One of the first things our client said to us when we met her last week was that she expected us to “work hard, play hard.” Surprisingly, she actually said this to us in English! So far, I think our IBM team has been living up to this expectation.

work hard play hard One of our translators gave me this gift – apparently this is a very common saying here!

After a long first week, we made plans to see some of the main sights in Chengdu and around the city. On Saturday, I made my way to the Wenshu Monastery. While I wished had a guide to explain the significance of the buildings and relics to me, the experience was very enjoyable and peaceful. I could have spent hours wandering around the grounds. I was surprised at the number of people I saw still using the area for religious purposes.

wenshu monastery 3

wenshu monastery 2


All of the details were so cool

At the monastery, we went to the tea garden which is supposed to be one of the best in Chengdu. I understand why Chinese people love tea so much – it’s a great way to spend time relaxing, catching up with friends, and absorbing the atmosphere and culture around you.


I asked the waitress to bring us the most popular tea, and I wasn’t disappointed

From the monastery, I then headed to Tianfu Square and People’s Park. Tianfu Square is in the center of the city and is considered one of Chengdu’s biggest landmarks.


In the evenings, there are fountain shows with lights. I may have to go back to check that out

We went to People’s Park to grab lunch, where we had a pretty difficult time finding where to order, placing our order, paying for our order, receiving our order…you get the picture. After lunch, we explored the park. It was WAY bigger than I imagined. Overall, I have been very surprised at the amount of green/open space for a city with such a large population.

people's park I failed and forgot to take pictures within People’s Park (I was probably hangry), so this is pretty much all I have

For dinner that night, I had my first (and maybe last??) hot pot experience! The best word to describe this experience was SPICY. Many of my team members had literal tears rolling down their eyes during the meal. Everything was delicious, but it was a lot to handle. It took a little while for my stomach to recover!

group hot pot

hot-pot.jpg Everything continued to get spicier through the meal since the chilies were constantly boiling

The next morning, we set out on a group trip to Leshan to see the biggest Buddha in the world! It was about a 2-hour drive from Chengdu, so we left very early. Thankfully two of our translators decided to accompany us, so they were able to assist with telling the driver where we wanted to go, helping us pay for our admission tickets (UGH WeChat), and finding us a spot for lunch.

Some helpful tips in case you ever find yourself visiting the Leshan Giant Buddha: arrive early, make sure you go to the entrance where you can pay with cash unless you have magically gotten WeChat/AliPay to work, and take the staircase down the side of the Buddha to the bottom FIRST THING when the line is shorter (otherwise you will end up waiting hours, trust me…). Then you will have time to visit all of the other attractions at the top.


 Pictures do not do a good job of showing just how big this Buddha statue is. Construction on this started around the year 713!

After the Buddha, we went to a restaurant where we had traditional Leshan food.


I wish I could tell you what this was, but I don’t really know…

This week, we have already been working hard! We are gathering as much data as we can from our client about their current processes and needs and starting to research best practices to help them improve their incubator model. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, and I can feel myself starting to think about and process things differently to adapt to the needs of a different culture and environment. Every question I have needs to be asked in the simplest way possible to ensure that it translates correctly and every solution we want to pursue needs to be evaluated in the context of the limited amount of time we have here. I’m starting to get nervous about only having 2.5 weeks left – wish me luck!

panda-eating.jpgBonus panda picture. Look at the bamboo flying everywhere! Nom nom nom

2 Replies to “Work Hard, Play Hard”

  1. Caitlin – Seems like you are adapting very well. Very exciting news. I enjoy reading about your experiences and the look forward to seeing your process play out. I am glad the exercises are pushing you – that is what you wanted. Go IBM! The pictures are amazing too.

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