Playing Tourist: Shanghai – Part 2

Yes, the part 2 that I have constantly been asked for is finally here. I know it took a while, but the length of this, coupled with my schedule is a clear indication of why it did. In Part 1, I ended it off with our trip to Miracle Dynasty Fine Bone. Now, I’m starting this post with perhaps my favourite part of the trip: visiting the Water Town in Wuzhen.

When we got to the Water Town, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think I ever thought that “water towns” were even a thing. However, they were, and this place was very popular. The minute we got there we were walking through a sea of people, and the place was so large that we had to be driven on golf carts to get around to different parts of the town. Now, if you’re from Turks & Caicos, the best way for me to describe the layout of the Water Town, is to say that it’s a lot like Beaches. Once you pass through the gate, it’s like a completely different world: a whole other community within a community.

At Wuzhen, not only did I get to appreciate the natural beauty within China, but I got to delve deeper into Chinese history (and as someone who regularly visits museums for fun, you know I thoroughly enjoyed this). I learned about the centuries old tradition of creating indigo-dyed cloth, got to watch all the stages it takes to make silk products, plus visit museums on the old Chinese practice of foot binding and on traditional Chinese marriages (the photos from this museum are directly below).

I would have to say that my favourite thing that I learnt about was the creation of silk products. Though I did know that the true creator of silk was the silk worm, I never fully understood the process of it getting from worm to scarf. Seeing how they separate the worm from its silk cocoon and clean it was a mesmerising process. Also the process of taking the silk and then creating garments from it made me understand exactly why silk can be so expensive, because a lot of hard work goes into it.

I even have a video showing one of the hardest parts of the process, but I apologise for not being able to explain what was going on because even standing there and witnessing it, I still don’t know what was happening. However, what I do know is that the person at the top and the person at the bottom are in sync, and in order for something to happen at the bottom, something must happen at the top and vice versa.

The process even involves the person on the bottom using their feet. They would press down on bamboo sticks (kind of like an organ) for a reason that I think is to pull on the strings that are at the top of the whole contraption – I honestly don’t know. However, I have a video of that as well to give you guys an idea of it.

We had a very sweet tour guide who honestly was so funny, and one of the things that she said which stuck with me was that she thought it was so cool how as a big group of friends we were able to take a trip to Shanghai together. What was so crazy about that was at this point, we were only a week into this trip – just one week since we met each other – and yet people thought that we had been friends for years. In fact, when we told her that we only had just met one another recently, she was in total shock, but I think that spoke volumes on the kind of people that I was so blessed to have this experience with.

The following day, it was back to Shanghai, which at this point I was so tired that I didn’t want to do anything once I got there except eat and sleep. However, I was persuaded to do otherwise. My friend Mariama figured out pretty quickly that it doesn’t take much to convince me to go out and combine that with her and Holly knocking on my door for me to get up, I didn’t really have a choice. So, instead we went to the Shanghai AP Market where I really got to experience the act of bargaining. We visited this place so many times that it’s unbelievable, and we also got lost in it so many times, but what I must say is that I really had fun. There’s a weird adrenaline rush that comes upon you when you have to be back and forth with someone bargaining on a price, and after doing it multiple times, you begin to love doing it and get excited at going to another store to bargain some more. However, I must say that doing that is absolutely exhausting. Every time we went there, I always left that place feeling tired, drained and hungry. Yet, it was fun and I would most definitely do that again.

The day after we were back in class, which afterwards was when the project part of this summer school kicked. Of course, we had to prove that we learned something during our time in Shanghai. So we decided on getting into groups and creating posters and a presentation on different topics involving the culture, business and the commercialisation of Shanghai and the Water Town.

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Despite us being able to take the first week of adventuring around Shanghai into our own hands, we did do an “official” tour of the city together in our second week there. During this tour, we visited an old slaughter house (which is also called 1933 and known for its beautiful architecture), the Shanghai Museum and went back through my favourite area, West Nanjing Road. Moreover, we got to see the other end of West Nanjing Road where all the high end stores are (my heart skipped several beats as we drove past the Tiffany & Co. and Furla stores) and watch a Chinese acrobat show, which was breathtaking, to say the least.

