The purpose of the visit was to carry out an audit on a potential new supplier, who will be providing plastic tubes for a new prophylaxis paste (dental tooth polish), we are developing in conjunction with our parent company in Japan. Because of the importance of this project to both our companies, it was deemed necessary to send representatives from the quality departments of both firms, so I was joined on the trip by three of my Japanese colleagues.
two visits to London, earlier this month, and in addition, as I was visiting China for commercial reasons, I required a business visa, which meant obtaining a "letter of introduction" from the company we were going to audit.
14 million inhabitants, is situated on the Pearl River, in the south of China, fairly close to Hong Kong, and whilst South China Airways do offer daily direct flights, these operate out of Heathrow.
Heathrow is a pain to get to from where I live, and also the timings of the direct flights were not particularly convenient. Instead I booked return flights from Gatwick, with Qatar Airways, which involved a short stop-over in Doha – the capital of Qatar, and the venue for the 2022 Football World Cup. For the aircraft buffs amongst you, the Gatwick – Doha stage was operated by Boeing Dreamliners, whilst the Doha – Guangzhou leg uses Airbus 380’s; the world’s largest passenger planes.
approaches the first of the checkpoints, an electronic temperature monitoring system is in place for recording the body temperature of each individual. I noticed myself on a screen, surrounded by a swarm of humanity, but fortunately there was a green ring showing around my visage.
The reason the Chinese authorities are looking for individuals running a temperature is because they are concerned about people carrying the flu virus. I wasn’t able to see what happened to those who failed the test, but presumably they were either denied entry, or were quarantined somewhere.
passing through Passport Control, I collected my suitcase which was then screened. I then found myself in the People’s Republic of China, and free to head off to my pre-booked hotel. My Japanese colleagues had also booked the same accommodation, but as they wouldn’t be arriving until later the following day, I had an evening and the best part of a day to myself, free to explore and get to know my new surroundings.
First I had to journey into the centre of Guangzhou, and locate my hotel, which was situated close to the main railway station. I had already decided to take the Metro, as I am no fan of taxis, particularly foreign ones. This decision was to prove correct the following day, after my colleagues and I “enjoyed” a white-knuckle ride of a taxi journey to and from the company we were visiting.
But first I had to suss out the ticket machines and access the system, and to do the latter I had to have my bags scanned yet again. I don’t know whether there’s been some sort of security issue in China, or whether the authorities are just being cautious, but at the entrance to every metro station, there are airport-style bag scanners manned by security staff. Bearing in mind that most stations have several entrances, that’s a lot of people employed in keeping passengers safe.
After I’d asked him where the Baiyun City Hotel was, he grinned, and told me to look up above me. I looked up at the sign and found to my immense relief that I was standing right outside the place! Happy or what?