Staying in Shanghai provided us with the opportunity to stay in relatively cheap International student housing at the East China University of Science and Technology. This had both good points and not so great consequences but I think the experience was well worth some of the inconvenience.
We stayed at the Chenyuan International Students Building located in the Xuhui district of the city. We picked this place because Art’s sister was teaching at the University during that time and it would make it easier for all of us to get together to tour the city. And, the price was right. We paid about $172 USD for a stay of 8 nights. Of course, this wasn’t a standard hotel accommodation and a far cry from the Beijing Hilton but we were prepared for that.
First, the beds. We ended up with 2 twin-sized beds (Art’s sister had a unit right above us with a full-sized bed) and the bed was extremely hard. Most Chinese are used to sleeping on hard beds but I was not. No amount of adjustment could get me comfortable on the bed, so after 2 nights of rough sleep I moved out to the living area and slept on the leather sofa. After that I was fine.
We had plenty of closet space and we had a separate living area with leather seating. The room had a small refrigerator which came in handy for storing Diet Cokes and waters. It also had a small TV with one English-speaking channel. The place was definitely need of some repair. There was a serious hole in one of the hall closets and the bathroom definitely was a little grungy. We came prepared with our own towels since the towels supplied are more like dish towels than bath towels and bottled water is used for toothbrushing since drinking tap water anywhere in China is not recommended.
We had two full-sized desks in the bedroom and Internet access so that was convenient. The building had no air conditioning and though it was a little warm on a few nights the open windows helped. However, this place is located in an active neighborhood and people are up early so the noise would wake up us early. Which leads us to the upside. We may not have been right around the corner from the tourist attractions but we did get to see a more typical Shanghai neighborhood, with its food stores, restaurants and other activities. It was near public transportation so we were never stranded and taxis were available to hail about 2 blocks away.
Doing our laundry is a separate story in itself but in doing that we got to meet some international students from France and the Ukraine. All very interesting.
Staying at this location may not have been a deluxe experience but it was well worth it from our standpoint. It made our China experience richer and more authentic than the typical tourist and put us in the middle of a neighborhood we never would have seen had we stayed at a tourist hotel.