Thursday, May 22
Whenever I think about Shanghai, the first thought that comes to my mind is how much I partied. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived... Beijing had a lot of culture, but I did not know what Shanghai had to offer upon my arrival.
I had heard comparisons of Shanghai to New York City, particularly being a city that never sleeps.
When we woke up on Thursday, we were able to finally take in the beauty of the city in the daylight. We stayed relatively close to the river (about a 20 minute walk) and had an abundance of shops that lined the streets right next to our hotel, The Bund Hotel Shanghai. There were convenience stores on every corner (think 7-11, but with hard liquor) and we had a lot more Western food options than in Beijing. We were also a 10 minute walk from East Nanjing Road, which is a popular Shanghai shopping district. Some notable stores that were on this street include Forever 21, Zara, and the H&M was opening in a few weeks!
I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Shanghai because of the location, the complimentary breakfast buffet, and the cleanliness of the room/bathroom.
Getting around Shanghai
Shanghai, in my opinion, was a lot more accessible than Beijing. I was able to walk to the East Nanjing Road subway station, giving me access to almost anywhere in the city. I received the ultimate culture shock when I had to ride in a taxi. Most drivers spoke little to no English so attempting to give directions was always a pain. Normally, I would pull up the Chinese and English version of the directions on Google Maps -- Chinese for the driver and English for myself so that I could actually locate our destination.
Our group was able to visit Shanghai Jahwa United, which is China's largest domestically-owned manufacturer of personal, daily-use chemical products -- commonly known as make-up/cosmetics! They introduced us to their brands and even offered us the opportunity to sample different skin care products.
After we left Shanghai Jahwa, we were scheduled to go on a River Cruise on the Huangpu River so our bus headed back to the hotel. Everyone was able to change clothes and get ready for dinner on the river, which ended up being one of my most memorable Shanghai experiences!
The view from the boat is probably in my top 5. It was literally breathtaking -- I absolutely love skylines, and Shanghai's did not disappoint AT ALL. I managed to take a lot of pictures before dinner, some of which are shown below.
So... I pregamed for the cruise.
After we left the cruise, I was ready to go out and continue to party - I mean it WAS a Thursday night! I had no more assignments and I was ready to enjoy the rest of my trip. I definitely felt like I missed out by not partying with everyone in Beijing, so I went out every single night in Shanghai.
Every. Single. Night.
In Beijing, our hotel was connected to a shopping mall that had a grocery store inside of it, which sold all types of liquor. It was similar to being at a liquor store in the US! In Shanghai, on the other hand, the options for liquor were reduced to Absolut Vodka (I don't touch vodka) and Johnnie Walker Red Label/Black Label. I normally don't drink whiskey, I prefer all things tequila, but I had to choose the lesser of the two evils. The liquor was not that expensive and was sold at those convenient stores that I mentioned earlier.
We decided to have a pregame after the cruise and when we were finally ready to leave the hotel, we tried to brainstorm what we were going to do. Now, this was no easy feat considering the fact that we had about 15 people with us trying to go out. We weren't really sold on taking taxis because people ended up getting split up in Beijing when they attempted to go out with taxis. We asked the concierge for advice and he recommended that we try M1NT -- a nightspot that was walking distance from the hotel.
We get to the location and walk into a lobby complete with a velvet rope and bouncers -- I honestly expected to go to bar or something simple. At first, the bouncers were pretty strict, telling us that we had to be on a guest list or purchase table & to top it off, they had a dress code (who knew?!). After some negotiating, he allowed us to go up to the club (it was on the 24th floor), but we had to surrender our bottles to him.
We get upstairs and they are playing techno music, not really my cup of tea, but I wasn't complaining, just ready to party! We had some glitches in the plan because some people didn't want to stay, so we got split up. and there ended up only being 6 of us who stayed. I met a friendly guy from Albania who had worked the nightclub circuit in LA and he offered to buy us drinks and let us party at his table. He bought 2 rounds of drinks for everyone, let us smoke hookah, and we danced the night away...
Friday, May 23
On Friday, I woke up and was extremely exhausted from the partying the night before. However, I still made it to the team presentations and company visit. With the help of coffee.
Our company visit was to Baosteel, the second-largest steel producer in the world (when measured by crude steel output)! We were able to visit one of its production facilities and witness the actual process of making steel.
After our tour, we headed to a dinner with Howard School of Business Alumni who live in Shanghai -- I love the fact that Howard truly builds us up to be global leaders. We ate dinner at a Caribbean restaurant/bar, which quickly turned into a makeshift happy hour. The drinks were not expensive so I bought 2 shots of Patron and a Patron w/ Pineapple (I guess I had recovered from the night before). This particular spot had a DJ (who let us make requests), foosball, and pool table -- I definitely enjoyed myself at dinner and was ready to party the night away, yet again.
Friday night was the same as Thursday night, kicked off with a pregame at the hotel. We didn't have to be anywhere the next morning (free day!) so we were ready to stay out all night. We decided to take taxis, but this night we had about 25 people with us. Everyone got the name of the place we were going to and hopped in their separate taxis. When I go out, I normally have the best experiences with either my best friend or a large group and tonight was no different. We ALL managed to make it to the bar and went upstairs where they played more mainstream music than the night before. We eventually headed up to the rooftop and mellowed out a little bit, meeting other people who had come up to get away from the loud music and the crowd.
We decided that we wanted to go to another bar called Monkey Bar and I hopped in a cab with some of the girls to head over. Our taxi driver got lost and spoke no English, we had no idea where he was dropping us off so we wasted money having to ride back to our original location. We met a group of Chinese guys who helped translated for us and the driver -- oh, and they were fly! They had on timbs and snapbacks haha.
We get back to the strip of bars and I almost ended up stranded because I got separated from my taxi group. Luckily, I found two other people and we decided to go back to the hotel. By this time, the group had already started to disband with some people already at Monkey Bar, some people headed back to the hotel, and others still on at the original location. What I didn't know is that I had inadvertently signed up for Mission Impossible smh. We get in the taxi and hand our driver our hotel key, which has our hotel address listed in Chinese. He doesn't know where it is. We attempted to ask some of the other partygoers on the street and we had another Good Samaritan translate for us and our driver (you see this is a common theme...) when we decide we're not ready to go home.
We drive off towards Monkey Bar and get dropped off in front of a convenience store. We go in and ask for directions, people actually help us, and we are on our way! Or so we thought... we get lost (of course) and end up walking through the streets trying to find any sign of a party. We came across a couple from France who had cell phone data and they mapped the route to the bar for us. We finally get to the right street and walk up to a restaurant with people out front and ask if anyone knows where Monkey Bar is... they point behind them and we walk into the restaurant, confused because it's empty. As we keep walking through, we enter through a door and it leads to a poppinnnnn party.
People are dancing on tables, drinking champagne out the bottle, and the DJ is playing songs like "Knob Broke" by Jeezy.... "Face Down" by Meek Mill I'm like whaaat?! Thas my shiiii!
I felt like I could have been at a club in DC, New York, or Atlanta because of the crowd, music, and just how live the overall environment was. I walked in pissed because I almost got stranded and because I had to walk around for 30 minutes trying to find the place, but I quickly forgot about all of that when I walked in and saw everyone turning up. The only other people at Monkey Bar from our group ended up being a group of guys and we had the best night vibing to the music. Luckily, we had no more incidents after the club and arrived safely back at the hotel where I was so excited to SLEEEEP. At this point, I was sold on Shanghai and it was only night 3.