City in China: Shanghai
Let me share my first impressions with you.
When I arrived in Shanghai 4 days ago I worried for a moment about passing the airport's security. Why? Back in Europe I just heard and read that China is watching precisely who tries to enter the country. The concerns were overcome quickly since there was no problem at all. The security staff at the airport works efficient. After I passed the security zone Chin - one of the founders of WookTalent - picked me up and took me to downtown. The distances in China are long. So it took us quite a while to get there. Not to mention the traffic, no chaos at all but really crowded interstates.
Our first stop in Shanghai was Old Town, a pretty nice and international place with cafeterias, bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, astonishing many sneaker stores and fancy shopping malls. It could be NYC as well. In between there is China, you will find shops selling Chinese goods and small restaurants, especially for noodle lovers where you can share a table with young and old, poor and rich Chinese people having a huge bowl of soup with any kinds of delicious noodles added. Don't forget to order dumpling as a side dish and much more important take your time to eat it. Those small dumplings are like little volcanoes with savory lava meat balls inside. I should mention that those kitchens are not made for vegetarians. Go to a different place! However you are going to miss a delicate opportunity. By the way, the noodle restaurants are cheap.
But let's get away from food, it is not a food blog over here. Anyway, when we stepped out of the car I was freezing a little bit. Maybe it is important to mention that I spent a 3 weeks vacation in Thailand before and the climate in this part of Shanghai is similar to the one in Germany. We talk about 14 degrees Celsius. So bring a proper jacket for this time of the year.
After we tried some food and I recognized I am not in South East Asia anymore we drove to the office to leave my luggage there and went to get a SIM card, done in less than 15 minutes. The communications company just wants to see your passport. 10 GB will cost you about 10 €, that's a good deal. Afterwards Anatole, the visa manager and the person in charge of organization, installed a VPN for me to be able to still use WhatsApp, Facebook and all the apps we got used to over the years in Europe. Done in less than 5 minutes. Immediately able to wrote a message to family and friends. Still, WhatsApp is not working that well. It may take some time to receive and send videos and images.
In the evening Chin and I went out to hit some bars and clubs, different world. In Munich and also different places in Europe we have a great nightlife but Shanghai is high-end. More people, more money spent, bigger clubs, louder music, lights all over, crazier fashion. How I would describe Shanghainese nightlife based on my first impressions. Extreme! In a positive way. Western lifestyle x Chinese Mindset. That's the collaboration here. The Shanghai nightlife with all the lights and the flashing skyline is lit.
If you asked me how I do prefer this city? It is the city during night time. It is nice during the day and really busy but amazing and absolutely gorgeous by night. You have to experience it by yourself. Trust me.
The day after I arrived we met a real estate broker to see some shared apartments, monthly cost in the downtown area with a view at the skyline is about 500 €. You can walk from here to almost every interesting part of the city and the river as well. What I instantly realized here is that China is efficient in everyday life. It just took me one hour to see the shared apartments and rent it out. There is no key but a password you choose for yourself to unlock the security lock at the door. Simple, practical, efficient. The money for rent is transferred via WeChat. For a guy grown up in Europe it might seem strange to use an app like WhatsApp to pay for rent. Nevertheless that is the way it works in China, WeChat is omnipresent. I already got used to it before I came here but I never paid with it. You need a Chinese credit card connecting with WeChat to be able to make payments. Not every bank will provide this service for foreigners if there is no working visa to show them. Still it is possible to get a credit card without a working visa.
Chin and his colleagues from WookTalent have really well working relationships and know where to go and what to do. Those guys helped me a lot during my first days. Everything worked out great. Come to Shanghai and experience it for yourself!