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Rhys Sylvan is completely new to overseas living and Asian culture. In the USA, he was operating an internet sales business, which he has put on hold for now. Currently in China for the first time, he met his Chinese girlfriend on CLM and is currently getting to know her and her family in Nantong. His blogs will focus on his own personal experiences as he tries to adapt to the new environment as well as exploring a few different places in China.
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Sleepless in Shanghai    

By Rhys Sylvan
3529 Views | 4 Comments | 5/14/2010 1:10:38 PM
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This was my very first visit to China, so naturally I was expecting a certain degree of culture shock. This was going to be a pretty big adjustment. My plans were open-ended, I didn't buy a return plane-ticket. My new Chinese love was a teacher, so she sounded very convincing when she told me how easy it is to get a job teaching English in Nantong. Time will tell, but I did have enough money saved up to survive long enough to see how the teaching thing works out.

Before I left my home in Wisconsin, I did some research. I booked a one-way plane ticket, and a hotel room for two, after checking if my new girlfriend had any objections to sharing a room. I also looked up the seasonal climate for the region so I might know what types of clothes to bring. This was a mistake, because it was unseasonably cold in the first half of April.

My International flight was direct from Chicago O'Hare to Shanghai Pudong airport, about 12 hours. At the airport, I noticed a group of Chinese language students waiting to board. One of the students must have been American-born Chinese, the rest were mostly Caucasian.

My new Chinese girl, Kate met me at Pudong airport. She spoke English very well, so that made communication less difficult. She took me to the express train, also known as the Maglev. This train is based on the German Transrapid technology. It's quite fast, I believe it has a top speed of more than 400 km/hour.

When coming to the big Chinese cities, one of the first things you will notice is the smog. Shanghai has quite a bit of smog, although the city itself is quite clean considering it is a major metropolis. The next thing you will notice in many parts of China is that people drive like maniacs. Don't assume that drivers will stop for pedestrians or red lights, or that cars will stay in a proper lane. It's like the car is a big football and the drivers are trying to score a field goal, with pedestrians as the goal posts.

After dodging a lot of traffic, we finally made it to our destination, Central View Suites hotel. Coincidentally, the hotel came under new management and changed name to the Golden Tulip the day after I arrived. It is centrally located in the heart of downtown and is reasonably priced, so I recommend giving it a try if you are planning a trip to Shanghai.

We spent the first couple days looking at the stores near our hotel. Apparently, Chinese people really like to buy watches. There's a big Rolex shop and Omega shop and several other watch shops in many of the cities. KFC is also quite a huge franchise in China. I found at least 3 KFC restaurants in Shanghai during my short stay.

Sadly, I got a very bad cold and had to stay in bed during my last 2 days in Shanghai. When traveling to a foreign country, people tend to be more vulnerable to sickness. Kate took care of me as much as she could. Chinese girls love to take care of people, especially if it happens to be their boyfriend. She never left my bedside while I was feeling ill.

I finally started to feel better the last day in Shanghai. We went to a different part of the city near a sports complex where we caught a bus to Kate's home city of Nantong. As the bus crossed the Yangtze River at Sutong bridge (the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world), I wanted to take pictures of the river. Unfortunately, I couldn't see a thing through the thick smog, just a field of gray

As the bus entered Nantong, I noticed how different it was from Shanghai. The buildings were definitely older, the shops were smaller, the city itself was more dirty. This is where the real culture shock began.

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(Showing 1 to 4 of 4) 1
#2010-05-06 13:11:12 by serena85 @serena85

U r lucky that u have a chinese girl to help u out, hope u enjoy ur life in China

#2010-05-09 08:42:17 by art100 @art100

I read your evaluation, I am a consulting engineer, still looking for that special Lady,
I am living in Wenling which is a small city near the coast,
My work has taken me around the world, yes, the little towns-cities are different then Shanghai, but growing up in New York City in the USA, I found that even the small towns are much cleaner then the US. I have a deep respect for the people here, history, and culture. I found that in the most part, the smogs would be my only complaint, otherwise, the general culture and the changes I am seeing now, is what I had seen back in the 60's in the US going through the growth spurt in the standard of living, and joining the world as an equal.
My work here is long term so, I will be able to visit and experience many things.

#2010-05-11 23:41:59 by sylvan @sylvan

Actually New York probably isn't the best example of typical USA. In China, each section of the country is quite unique. Some cities are kept quite clean and in good condition, while others are very dirty and run down. I will discuss some of that in my next blog when I give my impression of Nantong.

#2010-07-31 23:56:10 by bridge09 @bridge09

expecting the rest....

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