The City of a Thousand Smiles

Today started off very early, with a 545 wake up call and a 7am departure to the airport for our three hour flight to Bangkok. Although everyone was sad to leave Hong Kong, we were quite looking forward to experiencing Thailand for the first time. After checking our baggage and going thru security we made it to our gate. Luckily with the airport WiFi were able to connect to the Internet so many of us were able to FaceTime or Skype our family and friends at home!

The three hour flight went by quickly and before we knew it had arrived in Thailand. The line to get through customs was long to say the least, but many of us enjoyed the people watching experience. Our Thai tour guide, Angela, gave us some helpful traveling tips as well as places to visit for shopping especially.

ImageImageImage
Because it was such an early morning the decision was made to not do anything the rest of the day and relax in the hotel and by the pool. Many of us went to the Sky Bar, which is only a 20-minute walk from our hotel, and was featured in the movie Hangover 2. Another group walked down Silom Road (the street our hotel is off of) for some cheap goods and dinner.

Everyone turned in early knowing we had to be up by 8am this morning for our first business visit in Thailand. After feasting on our all-inclusive breakfast, we piled into our tour bus. About 30 minutes later we arrived at The World Bank headquarters for Thailand. This business is a vital source of financial and technical aid for countries all around the world. When the demand exists the bank helps countries decrease poverty, increase economic growth, fight corruption, boost agriculture, protect the environment, among many other involvements. Peter Jipp, the Sr. Natural Resources Management Specialist at World Bank Group was able to spend about two hours informing us of the various purposes and processes the bank serves and how he helps them to attain their goals.

After the business visit, we went to a restaurant right on the water where we enjoyed a buffet-style lunch. We were able to enjoy foods including regular pasta and marinara, spicy thai food, and of course some seafood. After this relaxing meal we rode on a two-person tuk-tuk (or little taxi with no doors) for about 20 minutes until we reached the most beautiful of the 411 temples in Bangkok. This temple was built for the royal families in 1972 and took two years to complete. Angela and Lucky (our tour guides) informed us that the material used to decorate the temple actually came from China in 1823. A shipment of ceramic and porcelain was delivered to Thailand, however most if it ended up breaking into a million pieces. Fortunately, all the small pieces were put to good use and now make up the beautiful colors of the temple. We also learned that the many statue animals have meaning. For example, elephants are known to transport the king because once reincarnated the king was believed to be the Hindu God. Also, there was a portion of the exhibit that was surrounded in more demons than monkeys. This is because demons represent the bad in the world and monkeys represent the good; but it is believed that the good will eventually overtake the bad. Finally, after removing our shoes we went into the massive temple. It is tradition for people to say a prayer and make an impossible wish once in the temple. If the wish comes true then the worshipper will return with food and flowers for the king. After leaving this temple we made a short trip to the largest temple in Bangkok, Wat Po, which is home to the famous Reclining Buddha.

Finally, the day was over and we were able to go out to dinner as a group. Most of us took about a 20 minute taxi ride to the restaurant the Golden Dragon. It currently holds the Guiness world record for largest outdoor restaurant. We shared a delicious meal including seafood, chicken, and rice

 

By elonfinance

LiFung Tower and a Farewell to Hong Kong

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Today we had an early start to the day getting up around 7am to prepare for our departure back to Hong Kong on the Turbojet ferry. We started off with a delectable breakfast consisting of a plethora of freshly squeezed juices to ease our painful losses from a night of gambling in Macau. As we arrived at the ferry port there wasn’t much disappointment in giving a farewell to our tour guide, Alex.
We cruised across the South China Sea back to Hong Kong, mentally preparing for our exciting venture to the LiFung Tower to hear the brilliance of Dr. Victor Fung.

