Traveling China and Thailand

I am nearing the end of my 16 day jaunt starting in China and ending in Thailand. It has been 7 years since I have been in Thailand and the same for China other than an overnighter plus a day in Shanghai, China. Both places are surging in infrastructure and in business. Let me explain why I say such.

I am a Global Procurement Manager for a $500 million division of an $8 billion corporation. My VP and I have been hitting the machining, die casting and casting, extrusion, forging, fabrication, and steel manufacturers in both countries at the rate of 2-3 per day. We have traveled by train, plane, and automobile in China and plane and automobile (besides tok-tok) in Thailand.

The China pros: The 200 mph train ride to Ningbo, Suzhou, etc. The seats were comfortable, the stops few, and the time sent moving between cities quick. A lot of infrastructure building going on in the cities and outside of the cities. A company I visited (TonTech ) was making a $1 billion investment in a milling machine / fabrication facility and another $1 billion investment in a casting and forging facility. We stopped to see a needle bearing facility which can meet our needs and beat McGill with a lower cost and similar capability. It is a startup and the owner lives on site with his family and one huge dog. The food is good and the people mostly friendly.

The China Negs: Air Pollution is everywhere. The quality of air is typically poor to bad on most days without a strong wind. Haimen, China I thought had the worst for quality of air. It was always smoky and the air irritates. Even with license plates exceeding $10,000 per vehicle for Shanghai, China; traffic is still horrific with travel measured in hours during certain parts of the day. Shanghai is one of the biggest cities in the world. Some of the Chinese are just plain rude to each other.

The Thailand Pros: It is warm for sure and in the nineties even now. The sky train above Sumhumvit Road in Bangkok is cool. Again there are many small businesses at $2 million to $250 million which would suit our needs. The intelligence of how to machine and extrude is excellent and they bring things to the table. Remember what I have always preached, it is about Overhead and not Labor in Asia when comparing against the US. Travel in Bangkok and the surrounding areas is easier even with poor roads.

The Thailand Negs: It is hard not to walk the streets and see crippled people, moms with kids, and the elderly begging for coins. If you have a soft heart, carry plenty of small change (20 baht) in your pockets. Safety at machining is a lesser priority than what you would find in the US. There is civil unrest with the government and corruption also. There is a fair amount of pollution; but, it is not a serious as China.

In general inequity is far more wide spread in China and Thailand than in the US; however, China with all of its infrastructure building and investment in domestic improvements will overtake the US in in time as we continue to invest in Defense and tax breaks for a few. It is just a matter of time before the US is a Tier 2 nation.