Wednesday, December 07, 2011

One Week in Shanghai

Our whole stay in Shanghai can be described in just two words: shopping and dining. First night we arrived in Shanghai, we trooped down to the nearest Chinese restaurant for late dinner. The weather was fairly cold, but I had a sleeping baby wrapped around me for warmth. And with the wife feeding me tasty morsels, I can't complain, except for the locals smoking cigarettes beside us.

Strangely enough, I woke up quite early the next day, so I went out to buy a big pack of bottled water and an electric toothbrush. We were told the local water supply is not suitable for foreigners. As for the electric toothbrush, that's another story. Had breakfast of some pastries we bought last night. Off to Super Brand Mall to have lunch at Chamate. Killed time at the arcade for a while, then the group broke up. Some went for more shopping. Some wanted to visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. I and the wife and SIL brought the kids to the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. It presently has the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Entrance fee for adults is RMB160, kids under 1 metre go free. Went to Xintiandi for some Bavarian fare at Paulaner Brauhaus. Haven't had iced tea for a while, so I ordered Long Island iced tea for drinks. Tasted a bit bitter, so I had to dilute it with some Coke.

Day 3 found us buying breads and pastries and coffee at Apple Garden for breakfast. Spent the day at Xu Jia Hui district. SIL was looking for a new SD card for her digicam, so we went to one of the tech malls there. If I'm not mistaken, it's probably the Grand Gateway. Since we're already there, I bought a case for the wife's new Ixus. Cost me RMB100, which I'm sure is a rip-off. The other guys were on the hunt for iPhone 4s, which I'm told is currently very hot and very rare. Lunch is at this old traditional restaurant at the basement for some authentic Shanghai dishes. Spent the afternoon looking after Aidan, while the wife did some shopping. Passed by FIL's favourite DVD store for the latest TV series and movies (ahem!), then dinner at Heng Shan Xiao Guan for some HK cuisine. The guys later went out for a massage. Me, I took a stroll along Jin Ling Road until I got to The Bund. The night is a bit cold, but magnificent views on both sides of the Huangpu River. Too bad I only brought along the wife's Ixus instead of my proper DSLR. By 10pm, the buildings started turning off their lights. Took a left at Nanjing Road, and headed back to the hotel. Things got scary when I got the pedestrian street. This may be Shanghai's main shopping street, but at this time of night it's a bit deserted. Some guy would approach you with flyers or stuff they want to sell. I was later approached by a smartly-dressed woman asking for directions. I admitted that I'm a tourist myself, and can't really help her. This doesn't seem to deter her, as she struck up a conversation asking me personal questions. She then invited me to join her (and her friends) for some coffee. Right. Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not about to pay for overpriced drinks for you and your partners in crime. Giving her a lame excuse about meeting my friend back at my hotel, I went my own way.

The next day is FIL's birthday. Had birthday lunch at the posh Royal China on the top floor of the Jiu Guang Shanghai. The kids went to sleep after lunch. Bought some training chopsticks and lucky charms to entertain them. Took a tour of Jing An Park across Nanjing West Road with MIL, then went to Jing An Temple by myself. Entrance fee is RMB30. First time I saw an 800-year Buddhist temple beside a shopping mall. Main attraction would probably be the Jade Buddha Hall on the west side, which houses the 3.8-meter jade Buddha, the largest sitting jade Buddha in the country. (Not to be confused with the other jade Buddhas in the Jade Buddha Temple along An Yuan Road.) More shopping at Nanjing Road. Dinner is at Moon's Steakhouse in Xintiandi.

Day 5 saw us having a photo session at Barefoot Portraits along Huaian Road in Jingan. Took us a while because Aidan was sleeping and we can't risk waking him up. Finished late, so we just had a quick pasta and sandwich at the Italian cafe downstairs. Then off to Han City (a.k.a. Taobao City) for some cheapo shopping. The locals can immediately tell you're a foreigner, so have your bargaining skills ready. From the first quoted price, divide it by ten. Yeah, it might be too low, but the saleslady will let you know anyway. Name a price which you're comfortable with. Be prepared to walk away. The saleslady usually will give you her best price by then. If not, you can always still ask around, and come back later. That's how we got Crocs for RMB30, sweaters for RMB50, rubber shoes for RMB50, and three T-shirts for RMB100. Note that these are all kiddie/toddler items. Nothing for the adults. Dinner at Maboonkrong Restaurant.

Did some major shopping on day 6. Went to Shanghai Times Square and after some deliberation, the wife finally decided which Coach bag she wanted. Lunch is at Lisboa. Went back to that tech mall at Xu Jia Hui for some iPhone4s and laptops. Word of advice, the next time you want to buy a Sony Vaio S (or Acer Aspire S3), just get one back in Sydney or online. At the very least, you get the official English version of Windows 7, not some Vistalizatorized Chinese version, which took literally hours to complete. And you don't get shonky excuses like "Oh, the laptop you wanted was actually out of stock. Why I don't I give you one with a slower CPU and chipset and smaller hard drive, but I'll give you an extra 2GB RAM. Heck, I'll even throw in a free 4GB USB stick?" Supposed to have dinner at Din Tai Fung, but the place was packed. They're willing to open a function room for us, for a minimum consumable charge of RMB3000. No thanks.

Spent the last day in Shanghai packing. Went to Raffles City for some more shopping, then lunch at Watami.

No comments: