If you were to ask me why I would return to Shanghai, my straight up answer would be for the food.
It was delicious, as well as cheap. $4 for fried rice prepared right in front of you, $6 for 12 traditionally-made dumplings, $13 per person for Korean-BBQ, and the list goes on. Why would you need a kitchen inShanghai when there’s so much good food around?
Besides the food, travelling to Shanghai was an experience of a lifetime. Not only because this was my first time away without parents (freedom!), but because of the amazing things I got to see and learn. You realise how much more independent you have to become, like packing your bags to make everything fit, trying not to get lost and (attempting) to keep a budget. But hey, that’s all part of the fun and adventure. And once you get a taste of exploration, you’d want to be arranging your next travel plans very soon.
The ‘Doing Business in China’ module broadened my understanding of the country’s business environment. Our lectures were on Chinese Business Culture, Economics and Innovation and Entrepreneurship, followed by site visits to three Chinese incubators. I learned that there are over 500+ incubators in Shanghai alone, with the government encouraging its citizens to take on entrepreneurship as a career path. Even the teachers were passionate about connecting with SILC-UTS students and prompting them to start a business in China. It would be a crazy mission to find something that would suit a population of over 1 billion people, let alone Shanghai’s population of around 24 million people (equivalent to Australia’s population), but who knows what the future holds. With big risks come (possibly) big fortunes!
I also had the chance to meet new people and make friends from UTS, Shanghai, UK, and Germany universities. They were great companions to venture out with to restaurants, shopping centres and pretty much anywhere in Shanghai. Plenty of laughs and fun to share!
We also had tours and lots of free time to explore Shanghai on our own will. In terms of transport, buses were hired for tours, but we mainly used the efficient metro system to get around the city. Trains came every three minutes, cost less than $1 and they were extremely fast. Let’s hope CityRail reads this too.
There were also cheap and quick taxi services, with DD being the main application to order taxis (it is like Uber). They have lots of great applications but most of them require that you can read and understand Chinese.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Shanghai offers a range of wondrous sights, ranging from their main tourist attraction, The Bund, to the bustling markets near Yu Gardens. For me, everything was a sight to see as the environment is very different from a typical Sydney street. There are many small stores, different types of restaurants and food choices and sometimes you wonder if you will ever see blue sky (and yes, we eventually did). Some places I went to include…
A waterfront area looking over the Huangpu River towards Shanghai’s financial hub. The best time to visit is on a clear night, where you get to see all the bright coloured lights, glimmering over the water’s edge. I went on a very smoggy day, so I wasn’t able to get the best panorama shots, but it was still worth the view.
East Nanjing Road
Shop ‘till you drop along Shanghai’s main shopping district. Here there are many major fashion brands including H&M, Uniqulo, Forever 21, Nike, Adidas, etc. You can spend an entire day here just roaming through the stores, seeing what China fashion has to offer.
Shanghai World Tower
The world’s 2nd tallest tower, with 118 levels. I went right before sunset to catch a glimpse of Shanghai while there was still light and I stayed until night fell and the city lit up.
A quick tip – make sure to bring your Student ID as you get tickets for 50RMB cheaper!
Built more than 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty, this garden puts on a display of natural beauty and artistry. If you love getting up close to nature, this is the place for you! Beyond the garden, there is a bustling marketplace where you can get a taste of street food, see Shanghai’s traditional buildings and perhaps grab some souvenirs. I was able to eat a crab soup dumpling and Tang Yuan (sweet rice balls with black sesame filling). Heaps to eat and heaps to do!
A residential area within the French Concession (originally designated for the French), this place is home to restaurants, bars and small shops (great for souvenirs). I devoured their fried cheese and sausage hot-dogs, a whole coconut cut out of its shell and long potato chips drizzled with tomato sauce – all DELICIOUS! There were also some creative dumplings shaped like animals, flowers and other objects; I never got to try them but they looked cute and sweet!
In all honesty, all your Disney dreams won’t come crashing down if you don’t get a chance to visit Disneyland. Since it was peak season (summer holidays for Shanghai students), the waiting lines were crazy (about 8 hours of my day was spent waiting in line). Not to mention the searing heat and amount of people that were there, my Disneyland fun was slightly tainted. Even getting there at 6.30am in the morning didn’t save my friends and I from the crowds, and by the end of it we had become pools of sweat and we were exhausted. There were still heaps of great things to experience like the night-time fireworks and the awesome animatronics, but if you are a thrill-seeker like me, perhaps Happy Valley would be your amusement park of choice instead.
My motto in China: “If it looks good and its cheap, get it”. Food was the least of my worries in Shanghai – walk down the street and there was bound to be something tasty. Their popular convenience store chain “Family Mart” was everywhere, selling bread, fish balls on skewers, steamed buns, drinks, ice-cream, microwave-meals and much, much more. My food highlights included…
Yi Dian Dian
Best. Bubble. Tea. Ever. I had it about 5 times because it was so damn good and cheap (about $3 for a large). There were also other sweets you could add to the tea like ice-cream and cream cheese, which I suggest you try (cause they’re good too!). Coming back to Australia, I am now disappointed with all bubble tea stores 😥 .
Never have I had such an amazing hot-pot place in my life. This place provided one of the best restaurant services I had ever seen, offering drinks and snacks while my friends and I were waiting for a seat, hand massages and a chance to make paper crane origami (for everyone you make, you get 0.5 yuan off your meal). When we got our table, we were given an apron, glasses wipes, a hair-tie and a seal-lock bag for our phone. Staff always tended to our needs and the food was delicious. Though, be careful when selecting a spicy hot-pot – we ordered the least spicy pot and it still burnt our throats!
Shanghai’s Starbucks Roastery
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, check out the largest Starbucks in the world! This two-level building offers much more than your regular expresso – mouth-watering pastries and desserts, different fusions of tea and coffee + ice-cream. It’s definitely a nice place to go with some mates to chill and chat over some good food and beverages.
More Random Food Pics to Make You Hungry
Shanghai offers many sights and activities so you won’t get bored (or hungry) during your stay. Something I regret is not being able to travel to the outskirts and see the traditional life of Shanghai in comparison to the bustling city life. You will be limited on time (I was lucky I had booked for another week) to see more of Shanghai, so either spend a few more days before or after the program if you want to experience more of China or choose wisely where you really want to go.
I loved it over there, I hope you do too!
– Jamie Chan
NB: For more information about the program, read the UTS Build Abroad description for 2018: https://www.uts.edu.au/current-students/opportunities/build-program/build-abroad/about-build-abroad/winter-2018/language-8