A Business Trip Virgin no longer


Chengdu, 3-degreed and glorious


How do people get any work done whilst listening to music? Maybe it’s because of my vocation as a writer that disallows the fraternising of words on-screen and the warbling tunes in-ear. When met, both parties fight for my attention, the only result a promotion of lethologica and a massive lack of focus.

I’ve been trying to write this paragraph for the past 2 minutes with little success, having French music in my ear (it’s in a different language!) distracting me from accurately translating the words in my brain into little ones and zeros on the screen. What I’ve rather inarticulately been trying to say is:

“I’m back from my work trip in Chengdu. It was unexpectedly great and so was the 3-degree weather, and it made for a marvellous way to break in my business trip virginity.” 

The trip lasted a grand total of 5 days, all of which were spent in overwhelming fascination that was (I suppose) my ‘big girl wonderment’ of the world around me. Though I have been on travel trips in the past, they were mainly family trips where my mom would baby my sister and me by steadfastly holding onto our passports for “safekeeping” and dolling out allowances, warning us not to spend the lot on candy alone.

My other trips were also conducted in the comfort of being taken care of by Aaron, my sense of direction an underutilised (and frankly, useless) skill and most of my other expenses completely paid for. On couple trips like these, it’s safe to say that I’m pretty much an accompanying baby bunny who whines for the more-than-occasional snack, much to Aaron’s distaste.

Having spent 5 whole big-girl days in a cold country which involved needing to look groomed (goodbye Unibrow) for the all-day conferences yet suitable enough for night-time outings with the team, here’s a brief recap of how this twenty-something-year-old pulled it off (along with the occasional screw-up):

1. It’s not a crime to overpack

As much as I envied my compression colleagues (an inside joke for the Cloud folk) who managed to stuff their week’s necessities into what looked like a Rubic’s 4-by-4, I didn’t regret overpacking for my trip. Although two pairs of boots – one for indoor wear and one lined for winter – may seem overkill, being a chronic over-packer shaved off real dollars (goodbye housekeeping) and time spent on handwashing my clothes for reuse.

2. Earplugs and eye masks will take you far

Light sleepers will appreciate this point. My roommate and I have vastly different sleeping habits – Her a 2am party girl, and me a 10pm bedtime baby. As a result, I relied heavily on blocking out all sight and sound before going to sleep, without which I’m not sure I would’ve gotten through the trip without saying uncle.

3. Google Translator

Kind of a no-brainer, this one. I’m born Chinese (or part thereof), but due to a lack of practice and mostly disinterest during my formative years, my mother tongue had deteriorated miserably. As a result, most of my conversations in Chengdu relied heavily on awkward pauses whilst fumbling for this handy little app. My colleagues were also troopers in helping me along – It was like having a bunch of annoying big brothers along for the trip, it felt nice.

4. Don’t be a dummy and cap your credit card

Knowing full well that I didn’t carry much cash on myself, and had the hotel room (and a couple of other shopping expenditures) to pay for, I brought along my shiny new plastic buddy, only to forget that I had previously capped it at 800 a month. This caused unnecessary panic at the hotel concierge, and I’m fairly certain that I shocked certain retailers as I attempted to protest the constant credit card decline in my school-grade level Mandarin.

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