Today was our first professional day where we visited both Sunrise Insurance Company and Xiaomi (pronounced shAOw-me with the ‘sh’ pronounced like the ‘sh’ in shower). It should be a really cool day, and I am excited to see a business that is located in China and compare it to businesses in the US.
After a filling breakfast, we went to Sunrise Insurance Company first. From the outside, the buildings looked elegant and were protected behind this big fence with an armed guard. And yes, I did say buildingS – this insurance company had a whole campus to itself. Honestly, it was a little over the top for an insurance firm, but it was still cool nonetheless. Once we were inside, we had a speaker talk to us about Sunrise and what it’s like working there. We then watched a video about the history of Sunrise and its founding. It was the most dramatic and over the top video I have ever seen. The video started with these men pulling boats in a harbor and going on voyages in these more ancient Chinese-styled boats, and somehow then transitioned into the history of the insurance company. It was the weirdest video. After the video, we took a tour of a museum about Sunrise that they had in the building (a little extra to have a museum entirely dedicated to an entire insurance company but what do I know).
After touring around, we were walking to lunch and the campus is absolutely beautiful. There were flowers blooming everywhere, and the grounds reminded me of a pretty rural college campus. However, instead of walking to lunch, we were told we could ride these 8-person golf carts there instead. Even though we were only moving at like 5 miles an hour, I felt like a queen riding in these carts.
Our lunch was a buffet-style lunch and not family style for the first time. We were clearly accommodated for as Americans because there were more basic Chinese foods present in the buffet compared to another group that was sitting next to us that had more authentic Chinese cuisine. Not to say our food wasn’t good, because I really did enjoy the fried fish and steamed buns with pork they had.
After lunch, we didn’t board the golf carts on the way back to the bus unfortunately, but it was a quick walk. We went back to the bus and headed to our next company called Xiaomi. Xiaomi is the second biggest smartphone company in China, so it’s an amazing opportunity to visit their headquarters in Beijing. At Xiaomi, we got there a little early, so we walked around a mall that was next door which was 6 floors tall. I was expecting Beijing to be more rural, but the city is much more Western than I thought.
When it was our time to go into Xiaomi, we listened to a presentation about the importance of supply chain. It was a very interesting presentation, and I was able to learn a lot about how much thought must go into each product and how long it can take to develop a product before it is able to reach the market. After the presentation, we went into the Xiaomi store that is in the mall we went into before the presentation. Xiaomi sells so much more than just smartphones. Not to say that their smartphones aren’t amazing or high- quality because they are, but they also sold speakers, laptops, baby monitors, backpacks, air filters, pens, and so much more. It seemed like an odd mix of items to sell, but they somehow made it work. I don’t know of any other smartphone company in the US that sells as many products as Xiaomi does.
We went back to the hotel and a few of us wanted to go to the Silk Market. The Silk Market is apparently one of two markets in Beijing that are famous for its bartering traits. We wanted to go there and check it out, so we took the subway a few stops. It was nothing like I expected. I was thinking the market would be full of street vendors and it would be outside, but it was actually set up like a mall. It was 6 floors, and unlike American malls, most prices here were negotiable. It was really cool to see how people here buy things and to learn how to barter. We spent a few hours there before we all got hungry and decided to go back to the hotel to look for food.
One person in our group is vegetarian, so she wanted to try this vegetarian restaurant that was nearby. I wanted to go too, but when we got there, the menu listed all these vegetarian “meats” and that didn’t really appeal to me. Instead, another person and I left and looked for another place to eat. We found this chain-looking restaurant near the hotel. It kind of reminded me of a Chinese-equivalent of Applebee’s. Luckily, the menu had pictures, so we just pointed to two items on the menu and hoped for the best. We ordered a thing of noodles and what we thought was a hot plate of beef in some sauce, but turned out to be cold fish. I also didn’t realize there were bones in the fish until about half-way through… Ah well. It could be worse. Both dishes were good and decently priced, so we were happy.
After dinner, a few people were going out to explore the city, but it was very unorganized. Instead of trying to find everybody and figure out the plan, we went back to the hotel and played pool for a while before we ran into a few other people who came back to the hotel. It was getting late and I was tired, so we all called it a night, and I slept very soundly.