Believe it or not, Shanghai is no doubt a magic city, a city that contains various cultures, and a city that combines history. After 1843 when Shanghai was appointed to set up concessions for some foreign countries including UK, France, and the United States, Shanghai experienced rapid growth. Today, Shanghai is one of the biggest economic and financial centers in the world. On Jan 14 and 15, I had some chance to explore the west side and the east side of the Huangpu River with my friends.
The west band of the river is the Bund. It was completely late 1800s and early 1900s style. Regardless the busy streets filled with cars, you feel it that time seems to have been frozen here. The heavy metal gates are still standing at the front entrances of those magnificent bank buildings, as if they never left, still shining and well-polished.
The east side, the Pudong New District, was more modern and fancy. Lots of skyscrapers. Shanghai Tower, the world’s third-tallest megatall skyscraper, is 632 meters (2,073 ft) tall. However, we didn’t have an opportunity to get onto its observation deck on level 121 (561 meters) because it was closed by the time we arrived there.
Instead of going to the Shanghai Tower, we went to Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), the second tallest building in Shanghai. We managed to get onto level 87 which is a hotel’s lobby. The sight on level 87 was tremendous! Looking from the 87th floor, we could clearly see the river and the Bund lying in the dark. Standing in the building, The sight inspired me with some ambitions about my life and career.
The last picture was taken at the Bund by Isaac, my brother. I call it Time Machine, because the classic style of the Bund and the modern style of the Pudong New District are both displayed on this picture at the same time which gave me a feeling of travelling on a time machine.
I have seen many things and learned many things during this trip to China. I was able to come away with something unique from each city that we visited.
In Beijing, I saw (and inhaled) the air pollution and learned of its sources and health implications.
(In front of the forbidden city with a gray smog sky)
In Shanghai, I saw excellent examples of lean manufacturing and learned why it is crucial in industry.
(Students and Professors studying the steering system of a vintage car at GM Shanghai)
In Hangzhou, I saw a foreign company combining forces with the Chinese government and learned about the intricacies of joint ventures.
(Photo from our visit at Nokia in Hangzhou. Nokia is currently working with the Chinese government)
And finally, in Nanjing, I saw a mammoth Mausoleum and learned about China’s Revolution.
(Mausoleum of Chinese revolution leader Zhongshan)
Each city was unforgettable in its own way and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go on this trip.
Throughout this month. I learned a lot of things. I learned about China’s business, culture, and Christianity.
The businesses in China we visited are mainly US companies and only some local companies. It is hard for a US business to grow in China because of government regulations. That is why, they need to have a joint venture with a local company in order to establish the government relationship. I also learned that due to China’s rapid economic development, it causes issues to the environment, making China one of the most poluted country in the world. China is still trying to fix this issue (e.g. electric cars).
Then, some of the culture between Chinese and Americans. Chinese people are more indirect in their culture (even though their language is very direct). In the US, people are used to being direct in coveying their messages. Also, the Chinese is a more together society whereas the US is a more individualistic society.
As for Christianity, it is easier to be a Christian and live out your faith in China compared to Indonesia, my home, because Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world whereas here, the government doesn’t really care about religion as long as it doesn’t interupt the government. But as for Churches, it is hard to establish a Church. It needs to be approve by the government with strick regulations. The one that got approve may only preach shallow sermon. That is why there are unofficial church (a.k.a. underground churches) that also preached the Gospel.
Overall, through the businesses, I can see that God can use business to spread the Love of God. Although inderectly, other people can see God through the people who live their life according to the word of God. Only God can change a nation to be good in their moral values as well as advancing.
We finally finish visiting approximately 16 companies. I feel sad that it’s over yet also relieve because I am finally able to relax a bit. However, my thought of relaxing today failed. I ended up spending much more energy than I have to. I spent 6 hours on the road using bike today.
Earlier this morning, I decided to not go anywhere. However, some friends asked whether I want to go on a bike ride around Xihu lake or not. At first my decision is no. But I thought to myself that this is an opportunity to explore China. I am a person who likes to try new things. So I decided to go. There is a total of 11 people that came with me (including myself). I then rushed to my room and woke my cousin up. In 20mins, we went down to meet the others and left in the hotel.
Apparently, there were only 4 bikes available in the hotel. So 3 of the girls and 1 boy rode the bike from the hotel. I joined the rest and walked to near the lake to find bike rentals. We tried to use the public government bike, but we need to deposit 300 yuan. Luckily, there is a lady that leads us to a sketchy alley and rent us bikes, 30 yuan per bike for a whole day (with a 500 yuan deposit). We then took that deal.
A long the road, we had some unexpected incidents. A couple bikes broke and we need to borrow a wrench from a random bike seller. We lost 2 people from the group and no cellular data to contact them. And we reached the hotel at 4pm. I rest until it was time for dinner with the group. We learned about the environment during the group dinner.
After dinner, I decided to buy QQ Milk drink. I was about to head back to the hotel but one of the professor met us and ask us to go to the musical fountain. We are not sure whether it’s open or not, but we decided to go. As we reached the place, people starting to leave. The show was over. So then we bought milk tea and go back to the hotel.
