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Monday, April 26, 2010

FouFou Dog In Shanghai

The flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai is about 2 hours, I expected to visit a city similar to Hong Kong but was welcomed with what seemed like a very different culture all together. The weather in Shanghai is comparable to Toronto, warm and sunny during the day but gets chilly with wind chill at night. The city is also similar to Toronto in that there is an older part of town, like downtown Toronto, where the streets are congested and the buildings are old and run down. Pedestrians disregard all traffic lights and attempt to jay walk across the street at any given opportunity. The cars are all bumper to bumper and slow moving in these areas where cyclists and motorbikes are all cramped together trying to make it their right of way with Taxi’s using their horns like turning signals.

Ironically, just a few blocks away, the city is modern and beautiful with huge malls and beautiful buildings showing off amazing architecture. The buildings also light up with colourful lights at night time. I haven’t seen much of Hong Kong yet, but so far, if I were to compare, I would say that Shanghai is a more beautiful city, however, the traffic is much more dangerous.

The language spoken here is Mandarin, which is not what I’m accustomed to as my spoken language at home as well as in Hong Kong, is Cantonese. I must feel how most foreigners feel in Toronto. Thank goodness that my mom is fluent in Mandarin and has spent most of her time translating for my sister and me.

Our visit to Shanghai has been both work and personal related. On top of my mom wanting to show my sister and me different parts of Shanghai, we have also made some time to meet with a few of our suppliers who own or work for factories close to Shanghai. They all flew in or took the train / car just to meet with us. Our supplier of coats also brought his entire family, including daughter, wife, mother and father to join him. Everyone has been very friendly and very welcoming by offering us gifts they brought from home as well as treating us to nice meals.

It has been nice to meet with our suppliers face to face to finally put a face to all of the emails that we share on a daily basis. All of our suppliers are much younger than I expected them to be, one being 27, one 28, and another 36. Each brought with them bagfuls of samples and fabric swatches to share with us, to gauge our interest. In return, we have brought back some of the products that they have produced for us that have experienced issues and problems so that we can explain to them in person how we wish they can improve.

Unfortunately all of our suppliers also speak Mandarin as their first language with very limited English speaking skills and so the meetings that we have had to go over samples and any new upcoming orders have been lengthy and, for lack of a better word, boring, as my sister and I are forced to sit in the meetings while listening to my mom speak with them in Mandarin and translating for us what they say while telling them in Mandarin what we need to tell them.

All in all, it has been a good experience and I’m glad that we got to spend some time in Shanghai, where my mother was born and to see the city as well as to meet with our suppliers.

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