Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pictures from Shanghai

Greetings from Shanghai! I'm here with my cousin Alex Tilson, who recently sold his medical device company and is between start-ups. We both arrived on Wednesday night (him from San Francisco, me 15 hours nonstop from JFK) and Alex's HBS classmate picked us up and we went out to dinner. (See photos of everything below.)

On Thursday, we had back-to-back-to-back meetings with a number of people who friends of mine introduced me to, plus visited a private school.

On Friday, Alex's friend took us to see a tiny business he's invested in that makes cutting edge LED lights – really amazing technology – and then to an enormous nanotech industrial park – a $1+ billion project, 80+ buildings, 14+ million square feet. It just opened this year and is only ¼ complete. Just the kind of project China is famous for – that will either drive China's growth in coming decades or be a wasteful white elephant (I'm not sure which). Then I had dinner with four folks from YPO Shanghai while Alex had dinner at his friend's house.

On Saturday, we borrowed bikes and rode all over the city for eight hours, seeing a classic open-air food market, the Bund, the Jewish museum, and other major sights. Then we had dinner with some more YPO folks at one of their homes.

The reason I came to China was to attend the Teach for All annual summit (the founder of Teach for America, Wendy Kopp, is now running Teach for All, which is helping social entrepreneurs in 32 countries (and counting) start Teach for China, Teach for India, etc.). The summit started over the weekend in Shanghai, then 200+ of us flew to Tengchong, a remote rural area in Yunnan province near the Burmese border in southwest China, which is one of four areas where Teach for China teachers are teaching, where the summit continues this week. For pictures of that part of the trip, see: http://edreform.blogspot.com/2013/10/pictures-from-2nd-half-of-my-trip-to_27.html

See captions beneath the photos for more details.

We're sharing a room at this decent hotel for $80/night.

Shanghai has a bike share program, but we've never seen anyone use it. And of the thousands of people we've seen riding bikes and motorcycles, we have yet to see ANYONE wearing a helmet (and the streets here are really dangerous)!

The school we visited

On Friday morning, we drove more than an hour outside the city to this dingy industrial park where we visited a company Alex's friend has invested in.

The entrepreneur who founded the business is originally from China but taught for many years at an American university and is now an American citizen. He's doing pioneering work with LED lighting at his skunkworks we visited.

The LED bulbs he's developed – ranging from small household ones to large industrial ones like the one Alex is holding – last more than 10x longer than incandescent bulbs.

Testing lights

A closeup of the household bulbs he's designed

Manually assembling the bulbs

The LED chips that make up a bulb

Everywhere we went, there were enormous construction projects underway

Third world China was everywhere amidst modern China

A promotional sign at the nano industrial park

This is what it will eventually look like – only the left corner has been built. It only opened earlier this year and is mostly empty right now.

The buildings are massive

The view from Steve's office in the Pudong district of Shanghai

Lena lent us two old-school bikes and we rode around the city yesterday

There are a surprising number of basketball hoops in the city. Man, did I want to stop and play 3-on-3 with these guys!

We walked through a traditional open-air market

This guy is selling live, squirming eels

An open-air dentist – seriously!

On the Bund – Shanghai's historical financial and trading district and the most popular tourist area of the city

The view of the new financial district across the river from the Bund – reminds me a little of Hong Kong

In front of the statue of Mao

We took a tram under the river to the Pudong side – it had wild psychedelic lighting

We went to the insect museum, which had lots of noninsects as well

The iconic building on the Shanghai skyline

Alex buying some melon from a street vendor

The Jewish museum. The Chinese consul in Vienna, Ho Feng Shan, disobeyed orders and issued thousands of travel visas to Jews from 1938-40 to travel to Shanghai to escape the Nazis (click here for more details). 23,000-30,000 lived in Shanghai during WW II and almost all survived (the Germans tried to persuade the Japanese to murder all of them, but they didn't).

An incredible story of a Jewish family escaping Germany to Shanghai

There was a very well done and moving exhibit about Auschwitz

A 1:1,500 model of the city at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

Dinner Sunday night at the M Restaurant overlooking the Bund, with the Pudong skyline in the background

The Pudong skyline at night

The Bund

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