I’m finally settling in here in Ningbo after a bumpy and prolonged entry into China.   We arrived on Thursday and went to the factory to meet the team on Friday.

We also had another PCR test on arrival but were required to get yet another on Friday…

Seemingly unending series of tests.

The beauty of it is that the testers come to our factories, and so we lined up with all the workers.  Joining the queue with approximately 80 people ahead of us I was concerned that we would be there for hours.

Not here in China!

Nope, they have PCR testing down to an exacting process.  We had our tests completed within 10 minutes as the line quickly progressed through the 600 people.

Incredibly efficient as we had our results later that afternoon showing up on our health code app that we provided proof our covid free situation.

Every person must be tested every two to three days in Ningbo… yep, all 9.4 million people (2020 census).

So, you can see why they need to be able to get through the volume so efficiently.

The other thing I didn’t realize is that Chinese society is totally dependent on WeChat and Alipay for every aspect of life here and the economy in general.

Every aspect of Chinese life is managed via one of these two platforms.

However, for us to be able to participate and function here we required a local Chinese phone number.  The tricky part is that this is completely governed by the government.

Registering to get a local number was time consuming (3 hours) task, but ultimately worth every moment it took to acquire.

Yesterday was the first day we were able to leave the hotel and know that we could walk freely, if we had our local phone to show proof of our vaccination status and buy lunch.

Each person needs to scan a code at the door of each shop to prove to the security guard that you have been tested within the last 48 hours.

Ningbo is often referred to as the garment and fashion capital of China and as such there are lots of clothing stores.  Incredibly beautiful fabrics, but the range of prices was phenomenal, mostly with a significantly elevated price point.

This speaks to the wealth of the city as we saw our fair share of high-end luxury vehicles, everything from Lamborghini and Aston Martin to Mercedes, BMW, and Audi out on the street.

We ventured from our hotel and walked to Tianyi Square which is at the heart of the old city.  Although today it is surrounded by all the big Western brand stores – Zara, Adidas, Nike, Victoria Secret…

We also explored the side streets and alleyways leading off the square and to my surprise discovered a Tim Hortons.  For my friends in Canada, you’ll appreciate this.

We also discovered some very cool and interesting lunch spots.

My favourite, although we didn’t eat here was “The Frog Hot Pot Master“…. Not sure I have to go into details, suffice it to say that the dishes looked decidedly amphibious.

Sushi was the order of the day for lunch with families all crowding into an awesome little sushi bar just off Tianyi square.  Absolutely delicious!

To walk it off we continued in a large loop back to the hotel.  One historical sight that I wasn’t quite prepared for was the Jiaoqu Yaohang Street Catholic church.

This twin spired church is as you’d expect it’s a grand piece of architecture, but with a twist!   Built into the ground level foundations of the church are retail shops that ring the building.  I’ve never seen this before!

After a well-earned break we met up and headed out for something other than hotel food.

It was such an unexpected delight after 14 days of quarantine.

We ended up walking to a nearby street (Caihong N Road) that is home to a myriad of both restaurants and boutiques.

After checking out the menus our front of each establishment we decided on JJ’s Sports bar.  Now between having some pub fare and a pint of Boxing Cat (local beer) it almost felt like being home.

The food was excellent and the beer tasty!

I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal in my entire time in China, and especially in Ningbo.

Now that we have our new phones and Chinese telephone numbers it’s allowed us to travel and explore more freely even outside the city.  So cool!

I’m looking forward to spending some time exploring the countryside.

There are two places that I have in mind…

The first is Xuedou Mountain in the Fenghua district which is about an hour west of Ningbo in the mountains as they have some incredible hiking with gorges, waterfalls and tropical rainforests.

The second is Hangzhou which is two hours northwest of Ningbo. There is an area within Hangzhou is called West Lake and has been celebrated by poets and artists since the 9th century.

There are islands in the lake which have temples, pavilions, gardens, and arched bridges.  Clearly, the perfect spot for a photographer to visit!

Until next week!