03 Feb Shanghai is amazing
Shanghai is amazing. From the moment I left the airport, I had fallen in love with this city. With 23 million people in this one incredible city there is always something cool to do or see, and yet I have never felt overwhelmed. The transfer from the airport to the hotel was great, really convenient, Will (the Program Director) found me straight away and we left with a few others, who we all instantly made friends with. When arriving at the hotel we met almost all the other interns. We have had the smallest group of interns arrive over the winter so far. The 12 of us all get along really well and are like a family here. The first day was great and really well organized. We were checked into our rooms and then had some free time so we went out exploring for a tailor to get some suits made. Unfortunately the tailor we had found which was not in the fabric market was extremely expensive and due to Chinese New Year couldn’t make the suits for a few weeks. We then continued to explore the city, getting lost a few times and finally returning to the hotel. Later on we all went to dinner together down the road from the hotel. As expected the food in Shanghai is amazing and dinner here was no exception. The welcome dinner was not only great food but was it was really nice to meet all the coordinators for the program and become close with the other interns. After dinner the previous interns took us all to a Chinese nightclub called Phebe, which was great fun.
The location of the hotel is pretty great as well. We are about a five minute walk to a metro stop and massive shopping mall. The metro here works so well and is extremely straightforward; it is definitely the easiest way to get around the city. We are also only a 15-20 minute walk from what is meant to be the best coffee in Shanghai. Another intern and myself went to test it out and was definitely reminded of being back at home in Sydney with a good coffee. However, the coffee in Shanghai is extremely expensive, almost $8AUD!
On our first weekend in Shanghai the new group of interns pretty much all stuck together. We had a venture out to the fabric market, which is a massive area of little stalls selling fabulous tailor made suits, jackets and shirts. The fabric market is a definite must when in Shanghai; it was a really cool place. Bartering at the market was great fun as well, and having a couple of people with us that can speak mandarin definitely helps when trying to get a discount. On Saturday night I hosted all the new interns in my hotel room and we had a big family night of ordered in food delivered to the door of our hotel. Food was great, extremely cheap and great company to make a great night which has now become a weekly occurrence; family night in. On Sunday we went out to the Bund to have a look at the amazing views of Pudong. Luckily for us we had perfect weather so we were able to get an incredible view of the beautiful city.
At the Bund when we were in our big group we had several Chinese people taking photos of us as if we were celebrities, which was pretty funny for all of us. After many photos taken by various different people we then continued on to dinner. Dinner was at an unbelievable Cantonese restaurant just around the corner from the busiest area in Shanghai. This meal was another welcome dinner organized by Absolute and the food was incredible, so of course we are going back again this week.
Despite having work to do for our internship there has been an incredibly large amount of spare time for all of the interns. The majority of this has been spent exploring areas like Pudong, Peoples Square, Nanjang road, the Bund, the French Concession and heaps more. All of which are not hard to get to from the hotel at all and are all so different from each other and you can see the different international influences around the city.
What has been most amazing in the trip so far is the cultural difference between Australia and Shanghai. This is especially prominent at this time as we are here over the entire Chinese New Year period. It is very eerie to see a busy city of 23 million people almost completely disappear into a ghost town. Many shops and restaurants and markets are all shut. There are fireworks being sold on the street and set off all of the roads at all hours of the day over the entire 7-day holiday period.
Overall the first week here has been an amazing experience. I have completely fallen in love with this city and am extremely excited to see more parts of the country and further explore Shanghai in the next few weeks.