Hangzhou invasion

This past Sunday, we escaped the sprawling metropolis that is Shanghai in a quest to find a glimmer of old China. Recovering from our travel snafu the previous day, we hopped on a train for the hour-long train ride west.Philips - Hangzhou - scenery

Hangzhou, as opposed to Shanghai, is far more traditional Chinese city—as evidenced by everything being written in Mandarin and the conspicuous absence of any western restaurants—and the presence of some truly spectacular examples of historical Chinese culture.

Philips - Hangzhou - Phil hiding

“Yo! Check it!” – Pudi

Our first stop was the former residence of Hu Xue Yan—one of the richest men in Hangzhou at the turn of the twentieth century.

Philips - Hangzhou - groupie


It was amazing to see such a tremendous feat of craftsmanship of the entire complex—providing a stark contrast to the metal skyscrapers which seem to multiply on a daily basis in Shanghai.

Philips - Hangzhou - Poltergeist


Perhaps the coolest feature of the home was a series of caves leading from the lake to various homes on the western side of the building.

Philips - Hangzhou - Rock climbing

Both Phil and Pudi “did the most” by spelunking through the caverns—and taking pictures of each other as Chinese tourists looked on in what can only be described as a mix of contempt and disappointment.

Philips - Hangzhou - Phil Eating

Phil eating street food over the garbage. Classic Phil.

Venturing onwards, we realized that at some point we had lost track of Pudi. Unbeknownst to us (at the time), Pudi had aimlessly wandered down a side alley and was subsequently sucked into a time vortex and sent back to 1600s feudal China. Despite not knowing the language, Pudi quickly gained the respect of the people of that era with his uncanny ability to flex and prolific use of the word “bro.” After a series of unfortunate run-ins with Ming dynasty officials, Pudi reorganized and united the various Manchurian factions, consolidated the Eight Banner military system and launched an assault on the forces of the Wanli Emperor.

Philips - Hangzhou - Pudi fighter

After a prolonged campaign, the Ming forces were eventually overpowered by Pudi’s far superior forces (who had the advantage of intensive weight training and a steady diet of protein pancakes—but no cross-fit. Seriously, do you even lift?). Pudi was subsequently crowned Emperor Pudi and thus began the prosperous reign of the Pudi Empire.

Phlips - Hangzhou - Pudi being crowned

“He’s so tall!” – Chinese observors

“He’s so tall!” – Chinese observers

Justin and Phil (who through his expert broken-Mandarin was able to piece together what had happened) subsequently traveled back in time, found Pudi, apologized to the Ming Dynasty and had any record of the Great Pudi Conquest stricken from the record—however it later became the basis for the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.

Duck anyone?

Duck anyone?

We ended our trip with another traditional Shanghainese sit-down meal, which Phil expertly ordered through his amazing ability to simultaneously point to pictures on the menu and stutter in broken Chinese.

Sorry, John.  Had to add this one...

Sorry, John. Had to add this one…

Curiosity killed the Indian!

stop asking questions!!!!!

stop asking questions!!!!!

Having lived in this country for more than thirty years, I always thought of myself as a “been there done that” kind of Indian.
But touring India with three Americans, a Romanian and a Taiwanese has led me to question how well do I know my country. As we travel across the streets in air conditioned cars while people look at my GAP teammates as if they were from Mars, I struggle to find answers to the volley of million questions my tourist friends have for me.
It all started with the ‘what’s’. What is that guy doing? What is that building? What is this place called? What is water called in Hindi? What’s this food called? Easy-peasy I would think as I would respond back with one word answers. If this is what I expect to be asked, it’s going to be a walk in the park for me for the rest of my stay in Mumbai.
But my Fisher friends have high hopes from me as I found out with more and more questions starting with “why”. Why is the traffic light not working? Why do they have cows roaming the streets? Why do Indians move their heads sideways when they say yes? Why do people dye their hair with henna? Why do they not sell meat at this restaurant? Why is there a red dot on the forehead of Indian women? What do the toe rings mean?…. Why is the sky blue? The old grey cells in my brain have trouble coping with the increasing amount of work demanded of them. Sometimes I mumble out answers that I am not sure of hoping and hoping with crossed fingers that they will believe what I say. Eventually they do, but because they do not have another source to verify the erroneous information. But I think they understand that there is too much to remember for an easily distractible mind like mine.
Sometimes they see through my cheap attempts to stereotype people we see on the roads, especially when that leads to an easy explanation for the niche questions. When I do, I try to make up answers with a straight face but damn! too much class participation in the past year leads everyone to cross question. I let out a sigh and answer back with a sheepish “I don’t know”.
But between curious questions and hapless answers, we have had a good run so far. Riding elephants. Getting washed by them. Driving scooters in Goa without crashing them into anything. Swimming to the base of a waterfall to do a floating O-H-I-O. Meeting with suppliers and talking to store owners. Riding autorickshaws. Having a lot of Indian food without significant signs of diarrhea.
Half way through our trip, I still dread that having set high standards for my expertise as a guide I would soon be bombarded with questions starting with “What-ifs”. But I know I’d manage it somehow. Am I the best guide for India? No. Am I the best guide the GAP India team can get for free? Yeah!!



