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Preparation for a trip to London

Chủ đề trong 'Anh (English Club)' bởi wbguy, 20/01/2009.

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  1. wbguy

    wbguy Thành viên quen thuộc

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    I thought is fun to post some writings from me to this group about my up coming trip to Great Britain as a token of sharing some personal traveling experiences with the group in English. Enjoy reading itõ?Ư õ?Ư

    Finally, I think I am ready for a new adventure in UK, for work as well as for leisure. It should be a fun and rewarding trip, even London is not my list of favorite cities. I always have the impression of a foggy, damp and cold place, except those friendly but smoky pubs. I might need to go outside London to get better look and more inspiration about the country. A walk in a brisk, cool day in an open country-side space, sniffing a casual whiff of that tangy, grassy smell, feeling the unseasonal, salty breeze could help me to have a closer touch and view to the island. Anyway, I prefer French (or Italian or Spanish) speaking countries than English speaking ones, but this is a business trip, then heck, customers choose me, I donõ?Tt choose them, I just go when they need me. All of the expenses paid, what else do you want, right?

    The hotel, that I selected, is a swanky, boutique one with a small kitchenette. It is right in the middle of a nice area in London, near the Thames river. It has only 19 rooms so the service should be very personal. With the comparable price that I pay for a business trip, this hotel should be an excellent and uplifting choice. I have a carnal desire for boutique hotels whenever I have opportunity to choose one. Usually I stay at Marriottõ?Ts, but with billable works, then I can upgrade to an even nicer hotel. It is a wonderful perk. I am sure I will have a pleasant feeling whenever I come back to this niche after a long day at office. Once I was a hotel that they offer 16 types of pillow for your torporific need, more than 1000+ channels for 5 big screen TVs, 2 big bathrooms with a built-in screen on your mirror when you shave, hundreds of options to turn your lighting to fit your mood for the day, an elevator all for yourself or a few selected guests that share the same floor, an antichambre with full of exotic drinks and snacksõ?Ư That is a little bit too much for me.

    For air arrangement, I have completed my flight plan: Directly from my hometown to DFW (Dallas) then a another flight to LHR (Heathrow) airport (another busy, faceless airport for a road warrior like me). On the way back, I plan to jump over the pond (Atlantic ocean), then do a jaunt to Paris, spend 3-4 days there, mainly searching old bandes desinees books, then back track from CDG (Charles De Gaulle airport) on to DFW and then home free from there. This is an easy trip, 12 hr for outbound and almost 17 hr for inbound, not like a long 33 hr flight that I flew to Bangalore a few years back. I donõ?Tt understand that such a side trip, open jaw to France, the air fare is cheaper than a round trip to England from the US. The recession is hitting US hard, and airlines are offering less and less convenient seatings.

    I carefully selected my favorite airplane Boeing 777, instead of 747 or 767. Actually, if I have a better choice, and set aside my proudness and fondness for American airplane manufacturing superiority, I would select Airbus A340. It is more comfortable, quiet and efficient. No small feat of German engineering & manufacturing skills, French design talents and management and with British engines to build that air plane and its sister, the hugemongous A380. Sure there are some contribution from other American companies, but it is an European airplane, one tends to forget the contribution from the Yanksõ?Ư For the shorter leg in this trip, I have to contend myself with the noisy, pencil-like MD-83 plane. Choosing a good airline and a good airplane would help my ability to do a full day of work after a Trans-Atlantic trip. Jet lag does not affect me much though. I have learned how to build and accommodate my nimble body to withstand the onslaught of time and space in travelling.

    As a habit, I also print out the option for other flights from DFW in case of delays or cancels due to weather, but DFW should be fine. It is quite reliable, but I just want to be prudent with my travel plan, sleeping at airports is something that I want to avoid at all cost. Wunderbar! if I miss my first connect from DFW then I may need to wait for 2 hrs before the next flight for LHR. I donõ?Tt like to twist arms of agents from flight service desk, but if I need to, I can find my way to my destination. Unless an airport is closed for operations due to weather, I shall have my way to get out. It is an art (and also a science skill set!).

    In my job, I used to fly a lot, quite a few time, I would fly every day, and I also flew to a few cities in a day. One time, I was in Dallas in the morning, then fly to Houston for a 1:00 PM meeting, before going back to Austin for an evening dinner, hit the bed early for another trip to Seattle at 6:00 AM in the next morning. I have to endure 6 days in a row like thatõ?Ư After the trip, the images of shops or gates at those airports become blurry images in my brain. You donõ?Tt remember what you eat or spend money at each location and it is more difficult to fill out an expense report. At least, I feel that I am helping to avert the bankruptcy for some airlines industry. Hopefully. What a nice thought!

