China bakery insight 2012: lost in translation

11 May, 2012

British Baker's associate editor Georgi Gyton has set off on a bakery tour of China to investigate the marketplace, NPD and the potential opportunities for UK bakers.

Day one: Thursday 10 May – my arrival

It certainly was a bit of a shock to the senses when I first reached Shanghai. You are greeted with a language you cannot recognise any of, both spoken and written, and quite frankly feel a little bit lost. After a long flight – well two long flights actually – the first hurdle I had to overcome was trying to find the taxi rank, which was harder that you’d imagine.

However, I eventually tracked a taxi down, jumped in and gave the driver the address of the hotel. He looked at it, looked confused, spoke to his colleague, and still looked confused. Despite not understanding a single word of what they were saying I knew this wasn’t a good sign, but with that we were off. After a hair-raising ride, and a phone call to find out where the hotel was, I finally arrived.

Despite the presence of jet lag, the warm sunshine and knowledge that some of the main sightseeing spots were only a few metro stops away meant I decided sleep could wait – I wanted to explore. I made my way to People’s Square – a single tube journey for the equivalent of 40p – and walked out of the metro station to be greeted by skyscrapers and city lights.

I had been stood there only a minute or so, trying to work out the lay of the land and which direction to head off in first, when a group of Chinese girls came and asked if I could take their picture. I obliged and then asked if they could take one of me. We got chatting and when I told them I was planning on having a wander round the sights they asked if I wanted to join them. So in the spirit of adventure I said yes.

They showed me some of the more traditional homes of Shanghai residents. Old two-storey houses with their washing lines hung outside their windows, sat nestled in with the skyscrapers and shopping malls of the city – a real blend of old and new. The next thing I knew I was being ushered into a tea shop, and into a tiny room in which I then experienced a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

The Chinese lady explained about the history of the teas and their various medicinal qualities – thankfully the girls I was with spoke very good English and were able to translate – before we tried a range of them, from green tea and Ginseng, to lychee tea.

After the tea, the girls showed me how to get to The Bund – the waterfront scene shown in most images of Shanghai – where I was able to see the buildings on both sides of the river, lit up at night. It was quite a view. It was then finally time to me to give in to the jet lag and head to bed.

Georgi will be reporting back to British Baker next week on day two of her tour. She will be talking all about her experiences at the Bakery China trade show.





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