Shanghai - The Winterim Begins

Trip Start Dec 29, 2005
Trip End Aug 20, 2006

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Once again, mid-flight from Singapore to India I finally get a chance to write. I hope this letter finds you all well.

Shanghai was another painfully fun and interesting stop. In fact, I hope to live there for some amount of time. Looking through the pics you can probably see that though Shanghai is similar to Hong Kong in a lot of ways, there were definitely some differences. One difference that was nice is that Mandarin and short-form characters are standard as opposed to Cantonese and traditional characters. I tried to squeeze in as much practice as possible, mainly with shopkeepers and cab drivers. We kept very busy with meetings and really didn't have the time to explore that we wanted.

Nearly all the downtown buildings were built in the past several years, so the main city area looked very modern - even futuristic. We were told there was a contest among architects for creativity in skyscraper designs. I mentioned the neon, right? Our professor mentioned that when she started flying into town, probably 20-30 years ago, she had to find her bags within a stack of luggage in the dirt. Quite a contrast to the current state-of-the-art airport and facilities.

The first stop was the Shanghai Museum, which included stamps, art, furniture, ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, etc. Afterwards, while attempting to cross the street in an underground walkway, we ran into a large but unmarked (at least as far as I saw) underground mall area with restaurants and all types of shops. We then continued on to walk down the brightly lit Nanjing Street to the famous Bund. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds signs were everywhere and not far from a large Chairman Mao statue. Before long, we were very tired of street salesmen and shopkeepers grabbing our arms and jumping in front of us to tell about their watches, DVDs, and other copied goods. The entrepreneurial spirit and business drive is more than robust, even downright aggressive at times. With the booming economy and still lack of detailed regulations and the enforcement thereof, some now refer to China as the Wild, Wild East.

The only other touring time we got was on the last day, which was totally free. We visited an amazing temple area that seemed straight out of a drawing. I had no idea temples like that actually existed. The surrounding area was a huge market in traditional-style Chinese buildings. We bargained and chatted with salespeople for hours. Funny how on the way out the door after negotiating price they are complaining about your being a "thief" (pianren) for talking them down on price. This was very similar to a night market we checked out during the week. One very Chinese site was an old building that was indicated to have been a meeting place for the China Youth Communist League.

On the business side, our group met with some high-level executives for presentations, including the President of Nu Skin China, and an Intel exec, both of whom showed us around their facilities. A US Chamber of Commerce agent gave a rundown on the local business environment and US exports. We also met with some Jiaotong University MBA students and T-bird alumni. Several u-turns performed in regular street intersections by our large bus brought us to the brilliantly designed China-Singapore Industrial Park in Suzhou, where a government official explained the significance and future of the park. In Hangzhou, the famous garden city, we visited a billionaire working on various high tech projects like citywide wireless internet access. Also, a top-notch supply chain group who is a huge part of Asia's economic growth gave an awesome rundown on the area and it's future.

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russchid on

Re: first comment posted by Super Jamie!
Haha, good to know... He sure looked like Chairman Mao! I think I'll go back and double-check now that I'm here again.

russchid on

Re: Re: first comment posted by Super Jamie!
I stand corrected... not Chairman Mao.

Thanks Jamie!

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