    For ground transportation, from my hotel, I would take the Tube, an underground metro system, for a few station stops before I walk for a few more blocks to my temporary office at Canary Wharf business district. From the airport, if I have too much luggage, then a limousine would do the trick. Transportation in London is not the best for business, it is for the mass. Different mentality. In the US, I would always rent a car then drive myself, whether it is for business or leisure, a feeling of independent and true personal freedom. I can think and concentrate more that way. Drive a car to an empty beach, watch the ocean waves and let your imagination goes wild is my favorite pastime. I do not remember if I have ever taken a bus in my hometown, well may be a bus shuttle at the airport to go to a parking lot, but truly I have not put my butt on one of those diesel bus. I may need to change my habits to save the green worldõ?Ư Grin!

    For foods, I can eat anything and everything - Experiences from those days languishing in various refugee camps, a very humble life time experience when you have *****stain your basic form of life at the mercy of others - but if I have options, then I would go to the top limit. I know that I live my life only once, so õ?Ư why not. For this trip I was invited to spend one diner night with a business partner at his house outside of London, but most of the time I will be eating alone, at the restaurant or take back to my compact kitchenette for a comfy meal and drink.

    I intend to take a small group of engineers and their managers to sample Vietnamese foods, since one of the Brit guys suggested that to me last time when he came over to the US for a business trip and heard the Vietnamese food treat that I had for my boss. I am not sure if I can find a very good or excellent Vietnamese restaurant in London though. SOHO area has a lot of Asian restaurants, but the quality is questionable, I may need to look harder. Hopefully someone has a good taste of food will let me know from the TTVNOL site - Frankly, I donõ?Tt expect much though, I found in this English Club forum quite sparing, homologous and boxy. There are too much focus on the academic aspects of the language, too much on rules, as a joke, I think it is more conducive to learn a dead language than a living one. Just kidding - I do not mind to spend money for good eatery at all, especially in a big city like London. If I cannot find it then I will try to eat dead fish a-la-Japanese (the so-called Sushi!) or a Thai restaurant would be a safe bet. I think that the Thais know how to package and marketize their culinary products well, and it has become trendy in the last couple of years. Most of Vietnamese restaurants around the US, are still carrying the image of a place to offer cheap, abundant food, an idea for a quick noodle lunchõ?Ư Unless I am in my hometown or in Los Angeles area, I would think twice to take a business partner to go to a Vietnamese restaurant.

    Two weeks in London will fly fast by before I have time to sample some of ethnic foods there. I want save my strong stomach for French foods at the end of the trip, I could not wait for Tartar steaks, true Bouillabaisse, or just terrine, pateõ?T and French baguetteõ?Ư And also some stinky cheese with Belgium beers. I have such a bad habit here. Oh la laõ?Ư and the best is to see some of my high school friends there. It is always a pleasure to see them and partake with them the local foods or drinks. The aroma of apple Calvados from Normandie or the Holunderbluten from Austria pump up my nasal desires of exotic intakes. I know that my Brit buddies will keep me for company while I am on the island. There will be quite a few crazy sessions with them for sure!! They already forewarned me, but there are times that I just want to be alone. It is wiser to stop when someone want it more. A tranquility moment in your life would recharge you and give you a deeper insight into what direction that you are taking and reflect on your thought process. õ?~Dona Nobis Pacem!õ?T

    I had seen a few Broadway shows in London before, and I may do it again this time. A lot of time, I remember a city (or its image) due to the show that I went toõ?ƯThat is a plus thing about big city like London: It offers quite a large selection for performance arts as well as display arts. I have seen Miss Saigon in London, and this time I may go to a Gaelic dance show. The thought of Riverdance is not too bad an idea for this trip. I need to have my contacts in London to pick up a ticket. In London, I notice that definitely the Brits would think they are the center of English-speaking world. I can poke a lot of fun about that with my British co-workers. The rivalry for who have the better English across Atlantic pond never cease. In the back of my mind, I try to remind myself that this is the land of Byron, of Shakespeare, of Ruyard Kiplingõ?Ư and I should enlighten my soul judiciously

    With business trip, the nice thing is you can ship some of your stuffs to the destination first, hence save you the chore of lugging the luggage along. I plan to ship most of my stuffs a week in advance, then call my co-worker to make sure that it arrives, then I will travel light, only my laptop bag and a small carry-on for incidentals. The legal department will help me to ship equipment in advance to be checked with UK Custom.

