Hi, when i first visited Shanghai 3 years ago, it was a business trip i was uncertian how i would enjoy. I had a picture that the food would be too different, the people would be un-approachable due to language, also had lingering thoughts about how to deal with very strict policies and rules. To my extreme pleasent surprize, all of these concerns were unjustified.
The Food: I never had to eat the 40 granola bars i brought in case food was not eatable. I have found that all resurants have great tasting food, and typically have much more selection than in my home country. Also western food is easy to find, if you even want it.
The People: The people at work were incrediable helpful, and even friendly to the point of establishing permament friendships, i am proud and elated to be attending several of my friends weddings. I have also made friends very easy in Shanghai, and travel to Sanya, Hougzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen and Hongkong all with similar positive experiences. Oh, and english is taught here from a very early age, it is very easy to find someone who speaks fluent english, but then usually the Chinese person knows 3 languages at least.
Rules and Regs: I had some visa issue to take care of, and actually found the local visa office person very polite and helpful, and assured me visa issue was easy to work out. They cheerfully helped me undertsand what i need to do, and their dialog was in english that was flawless. I do not think i will venture to drive here, becuase the traffic patterns, mixed people, bikes, motorcycles, mopeds, automobles, etc. usually go when light is green, but also due to heavy congestion, may also go when no one else goes, hehe. Anyway, bus, taxi and subway is abundant and usually faster then driving anyway.
The Culture: The chinese culture is changing, more and more western influence (not always good mind ya), but still predominately, the chinese are proud of their heritage, and seem to retain their deep family core values, strong respect for others very well despite westernization. I also now have better insight to some of the big issues for china to grapple with, mainly it seems the widening of the income to the cost of living icreases. Also foriegners do not understand the degree that finacial considerations affect the family. A man and women do not get married here, two families will come together for a young couple, but also the young couple is planning how to take care of their older family members very seriously. In high school children go to school maybe for 10 and more hours a day, 6 days a week, and study extremely hard, because the college acceptance test will tell their whole future. Then the same competition exist in colleges to get access to good ones, and then to the job market, where there are obviously many more people than skilled jobs. I had no concept of the enormaty of population and it's impacts, until i came to China.
Conclusion: It is impossible for someone to come to China, and not love the people, the culture, and to have a deep respect for the kind heartedness extended by so many, and to wonder if my home country could even match such acts is embaressing to say. Anyway, this is a short story, and i have many more to tell, of what impressed me about China in my last few years living and working in China. Now i know that the world has good hope for a positive future, because the Chinese people have a big heart, this is exactly what the world needs more of, Love, kindness and respect.
Many thanks to my many friends and work buddies,
Bill (Shi Bi Le)
PS: The purpose of this article is to tell of my very very positive experience. If you are a foriegn visiter, do have a cell phone, and have a few emergency contacts as your life line, use tours guides for sure when not around your friends in another city, and ask quesitons and help from your hotel people, and then have fun and explore.