It was the middle of the night as I flew over Russia. Most people around me were sleeping, but I was wide awake, watching “Casino Royale” for the third time. Hey, James Bond is cool enough to be watched three times, don’t you think? There was just something in my brain that couldn’t be turned off, so sleep really wasn’t an option for me. It rarely is one of my top priorities. Going to bed before about 2 a.m. is just unheard of for me on most nights.
I was flying over Russia after spending a little more than 72 hours in Japan before jetting off to the IDS meeting in Cologne. My thanks to the folks at J. Morita and Shofu for their hospitality while I was in Japan. Not only did I have the opportunity to tour their factories, I also had the honor of being one of 10 people to cut the ribbon to officially open the Osaka Dental Meeting. I was truly honored to be a part of the ceremony.
Japan is a beautiful, fascinating place. The people are friendly, the cities are clean, and our friends across the Pacific are as passionate about their jobs in the dental industry as we are here in the States. I spent about 45 minutes talking to the president of the Osaka Dental Hygienists Association, and to see the passion in her eyes as she talked about her job was amazing. After speaking with her, I walked around the Osaka Dental Meeting and watched as sales representatives talked to dental team members about their products. Granted, I couldn’t understand what they were saying (no, I don’t speak Japanese), but I could tell they believed in their products ... and that the doctors and hygienists (hygienists and assistants are called hygienists in Japan) valued the reps’ information.
From Japan, I took the longest plane voyage of my life, going from Osaka to Tokyo to Hong Kong to Frankfurt. It’s not often you connect to Germany from Tulsa through Japan, but I did.
Of course, I was heading to Germany for the IDS meeting. Wow, what a meeting it was in Cologne. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again - if you’ve never been to the show in Cologne, you have no idea what you’re missing. We spent four days roaming the halls and we still didn’t see everything there was to see. It’s simply amazing ... and it’s a meeting centered around the exhibit hall. Yep, dental team members actually come to walk around the exhibit hall. An amazing concept, huh?
What did I see at IDS? Plenty of products that American dentists, hygienists, and assistants won’t see until the ADA in San Francisco or next year’s Chicago Midwinter Meeting. That’s the amazing thing about this meeting - it’s like a sneak preview. It is worth the time and money to go to Cologne and be a part of the IDS meeting. The next gathering in Cologne happens in late March, 2009, and I am planning to be there - along with roughly 100,000 other people. You can read more about it as the lead story in this month’s Trade News section (see page 36).
From Germany, it was on to Norway. Yep, I saw my first fjord. I actually enjoyed a little down time in this beautiful country, but I’ll have to save up to go there again - it cost me 53 U.S. dollars for a large pizza and two Diet Cokes. I was suddenly very thankful for the $3.99 pizza buffet my daughter and I enjoy from time to time.
My friends at work asked me for the highlights of my 15-day, around-the-world venture. Here’s what I shared with them.
- Never pass on the opportunity to sing John Denver songs with friends in Japan. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
- When you go to Cologne in March, don’t ever expect to see the sun. It will be cloudy. It will be chilly. Bring a heavy jacket.
- Eat reindeer. Eat octopus balls. Eat things you wouldn’t eat in the States. Don’t eat at TGI Friday’s in Oslo or McDonald’s in Osaka. Experience local food and get a real taste of where you are.
- Travel with people who mean the world to you.
- Try public transportation. Rush hour in an Osaka subway is awesome.
- Laugh and don’t be afraid to see what’s on the less touristy streets.
- Always take a moment to take a mental snapshot of where you are. You may never be there again.
Read on, this is your magazine...
Kevin Henry, Editor