It is time for me to pack my bags and leave China. I have a 12 hour flight ahead…
It has been an amazing trip. And it is difficult to try and convey on my blog what I thought. But I will try!
Shanghai is just a mad place. Big, brash, noisy and full of beans. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but latterly as I found more of the City I grew to like it. Xintiandi, The Old Town and the Bund all have some historical context- Pudong is more modern and has some fantastic architecture. The Cloud 9 bar on the 88th floor of The Jinmao Tower is incredible (as is the taller World Trade Centre next door at 101 floors), but when the next skyscraper gets built it will be 150 stories – nearly 50% higher again. I saw the WTC in cloud more than once – so the new building will have interesting views.
The Expo conference was interesting and there were some great speakers – some real food for thought. But the Expo itself left me wondering what it was all about. I was glad, though, that the UK Pavilion was not an embarrassment to us! It was utterly brilliant – fun, quirky and inexplicable. I like that! Some of my Luddite friends will think it a nonsense. But they are just a bit off the pace?
Then Ningbo was much better than I expected it to be. It is different; smaller scale, but fiercely ambitious. The new town they will build is going to be huge. The University Campus is something we can be proud to be part of. The Chinese people are.
The food has been excellent throughout my trip. The Government Banquet in Ningbo was a real experience, but other Chinese meals have been good too. I am not entirely sure what I have been eating sometimes. But ‘when in Rome’? Dumplings are very nice! And the tomato is a fruit – eaten with melon for pudding! The snacks I had one night I later discovered had eyes – it was a good job we were eating in the dark!
I have seen some strange sights – live food at the side of the road is never going to catch on in the UK!
The heat and humidity are energy sapping. And I was told it was quite cool when I was here – it regularly reaches 40 degrees. 95% humidity is not unusual – especially in Ningbo. It can be decidedly unpleasant.
Transport is easier than I thought it would be. Taxi fares are incredibly cheap – my average fare for a 15 minute trip was £1.50. The tube is even cheaper – 30p or 40p a ride. The Maglev from the airport is fantastic; the bridge across from Shanghai to Ningbo is an amazing engineering feat.
I have made some new friends along the way, both in the Public and Private sector – and both English and Chinese.
Sadly, my Chinese speaking is no better than it was at the start of the week. But this was partly that we had some excellent translators for the week! Jessica and Meadow from Nottingham City Council were brilliant – at least I think they were! I shall never know – although we never go thrown out of anywhere when they were around.
Would I come back? – Yes definitely.
Would I recommend it? – Yes definitely.
But you have to get off the beaten track – much like most places, the tourist traps are the same. But the real China can be found – and it is only just beneath the skin. And when you find it, it is great. It is not repressed as far as I can see, but I was in a very Westernised part of the Country.
And if I could sum up the attitude of this place, I would steal (on their behalf) the old Nike slogan “Just Do It”! That should do nicely!