As all the good things have to come to an end, my semester abroad will end on Thursday by a Chinese exam. This experience in Shanghai was incredible. There is a flabbergasting energy in this city that never sleeps. I met so much people from different way of life, lived countless experiences I could not have expected before. Finally, I changed a lot, as my habits and expectations did. I was very excited to go in Asia, and I discovered a culture which is so different that I thought. Each people I met will remain in my heart like a piece of who I am right now, everything I lived was so unspeakable. Living in this megalopolis can be a challenging experience, but it is definitely the best way to understand the world of nowadays.
Shanghai is the town that's tailored to you, you can get your favorite suit, dress, jeans, even your best gown copied here.The tailors at the South Bund Fabric will make anything you can dream up for a fraction of the designer price. Although Shanghai moves at a frenetic clip, there are still a few places where it is best to stroll at a more leisurely pace. The skyline is incredible and I think nobody can stop watching it - the Oriental Pearl Tower was the first building to define the Shanghai cityscape and it is irreplaceable. We could go on about the history of the Bund and how, even today, the city's most respected business, loved restaurant and infamous clubs all call the Bund home, but we don't need to. It's The Bund. Enough said.
There are so much things that make Shanghai the greatest city on this big planet of ours. Everyone should live here at one point in their life. There is no better city to experience the energy and complex rise of China.
ABOUT THE NEXT GOOD THINGS... LET'S GO TO:
I just can't wait to go on this trip that will hopefully help me to live this change of scene... Do the YinYang Festival on the Great Wall in Beijing, and then starting in Siem Reap to visit the enormous temple complex that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then Malaysia, Singapore and Bali: chill out on beautiful beaches, soak up stunning sunsets, swim under waterfalls, do a dolphin boat trip to all 3 Gili islands, snorkel with turtles... I can't wait for this amazing travel I have expected for so long, and I am pretty sure it would be the better way to end this incredible semester abroad. I am so grateful to everyone I met and made this experience so amazing, and can't wait for the next experiences abroad I will live - the best is yet to come...
P.S: As a reminder, CLICK HERE to see the picture gallery of my Shanghainese life
Obviously I have to write an article about 18 on the Bund, which is one of the most trendy spot in Shanghai.
At the 7th and last floor, you can find Bar Rouge. Its rooftop offers an incredible view on the Bund. More than a classic of night's scene, this is the place to go to grab some drinks and talking with friends, far from noisy Chinese nightclubs. The lounge mood is perfect after a dinner at Mr&Mrs Bund; a must seen!
Downstairs, on the 6th floor, there is the famous Mr&Mrs Bund restaurant. The view on the bund is incredible, and you can eat very tasty food with French wine. After 11:00 pm, they offer a 'Late dinner', with a dinner set at 50%. Twice per month, they organize a Bingo on Late Dinner; probably the only chance for students to go there because otherwise the bill remains very expensive, it is probably one of my most funny experience here; you are having dinner while paying attention to the screen where numbers appear, wondering to win some prices like a scooter or Apple smartphone.
Chinese hospitality is truly one of the most welcoming in the world and its rules are very interesting. For example, let's talk about Chinese social dinner ritual: the guests must be taken to a very expensive restaurant which has to be very huge. Then, the host will order a lot of dishes of Chinese food to share. These social dinners are wasteful to the point of absurdity, all to make sure that the hosts have sufficiently provided for their guests. Quite often, about half the food is left sitting on the table.
Then, Chinese businessmen often invite their hosts to KTVs. Here, the drinking begins and an unspoken system falls into place. If the waitress is attentive, she immediately refills everyone's glass when it becomes empty. At the end of the night, just when you feel relief at seeing the last bottle emptied, the host orders five more, and then also orders them opened at once. There's no going back because you can't waste a full bottle...
But what is a KTV? Actually, this is the Chinese word for karaoke. KTVs have private rooms where you book in with your friends or colleagues for a few hours of fun.But you have to be careful and ask first what is the minimum spending, or you might have a very expensive bill you can't afford, and they probably won't be very kind if you try to negotiate prices...
KTVs are a norm in China, and if you go there you must experience it. This a place for having fun, singing, drinking, playing cubes. But we can't deny that there is a place of prostitution too; hosts can order girls as they can order some Vodka.