It was a tiring day. However, I was able to see the architecture of Hangzhou’s famous lake.
Its the 17th day of January and today we went to a noodle shop in Hangzhou,Isaac and Luke’s hometown. The group decided to go for a walk and I stayed behind in the noodle shop because I was a bit tired. Upon sitting there, I noticed something interesting…”Women shoes”. For almost every female that walked in,they had platforms underneath their everyday shoes. With this type of shoe design,the platforms were on the same level and had the same measurement from the toe to the sole of the feet. It was just interesting to me because I had never seen this in the States.
I dont know if its used as a chance to make the women taller because Chinese women are generally known to be short.
But whateverthe reason, it sure is a fashion trend here in China and in Asia as a whole.
We had some free time on Saturday and almost the whole group decided to go check some historical and notable places in Shanghai. A group of us went to the Yu garden, The South Bund and the Urban Development Museum. We are currently in the biggest city in the world and so decided to make the best use out of it. At the museum, we saw the whole layout of Shanghai. We also saw the future plans the government had for the city.
We had dinner at the Yu garden and finally went down to the Bund to see the breath taking view of the city. 🙌🙌🙏🙏
Food is a huge part of the Chinese culture and I was so excited to try many different foods for the first time in my life. Eating here is used as an opportunity to build or create and maintain relationships.For most of us,we finally got the opportunity to try authentic Chinese food and it was as exciting as it sounded. We ate foods like Beijing duck,lamb head,”maqiu”,river fish, different kinds of noodles, shrimp,seaweed and scorpions among others. Every part of China deals with mostly the same ingredients and cooking styles but different foods…Apparently the people of Shanghai have more of a sweet tooth and the people in Beijing deal with a wide range. The Schezuan people eat spicy food due to the weather there. As a tourist in China,I am delighted to have the opportunity to taste such wonderful foods and I am sure my group is too.😊
January 15. I guess it’s my turn to do the mandatory blog. For today, I got the chance to sleep in. I woke up at 8am today and wanted to eat breakfast. But, as usual, my cousin hasn’t woke up yet. So then I do random stuffs while waiting. We end up going down at 9:30am and eat breakfast at the hotel.
Then I went to Yuyuan garden again (I went there yesterday night). I say it is much more beautiful at night with all the lights. I bought chinese decorated ties for 10元 each. At 2012 I also bought these ties. I am going give it to some of my friends as souvenirs. However, fhe main reason I went back to Yuyuan garden is to buy a bag for my friend back at Grand Rapids. I then got my souvenirs, bag, and lunch there.
But then, I and some other people from Calvin need to standby at the hotel at 2:30PM to gather to go to church. We finished lunch at 1:50PM. So then we rushed back to the train station. Then after riding the train, we ran from the station to the hotel. Sprained my foot on the way.
Not surprisingly, after running to the hotel, we were to go back to the subway again because the church requires us to use the subway. We then go to the Church. I love the praise and worship as well as the sermon about Jonas. One of the main idea of the sermon is that God loves everybody and we should love others. We should not take it for granted the love of God because we all should have been punished for our sins. But God gave Jesus so that we can be worthy for the Father. Jesus is our eternal priest and sacrifice.
To end the day, we had a group dinner with one of the speaker at Nexteer and his family. We at a Thai food restaurant. A lot of familiar food same as in my hometown, Indonesia. We had some discussion about the tarrif system between US and China. After dinner, I went home to rest my sprained leg. Regardless of that, I had lots of fun!
The Shangnao is one of the first musical instrument to use the “octave” (do re mi fa sol la si do).
A few of us visited the natural history museum during our afternoon free time in Beijing. It is one of the largest building I’ve ever been into. The museum displays artifacts since the ancient times in China.
The shangnao bell captured my attention because it was made during the Shang dynasty, approximately in the 14th century BC. It is interesting to know that the Chinese had such sophisticated musical instrument since a long time ago.
Another artifact that captures my attention is this jade ship. The details given to make this thing is impressive.
Ship made of jade.
Along with the interesting artifacts, the museum did great in explaining about China’s history. We didn’t have enough time to explore all sections of the museum, but we did learn a lot and enjoyed our visit.
Warning: it is about to get artsy. Probably more in the vein or marketing, so hopefully this won’t be too much of a change within the wonderful writings of business and engineering heads. I wanted to talk about one observation I have so far about China from a graphic design/brand perspective.
China has a interesting relationship with its past. Their traditional styles are reflected in designs on buildings and in logos, advertising new clothes, expensive perfumes or KFC sandwiches. Especially in Beijing, where history, government and commerce meet, the classical Chinese look seems obligated to be invited to the party. I cannot determine if this is an unnecessary vice-grip on the past or an unspoken earmark written into China’s design culture. This unique sense of style also seems to be mixed with western ads featuring beautiful Scandinavian men with flowing hair holding a lambs in the Irish countryside. So as China wrestles with balancing governmental, cultural, economic, and environmental issues, what style will emerge? Will classical Chinese design be modernized? These are questions that I will continue to be asking as I am here, but also as Chinese design culture continues to mature.
Photo taken by me! Forbidden Palace in Beijing