I am part of our annual Shape-Up challenge. A corporate activity designed to encourage everyone to exercise more. And walking counts – a large enough number of steps every day is good for you. Anywhere close to or in excess of 7000 steps. Better news is that I don’t have to count my own steps – I have a pedometer that does that. All I have to do is upload my scores onto a site that does the mathematics for me.
All sounded very easy until I had to fly to Shanghai last week. Eleven hours on a plane. How do I achieve my steps for the day? I am team captain so I have to get my target. The answer? I walk on the plane. Every hour or so I got up and walked up and down. It was amazing how quickly the numbers added up. It was also pretty funny to see the strange looks I kept getting. Discouraging looks from cabin staff. Confused looks from other passengers.
I have also been counting my hours. Hours of sleep that is. The flight from London to Shanghai takes off at 1:30pm and lands eleven hours later – 7:30am. My theory – such as it is – assumes that ‘hours of sleep’ add up. Three hours on the plane combined with two hours in the hotel in the morning makes five hours sleep for the ‘night’ I flew. The reality doesn’t work quite as well as the maths mind you. But it helps me think I feel better even if I look shattered!
I also find that short naps during transfers help amazingly well. Thirty minutes in a car here, add on forty in a bus there. I have to admit this is not a deliberate strategy…rather it is a force of nature. I just have no choice. At least falling asleep in a car is much better than falling asleep in a presentation or discussion.
My last piece of math was trying to work out how long it had been since I was last in Shanghai. As ever, I can remember most of what I did on that visit, who I did it with, and even where we did it. But it’s harder to be sure how long ago that last visit was. Best I could work out it was some four years ago. Amazing!
And ‘amazing’ is a great summary of my experience of visiting again.
Without any doubt, China is the hardest trip I have to make. Flying east is always much harder than flying west. And food, drink, and culture are so different. But different in a wonderful way. Everyone you meet seems so positive and so happy. And I can’t believe that is anything to do with me visiting!
Everyone is friendly, accommodating and caring. Everywhere. Hotels, restaurants, shops and any business or company. And Shanghai itself is also very different. Bigger, taller, newer and better. But still just as unbelievable – both by day and by night.
And the final, truly remarkable aspect is how the pharmaceutical industry in China has grown and changed in four years. Immeasurably grown. And immeasurably changed. Four years ago there was little genuine ‘Chinese pharmaceutical industry’. There was contract research – big, small, high tech, low tech – you name it. But the only pharmaceutical research seemed to be being done by western companies in local facilities. Fast forward four years and a new industry is emerging…has emerged! Very rapidly. Chinese biotech companies established, working and delivering in China. Traditional Chinese Medicine companies moving into pharma space.
So exciting. So interesting. So dynamic. So tiring.