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Internationalism, Avalon, and fiber optics | Cypress Semiconductor

Internationalism, Avalon, and fiber optics

How exactly, you may ponder (pun intended, for you who know passive optical networks), did those three subjects in this blog’s title become intertwined? Allow me to shed some light on their relationship by telling you about a recent business trip of mine.

In late 2009 I arrived in Wuhan, China, for the very first time as one stop in a multi-city series of customer discovery meetings about Cypress’s new high-performance timing solutions. I arrived in Wuhan just past midnight and spent another hour in a taxi driven by a somewhat dubious character, through complete boonies at times, to arrive in my hotel for the night.

Before I go any further, I shall first explain to you the significance of Wuhan. Wuhan, central China’s most populous city about 400 miles west of Shanghai, has major cultural, commercial, and strategic significance and holds a unique place in the modern history of China even though it is relatively unknown compared to first-tier Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The democratic revolution, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, that eventually toppled China’s last dynasty began in Wuhan on Oct. 10th, 1911 (Taiwan celebrates its National Day every 10th of October). Straddling the confluence of Yangtze and Han rivers, the city has always been a major logistical hub and is near the site of the Battle of Red Cliffs, a storied (and oft romanticized) battle that, in Chinese folklore, was won against a far superior army by a brilliant strategist whose name is synonymous with intelligence and strategy in Chinese. Lastly, probably every Chinese school child has recited a famous poem, penned by one of the greatest poets in Chinese literary history, about the Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼) in Wuhan, which, by the way, is a beautiful city dotted by numerous lakes and waterways. For me, a Chinese American born and raised in Taiwan, Wuhan is a name steeped in history/romanticism and a place I’ve always longed to see.

So it was about 1:30am when I arrived in a Holiday Inn in the center of Wuhan, and as I was about to check in a young Caucasian couple, speaking English with a foreign accent, interrupted and asked the receptionist for help locating a McDonald’s or Burger King and calling a taxi to drive them there. Mildly amused, I did not give much more thought that night about seeing westerners in a Holiday Inn in an inland Chinese city looking for a fix of hamburgers late at night. It was not until the next day when I learned that Wuhan is also known as China’s Optical Valley, is China’s largest optoelectronics industrial base, and is the home base of the company I’m meeting--one of the largest PON vendors in the world.

International trade, you see, brings people from all corners of the earth to places in which you least expect to find them, pursuing things that seem comically incongruent to the surrounding environment.

So, for those of you who perhaps grew up reading Arthurian juvenilia instead of Chinese legends, this is how I'll describe my feeling about my newfound knowledge of Wuhan: imagine your surprise, upon visiting Avalon, a place where you fantasized yourself pulling Excalibur from the stone, only to learn that it’s now home to modern wizardry--a blooming fuel cell industry--and numerous KFC’s and Ramada Inn’s.

To finish the story of a wondrous journey that Cypress’s high performance timing solutions has taken me, I would like to share with you this picture of a fog-covered Wuhan I took the next morning from the hotel’s top-floor rotating restaurant (which, by the way, had an awesome espresso machine).

I like it because it reminds me of imageries (one of which you'll find below) of the famous MountHuangshan in China, another place I’d like to see someday, and I’ll definitely report back if I find that it now has a burgeoning industry of carbon fiber ski pole manufacturers!

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