Venice… without the gelato…

After a late wake-up (see pics from night before), and forgetting that we needed passports to travel (again, see pics from night before), we finally went to Suzhou around 3PM.

Philips - Suzhou - At Night

Suzhou is called the “Venice of China,” but Venice usually doesn’t serve pork brains for dinner. And no, my team didn’t allow me to order it… so lame!!! But I did get to eat fried crab-on-a-stick and fried squid!

Philips - Suzhou - Crab eating

We didn’t eat any “Crispy Stinky Tofu,” but the name was definitely spot-on. We could smell it from blocks away…Philips - Suzhou - Crispy Stinky Tofu

Suzhou is a much more traditional Chinese city than Shanghai, with beautiful gardens and waterways. And we even met up with the other Shanghai GAP team.

Philips - Suzhou - Other Group

Team Momentive

Of course each team had to brag about how the other team’s experience was sooo much better. But isn’t this what blogging is for? :)

Philips - Suzhou - three dudes 2

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Being the obnoxious Americans we are, Pudi and I did push-ups on their national landmark…. While Pudi yelled “ ‘Merica ”…

Philips - Suzhou - pushups


Work Hard, Play Harder!

Friday was awesome!! Three biggest highlights:

1.  We finished our first week of work. It was a blast! We feel accomplished with our job and had collected a lot of resources. Definitely took a lot of collaboration and trust to get this done.

Philips - Friday Night - Working

2. It was the end of the quarter for Philips, so President Thio invited us to get American food and drinks with his team. We got to collaborate with senior level executives and realized the importance of having fun and getting the work done well.

Philips - Friday Night - Good Times

John was the designated bartender, and as you can see in the pictures, he did an excellent job!

Philips - John pouring whiskey

We hit a few bodybuilding poses. You know. Bam!

Philips - Friday Night - Bodybuilding

Philips - Friday Night - Thumbs up

Good times with Desmond and Lillian

3.  We then hit the club, Club Muse. We met up with some new Swedish friends.

Philips - Friday Night - Clubbing

“Work Hard.  Play Harder” – Desmond Thio

Case Closed!

Monday Blue

Monday is always blue…especially after Goa trip. However, today is a productive day. After the discussions with Wonderkids team, we had a deeper understanding of the situation. Therefore, we tried to generate the marketing strategy for Wonderkids. Thanks for Professor Jay Dial. We used five forces and VRIO to evaluate Wonderkids and competitors’ situations. We did apply the knowledge learned in school to real case.


Strategy Discussion


Elephants and more


On Saturday we rode elephants!!! Alina and Ashley were washed by an elephant! I think they thought they were going to be ones doing the washing, but boy did they get surprised. We ended by giving the elephants a snack immediately prior to pictures of O-H-I-O elephant style!

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Spice plantation

After riding elephants we headed for a very interesting tour of the spice plantation where we leaned how spices are harvested, which are the most expensive on the market and that Coca-Cola buys 30% of the world production of vanilla. Who new there is something non-chemical in there?  We chew cloves, bought Indian hand made cigarettes (bidi), drank lemongrass tea and a couple of shots of caju moonshine (feni). We also took pictures of the monkey man picking up fruit off tall palm trees.

