24 Dec Malls big enough to fit the entire population of Adelaide!
I arrived at the airport ﬁrst thing in the morning, when no one else was there yet because I’d come before the suggested time. I knew this, so I settled in to rest a bit after my all nighter spent at the KL airport and on planes. After a while I was greeted by William and Dariusz from Absolute Internship. It was good to ﬁnally have people to talk to, and it kept me awake. Other interns arrived one by one, and it was cool because I got to meet them one by one, and talk to them each as they came.
We were set up at the airport for half a day until we had to head back to the hotel, and so the ride to the hotel was my ﬁrst impression of China outside the airport. It was nothing like I thought, because it was so much bigger – everything was two or three times that in Singapore; all the apartment blocks, hotel blocks, shopping malls, were absolutely massive. These monstrous towers were also a bit more spread out than I thought, and they were continuously popping up everywhere, instead of in one central cluster of city blocks which is what I’d pictured beforehand. The roads were also quite amazing – all the highways are high above the ground, and go past towers about half way up them. Many walkways are also above ground, something I’ve not seen before to that extent.
Then of course there’s the road rules, or lack thereof. Similar to a lot of Asian countries, I think, with cars going any which way, bikes weaving in and out of trafﬁc as they please and also driving on the footpaths, and then pedestrians keeping a watchful eye to cross a road. Trafﬁc lights seem to be more of a suggestion rather than a rule, and even for pedestrian lights, cars will just drive straight through. People have no choice than to wait for cars because, obviously, cars are bigger than people and it’s as simple as that.
The welcome dinner was great, a bunch of big tables of us eating and talking. The food was similar to that I have at home, which I love! We all had loads to talk about on our ﬁrst night there, despite all being very tired from travel. On our ﬁrst day in Shanghai, a group of us took on the metro and went to a mall big enough to ﬁt the entire population of Adelaide. The metro was easy enough to work out, because all the signs are also in English.
However you have to know where you’re going because if you don’t speak Chinese you can’t ask anyone anything because no one speaks English.
The ﬁrst day of work, me and another intern shadowed our colleagues around to see the new ofﬁces, as our firm is moving ofﬁces, but we couldn’t contribute much because they were organizing other projects and the new ofﬁces. However, the second day was more productive, especially to me because it was my ﬁrst site visit. My architecture firm has a project going in Suzhou, which is a twenty minute train ride out of the city, and it’s a massive shopping district designed to mimic a renaissance style town.
All the buildings were basically built, it was just the facades, details and all the errors already built that need to be dealt with. Which is a colossal amount of work, and it’s interesting to ﬁnally be on the inside of the construction fences and get a feel for what’s going on. On site it was very dusty, not only from the pre-existing smog, but also from all the dust stirred up from construction. On site we got to wear safety shoes, a bright yellow vest and a hard hat, which turned out to be useful. We also braved Chinese scaffolding, which was a little scary but kind of fun at the same time. I loved the practical side of things because I haven’t done any of that yet in uni. Looking forward to more of that plus anything I can learn from ofﬁce life of an architect.