After a long and tiring week in Taiwan, Joe and I are home. It was an awesome trip. We got to see some pretty cool new 2010 stuff from other vendors. We also got to work on some new Salsa stuff that I know at least some of you should like. Now that we are back, we thought it might be interesting to map out what a typical day is like when we travel to Taiwan. Here are words and pictures describing our last day and half in Taiwan.
First a little background. The days in Taiwan are long. Not only do our Taiwanese partners work longer hours than we do, we need to maximize our number of visits to justify the expense. This means long days. We typically get picked up or travel by mass transit starting at 8:00AM. Our typical day is breakfast, meetings, lunch (some days), meetings, travel to our next city or location, dinner with a vendor, hotel check in, meeting follow up (email or phone calls), & sleep. These days generally go at least 12 hours before we return to a hotel room.
So with that, I pick up our trip just after a long day of meetings in Taichung. We boarded the high speed train to head south. We left Taichung for Tainan and our final day of meetings. Pretty sweet traveling at 250+ kph. Got to see a sweet sunset too.
Unfortunately, our fearless leader led us onto the wrong train. We accidentally boarded a train that didn’t stop where we needed it too. We ended up going one city past and then had to re board another train and head back north to Tainan. These trains are fast and this only added about 20 minutes to our schedules. Once we got to Tainan we were immediately picked up by one of our vendor’s secretaries. She brought us to the factory where Joe did final assembly on a Casseroll Single for the owner’s wife. Sweet! We then left for the restaurant. Joe and I were seated on each side of the factory owner and each of us had one of his sales people seated right next to us. These folks made sure we were well fed and that our glasses were full. The person next to me had only been at this company for 3 weeks and this was his first dinner. He was so excited he toasted me between almost every bite. I finally asked him to let me eat a little before more toasts. It ended up being a great evening with something like 12-13 courses of food (I tried chicken testicles for the first time), lots of Taiwan Beer, a little bit of work, and talking about philosophy.
After dinner, we were brought to the hotel for the evening. We quickly checked in. It was about 9:30 or so. We then met with our contacts for our final day of meetings. We enjoyed one last drink at the bar with our partners from Japan & Taiwan before returning to the room to do email at about 10:30PM.
After a little sleep, we all met for breakfast and then were picked up to go to our first factory meeting. We spent our final day with one of our frame manufacturers. Most visits start with a tour. Sometimes the tour is pretty formal. Sometimes they are not. We got to see racks of Big Mamas and El Kaboings. These frames are in stock at QBP now. The frames in the following photo are waiting for parts to assemble our complete bikes.
We also got to see the custom shop where they were building Podio’s for the CLIF Bar road team.
After the tour, we went to our designated meeting room to sit down and work through our meeting topics. Often the agenda consists of discussing business, the economy, and any new products or technology before moving onto our specific topics. Today we had about 20 topics. Some old. Some new. Some fun. Some not so fun. Some easy. Some difficult. By the end of the day, our table looked liked this.
After a successful meeting at the factory, we got to actually go see the alloy foundry followed by the tubing facility where our scandium tubes are made. It was amazing as I’ve never seen this part of the process. I left this day with a much better understanding of process, capability and vertical integration. It was fun to see this with my own eyes.
After our last visit, we were picked up to get dropped off at the high speed train station. I took this last picture of Joe just before getting out of the van. I think this pretty much sums up the week and the feeling at then end.
After one last high speed train ride, a taxi to the hotel, a late night walk to McDonalds, and a brief stay at an airport hotel, we boarded our plane for our 16 hour flight home. We were welcomed home to sub zero temps and snow.
It was a great trip.
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Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.