After a smooth check in back at the Stanford Hillview, the gang got gussied up for our date with Dr. Fung and the Fung Group. Off we went to take a ride to the LiFung Tower on the impressive Hong Kong subway, which is operated more efficiently and maintained at a higher level of cleanliness than you see in America. Arriving at the LiFung tower we were pleasantly greeted and brought up to a state of the art conference room, which was designed based directly off the blueprints from classrooms at the Harvard Business School. After a brief introduction from Fung Group’s Managing Director, Mr. Chang, we were presented with one of Hong Kong’s most prevalent businessmen, Dr. Victor Fung.

Dr. Fung is the Chairmen of Li & Fung Group, he received his PhD from Harvard Business School while in his mid 20’s and then went on to teach classes at there as well. Dr. Fung gave us an inspirational presentation about the necessity of a relationship between the United States and China for a prosperous future. One thing that stuck out was how he presented the dilemma of comparing nations economies by the aggregate GDP versus the per capita GDP. He used the example of the distribution of a meal between a large group of people (aggregate GDP) versus two people (per capita GDP). The group of two will be eating well, while the thirty will be struggling to survive on the crumbs they are receiving. He used this argument to open our minds to look past the figures and see the true meaning behind them. Dr. Fung emphasized the importance of the U.S. and China having a “non-zero-sum” relationship. Both nations must compromise their differences in order to create a more prosperous and open market between the nations. We strongly encourage anyone unfamiliar with Dr. Fung’s professional career to take a moment to research and find out a little more about his successes and ideas. After Dr. Fung gave his closing words, he was sent off with a warm applause and we proceeded to a delicious array of finger foods.

Following our return to the hotel, we met as a group for a send off dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant, Serenade, located on the waterside between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. We said our goodbyes to the luxurious and ever-growing Hong Kong and prepared for our early trip to Bangkok the next morning….Roll Tide!!!

Pete Berges and Todd Moylan
IMG_1893

IMG_1887

IMG_1886

IMG_1884

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 8.12.00 PM

IMG_1715

By elonfinance

An Interesting Adventure with Alex from Macau

On the fourth day of our trip, we left Hong Kong for a day trip to Macau. Our slick haired tour guide named Alex greeted us upon arrival in Macau. He led us to the Ruins of San Paulo in the center of a residential area of the city. Along with the ruin were numerous shops and restaurants for us to explore. This residential shopping area was not very exciting, and aside from passing Asian people thinking Connor was a celebrity it was a pretty uneventful excursion. Next we set out for lunch at the Macau Tower. The lunch offered a large buffet of different cultured cuisine on the 61st floor of the tower, and the revolving floor in the restaurant was an exciting addition. Although none of us took the opportunity to utilize it, the world’s largest bungee jump of 388 meters was another very cool feature of the tower. After a few extra minutes to himself in the café, our tour guide Alex finally realized we were waiting for him to leave and joined back up with the group to continue the tour.

The golden God of Mercy on the coast of Macau was the next event on the grand tour, and since Macau is known as a mixture between Chinese and Portuguese (Macanese), she has different representations of Chinese and Portuguese culture. Encarnacion suggested that we play leap-frog to pass the time given to look at the statue. He was greatly disappointed with the lack of interest in his suggestion.

The last stop was the Venetian casino. Twenty minutes was more than enough time to look around as half of us were not actually able get into the casino. After a long day of travel it was finally time to go back to the hotel. The hotel was quite nice and offered free wifi, which was more important to the group than anything else on the day. Justin and I are ending this blog before our group dinner so lets check out some traditional Macanese food, compliments of Elon, and enjoy the night ahead of us before another travel day that includes a business visit back in Hong Kong. To those who can gamble, may the odds be ever in your favor.  ImageImageImageImage