We had to be up and in the lobby really early the next day for our second company visit to Baosteel, which is the second largest steel company in the world, and sits on the third largest river in the world (the largest river in China). I would be lying if I said that I ever thought that the creation of steel would be something interesting to see, however, I stayed open-minded and was shown that it is actually cool. For me, I think that the most interesting parts of the visit was being able to see the stages required to create the steel and to also learn how Baosteel attempts to create it’s products in the most environment-friendly way (apparently they use the least amount of water for a steel company in the world).

Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that I went on a trip with people who love to explore and go sightseeing. So, despite having a very early start that morning, we still wanted to explore the city at night. Before I even went on the trip, all I heard about was how I had to go to The Bund. As someone who once wanted to be an architect and is still very much in love with architecture, I must say, The Bund was absolutely breathtaking. Seeing the juxtaposition of modern architecture with Victorian-style architecture was something that seemed surreal. Being able to look one way, and then turn around and feel like you were in a completely different place was jarring to say the least. On the side where we stood, I felt as if Liverpool and Shanghai were more than just sister cities, but that they were twin cities and I was instantly reminded of the Liver Building.

If you recall from Part 1, I said that my university sent around 100 people to Shanghai for the experience of a lifetime, and with all those people in Liverpool’s sister city, it only made sense to have a Liverpool in Shanghai day. The entire day was dedicated to all the different faculties of John Moores who went to Shanghai to showcase what they learned, what they did and all the friendships we made with people from LJMU and SHNU across the two weeks we were there. There were so many different presentations that I apologise if I miss out any, but we had a fashion show, a skit, a Shakespeare re-enactment, a mini short film competition, a soccer game and a couple of presentations – one of which I was a part of!

The whole day was draining to say the least, but it was so worth it. We had so much fun bonding with each other and meeting students from other faculties. The soccer game was amazing and 3 of the guys from LBS played in it as well, so you know that everyone from my faculty were cheering so hard for them & if I’m not mistaken, I believe John Moores won that game too.

The day after was our closing ceremony and I think that was when it hit me that two weeks goes by really fast. Looking back on it now, it feels like it was seconds rather than weeks. At the closing ceremony they gave us certificates (I’m a sucker for certificates) and they asked us all to say our favourite part of the trip. Of course, this made me a bit emotional as we were now beginning the two-day process of saying “goodbye” to one another. I’m not even sure how I could adequately put in words the appreciation I have for LJMU and for the people that I got to share this experience with.

Due to the fact that I spent all of Saturday packing, sleeping and going to Charlie’s for the reward of a burger and sweet potato fries, we’ve now reached the end of my Shanghai trip.

I know I’ve said it already, but I have to say it again: I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities, the experiences and the friendships I got through this trip. I’m even more grateful because my application wasn’t even accepted initially, but by some twist of fate (shoutout to you, God) a space became available and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I must also show gratitude to everyone at LJMU and SHNU who made this possible, I know it could not have been an easy task doing something of this scale, but you guys really pulled it off. Also, a super big thanks to Bin, Angela, Emer & Sarah. Thank you for making sure we never got too reckless and for always pushing us to make the most of this Shanghai trip as long as we didn’t get drunk (which Bin steadily reminded us of). You guys were amazing and I feel lucky to have had you all as our “sorta-kinda chaperones.”

Finally, I must thank the people who I shared this experience with. I came into this slightly worried that I’d make no friends, but that I would surely try. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to try too hard at all. We all just clicked – and maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were going to be stuck with one another for two whole weeks, but becoming friends wasn’t hard at all. Our similarities and differences made us work well together & I genuinely hope that there’ll be a LBS Shanghai reunion at some point in time because I miss them so much.

Now, I promise that I’m actually done with this post and I believe that I’ve done my trip justice in my explanation. All in all, Shanghai was great and I’m currently working on learning more Chinese in the hopes that I can return there in my 3rd year to study abroad.

So wish me luck, and I wish you love, peace & happiness.

xox

the pink cheebra

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