By: Elizabeth Bauman

Today – Thursday we visited our first two companies. XHTZ and Applied Materials.

XHTZ is the Xi’an Hi-Tech industries Zone. The tour was pretty neat and very well organized. There were interactive models of the zone and historical and informational displays that were ‘awesome’ (Hana Litterer’s description). The zone is China’s government’s attempt to move hi tech companies west from the developed east coast. The zone land that is being developed was farmland 10 years ago and is already 60 out of 306 sq km completed at full capacity. An interesting financial point of interest is that 90% of revenue stays in China.

Next we went to Applied Materials. For 1976 transistor prices, a typical iPod would cost $3.2 billion. Very neat how much technology has improved in the last 40 years. They also had a strong desire to be an environmentally responsible company – even further than producing solar panel technology. They are self proclaimed visionaries in this area. The three pillars of why Applied Materials settled in the XHTZ are: Talent, cost, and similar vision with the zone management.

After we got back from the companies, we reconvened for lunch and walked to a random street to a random restaurant. It was quite an adventure because no one spoke English (and we weren’t with any of our helpful translators) so we ended up pointing at pictures and hoping for the best. We ended up with bull frog, unknown meat, rice and chicken. … We think. It was spicy but quite delicious – which was an adventure for me as I don’t typically eat spicy food, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

After, we met up with some others and took a bike ride around the inner city wall. It was legen… wait for it… dary. We met a wonderful older Chinese man who rode almost the entire way around the wall with us. He was quite eccentric and had a contagious laugh. We named him Larry. We had quite interesting ‘conversations’ with him (who spoke no english). The wall ride was about 8 miles long and most of us were on tandem bikes and could take some cool photos and videos while biking on the stone wall. How amazing a wall like that is and how long it must’ve taken to build. Good prep for our trip to respect the Great Wall in Beijing later next week.

On our walk back from the wall, we did a little shopping and bought a few little gifts from street vendors. Once back to the hotel, we took a break before dinner.

Some went to dinner at a traditional Chinese dance show which included many many different kinds of dumplings – sweet potato (purple), fish, shrimp, tomato, cabbage, pickle, pork, egg, fried, ham. Needless to say these were amazing. We also had white sweet rice wine that tasted like apples. The show was culmination of traditional dance and music. Elaborate costumes with the typical long sleeves and hair ornaments. We got cultured.

Joined back with others who had eaten at other dinner places to go to a pub. Apparently a place to mingle and experience some local culture. We couldn’t find the place so we ended up at another culturally unique location. Not much else to say unless you were there.

Nathan’s take away from the day: impressed with the broad vision for the XHTZ including their sales pitch. And how questionable the accuracy of their statements and projections.

Eric’s note of the day: Every street in Xi’an looks exactly the same.

A day of contrasts – high technology developing industries within a city of ancient walls and history.