Today we had the unique experience of visiting the Yangshan Deep Water Port. The port was a two-hour drive away from our hotel but it was worth the wait to see. Not only is Yangshan the biggest shipping port in the world, but it is accessed by the second longest bridge in the world, making it an extra special visit. Placed strategically offshore on an island previously used for small scale fishing, the port boasts water deep enough to accommodate large shipping vessels in their transit and collection of goods from Shanghai. On our way to the port we had a speaker on our bus to explain the ins and outs of international freight forwarding, a business concerned with the coordination of shipping services for companies interested in importing and exporting goods between China and the United States. We learned the basic methods of shipping, shipment specifications, and requirements of both the manufacturer and forwarder in the shipping process. As we were visiting a port, our discussion focused mainly on trucking to sea shipping rather than air or rail methods. The typical shipping process using both trucking companies and shipping companies starts with a truck collecting either a 40-foot or 20-foot container from the manufacturer, and delivering it to a port such as Yangshan for around $150-$300. The container is subsequently loaded onto a freight ship which stops at multiple ports along the Chinese coast before completing its trans-Pacific route for around $4000. As an aspiring industrial engineer, I found this to be a really interesting day out and I’m going to look into pursuing logistics in my career as there is considerable opportunity for automation and international involvement with imports and exports of goods. The ability to make processes more efficient and organize a mass movement of goods on such a large-scale appeals to me, and as such I really appreciated learning more about freight forwarding not only in terms of the future applications of smart phones, but also in terms of the direction of my career development moving forwards.
The port was very different from what I expected it to be. While I anticipated lots of warehouses and grime, the island was in fact very green, clean, and void of warehouses with only stacked containers and loading equipment. There is a lull in international shipping at the moment, resulting in fewer containers than normal, which makes me wonder what the port looks like at peak times when it is far fuller than it was today.
After our port visit, we went to another nice lunch in a mall in Shanghai. As I’ve come to realize in the past two weeks, most restaurants here are found in malls in the cities at least, which is a little unusual coming from the U.S. where many restaurants are stand-alone buildings. The food we served was very colorful, with many bright purple potato dishes and colorful berry reductions that made it interesting to look at. During my free time this afternoon I had the chance to visit a Chinese supermarket and try out some interesting new foods, even though I didn’t know exactly what the labels read. From what I could tell, I tried Pocky, a type of thin bread stick dipped in chocolate, and spicy noodles with seaweed, both of which I enjoyed. Our time in Shanghai seems to be flying past, and it’s sad to think that we’ll be leaving in just a few days.