Hangzhou to Wuzhen. A lovely two-hour bus ride through the countryside dotted with farms. Wuzhen is often thought of as the Venice of China (ok, not really), although it is a quaint village that dates back several thousand years and has many canals running throughout it. Most of the buildings date back around 600 years to the Ching and Ming dynasties. The village is made up of bridges and narrow streets all interconnected by canals and are a step back in time. On the day we visited it was jumping with many local visitors who were celebrating the Dragon Boat Holiday. A one-night stay in Wuzhen on a bed harder than the one in Xi-an at another four star hotel (not, again). Next year this will be a day trip!
The trip from Hangzhou to Shanghai was two hours by bus (notice the two-hour theme) not including traffic. The anticipation was building as we approached this city of 23 million which was a fishing village and industrial port a mere 35 years ago. We had all heard about Shanghai and how important the city is to the financial markets of China and the world -- plus the great shopping. A visit to the urban planning museum helped set the stage for what was to come. The massive buildings that make up the Shanghai skyline are impressive, and the world’s tallest building is now under construction. During our time there we could not see the top due to low-hanging clouds. Although the other stops were punctuated with business visits, the students got to see firsthand how business is conducted in China by visiting companies in Shanghai. These included a state-owned apparel factory with their own stores (Conch), a discussion by a luxury consumer product expert (Bund 18), Roxlin - a new up and coming Chinese brand with local retail and online distribution, GTL - a full package womenswear apparel company making items for for GAP, Ann Inc., and BeBe to name a few, and Alfilo (www.alfilobrands.com) -- a company started by an LIM College MBA graduate (Richard Kisembo) – and, of course, more shopping.
Afilo has a unique variation on the licensing business which offers partners the chance to own a piece of the business through an IPO. Some of their current labels are Cynthia Rowley, Nicole Miller, and Tracey Reese, as well as over a dozen other labels representing men’s and children’s brands.
All in all, the entire trip proved to be a great time and wonderful experience for the students. Then it was Shanghai to Newark - 14 hours direct. Gotta love that United Airlines food!