The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.
Caricatures of the top three meal delivery services in the domestic online food delivery market: ele.me, Meituan and Baidu Waimai, from left to right respectively.[Photo/VCG]
On the 31st of August 2012, as I landed my feet on Chinese ground, I started to breathe in the air coming from the breeze. It was familiar. I felt so excited to be back in China, though that time was for my studies. In a matter of days, I made a lot of friends from different countries and one afternoon, my friends and I planned to visit the world famous Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. It was at that moment that I knew about the metro system. It was new, fast, and extraordinary to be encapsulated in a compartment. I looked around with curiosity, each metro train having six compartments; people were coming in and out of each station, and everything seemed to move at a brisk pace.
Six months later, as I walked down the hall of my dormitory, I met with my neighbor who was overwhelmed by big and small packages and boxes, with one falling on the floor, I walked forward to help her out and asked, “Hey Alison, what are all these?” She replied, “Thanks so much Vanessa. I received my packages from the delivery man, I’ve been buying a lot of stuff on Taobao.” I smiled back and went to my room in search of Taobao. Taobao? What was such a thing? I turned on my laptop and typed in “taobao.com.” I was stunned; I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is actually an online shopping website where you can buy anything you can think of. Since then, I always buy clothes and even food online. What made me even happier was how I received my packages in only three days.
After my graduation in 2015, I joined another university in Shanghai for further studies. I saw that people are more modern in this metropolitan city. Whenever I went out with my Chinese classmates, I always saw them paying with their phones; this triggered my attention. With the help of my classmates, I finally got my own account with Alipay, an online payment service launched by Jack Ma. This is an absolute gadget, very convenient and easy to use. Whatever the amount, it can be done on Alipay. From thousands to only a few cents, all can be easily transferred with a touch or two. When I began to use it, I paid a three-digit amount to buy vegetables costing a few renminbi. But now, with the start of a new era, I always go out without my wallet.
The time wasn’t long until I discovered the common shared bikes in 2016, serving people, including foreigners, in several cities. While walking the streets of Shanghai, I thought that many people had bought the same model of bike, until one day, when Ofo and Mobike started to display their bikes in every corner of the road. Then I knew it was something for the public. I inquired about this phenomenon and not to my surprise, it was what I thought. I went through all the necessary procedures and couldn’t wait to ride my first rented bike. Today I still use it everywhere I go.
Last but not least, nearly the end of 2016, the Eleme app made its appearance on all Chinese phones. Foreigners have always been wondering about the men in blue, and actually they are the delivery men from Eleme. Using this app, people can order their desired food, from hamburgers to pizza, from sushi to fried noodles. What makes my life easier is I buy vegetables and fruit online and get them delivered to my door. It’s good quality food in a short time.
The six aspects that I mentioned above changed the lives of millions of people around China. The Chinese economy is booming, which makes people well off. I’ve been in China for five years and witnessed China’s potential. In the future, China will be the world leader.
Vanessa has been in China since 2012 and now she is at Shanghai International Students University for a masters in Translation and Interpreting Studies.