By elonfinance

Tweens and Terminals

Our first visit was to Modern Terminals Limited, which provides ocean carriers, manufacturers, and end users with fast efficient sophisticated and customer focused and logistic services. When we arrived we were provided with a brief overview of the economy of China and how it effects their importing and exporting business. Gavin Dow, General Manager/Sales Strategy & Optimization/ Strategy Management of Modern Terminals Limited, and Zoe Tse, strategy management manager, were our presenters.  They talked about corporate social responsibility,the history of the company and an overall view of the company and it’s future goals. They were also helpful in answering any questions we had for them about the company. After the presentation, we went up to the control tower where we learned about the logistics of the shipyard and about the employees that work in the control towers, which was very interesting. The control tower is operating 24/7 and is even operating during natural disasters like Typhoons! Unreal!! The tour ended with a nice lunch at the gin drinker where we were treated to some fine Asian cuisine. Kim almost rang the bell at the bar after Jay told her to and the COO said if she did, she would have had to buy everyone drinks. We guess this is some kind of tradition…

The second business we visited was called Tween Brands. This company is a clothing manufacturer for young girls, boys and women. Once we were settled in the conference room, they gave us an overview of the company and answered our questions about what they do in their Hong Kong office on a daily basis. Afterwards, we watched a brief video, and we were shown all the designs that were created in the office, which is a sourcing and development office. Then, employees from each station in the office gave us a brief talk about what they do on a daily basis. We then took a group photo and left the office to go tour the manufacturing building where their design ideas our outsourced.

When we arrived at the Merit Tat International Limited manufacturing building, we were seated in a conference room with water and chocolates, which Willy particularly enjoyed and was a big hit with the group and a great way to start our last meeting. Robert Lok, managing director, gave us a brief overview of the company, which has been in his family for 36 years. Merit Tat International Limited works with other companies like Tween Brands and creates samples that they send for approval back to the companies that outsource to them. It takes around two months for these companies, such as L.L. Bean and Victoria’s Secret, to approve samples. In addition, Merit Tat also has its own brand which is only marketed in China.

 While we were at Tween Brands, another group had gone to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. When they arrived they watched a ten minute video of the history of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and were able to look at the stock exchange floor through the glass window from the conference room. On the floor, there were about ten older gentlemen, but apparently they were not doing much because all the work is now done electronically or from other office buildings.

Overall, our first business visits of the trip were very worthwhile and educational, for they gave us a much better understanding of international business.  Every employee of the company treated us with respect, and we all enjoyed their hospitality.  We wish them the best in their future endeavors!  

Image

 

ImageImageImage

Yours Truly,

Mike Botto And Willy Pagliaro

By elonfinance

First Free Day (Big Buddha) – Jan 6

Hello from Hong Kong! We (Rachel Bowden and Erica Green) are covering the first free day the group had—Sunday the 6th. While some of the group stayed near the hotel and visited some local tourist spots and shops, about 15 of us went to see the Big Buddha.

The walk to the subway was short, and the subway system itself was crowded but very efficient and quick. When we got to the last stop on the orange line, Tung Chung, we all ate some lunch at a food court that primarily served local cuisine. However, some of us chose to go with what we know—McDonalds. We then got into cable cars (about 5 people in each car) that took us to the top of the mountain that the Big Buddha is on—Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. When we got into the cars we got our pictures taken and by the time we got to the top they were already developed and up for purchase. The cable cars were “crystal”, meaning that you could look out the sides and also see through the bottom. We hovered high above water, boats, treetops, mountains, and a bunch of brave people (including children) who walked the entire way—a walk that would take at least three and a half hours. It was pretty cold since we were so high up, and it was also decently foggy (this actually just made everything look so much more epic).

After the 25-minute cable car ride, we walked to the entrance to the statue (268 stairs that led to the main statue). The Big Buddha (also called the Tian Tan Buddha) was stunning and dramatic and HUGE. It is made of bronze, is 34 meters tall, and 250 tons. Inside of the Buddha (we could walk through the bottom of it) there were paintings, places of worship, other statues, and even shops. We learned that it was completed in 1993 and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature and people and religion. If you paid 30 Hong Kong dollars (about 4 U.S. dollars), you could take a staircase up into the Buddha statue and see a holy relic (a piece of the original). On the same plot of land there was also a monastery with decorated temples and outside incent gardens. Dogs and cows roamed around, and the trees all around the island were amazing and looked similar to the trees under which Buddha himself apparently became enlightened.

