Oliver Denton is a Brit on a mission: To be the best blogger in the world... and in his first three years in China he's already made the jump to become a full-time bloggerpreneur. A China blog staple, Oli's Shanghai Blog makes for a lot of fun reading. Oli's cheeky sense of humor is bound to put a smile on your face with short and snappy posts on all manner of China-related trivia and issues of the moment. Here he chats to China Travel about the blog some of the things he's seen and done along the way. >>>China Travel: First up, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in China?
Oli: Let me see... I lived in England until three years ago, when I came to China (originally on holiday). I got hooked by the fun, food and attitude... spent some time teaching, some time drinking and a lot of time eating!
China Travel: What do you do here?
Oli: I’m a blogger! I retired from full-time work in May (I was an English teacher here in Shanghai previously) and now write for a number of websites about a variety of subjects, and also do freelance internet marketing for various companies....
China Travel: Did you write a blog before coming to China?
Oli: Yes, I’ve been keeping an online diary for nearly ten years on djod.co.uk–and even before that I had some other websites (back when having a webpage on Geocities with a photo of your cat, a ‘Best Viewed in Netscape Navigator’ logo and an animated ‘Under construction’ gif was a ‘website’).
China Travel: What ever happened to your foray into online video stardom, VPN or proxy in China)
Oli: The first two episodes of Blogstar were extremely fun to make, but because both myself and my excellent manager were working full-time jobs as well as producing it, it was hard to keep up the pace! We also ran into a number of issues with distributing it (YouTube got crabbed, then Vimeo got crabbed...). Now we have a little more free time I think I will get back on the mission to become the best blogger in the world... stay tuned!
China Travel: You have a bunch of hilarious Chinglish and China moments on your blog. Which is your favorite?
Oli: For a sign or poster to be funny to me it needs to be more than just a misspelling... I think this DVD cover will always stick in my mind as being the most ironic typo I’ve seen so far: Fake DVD Shop Life Lesson #1China Travel: Have you had the chance to do much traveling while you've been here? Tell us about your best experience so far.
Oli: I had the opportunity to take a fantastic trip to Yunnan with my girlfriend (and my parents who were visiting). We spent several days in Lijiang in a fantastic hotel, had great food, met extremely friendly people and enjoyed brilliant weather. An honorable mention should go to Hangzhou, which I’ve visited several times and is the perfect place to relax away from the city (and eat dongporou!).
China Travel: And your worst?
Oli: I haven’t really had any bad experiences while actually on holiday. The worst thing that happened while in the process of traveling was that I got a migraine while landing on a flight from London to Shanghai, and thought that I was dying and my head was going to explode! It didn’t, and I didn’t, but now I have to carry Olbas Oil on every flight to inhale while the plane descends... pretty weird...
China Travel: What do you think of Shanghai as a tourist destination in general, and what are your top recommendations for a first time visitor to the city?
[pullquote]...if someone told you that they were putting crack into Yang’s fry-dumplings, I would be like “I knew there was something in there!”[/pullquote]Oli: I think it’s brilliant! I have had several friends and family members visit during my three years here, and they always leave completely exhausted, but happy! Several of my ‘must-see’ recommendations have closed down over the last six months–like Wujiang Lu (the real food street, not the weird dessert street that it has become) and Matsuri123 Food Stadium–but there are still lots of things to do. The view across the Bund (from both sides) still blows my mind, and eating hotpot in winter is unbeatable! The new Jing’an sculpture park (which is luckily quite near my house) is a really nice place to go jogging, too.
China Travel: Did you go to the Shanghai Expo and if so, what did you think? How do you think it has left its mark on the city?
Oli: I did go for a day-trip, and it was fun to see the amazingly designed buildings, as well as the throngs of people from all around the country. One slight issue that I had was that it was 45 degrees in the middle of June, and I nearly passed out from the heat. The imprint that it has left on Shanghai is undeniable, and the transformation of many undeveloped areas into green parks was rapid and very positive in my view. It seems that China as a country really enjoy having these large events to ‘get behind’ collectively (like the Beijing Olympics before it), and I hope they don’t have to wait too long for another!
China Travel: What's the one thing you wish you'd known about China before coming here?
Oli: That McDonald’s delivers 24/7 to your door. The second thing I wish I’d known was that if you eat too much McDonald’s that you will ‘overdose’ and not be able to eat it AT ALL. The biggest mistake of my life.
China Travel: What do you miss most from home?
Oli: The only thing I miss from home is spending time with my friends and family (and thanks to Google Talk I think I communicate more with them while I’m here than when I’m in the UK). Shanghai is one of those cities where you can find ANYTHING you want, you just need to look! Ok, it’s hard to find cask-conditioned real ale (and salt and vinegar Walkers crisps), but the search continues...
China Travel: What would you miss most if you were to leave tomorrow?
Oli:It’s a cliché, but as Chris Rock once said, if someone told you that they were putting crack into Yang’s fry-dumplings, I would be like “I knew there was something in there”.
China Travel: What three words sum up your experience of living here?
Oli: The good life.
To read more about Oli's China escapades and bid for blogger stardom, head to Oli's Shanghai Blog and enjoy!