    In every country that I went, I always have a preference to visit someone there, to eat and chat with them in their native language, participate in a local activity, go and pray at a church, light a candle, go to an Hindu temple so that they can open a third eye for you, time for remembrance õ?" for the living as well for the dead - , learn its history, check out a bookstore, or buy breads fresh from an oven from a lady at the end corner, walk to a park, visit a youth group, paddle a canoeõ?Ư You get more perspective and balanced view about a country that way, and in close touch with the people or its current local affairs. It helps to build a good and healthy relationship as well. A relationship that can last for a lifetime, weathering the ups and downs from the whimsy of life. I do visit tourist traps too, but that usually is an exception than a rule in my travel plan.

    A Vietnamese-American like me always bring a lot of surprises to my (mostly white) workers, because all of their notion or impression about a normal, stereotype Asian guy will be turned upside down! I have earned some hard-earned nicknames from them, especially the Brits, that it is blasphemous to print it here. When there comes time for me to be in a driver seat for a project or a task then I really drive it hard. I could a very demanding person, and at the same time guide everyone in the group to focus and to foresee and produce good results. I donõ?Tt take a õ?~noõ?T for an answer easily, in a persuading manner, though. Totally emerged in the work and the final outcomeõ?Ư

    It is good that I have an excellent boss *****pport me and let me do what I want to do professionally. I see him face-to-face probably 3 or 4 times a year, the rest of the time, we do 1-1 telephone conference call. He is in Boston, and I am in the West coast, quite a distance to do business, but it works out well for the last 2 ẵ years. He came from a different background, a musicologist with a great talent in singing, very intelligent and soft-speaking. A work hard and work smart person. It is not usual that I receive email from him at 2:00 or 3:00 AM in the morning. His family has been in this country for several generations, from the early day of the Plymouth Pilgrim. One time, he told me that his estate is in the same area that his ancestors landed to this country in the 17th century. What a heritage! I suspect that he still has the blood of some aristocrats, escaping a paranoid old Europe for a truly New World. In the technical field, now he is a speaker on a technical circuit for a growing hi-tech area. We both have mutual respects for our talents and our craziness. We are complementing each other with our different views and thinking process on how to find resolutions for some of the toughest problems with costumers or internal departments. His lofty views of the world and my down-to-earth detail operational actions somehow bring good revenues to the company that we both work for. As a junior partner to the company, I am mentored by my boss in the company for my career growth. I am in deep gratitude for his support, so far. Without him, a cafeteria janitor like me (that how I made a living when I first came to this country) would not success far in this field. We both have done so much contribution to the reputation of the company and its growth. I can sense that my boss enjoys my working habits as well as my attitudes toward life. We feel very close and can read the thoughts of other. Such a teamwork is a rare commo***y in these days. We both reports to another savvy Ivy Leage-produced chief. The last time we met at a Sales conference in a desert resort somewhere in northern Arizona, I decided to team up with other West Coast guys from my company, they are semi-professional beach volleyball players, and we beat badly the East Coast team, in which my boss and boss-of-my-boss were. I think I left some indelible marks in both of them, especially, when I was voted to be the õ?~heart-and-soulõ?T for West Coast team. That is my way of having fun!

    I am also a party animal that I share with the team when needed. It is a good and satisfactory feeling when you know that you are needed and wanted, not only by the upper management, but also by other grunts in your team. They know my hard work and no non-sense reputation and I expect the same thing from them. When I work with them, I am conscious in offering them a strategic view or the vision of the end results, and the methodology that I would do, or I would approach things, they would learn something from me, and along the way would have fun and camaraderie, and I demand the details in the execution phase, since I know that, as they say, there is always devil in the details. With a few thought-provoking questions, I will give them an opportunity to see things at different angles, and may have better, more effective and efficient solutions.

    Most of the time, I will then back off to let them do whatever they think it is best for them to do, and I would spot check and look at the results from time to time unobtrusively. Most of the time, it works, but there are times that it failed too, there are always issues that might broadside me during the execution phase, in that case, I make sure that I have a communication plan to deal with it, up and down the channel or the chain of management.

    I like these types of work since it allow me to show my leadership ability and the skills in management. With international business, there are other dimensions that you have to deal with and put more careful thoughts. Have an open mind and patience could help you in the long run, especially you could foster good relationship... A lot of time, it is all about perception and impression. Like wine, it comes with time and good (or bad) processes. Then you can have a fabulous vintage or just pure vinegar.

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