windsor knot from scratch. (This might be a good time to note that, externally, I can't see any difference between half-windsor, full-windsor or four-in-hand knots. They all look alike to me.)


Image courtesy iol.org.uk

I'm usually inclined to do my homework before going into a new venture; in this case it meant doing serious reading on business suit etiquette (as mentioned above) and an overview of both Japanese and Chinese business culture (since I'll be meeting both). At least in theory business cards are a major aspect of oriental business culture - such cards are prerequisites for businessmen from either culture, or those interested in doing business in the orient. There are even customary rules on how to present business cards: either one hand (always the right) or, preferably, with both hands, with the written side facing the other party. Some sites go as far as to recommend double-sided business cards, one side in English and the other in whichever language is relevant to your uses. Finally, it makes an impression to hand out the cards from a holder (pictured on the right). These are supposedly easy to come by in any gift shop (which are abundant in Israel for some reason), however I found this out a little too late and was unable to obtain one in time for my outgoing flight. I figured I'll just pick one up at the airport, but apparently none of the shops in either the Israeli or the Turkish duty free zones carry such products.

A major difference between this trip and any other I've ever been on is packing detail: packing the suit takes special attention. I'm a pretty experienced hiker so packing is a trivial task for me; I usually pick the smallest necessary bag and pack just what is necessary (or useful) for the purpose of the trip. Although a suitable strategy for hikes through Israel or trips to Turkey, this strategy proved inadequate because of the suit: I used a folder for packing the suit shirt, and a special carrying bag for the jacket and pants. I'm only going for a few days so I didn't pack a large bag or suitcase and settled for a medium-sized carry-bag... which turns out to have been a mistake. Although I carried very little on this trip, the jacket bag wouldn't fit in under any circumstances (not without twisting the jacket inside) and I had to carry it with me everywhere (duty free, lounge, plane, etc.). I'm definitely picking a proper suitcase for the next trip. The special shirt folder also proved inadequate and I had to have the shirt ironed again.

I figured the few things I'll be needing before and during my flights can be kept in the laptop bag. This includes a wallet, glasses and the various documents (flight tickets, passport) I'll be needing on my trip. This would've been a wise decision if it weren't for two factors: I needed some extra space for the stuff I bought at the Israeli duty free zone (The Da Vinci Code and a bottle of Rémy Martin XO Excellence), and the damn suit carry bag kept bothering me. I think I'll go with a small traveller's bag next time.

The one thing I didn't plan properly was a camera. I could've borrowed my dad's camera (Minolta Z2), but it's large and unwieldly. I wanted to buy a compact digital camera and figured I could buy a mainstream camera for a reasonable price in the Israeli duty free. This also turned out to be a mistake, because the price for the camera I was initially interested in (Canon Digital IXUS 50) was considerably higher than the price I could get even inside Israel. No luck in the Turkish duty free zone either, so it's mostly a question of whether or not I can find the time in China to look up a camera.

Next: the actual flights.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006 21:34:14 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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"Travelling to China: Flight" (Useless Inc.) [Trackback]
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