Ctripper: Meet the Team—David Perry

by Emily Eliot
Posted: August 30th, 2010 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
CtripCtripper posts come to us directly from the good folks at Ctrip, China's top online travel agency (and proud sponsor of ChinaTravel.net). Stay tuned for Ctrip special offers, travel tips, news on new travel deals, tours and activities, and slices of life-in-China from Ctrip staff and interns. Meet the team that brings you all of these great deals.... >>> When did you join Ctrip? I’ve been at Ctrip since…2006? Wow. I was the first foreign employee on board, as a matter of fact. It’s always nice to take a look back and see how far the site has come. What do you do here? I’m in charge of the English editorial team. Our goal is to establish a level of professionalism in all of our English-language content and communications that is on par with the best in the West. We get our hands on almost everything, from marketing communications and PR to flight notes and phone scripts. Our primary concerns, however, are the Ctrip English site and China Travel, which we’ve been developing as a comprehensive online travel guide and community. We’ve got a long way to go on all fronts, but again, it’s refreshing to see how much progress we’ve made with our small but dedicated team. What’s your favorite airline? That’s a rough one. Airlines are cutting back so much across the board that flying is pretty unpleasant, no matter whom you fly with. Having a favorite airline feels like having a favorite type of dental surgery to me, and an air travel-lover like George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” seems like a sick twisted freak. That said, Air Canada impressed me on my most recent trans-Pacific flight with their friendliness, helpfulness and responsiveness—even though I had two big flight delays and they couldn’t tell me where my luggage was for 12 hours. The thing I liked was that, in general, they didn’t keep the passengers in the dark, wondering what was happening and why. Even when they couldn’t find my luggage, they didn’t pretend it was somehow not their fault or put me off with BS non-answers like a few airlines I know (I’m talking to you, British Airways!). Bad communication and arrogant disregard for customer concerns is the worst. We all know that bad things can happen when you fly, and it’s nice to be treated like an adult human being instead of an uppity lab rat. Going back to the dental surgery analogy, Air Canada would be the dentist who would tell you exactly how much it would hurt beforehand, then do what was possible to make you as comfortable as possible; British Airways would be the dentist who’d pretend it would just hurt a little, then prescribe a stiff upper lip and no painkillers while you writhed in agony with a mouthful of blood. Where do you call home? It’s Shanghai’s French Concession for now—an old walkup in a great part of the city. I got married here and have a two-year-old girl who was born here. I’m originally from the American Midwest (born in St. Louis, raised in Kansas City, college and graduate school in Missouri and Iowa) but I was in New York for six years before coming to China and lived for stints in Berlin, the US Virgin Islands and southern Mexico. Our part of Shanghai feels like a great New York neighborhood in a number of ways. You can find almost anything you want within a few blocks of home, you’re connected to the subway, and just sitting and watching the world go by is enormously entertaining. It’s kind of like a weird mashup of Soho, Chelsea and Chinatown (of course) but affordable—lots of great little restaurants (of all kinds), boutiques, galleries and parks. What is the farthest you have been from home? That’s a tricky one, since I feel kind global at the moment. Spiritually, I have to say that generic American suburbs make me feel like an alien—I can’t get with the culture of driving everywhere, living in a cheaply built but expensive (well, expensive before the housing market meltdown) house that looks like all the other houses on your cul-de-sac, and shopping and dining at big-box stores and megachains. I’ve felt way more at home in Berlin, Mexico City, New York and Shanghai than in American suburbs just 20 miles from where I went to high school. I love the energy, diversity and unpredictability of big cities (not that I don’t also love being in the middle of a remote forest or on a beach far from civilization… but at some point, you want to order in decent pizza or sushi, right?). What is the most beautiful place you have ever been? Another tough one. A deserted Magen’s Bay on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for a night swim when the water was full of bioluminescent plankton that glowed green-white whenever the water around them was disturbed is way up there. You’d swim underwater and thousands of little stars streamed from your fingertips; you’d jump off a yacht into the bay and light exploded all around you. Tulum, Mexico, is hard to beat, too—amazing Mayan ruins overlook one of the nicest beaches on the planet and you can take it all in from a hammock in a palapa that you pay next to nothing for. Would you observe the five second rule in the streets of Shanghai? My two-year-old daughter does, and she’s healthy as can be! But I pretty much leave anything edible that hits the pavement for one of Shanghai’s street cats. What is your favorite Chinese dish? Oh, pretty much anything on the endangered species list that will increase my virility and keep my joints limber. Tigers are especially good. And pandas. But seriously, that’s another hard one. I love what China’s done with the soybean—I never realized how many types of dofou there were and how delicious it could be. I’m pretty partial to málà dòufu or anything 麻辣 (málà) with that great tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper in it. Spicy hotpot is probably the best—as much for its great social side as for the fun of cooking your own ingredients. Back to the endangered species thing—big props to Yao Ming for campaigning against shark’s fin soup. He’s making it easy for know-it-all preachy Westerners like me to point out that killing and consuming rare animals is wrong, wrong, wrong. Except for pandas, because they’re just too delicious, of course—and they totally cure dandruff. Do you collect key cards from hotels you’ve stayed at? Do you steal the shampoo? Nope to the key cards. I’ll take some travel shampoo with me. Is that stealing? It’s such a moral gray area…. I do try to eat as much as possible at the breakfast buffet, however, and I’ve been known to slip a pastry or two into my bag for later. If airplanes could be filled with anything for you to sit/lay on what would it be? Beanbags, of course. If you could have a private bus, helicopter, plane, or spaceship, which would you choose? Why? Well, a bus would be best. A tricked-out hybrid retrofitted 1960s model VW Camper that I could drive from Shanghai to Lisbon, say, with my family on an intercontinental tour.
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