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With 3 hours in the SUV and 2 hours in the Jeep going and back, we finally arrived at the water fall. The beautiful scene made everyone forget the tiredness. Everyone was looking forward to jump into the water.  While we swam, Ean put his feet in the water and said he felt something moving under his feet. After everyone got back to the land, Bliss saw a snake in the water near us. “Time to go”,  Ean  said withdrawing  his feet in a beat from the water and we all fled the site. On our way back we had the pleasure of encountering a family of monkeys.

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Culinary experiences part 1

In India people are divided into vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and being in the last category kinda…. Sucks! Not only the restaurants are vegetarian but people would not eat vegetarian food in a restaurant that cooks meat. You never know, a sausage might have exploded in the kitchen at one point in time.

Our task of finding food is even harder with Amanda’s 1001 allergies.

Looking for meat we found this nice restaurant where a pre-monsoon torrential rain caught us and eventually left us in the dark, dining under iPhone flashlight. Internet worked though!

I was so excited at the thought of having an Indian hamburger (vada pav) only to discover that it’s …. vegetarian.

the next treat was a typical sweet (peda). Good by vegetarian or non-vegetarian standards.

Last but not least, worth mentioning, the awesome Kingfisher beer and a weird non-alcoholic blue sparkly drink.

image image image image

Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Melissa! We were excited to celebrate Melissa’s thirty-th… er… twenty-first birthday in Shanghai! It was a busy day, but we still fit in some fun.

Of course we had to start the day off with some donuts.  What?!  The local Donut King doesn’t open til 10AM?!  Apparently donuts aren’t eaten for breakfast here, but are rather considered a dessert.  It’s really strange that sugar-coated fried bread is considered a dessert here…

Philips - Donut King Tai Chi

 But at least they’ve got Tai Chi (which we have vowed to participate in).

Next, we became “mystery shoppers” to see how medical sellers operate in China.  We went to Shanghai No. 1 Pharmacy (BTW, most everything starts with “No. 1” here, so the “No. 1 Chinese Restaurant” in Columbus now makes sense…).  This pharmacy was huge, spanning three stories!

Philips - Shanghai No 1 Pharmacy

The first floor was all Eastern medicine.  There were tons of herbs, and some that looked like dried starfish ran between $200 to $5,000.  Yes, $5,000!

Philips - Chinese herbs

The medical device companies like Philips were on the second and third floors.  OTC (over-the-counter) is one of the newest channels for Philips in China, but accounts for less than 30% of total sales for respiratory products (I know you were very, very interested in that…)

Philips - Distributor Front Desk

Next, we met with Ni Libin, one of the most successful Philips distributor owners in Shanghai.  What a dynamic entrepreneur!  The interview was conducted in Mandarin, and we had to wait through 2-5 minutes of Mandarin dialogue before getting an English translation.  It gave Justin plenty of time to beat his high score in Angry Birds (or 2048)….  Just kidding.  But Ni was great and despite the language barrier, he made us feel very welcome.

Philips - Distributor photos

When we got back to the office, Philips surprised Melissa with a cake!  And we presented Desmond with a thank you gift for supporting our GAP experience (he loved his OSU white coat!).

Philips - Cake with Desmond

Philips took us out to a phenomenal Japanese restaurant, Dozo, where we had lots to eat.  And maybe just a little bit to drink…

Philips - Justin and sake

 And a rhino may have also been involved…

Philips - Rhino riding 2

Do you feel in charge…?

Yesterday we saw some Chinese hospitals. Two words… Mind blown! One sound effect… Boom!

There are over 200,000 hospitals in China, and of the top 1,200, this was one of them…. But it’s insanely crowded and old.

Philips - Hospital lounge 3

Plus, the level of hygiene was, to say the least… a bit unsanitary compared to American standards. Doctors were coughing in their hands – where’s the hand sanitizer? And the bathrooms were squatters… with no tissue OR soap. Slightly unsanitary? #chyeah

And this was a top tier 3 hospital!

Philips - Hospital frenzy

This experience was humbling and eye opening, and it’s changed my entire perspective on practicing medicine in a state-of-the-art facility like the OSU Wexner Medical Center.

Makes me feel… legit!!

Philips - Bain

Pudi (AKA Bane)