Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shanghai Shenanigans

We arrived in Shanghai yesterday afternoon. We were met by a “professional” driver and van who expended every ounce of energy into getting us to our hotel as quickly as possible, with little regard to whether we would be alive when he did so. He was nuts! And for the first time in our trip, hubby wasn’t having it. He started relaying his discontent to our Chinese friend as I quietly urged him to just hold on a while longer (secretly agreeing with him). I could write a whole post on our wild ride in and the number of close calls but I will resist.

 We ended the evening with a third and final dinner with local businessmen who our Chinese friend is establishing good “guanxi” - connections and relationships key to Chinese success (another future post). This was by far my favourite meal – the Shanghai style of food is my favourite. They ordered dishes of spicy tofu, teriyaki fish, goose liver and raisins (they thought Canadians would enjoy it because the French do), crunchy fish, greens in broth, sweet red bean broth with rice balls, and baked dumplings.

The weather is much more humid here and finally my hair has lost the static that has plagued me since Beijing. Most importantly, I can breathe here!

Today when we hit the hotel buffet and spotted all of the western food – we knew Shanghai was different than the rest of China. Our friend keeps calling it New York, and in many ways, it has the same touristy, commercial, international feel. It reminds me of Singapore with its ceramic tiled sidewalks and glistening glass high rises, mixed with the remnant colonial architecture. We strolled the streets and ducked down some old Chinese laneways when the commercialism got to be too much.

This is a shopping Mecca for people with money. We strolled the Bund, the walkway that runs alongside the Bund River and across from the brand spanking new Shanghai. Unfortunately for us, it was dark, rainy with little visibility for picture taking. But we enjoyed the five-hour long walk just the same.

Tonight we dry out our wet clothes, rearrange our luggage and get a good night's sleep for the long journey home.

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