This morning we were greeted to an early wake-up call for our bus ride over to the airport. After a quick breakfast, we loaded up our two buses and were on our way.
The flight from Beijing to Shanghai was close to two hours, so not too bad of a trip. Once we landed in Shanghai, we could notice a big difference from what we had seen in Beijing. Wheras Beijing has been built up a lot for the Olympics, and much of the infrastructure was brand new, Shanghai had more of an older look to it, mixed in with many new skyscrapers that line the center of the city.
Our bus ride from the Shanghai airport was great; our tour guide for the week was a former chinese opera star and acted as if he were on stage the whole ride to the hotel (this week is shaping up to be pretty entertaining). Wheras we were in a brand new hotel in Beijing, the Shanghai one is a little bit older, but overall good for a hotel its size. The location is great; we are within walking distance to many of the main parts of town (however we learned that Shanghai land wise is the size of the state of Deleware and has the population of the state of Texas, so there is a lot to this city!).
After dropping off our bags, we meet up with Francis 'Chip' Peters, Commercial Officer, United States Consulate General Shanghai. Mr. Peters presentation focused on the US Commerce Department, and how they are involved with aiding companies with business operations in China. Mr. Peters covered a range of topics; everything from the import/exports business to the manufacturing facilities lining the cities around Shanghai. Having worked in the intermodal side of a freight railroad in the US, I was very interested in this discussion, because Chip Peters brought up many topics (such as how the port of Shanghai is one of the largest in the world) that I had been hearing about for years.
The afternoon was on our own, and we wandered the streets of Shanghai to see the sites. Again, I could see a big difference in this city compared to Beijing. It feels more like China here, with much more of the traditional shops and alleys that one associates with China. Even though I had been hearing that Shanghai is much more international than Beijing, I still get the sense that the Olympics propelled Beijing to the point that it is much more inviting to Westerners. It is still early in the trip, so it will be interesting to see if my view of the city changes as the week goes on.
I am heading out to dinner with a group of students, so I am looking foward to seeing the Shanghai night life.