I am in Shanghai this week for work and it’s been fantastic. I have learned a ton about our local business environment in Asia generally, and China specifically. I have also heard about and experienced the Great Firewall – very interesting.
The flight over actually went great – 12 hours to Tokyo and then another 3 to Shanghai, but the 12 leg was not nearly as bad as I thought I would be. I sat next to a very cool, young Japanese couple. Yumi-san gave me some Japanese lessons and she and Kanai-san shared thoughts on life in Tokyo which was fascinating. Kanai-san is a screenwriter for a weekly Japanese TV show and had some interesting stories that he wrote up for his show. They very graciously invited me to stop by their house, but my layover was nowhere near long enough. Some day, but not this trip…
Shanghai is huge and fascinating. My hotel is in the Pudong area, as is the main office. But I also visited an office near Puxi and the contrast was amazing. My host has been getting me out in the evenings and helping me navigate the wild mix of food. I assumed but never realized the extent to which Chinese food is in Americanized in the States – I mean sour jellyfish and smoked goose livers??!! For the record, they were both great… everything is served family style, but I’m devouring it like it was just my order!
Getting around Shanghai is a breeze. There are train lines which I haven’t needed to use yet, and taxis are everywhere and cheap. You can ride clear across town for just a few US dollars. There are tons of bikes, electric bikes, and scooters – with dedicated commuter lanes. Very cool to see such a bike-friendly community. I am self-conscious taking photos of people in public, but need to start getting shots of the variety – I have seen a family of four riding on a scooter like a Shanghai mini-van, vendors hauling goods and people in 3-wheeled bikes with a pick-up style bucket in the back, and people hauling more stuff than I have hauled in my car tied down on the mini-rack over the back wheel. I love it!
But the days have been long. We have been working well into the evening at the office, then going out from there to take in Shanghai. For some reason – don’t know if it’s latent jet lag, my enthusiasm for being here, or just being hopped up from free tea all day long – I am still not sleeping well, and wake up extremely early but don’t feel as exhausted as I would think. At any rate, I’m not going to be taking time to blog this trip as much as I had planned – the action will be micro-blogged over at flickr and YouTube, so check those out if you want to play along at home.
UPDATE:How ironic – Simon is in China right now, too!