One night, we were twelve students partying in a Chinese nightclub, and a man obviously drunk went talk to us on the dance floor. He invited us in his private KTV, and as long as we were twelve we said yes, just to see how it was really. The private rom was very huge, with screens everywhere and jeroboam of Cognac on the table (which is very expensive in China). Our glasses were always full. The man who invited us was with three Chinese women who were obviously prostitutes.
We were surprised to play cubes just each other without never talk to the man who invited us - already too drunk and falling asleep in the sofa. We realized that actually he just didn't care of us, just wanted to invite us to allow us to have a drink in the KTV both of us. China is a long story of waste of money and bling-bling; Chinese don't care about you, they just want to be able to offer a lot of alcohol to everybody, which is the characteristic of 'successful businessman' here.
Then, the question is 'why all this drinking even with business partners?'. Actually, in China, drinking with business partners or would-be friends is a way of solidifying partnership. Finally, this experience could have been very weird but as we were 12, it was more funny than anything else!
Because China developed too fast after opening up, problems have accumulated over the past 20 years and more will appear more in the coming years despite the implementation of protection measures. In the coming decade, environmental problems will affect people: issues such as poor air quality causing lung cancer and heavy-metal pollution resulting in birth deformities.
China's ongoing pollution is so nasty that there is now a word for it: "SMOGPOCALYPSE'. There is a fake Hong Kong skyline for tourists, as the real skyline is covered in smog!
China's development seems to have proved the point that in a country under a dictatorship the economy seems to develop faster, but the problems that develop along the way seem to be greater. For example, the wealth gap has not got smaller as the economy develops: it is widening. Society has not become any more just and equal, but worse. Corruption is more severe. It's not just the ecological environment that is being polluted but the political environment. This is a corruption industry created in the process of fighting corruption.
In 2010, China ranked as the world's leading investor in low-carbon energy technology, which makes sense given national political leaders' tendency to clean energy as a great economic opportunity.
China has become one of the most polluted countries in the world. In fact, China is the most populous country on the planet, and with economic growth rate over 10% the environment is playing a heavy troll. Pollution here remains largely unchecked and as a result the country contains some of the dirtiest air in the world. Hence why people walk through the city wearing dust masks for protection against the thick clouds of smog. China is home to many polluted, unusable waterways, as well as swaths of garbage-infested land.
Even though Chinese leaders are vowing to change and look after the planet's interests, it's going to be difficult with such rapid expansion, especially considering how bad China's pollution problems remain.
Last month, the auto-show took place in Shanghai. One of the agence in charge of the hostesses was French Touch, a filial of GL events. I already work for it in France so I was able to work at the auto-show, on Mercedes-Benz booth. What an amazing human experience! Actually, I was the only foreigner working for it. All my colleagues were Chinese girl, who were fluent in English. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about their cultural habits, and to discuss about their point of view on foreigners' way of life.
In fact, Chinese girl are the subject of many stereotypes, but this job enabled me to understand the way they live. They were all at University, working in part-time job in order to buy Forever 21 clothes or the brand-new iPhone 6. They were wearing fake eyes colors due to lentils, and some of them had an operation to cut a part of their eyelids to obtain Western-eyes. I quickly understood that they were eager to look like Western girl, probably to make a difference. They were all putting a lot of white powder in the morning to change their complexion, curling their straight hair, and dreaming of blond hair. I have to admit that a Chinese girl with big blue eyes is weird, but the most strange thing for them was me.
We had to have lunch on the auto-show, and the choice of food was very restricted: pizza or Chinese food. As long as I hate Chinese food and can't stand rice anymore, I asked for a pizza on the first day, and all girls were very angry. One of them was so angry that I thought she was on the way to cry, just because she wanted rice as main dish. She said: 'I eat rice three times per day since 20 years, I'm not going to change it today.' At this moment, I understood that they really ate rice every time they ate something, even at breakfast...
Chinese culture is so different from ours, but I have to admit that it has many good points for us: the low price of manucures you can do everywhere in the street or at the fake market, as cheap as permanent fake eye-lashes I tried too since I arrived. China is know for all the fake things you can find and buy for peanuts, especially when you are a girl. But be careful, fake is quite fun when it is controlled!
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