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A week in Shanghai – By Senja Boom

Shanghai, October 1, 2016

It's been a while since our last update. This is mostly because we have been in Shanghai the past week and it has been chaos. Part of the team has been working hard on the transport of our cargo to Seattle, where another part of the team was receiving the packages. In the meantime some of our team members represented the STORM team in events, while others had some time off to visit Shanghai.

In all the chaos, the people that stood out most to me were Yorick and Yuri. They were working day and night to get everything packed and through customs. Packing took us three full days in a warehouse and every day the people who worked there came back with hollow faces, empty eyes and soar backs. They described the work in the warehouse as hell, way to hot and pure torture. Luckily they were creative enough to entertain themselves, packing each other and hitting people with roles of bubble wrap.

I was glad to be in the event shift, though that too was hard work. We organized an event at a school in Ningbo, which is relatively close to Shanghai, but is still more than 350 km away. Nick, Brian and I left from the hotel at 7:30, carrying 4 boxes of Do-It-Yourself mini-motorcycles. We borrowed a hotel cart, taking a little advantage of their lack of understanding of where we were going, and went to the metro station. The metro took an hour to get to the train station. There the ATM's were under maintenance, the lines for the ticket machines were incredibly long and it turned out tourists can only buy tickets from the service desk. All together, we were exhausted before we even reached the HD Ningbo school, 4 hours after we left the hotel.

We had a quick lunch and started the presentation for the primary school. The kids were enthusiastic and asked really good questions, but the real fun started when we distributed the DIY mini-motorcycles. The kids gathered in groups of 4 and started to build. They didn't finish the motorcycles, but did get some frames on wheels. Unfortunately the wheels that were sent to the school in advance were lost, so the secondary school had to settle for just the presentation and building the motorcycles for homework. On the way back we skipped the whole public transport hustle because Nick did not have his passport and we were not allowed on the train back. Instead we took a taxi and went on a five hour drive that is probably going to be the most expensive taxi ride of my life.

After this event, everyone apart from Yorick and Yuri was done with their STORM chores and had a few days of free time. We spent the days walking across the markets, in the Yuyuan garden and across the Bunt. The souvenirs were typically Chinese. The Chinese dress that I bought cost 10 euros after some heavy bargaining (I probably could have bought it for 5), but the zipper broke the second I tried it on at home. We saw the entire city from the Shanghai tower, where we took an elevator with a speed of 65 km/h up to a height of 600 meter and we saw the famous skyline of Shanghai from the Bunt. We were all flabbergasted by Peoples square, where women are offered for arranged marriages with a sheet of information on an umbrella.

The evenings we spent at cute bars and in big clubs. Our favorite bar was located in the hipster area of Xintiandi. It was called the Rambler, the atmosphere was amazing and they served amazing caipirinha's. The favorite clubs were the Diva and Myst. There the drinks were free because we had a bouncer friend, the music was awesome and we partied through the night.

Finally, Sunday October 2nd, the last people from STORM left from Shanghai to Seattle with mixed feelings. We look forward to continuing our journey and to the luxury, known food and similar life in the USA, but we also know that there the hard work and long days will continue. In addition we had to say goodbye to Michelle, who decided to travel to Beijing and continue her studies instead of joining us in the USA. Altogether Shanghai was amazing, but we look forward to the next step in our journey.

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