Finally on the road in China!

I still can’t believe that we really made it. We are finally on the road, with the iglide car DRIVING!

Let me tell you about what happened. Last Tuesday, we went to pick up the driving approval permit, but instead of handing it over, the police administrator told us our case had hit some complications and she wasn’t going to be able to give us the permit. If we wanted to drive, then we would have to obtain a document from the ministry of transport in Beijing.

What the igus China team pulled off was remarkable! They spent the rest of the day Tuesday in state offices while our guys in Shanghai, with help from the offices in Germany, worked day and night to modify all our paperwork. By Friday evening we were still unsure if we’d get the permit, but on Saturday morning we got it – just in time for the trip!

The igus China team had prepared a show truck to travel along with the iglide car to our customer visits. The truck is like its own tradeshow booth, with displays and information on our products, not to mention the free samples and gifts everyone loves about shows! Unfortunately, the truck left for Qingdao while we were waiting on the car’s permits. We had to get the car on the road quickly to catch up, but I wasn’t about to leave Shanghai without a few pictures of the iglide car driving downtown!

We are now on the way to Qingdao. The city is located near the Yellow Sea, and is one of the major harbors in the country. With 8 million people, the city is only considered to be medium size here. They laughed when I told them that Berlin is our largest city with only 3.5 million people! Qingdao is historically tied with Germany, as it was a German colony until 1914. A German brewery was even built here in 1903. That beer is now very famous here – a Chinese name, but the beer is the same 😉 Its sold here under the name “Tsingtao.” Perhaps it’s due to the comfortable distance of a Germany brewery that a German supplier for igus China is living here too, or maybe its just a coincidence. Anyways, We are going to meet him in the evening.

I would like to start using the blog as a platfor to introduce you to some of the people working for igus and on the iglide world tour. I’ll start today with Carte. Carte is 30 years old, and has worked with igus since 2011. He is working across China with automotive customers, and he’ll likely be with me for most of the Chinese tour. When I asked him what sporty activities he enjoys, he told me “Meeting customers.” It’ll be great to be tagging along to customers with someone as passionate as he is! (Either that or he misunderstood me J)

Next time, I’ll tell you if the main street in Qingdao is still a German name!

Sascha

The end of our tour through India

What a finale for our tour of India. Our car met his creator!

About a hundred people were there to welcome us as we arrived at the Mercedes Benz Research and Development headquarters.

Most employees were amazed when they learned that (what felt like) their own car, improved with iglide bearings, of course, were being sent on such an exciting world tour.

We visited Mercedes on our way back from Chennai. Chennai is located in Eastern India along the Indian Ocean. Imagine you are in a sauna. Now, in this sauna, there is not only 100% humidity, but there are a few million other people living there along with you.  That’s a pretty accurate description of the climate in Chennai.

We took off from Bangalore at five o’clock in the morning to make sure we had time to make the six hour drive, as well as stop along the way to visit customers as well as find some good spots to shoot some photos. In this entry I think I’ll omit the customer visits and show you more of our travels.

Up on a hill, overlooking the entire city is a small church. Five or six hundred feet past the church square  you have a stunning view of the city, and the parking lot there is the highest you’re allowed to travel by car – any higher requires a special permit.

We went into the church to meet with Reverent Father Aeja, who runs the church. Father Aeja works closely with Make a Difference, the Indian charity we have decided to sponsor on our tour through the country (we are donating 100 Rupees, or about $1.65, for every kilometer we drive in India). While he wasn’t interested in our bearings, Father Aeja, while not interested in our bearings,  did share a connection with us through our shared fondness for helping children. Not only did he give us the special permission necessary to drive up past the car park to the church, he also came along for the ride!

The next day we were up and off at five again. Being on the East Coast, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a picture of the car against the sunrise.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the car as close as we wanted to the water, so we continued searching for a better spot. A few miles west of Chennai is a small fishing village where we tried our luck again.

We took our time there as an opportunity to remind you that our bearings are able to endure not only heat and humidity, but also sand and salt water!

It was still quite early when we took off for our second stop of the day. A colleague told us about a hill with stunning views overlooking a valley. Initially, we though about stopping there shortly before continuing to Bangalore, but we were so delayed by traffic that we decided to stay the night. The hotel wasn’t the greatest, but the morning view certainly was!

I can hardly believe that our trip through India has come to an end. The last five weeks flew by so incredibly fast! The time has come for me to say goodbye. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my Indian colleagues and friends. With your great hospitality and support, you made my experience here one I know I will never forget.

In the plane on the way here from Germany, I sat next to a man who already traveled there four times previously. When I asked him about India, he only said one sentence: “Once you go to India, you always go back!” I agree with him on this for sure. I know I will come back to see all the friends I’ve made, and to explore more of incredible India!

The next time you guys hear from me, I will be writing to you from China. I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog-writing business in the meantime. See you guys in Shanghai!

Sascha

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