Thursday, 18 October 2012

One Week Ago...

One week and one day ago, Sam and I upped sticks from our comfortable life in London, where we were surrounded by friends and family, acquainted with our local area and happy in our jobs... and jumped on a plane to Shanghai.

A pretty big step, most would agree. But, we were ready for a challenge...

We were lucky that Sam's company had done a lot of the hard work for us - our hotel accommodation was provided for the first month, our flights were booked, and we already had a list of people to get to know. Still, that didn't stop (a lot!) of tears, nerves and excited butterflies consuming us for most of the 11 hour flight (between a small amount of time spent sleeping and a large amount of time spent listening to the drunk couple in front of us discuss how they were going to use their business to take over the world!).

One week ago, we arrived in Shanghai. To the huge, bustling, intriguing city of Shanghai. Did I say it was huge? Everything is huge - the number of people, the number of buildings, the height of buildings... are all huge. On the way in from the airport, you feel like you've entered the city almost immediately. And you have - but you're still a good 45 minutes outside of the 'centre' because the city is that big. I guess with a population of 23 million this shouldn't come as a surprise - but it's hard to comprehend that figure before you see how it translates. Our hotel is no exception - casually placed on the 25th floor, we're no way near the top. And the view out the window is sky scraper after sky scraper. 

One of many Gucci's near our hotel -
we live somewhere in the top left hand corner!
There's also an incredible contrast between rich and poor. Again, something you generally come to expect in most cities, only this is to the extreme. There's block upon block of run down towers, with laundry airing from the balconies, and through lower level windows you can see small rooms stacked high with mattresses where presumably numerous members of the family sleep. Contrast that with the most number of luxury designer brands I have ever seen in one place (including The Village at Westfield!) and you see my point. There's Gucci shops 20 metres down the road from each other. Rolex, Cartier, Chanel, Prada, Miu Miu, Tom Ford - you name it and you will find it here. And not just one shop. You can be pretty sure that within a mile radius there's at least two other branches of the same brand. 

Break off from the main, heavily Westernised streets, and the other half of the city is apparent again. These side streets resemble much more of the Shanghai I had in my mind before we arrived. Street food stalls (which we've tried, and more importantly, survived!), clothes shops galore and many other weird and wonderful windows stocking all sorts of different things. Shopping is definitely not going to be a problem!

One week ago, we didn't have any idea about where we would live, own a local phone or computer, have any experience of the 'The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel' (which may have been for the best!) or speak a word of Mandarin. We've since achieved all these things and more... although the latter may still need just a tiny bit of work..! We've visited The Bund, People's Square, the French Concession, Pudong (and been up to the 91st floor of the 'bottle opener'), Jing'an, the Old Town and Yu Yuan Gardens, and lots of bits in between.

For those that are intrigued - this is a shot
from The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
A classic shot of the Pudong skyline - the bottle opener
is the tallest building on the right with a hole in it

There's definitely still plenty to do - it feels like we've only touched a tiny surface area of the city (which I'm sure is actually the case). We're hearing about new districts, new foods, new sights and attractions, new restaurants and clubs, new modes of transport... to try everyday. So that's exactly what we'll be doing. 

We'll keep you posted on how we get on!!

(Real pics to follow... we left our camera lead back in London!)

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