I eased myself into the trip by way of a
warm-up and conducted a field exam
in Hong Kong. That was the straightforward part of the trip.
The mainland event was still in front of
us as were many backpackers in the queue
at the Hong Kong Visa Agency. Luckily, I
was armed with a native speaker (
Canton-ese/Mandarin) from our associate office in
It seemed ironic, considering that
receivables financing was pioneered by
factors financing the garment trade on the
Northeast Seaboard of the USA, that here
I was about to complete a field exam on a
male suit business in North East China. We
really do live in interesting times.
The business we would be visiting is
based in Dalian in the People’s Republic of
China. Dalian is a “second tier” city and sea-
port in the south of the Liaoning Province.
It has a population of just over six million
people, around 40% of which are involved
in agriculture. The ports have historically
served foreign powers, but today the area
is an important international shipping
centre and logistics hub.
Upon arriving in Dalian, we passed
through a quarantine zone, border control,
luggage scanners and yet another quarantine zone. Finally, we made it through
to Arrivals, where we were greeted by our
driver. Being from the other side of the
planet, the driver kindly tried to make
me feel at home, by holding my name
upside down. I left the conversation to my
Mandarin-speaking colleague, Karina.
I had presumed Dalian would not be affluent. My hotel, however, shared a street
with Georgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and
many other designer brands. Shopping is
big business here.
The hotel itself had the makings of a
five-star property without the price tag.
Luxurious with an extravagant lobby, the
only slightly disconcerting feature was two
gas masks stored in my wardrobe. I never
did find out what they were for.
Dalian is famous throughout China
for its seafood and we were not let
down. During the trip I managed to
sample sea urchins, jellyfish, fresh crabs
and an array of seafood dumplings. All
without any side effects.