Tuesday, January 05, 2010

more on Shanghai

First thing:

I notice that some people are commenting and/or sending responses to me. 

Unfortunately, facebook is one of the sites currently blocked by the Great Firewall of China. 

I have a method of posting & updating my notes here, and I can see if there are comments, unfortunately it is difficult for me to reply directly. Forgiveness please.

Anyway - this trip is going okay thusfar.

I'm struck by how modern most of Shanghai is; once you get past the difference in language and urban density compared with the US, it doesn't feel particularly foreign. 

Did the first commute from where I'm staying to the office; after a 10-minute walk to the train station (and then I stopped for breakfast at Starbucks), it took around an hour to get to the office via the subway.

Rode two stops, switched lines, rode for ~10 more stops, then exited, caught a bus, rode for ~10 minutes, then was there.

8:30 am is prime rush hour; you're truly swept up in a sea of humanity that half pushes you along at a fixed rate as one shuffles out of the train into the escalator that takes you to the level where one walks to the next train.

Kept things in my front pockets and my bag well in front of me.

The office is in a large, but non-descript office park on the newer side of town. Not a lot of small shops around in walking distance...just more office complexes.

One of my co-workers has a car, we drive ~5 minutes or so to an area that has a few little restaurants. The food is decent and priced for working people....individual meals are usually between 10 - 12 RMB (so under $2). 

Work is busy, though slow...not a lot of new projects coming in, so I get to focus on training...but at some point I know I can't just talk at people, they need to be doing things too. So adjusting to that; have to put my manager hat back on and start thinking of projects & tasks in the sense of delegating rather than simply just getting them done myself.

Didn't do anything too crazy last night as I was pretty exhausted. Had some beer. And wings. 

Sorry to say it, but my first dinner in China this trip was at Hooters Shanghai...(friend was taking client out, invited me to come along, client insisted on western fare) They did serve wings that were very spicy in the Sichuan style - my stomach took its revenge on me this morning. Comparing Hooters in Shanghai to the US locations (not that I go all the time) - well...it's safe to say that in Shanghai there's clearly a lot more Chinese women working than at the US locations. Service was with a smile. 

I will do my best to stick with Chinese food for the rest of the trip - this excludes breakfast though, as a lot of restaurants aren't open until 9 or 10 in the morning. Breakfast options tend to be focused around convenience store food, some street vendors if you can find them, and some bakeries. I could cook at home if I bothered to get ingredients.

The ever-declining US dollar vs the RMB is causing some minor havoc on my internal understanding of pricing here...I was used to the ~1 USD : 8.2 RMB fixed rate of my student years, but now the rate is more like 1 USD to 6.8 RMB. Not a devestating change, but it feels like prices are creeping up.

Shanghai is one of the most expensive cities in China; rents here do seem pretty high compared with what I remember in other locations. One could probably live fairly economically if one made the effort to do so, but it seems clear that in other cities you could get a lot more for your yuan than you could here. I guess large-scale urbanization in a tight space tends to push prices upward.

Anyway, that's about it for now. Will try for some more adventures.

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