Monday, October 29, 2007

Work Day 1 in Netherlands

It has been constantly raining since last night. It is actually the peak time of the fall color here. Leaves are gold and red everywhere. But I really could see too much of the scenery since it was just really wet and chilly here. I now regret not to bring a small umbrella with me. Fortunately, I have brought a cap so at least it kept my hair dry.

Got up around 7:00am and went down to the restaurant downstairs for the free breakfast. It was actually very good with lots of choices of pastry, bread, sandwich meats, scramble eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and juice. After that, we got on the rental BMW and drove toward the headquarter of the company. The traffic was pretty bad. Of course, the constantly rain did not help. There were so many people riding bicycles on the road that I thought I was in mainland China! And most of the bicyclists did not follow the traffic rules at all. They ran the red light, ignored the rights of the pedestrians, even tried to cross the street in the front of the car at the last minute. It really makes me re-think about the policy of encouraging people to ride the bike to work back to US.

Anyway, we got to the company around 8:30am. It was quite a big place but looked quite like a college campus instead of a corporation. I think the building style and the fact that everybody was in separated room as the office made me feel that. We had meetings from morning to the afternoon. Only got about 40 minutes for the lunch. There were not a lot of choices for the lunch in the company cafeteria. Even though I don't eat the fried food usually but I saw this strange look of the fried sphere kind of the food so I gave it a try anyway. It turned out to be the fried meat balls and it actually was not bad. My co-worker ordered some hot dish with one small piece of the chicken and some broccoli and potatoes. It did not look tasty at all so no wonder he only ate the chicken.

Most of the meetings went pretty well and I got to meet lots of people. Overall, I think that they are very open to the suggestions/comments we make. We left the work around 5:00pm and it was already very dark outside. The same rain and bad traffic all over again.

We went back to the hotel and walked to a Thai restaurant next to the hotel for dinner. The place was very nicely decorated. They had this nice step-up stone platform built on the entrance that had a fish pond surrounding it. So it was almost like walked past a bridge to the dining area. However, they had very limited menu and even did not have Thai ice tea I usually would order in any Thai place. So I ordered the ice tea. It was actually Lipton ice tea. However, it was sparking! Very strange. It was like drinking an ice tea soda.

Anyway, we ordered Massaman pork and beef. They are the dishes using the coconut milk and the Massaman curry. They were not bad. They also served the very spicy peanuts as the appetizer, which was quite different too.

Our waiter was a thin fetish Asian guy. On our way out of the restaurant, my co-worker tripped on the edge of that stone platform and he almost fell. The waiter immediately came to hold my co-worker's right arm with his right hand and surrounded his left arm around my co-worker's waist and patted him several times on the left side of his belly. I could just see the big grin on his face when he did that. I was a little bit stunned by my co-worker's near-fall incidence but was even more shocked to see the waiter's daring behavior. Well, should I say, fortunately, my co-worker, who is a silver ex-military midwest married beefy guy, had a couple of drinks and did not notice anything strange anyway. Otherwise, I think that waiter would be in big trouble based on what I know about my co-worker.

We then walked to the small supermarket next to the hotel to look around. My co-worker is really crazy about one kind of Dutch beer called "La Trappe Dubbel". He bought 6 bottles of that beer and I had to help carry some for him. Of course, it cost only 0.95 Euro (about US $2) per bottle here. He said that it would cost $9 per bottle in US and he really liked the taste. And he said that we would go back to buy more before we headed back to Wisconsin.

It took me almost 40 minutes to write this post so far. I am going to take a shower and go to bed.

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