It took Stan Woodruff an hour to commute 20 miles to work.
That was a lot better than the 18-plus hours it took him to get there in the first place.
Woodruff recently returned from a near monthlong trip to China recently, where he was sent to work as an employee of Saint Gobain Performance Plastics out of Granville.
Woodruff lived in Shanghai while he was in China, traveling to work each day.
“I was surprised with how modern and busy the city was,” said Woodruff. “There is construction everywhere — road, bridges, buildings, apartments — it’s everywhere. There’s lots of traffic. The infrastructure is growing faster than the city can.”
Woodruff said while he was there for business, everyone knew when he came around near their shop or store.
“One thing that I found interesting was that everyone looked at us as tourists,” he said. “There were lots of places to go shopping, big buildings with hundreds of small shops on every floor, and obviously they would see us Americans and they think oh, he’s got some money.”
There were other things Woodruff found interesting, like the height of the high voltage transformers.
“Here, they are 40-feet off the ground,” he said. “There was one right along the highway that was only 12 feet off the ground.”
Woodruff said the city of Shanghai was very crowded with lots of people and plenty of modernized construction, but there were still hints of what the city and culture used to offer.
“Still, you could see the old culture,” said Woodruff. “but in the cities, it is slowly being pushed out.”
Woodruff said another thing that he found impressive was the number of advertisements found throughout the city.
“They are really big on advertising and on electronic media,” he said. “There were giant televisions all over the city advertising just about everything.”
Woodruff also saw the influence of Western culture and dining.
“I have a bunch of pictures and we went by the McDonald’s and the Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Woodruff. “The food there was pretty much the same. There was even an ad on one of the taxis for Hooter’s.”
Along with familiar tastes, Woodruff also had the chance to experience Chinese food straight out of Shanghai.
“The food was very interesting,” he said. “It is not what you get here. Some people decided to take me and a couple others out for dinner. The food here is made for Americans, and there is no comparison in terms of taste.
“Also, when we went to the restaurant, the host did all of the ordering for us,” continued Woodruff. “He wouldn’t even look at you before he ordered. There was a big variety of food, and it was on a big turntable so you could get what you wanted.”
Transportation in Shanghai was also interesting.
“All of the buses were electric,” said Woodruff. “I have never seen any of those before. Almost 90 percent of the cars on the road were taxis or buses or delivery guys on bicycles.”
Woodruff said he was not able to experience much of the governmental issues in China, saying only that he saw a limited amount of government television. However, Woodruff did get a chance to talk with someone who was affected by the laws there.
“Our translator was a woman who had got married and then they had a daughter,” said Woodruff. “Basically, what she told us was that by China law, her husband has the right to divorce here if they do not have a son under the one child law, and that is what he did.”
Woodruff said the woman raised her child and worked as a translator since and talked about the rule concerning having on child per family.
“They have been talking about changing that rule because they are now feeling the side effects,” said Woodruff. “There are not enough people coming into the workforce and keep things going the way they have been.”