After about an hour of visiting the Buddha statue, we all met at the Starbucks on the island and waited for each other while sharing pictures. We took the cable cars back down the mountain (no one in our group was brave enough to walk down the mountain, although Peter thought about it), and came back to the hotel and split up for dinner and later got together on the roof of the hotel to hang out. Tomorrow we have our first business visits and we can’t wait!!

-Rachel and Erica

photophotophoto-1photoDSCN2432DSCN2427

By elonfinance

The Flight to HK and First Impressions – January 3-5

Welcome to Business in the Pacific Rim’s travel blog. We have the pleasure of penning our first post, covering our travel to Southeast Asia (24+ hours for many of us), as well as our first day in Hong Kong.

Each of us made our way from home to meet in JKF airport and spent the morning finding ways to pass the time until our 1:50 flight. The ensuing travel, taking 16 hours and crossing 11 time zones was filled with varying combinations of in-flight movies, turbulence-addled sleep and miso soup. As we landed in Hong-Kong, dark clouds kept us from taking in too much of the city. This served to make our ride into the city via bus more exciting as we saw the many futuristic, neon bespoke buildings that dominate the skyline for the first time. We were met by our tour guide, Katie (alternately, Ting-Ting) who described the area surrounding our hotel and outlined the plan for our time in Hong Kong.

After settling into our hotel, many of us decided to retire to their rooms for the evening after the long day of travel, but some chose to venture out and explore our neighborhood. Whether they found themselves in an imitation Irish pub, or gazing across the bay towards downtown Hong Kong, everyone on the trip was eager to see what the first part of our trip had in store for us on the city tour planned for the next morning.

Saturday brought breathtaking sites and perfect weather. Katy and our talented bus driver picked us up at 9:30, and we proceeded to visit the Man Mo temple. The Man Mo temple is a Taoist temple to the gods of Martial Arts and of Literature, and there were many worshippers there during our visit. A few of us even chose to light some incense and get in on the action ourselves.

From there we took a tram up to the Victorian peak, the highest point in Hong Kong (and perhaps the most luxurious as well), which produced the most spectacular view of the entire city. According to Katy, it is the best place to take pictures from, and I think the evidence speaks for itself.

We then moved over to the Waterfront and hopped on a boat at Aberdeen Village. We first took a tour of the boating area, and then ate a delicious lunch of Dim Sum at the Jumbo Floating restaurant. From here we moved over to our final stop, a place on par in luxury with the Victorian peak: Stanley Market/Repulse Bay. There were many shopping areas in this beautiful area by the sea, as well as many restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. We took advantage of each attraction, and took in the amazing views of the water before finally getting back on the bus to head back to the hotel.

Tomorrow is our free day, and we are certainly looking forward to it as many are planning to visit the Big Buddha- a “must-see” attraction according to Katy.

Scott & Kavi

photo2photo1photo3

By elonfinance

Course Overview – December 15

Welcome to Elon University’s Winter Term 2013 student blog of the “Business and Culture of the Pacific Rim” course!  We are delighted to have you following our journeys and experiences abroad.

The world has seen some dramatic economic and financial changes in the past decade. A key driver Hong Kongof change have been the remarkable growth of emerging economies – in particular the BRIC nations.  Another factor has been the global rise of state capitalism – capitalism driven by state enterprises rather  than private enterprises.  This short term study abroad course delves into these themes through a study of some prominent Asian economies, namely Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Thailand, and Singapore.

Students in this course gain immensely from a deeper understanding of the significant opportunities, and of the challenges, brought about by a flatter, better connected world – with significantly higher future growth prospects in emerging economies as compared to the developed world.  Throughout the program, students will be able to compare their experiences in the Pacific Rim with the U.S.through interactions with business, government, and/or academic leaders in Asia, as well as through cultural field trips, and company visits.

Neeraj Gupta & Wonhi Synn

By elonfinance