So I’m back from my weekend in Shanghai with Spring Airlines and my first trip to China! It might only have been a short jaunt up, but I had a pretty good time in general and Some initial thoughts written on my 5-hour flight as a round-up before I get into my usual posts…
Firstly, I’m very glad I studied Chinese and should probably give props to my parents and tuition teacher for helping me attain a decent level of Chinese – I still understand it better than I speak it, the problem when you don’t use a language much is that you lose a lot of vocabulary, and I can’t catch sentences when the Shanghainese start speaking at their mile-a-minute pace!
It’s definitely still possible to travel in Shanghai even if you don’t speak Chinese though, but things are so much easier and you understand a place much better when you’re able to communicate with the people.
And speaking of people, one thing that surprised me is that Shanghainese are surprisingly friendly people. I kinda expected it both as a China and cosmopolitan city stereotype that people would be rather unfriendly standoffish, but many of them were generally friendly and helpful as a whole, which was a nice surprise for me. Sure, there are a bunch of behaviors that will always be pet peeves, like how some folk only have one LOUDNESS setting when they talk, or the handful of public spitters and persistent indoor smokers even in non-smoking areas, but I generally had a pretty positive experience as a whole (though I witnessed my first Chinese women catfight, rrowwrh that’s another story)
The company you get on the trip is also important – Spring had gathered a small bunch of just 8 bloggers including myself, and while I’d heard of some of them before, I was meeting most of them for the first time. I hung out with some of them for the first day, and spent the second day on my own, so the trip was a pretty nice mix of solo and group travel for me.
So props and thanks to this group of awesome bloggers, look out for their posts on Shanghai too! We’re technically supposed to be in a blogger competition, but it turns out we’re all very much more cooperative and collaborative about traveling than we are competitive, so that was fun :)
- Jaime of No Foreign Lands, my hotel room neighbour and wi-fi leacher
- Elaine of Suma Lifestyle, whose button-dropping coat proves why cheap stuff in China can be a little dodgy
- KJ of Always Travelicious, who I managed to bump into randomly in Tianzifang, somehow!
- Jerome of The Long and Winding Road, and his tripod that’s part weapon
- Ai of Sakura Haruka, with her extremely large suitcase
- Janice of Janiqueel, who is a constant bubble of energy
- and Matthew of imatraveller who unfortunately left a day before the rest of us
Besides the Spring bloggers, I also met up with the lovely Sue Anne of Shanghai Street Stories who took precious time off her busy schedule to introduce me to her Shanghai. She’s a very international Singaporean lady now working in Shanghai and has a huge passion for its traditional architecture, which she researches and photographs quite extensively. Having her take me around and explain things was a great learning experience, so do check out the stories on her blog.
The great people definitely helped make this trip a pleasure because we weren’t that lucky with the weather though, which is a bit of a transition right now and while it was pleasantly cool all around in the low 20ºC, it was terribly windy and rainy on Saturday and occasionally drizzly on Sunday. Naturally the sun would come out on Monday as we headed to the airport, ah what can you do. Still I think I saw most of what I set out to see in Shanghai.
Most of my pix have been going up on Instagram, because that’s one of the few major social media channels not blocked by China’s Great Firewall, and I have to give huge props to Telecom Square and Wi-Ho for the portable wi-fi device – if you’re headed up to China, you might want to give this a consideration because apparently buying a SIM card isn’t the easiest thing in China, and our hotel didn’t have free wifi. Also as the device can tether up to 5 devices, it was definitely quite popular amongst a group of internet-starved bloggers! I still managed to check my Facebook and Twitter through VPN access (I used SurfEasy‘s private browser, it worked… mostly).
And of course the main reason I was even in Shanghai at all is thanks to Spring Airlines and their recently launched Singapore-Shanghai direct route, thanks to Jonathan and the team for organizing this. I’ll be quite upfront and say I had my concerns given China’s general reputation when it comes to its airlines, but now that I’ve flown it, it isn’t really too different from any other budget airline out there, just keep in mind that it’s really no-frills and since most of your passengers are going to be Chinese, expect a rather loud crowd who speak at China-decibels, especially for the afternoon flight back! My only real annoyance is that for a 5-hour flight, the seats aren’t reclinable at all, which is not the most comfortable for taking a nap in – bring a neck cushion and some ear plugs!