We took this picture in Kunshan, also called “Venice of the East”!
Surrounded by blooming trees, dozens of customers had the chance to get a closer look at our products and get advice for their applications.
Mr. Wei is one of these visitors. He works in the design department of the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in China. Specializing in tractors, he is quite familiar with igus products. “We’re using them in a wide range of applications,” Mr. Wei told me. “For example, in the ladder, the window, door hinges, and the diesel engine.” Mr. Wei uses igus bearings wherever possible. He said matter of factly “They have a very high quality.” Mr. Wei knows what he’s talking about! When he studied engineering in Germany, he was able to get his hands on many high-quality products. During his studies, he also picked up German!
Something that comes to mind when I think about China are the traditions today that originated thousands of years ago. One of these still impressive relics of the past is the Shaolin monk, who serves Buddha and is famous worldwide for their practice of Kung Fu.
Shaolin monks only have one monastery in the world, located in the Eastern part of China. Recent studies were able to trace its origins back as far as 477 BC.
There is no evidence of when the Buddhist monks began practicing Kung Fu. Some sources say that in the year 600 the monastery sent 13 of its monks to support the emperor in war. Since then, they have worked at perfecting the art of Kung Fu.
A graveyard at the monastery. The height of the tombstone reflects the rank of the Shaolin Monk
After the monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s, it was rebuilt in the 90’s and opened for visitors. There was a big debate within the order of the monks regarding what policy they should pursue. In the end, the monks’ traditions were highly commercialized. For instance, there are Shaolin monks on world tour performing in shows in Las Vegas etc., a Chinese version of KFC at the temple, and Shaolin monks performing in free fight shows for visitors.
I was really surprised that a place with such a long history has become so commercialized; our Chinese colleagues had the same impression. Even the normal staff, like the people selling tickets, etc. were all dressed as monks.
Nevertheless, the fighting skills of the monks are incredible. Twenty nearby schools are all teaching Shaolin Kung Fu.
One of these schools was nice enough to open its gates to welcome the iglide car.
Both the Shaolin monks and igus are constantly seeking perfection, so it was a natural fit to meet one another. Take a look at what happened when cars and monks meet.
Another tradition that is surely not 1500 years old (though I haven’t done my research) is Chinese square dancing! In the early morning and evening, people gather in squares and practice dancing, either alone or with a Partner.
While the elderly dance, you can typically find the younger generation of Chinese in KTV shops. KTV is basically the same thing as karaoke. Each group gets their own room with a TV, music system, and two microphones. That way you get to be embarrassed in front of your friends instead of the entire bar.
Ok, that’s all for today, I’ll keep you up to date as we continue our travels!
The iglide car has reached its second wonder of the world!! We are visiting an area of the Great Wall of China near Beijing. This was the closest we were able to get a photo of the car against the wall. If you didn’t know what to expect, I don’t think anyone would guess that this is a “Great” wall; its only been maintained in certain areas. Even though its isn’t as exciting looking as i expected, being at a place with such immense history is what struck me as great.
The car couldn’t come up onto the wall, of course, so I took the dry-tech box along instead.
After leaving Jinan, we traveled to Tai’an to visit a customer specializing in labeling machines. Mr. Ji, who founded the company about 15 years ago, is one of our newer customers.
Mr. Ji was searching for ways to improve the quality of his machines, as he is trying to sell more abroad. One main disadvantage of his machines before finding igus was that they had to be lubricated regularly. One day, he decided to substitute some of the metal bearings he was using with our iglide J bearings.
As all our bearings are self-lubricating, he was easily able to end his lubrication and maintenance problems! While we were speaking, he mentioned that he was surprised with the long lifetime of our products. He also said that there was an unexpected side effect of switching to iglide, with the special plastic bearings he was able to reduce the noise of his machines.
igus was truly able to help Mr. Ji improve the quality of his machines. Currently he is looking into swapping out more metal bearings with iglide.
Tai’an is quite well known because of a nearby mountain that is said to be sacred.
