Friday, 4 May 2012

As you may recall, I lived in Shanghai for six weeks last December, and I previously wrote about how I was unaccustomed to the spitting that the locals did not seem to have a problem with.

But of course, there are other aspects of life in China.

Before arriving, I was aware that while China is rapidly developing, and that Shanghai is the wealthiest state, I also read that Shanghai is a city that balances the mega-rich and modern with more traditional aspects of Chinese life. But I suppose when you mention Shanghai, you think about the skyscrapers, the modern technological advances.

I was awed the first time I was on that elevated roundabout- it was SO high up, and yet SO big and round! 

But there's also certain areas that brought forth other impressions of China. There are underdeveloped areas in Shanghai, and some where it's just Chinese- you don't see tall buildings, you don't see modern constructions, just busy streets and lots of people. I came across many such places during my stay there, but it never occurred to me to take pictures, and I can't seem to find any online, either.

And the people are also dramatically different.

In the city, you have wealthy people who use every opportunity possible to flaunt their money, be it on clothes, gadgets, or accessories. But on the other hand, you do have people who struggle to make ends meet, who still buy clothes that are not designer brands.

I found it easier to communicate with the rich, too- they're more likely to have received English classes. And I suspect they also saw it as a 'cool' thing, that being able to speak English makes them more Western, modernised and cool. Of course, I still laugh at their English because it still sounds horrendous to me.

Robert Pattinson's wax figure in Madame Tussauds Shanghai

The Shanghai people are really busy, too. In case you didn't know, I went there on an internship, and so worked in the marketing department of an F&B company. It was the peak time to sell their products (Chinese New Year), and I saw pitifully how the employees there basically work non-stop- day in and day out, they just... worked. Many in the team even got sick while I was there, and I myself had a fever once, then a terrible cold that lasted weeks.

I just couldn't believe how these people could do this constantly. I knew immediately that Shanghai will never be a place that I will work or live in. There is no work-life balance there and they demand so much from you. I can only hope this is reflected in the salary.

And the one thing that I hated the most was the lack of heating. Over here in Australia, you can be assured of being warm indoors. There, with the weather being even colder than Australia, you would think that they would have better heating, but no, they simply used the air-con heating, which blows hot air out but is otherwise useless in heating a room up- after awhile you just feel like you're burning up, and if you step away from the heater you're freezing again. It's quite unlike the heaters here, which I prefer. And the people there seem to be able to tolerate it- to them, wearing winter jackets indoors is normal.

My company there were a few Indonesians who were of Chinese origin, and through talking to them I gathered that they all enjoyed life in China and do want to work there. This I couldn't understand, because having been in Australia, I find that life here is so much better. Heck, even life in Malaysia seems less demanding and stressful than Shanghai. But they actually liked it there, and one who have been to Melbourne think it's boring.

Singing Communist songs (I'm assuming it praises the Communist Party of China)

Most things were expensive, too. It's just so hard to find decent items that are reasonably priced, everything was just expensive and I had to constantly think about price.

There are nicer facets of life in Shanghai, too. The public transport was ultra-efficient. I never had to look at a timetable, because a train is always just minutes away, and I could just hop on (or squeeze in). Taxis were everywhere and you can get one easily. And best of all, taxi drivers knew every single road in Shanghai. I never had to show them a map, I just needed to tell them a road, or a landmark, and they could bring me there. Another upside is that taxis are one of the few things that are cheap!

Perhaps I'll write more about Shanghai soon. I've a couple of ideas, so we'll see how that turns out!
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