Before the dawn.
It was all sorts of amazing (and tiring), let me tell you. The two pictures above I stole from my boss' blog, read about his take on it there. The trip was largely bent on the fact that we needed to source fabric, notions and things for our Holiday collection--hence the t-shirt and shorts. It was a jungle out there.
First things first, it was my ~first~ time to actually go to China. I've never been to Hong Kong, nor have I ever set-foot in the mainland and at the beginning, this proved to be very problematic. Due to recent cases of drug-smuggling Filipinos, the Chinese embassy beefed up the requirements for first-time visa applicants--I had to get my NBI clearance for travel abroad validity. It was insane, I must've spent three whole days working on it (on my own for the first two days but with help from THE MAN for the last day); needless to say, I got it on time but not without a lot of difficulty.
On the onset, I didn't think much of Shanghai, the idea of Beijing was much more clear to me. People weren't wrong when they described it to me as very cosmopolitan and modern. It certainly reminded me of an Asian version of New York City. Not only in terms of the architecture, but also the fast-pace of life, the grime and the worldliness of it all. It was quite the eye-opener, only problem was not a lot of people could speak English. Really wished I could speak even a little bit of Mandarin, it totally would've gone a long way. Shanghai is a beautiful place, didn't hurt that we stayed at a 5-star hotel in the middle of the city. It was in this place called Yuyuan, the hotel was of the Renaissance/Marriott group; it was very pleasant, if I may say so myself--and breakfast was top-notch. That being said, I didn't really have time to fully explore the city--even though we were there for almost 6 days. We had a lot of buying to do, quite a lot in fact.
But for the first two days, we got to experience (not sure if that's the right word, elle-oh-elle) the nightlife in Shanghai. Our first night, we headed to this street in the French concession where there were a host of clubs right next to each other. Each place had its own draw but we ended up going to this place called Apartment. It was pretty nice and the crowd was like 90% foreigner, had a couple of drinks and called it a night. The atmosphere was electric however, I don't go out much at night here in Manila but the energy there felt different. But all in all, that was NOTHING compared to our next night. My boss came in that day (we were ahead) and he decided to take us out with his friends clubbing, of the more local variety.
Right now, I could tell you that I'm not very fond of the Chinese look--especially here in Manila (but hey, don't get me wrong--AZN Pride and all, it's just a matter of aesthetics, God knows that line could use a break) but deep in the heart of Shanghai, with the beat thumping, guys (BUILT TO A MOTHAFUQEN TEE) in their underwear dancing to a Lady Gaga drag queen lipsyncing for her life, surrounded by a literal sea of people (think Araneta Coliseum filled to the rafters); I had to ask myself "OH MY GOD, IS THIS REAL LIFE?"--there was a TON of men. I haven't seen so many hot pieces of ass in my life, I shit you not. Foreigners, locals, you name it--and funnily enough, the only time I met/saw any Filipinos was at this party. They told me it happens every Saturday night till 8am, it was that insane. But no, I didn't ~meet~ anyone--that really isn't my strongest suit, let me tell you. I was quite the man on a mission though, I scanned the entire stadium(!) and I told myself that in order to fully enjoy, I had to get drunk. It was, in a word, epic.
The next day, I woke up to blackmail photos of me crashing in our hotel room and a massive hangover. It was all worth it, I had such a good time with my officemates. Not going to lie, and then the real work began.
After a few days sourcing in the markets in Shanghai, we set out to this province north of the city. It was incredible, imagine a city built around this massive mall. Mall filled with stores of every single thing imaginable. I'm not exactly at liberty to talk about it here but just imagine this: you're in a corridor, stores lining the walls left and right. Think 168 in Divisoria but when you look straight through the hall (or even behind you) it just doesn't end. It was like a labyrinth, or the Matrix to some extent. It could've been either a dream or a nightmare--depending on how you look at it, you could seriously find anything and everything that there is to find. In its immensity, we spent a good day and a half there sourcing for things--according to our guide, we've barely even seen 1% of the entire place. Insanity. Luckily, we found a lot of awesome things to augment our Holiday 2011 collection. Quite excited yet nervous at the same time, the pressure's on! Hope we turn something out!
All in all, China was a very good experience(!). Who knew I would be going on business trips this early in my job (the thought still hasn't really sunk in yet). One thing's for sure though, it certainly got me thinking about enhancing my language skills--it kind of reminded me of the allure of my course back in university. I'm not totally keen on learning Mandarin but in terms of practicality, it's making me think. We'll see where it goes, there's still Korean (trip in November with Howie and Glen!) and maybe Japanese also to think about. A lot work, that's for sure.
That's all that's new with me, the trip was pretty major. One bad thing about it though was the fact that I pushed back my workout regimen, I think I took a few steps back in terms of progress. Yikes. Not to mention all the carbs I ate in Shanghai. Time to step it up this month. But in other news, I finally (re)learned how to drive! I'm still not an expert park-er but this is such a milestone for me! I'm no longer a slave to the availability of a driver, but in terms of going to work--I'm still going to choose to commute because it's way cheaper. Even though it takes 30 minutes longer, I can't beat the savings.
Guess that's it! See you in a few weeks.