The Tai Shan Mountain is one of the 5 sacred mountains of Daoismus. At just under 5100 feet, it is not an extraordinarily high mountain, but in ancient China it was considered to be the tallest in the world. Anyways, the mountain has been a place of worship for more than 3000 years, and is therefore quite famous. What does the most famous mountain in the most crowded country get? Lots of visitors.
There are two ways you can climb the mountain: by stairs, or by lift. Of course, taking the stairs (there are more than 6000!) would have taken a long time, and as we only had a half day to explore, we decided on the lift. Since I wasn’t able to take the car up the mountain, I took the dry-tech bearings box with me instead!
On the mountain itself, besides a lot of tourists, you get a stunning view and come across a nice temple.
One thing I have really become fond of on my trip so far is the food. Traditional Chinese food is light, tasty, and diverse. They eat lots of vegetables, chicken, and soups, but also some stranger things. For me, to adapt to new cultures and countires means to break some of my regular habits. While there was one dish I wasn’t willing to try, I did try some insects. In the Northern part of Chine, people eat them quite a lot. I’m not sure what I ate exactly, but it wasn’t bad. I was surprised at how crispy they were – and tasted like potato chips! I think I’d still prefer some real potato chips when watching a movie, but the insects weren’t too bad.
Food really seems to be something that customer visits pivot on in China. Most companies have their own on-site restaurant, and usually after spending some time with a customer, they’d invite us for lunch. I don’t know why, but every customer offers me a beer. Maybe they just think Germans are drinking beer all the time! J
That’s all from me today, I’ll keep you posted.
In Tai’an, China
Today I want to give you a closer look at the truck accompanying us during the Chinese leg of the tour.
I think the truck was a great idea on the part of the igus China team; it seems to be attracting a lot of people. Both the car and truck together draws a huge crowd. Basically, it’s just a normal truck that has been modified so it can be turned into a trade show booth in about 5 minutes! The truck is big enough that we can showcase a wide range of products.
For our customers, we offer the “whole package.” On the truck, not only can someone have a direct look at our products, but also have time to talk one-on-one with product experts.
Every day, dozens of potential customers are giving us their contact details in order to learn more about our products, as well as receive the now famous igus cups as a reward!
Usually, after visiting the booth, the visitors turn their attention to the iglide on tour project. For everyone, we offer a quick drive in the car. Most people think the tour is a great idea, but often add that it must be a real adventure to drive this particular kind of car across all the places we’ll encounter on the tour.
Two days ago, we arrived at the Yellow Sea on the coast of Qingdao. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of this city before, but I learned it is a famous beach vacation mecca for Chinese and other Asian tourists. I can tell that this city is growing fast; all around is construction.
The city has a very nice beach. I imagine that it must get totally overcrowded here in the summer months. Even though it is winter, the beach is still filled with People.
In Qingdao, we met with one of our suppliers who delivers goods to us for our exhibitions; guess what his name is and where he’s from?!
Sascha Kurtenbach was born in Cologne, but has been living in China for about 10 years. Although he speaks the language fluently, he explained to me that he only know about 3,500 written symbols, which isn’t enough for him to read a local newspaper. He told me most Chinese people know about 5,000 symbols, and someone like a university professor would know about 10,000. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to learn this language; so far everything sounds the same to me.
In my last post I told you I wanted to introduce you to the people helping us along our world tour. As the truck was in focus today, I’ll let you meet its driver, Mr. Wang.
Mr. Wang is 35 years old and a father of two children. He is from Henan province, where we will be traveling soon to visit a famous temple. Even though he has been working as a driver for more than a decade, Mr. Wang says he’s never seen a truck like ours. I asked my colleague to ask his opinion about the tour and the truck. Mr. Wang said it is special to be a part of a project like this one, where he gets to do more than just driving. When the truck has been transformed into the display booth, he helps us hand out information and talks with customers, guiding them to the right person to answer their questions. A great member of our team!
That’s all from Eastern China so far, I’ll keep you up to date!
iglide plastic bearings are self-lubricating and maintenance-free…
Extremely light in weight! There are 15 iglide bearings in this amazing kite!