I know these posts haven't been very technical or work related, but trust that we're actually doing business here. In fact, meeting with the community support team went very well. Ok, here are some interesting pictures from the last couple of days.
Every day started for me in the dark when I'd shoot up, wide awake, at 5:30am. The nice thing about this is that it was the in Redmond so I used this time to do e-mail until the sun, as shown, would come up. The first day I was here I assumed that it was going to be rainy because of the mist / clouds. Really this is just the perma-smog that's set in on the city. It becomes obvious when you exert yourself outside for a while and start to feel like you can't breath. Indoor smoking is very popular here... I assume because people miss the smog when they are inside.
The second nice thing about waking up early is that I was able to work out in the mornings before meeting the other folks in the lobby at 9am. I'd show a photo of the gym, but it's just a gym so you get a picture of the lobby instead.
It's about a 15 minute walk from the recommended hotel to the downtown Microsoft buildings. The path cuts right through a great park with some sculptures. Next trip we decided we'd walk in on the Tai Chi.
The traffic is really crazy, but they have a great footbridge with outdoor escalators. There were generally people handing out ads... because there aren't enough on the buildings.
The red building is one of the buildings downtown that Microsoft has a few floors in. The second shot was from a conference room taken before chatting about what we'd observed from the engineers in the morning.
Generally we'd eat lunch at the mall next store. Today I made a round gawking at all the latest cell phones. An entire floor of the mall was dedicated to cell phones and a Starbucks! We didn't eat at the KFC, but apparently it's fairly popular here.
I know why the stereo type of Asians snapping pictures exists... everything is just slightly different and you're compelled to take a picture for fear that no one would believe you.
Everywhere you looked there were cranes. Today I visited the Microsoft development center that was actually 50 minutes out of town. Although there is an end to the large skyscrapers the whole trip was filled with shacks that were very rapidly being turned into large apartment buildings. 16 Million people have to live somewhere.
No matter where you are world Microsoft kitchen and break areas all look the same. The best way to tell the difference in this case is that the level of ping pong play is slightly elevated in in China. On the way back from the development center I realized that maybe I could live here. There was also a real "Asian Hooters". :-)
At night we went out on crazy taxi adventures, checked out a bunch of the cool skyscrapers, and had dinner. The one thing I missed getting a picture of was the food plates. Even at the quick lunch places the dishes where always exquisitely presented. They make everything look like a million dollars even if the looks where deceiving.
Walking back from dinner you'll be best off learning the Chinese word for no... "Boo Yoa". Lets just say there are a LOT of business women on the street that want to sell American business men a Vista.
Random note: iPods are really expensive here and there is a very wide selection of mp3 playing electronics that can be had very cheaply. The white headphones where actually very rare. The Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii's seemed to be getting lots of attention at their demo stations while the PS3 was just sitting there most of the time.