Last weekend we were in Shanghai, spending time with my cousin Bruce and his lovely wife, Nicki. Bruce is my cousin from New Zealand, youngest son of my mom’s elder sister, who married Bill and moved to NZ many years ago. Bruce, Nicki and Geoff and I have met just once before, in 2011 when I lived my life-long dream of visiting New Zealand, home to a favourite aunt and uncle. At that time, we met all four cousins, their spouses and kids and had a great time getting connected. We knew Bruce had been in and out of China working and we were really hoping there would be an opportunity to get together. Just our good luck that it happened to be on Moon Festival Holiday weekend. Like old friends, we picked up where we left off and began to show them around Shanghai.
Where to start? Well, after wandering the pedestrian mall, the knock-off market seems to be a natural. Geoff and Bruce bought electronics—Blue Tooth headphones, fake Bose speakers, etc. Nicki and I found some make-up brushes at bargain prices, then headed upstairs with the boys to Chen’s to buy glasses. After lots of fun trying on frames and bargaining, we emerged with new pairs for three of us while one of us bought yet another watch. Two and a half hours later we were done. Costa Coffee for some sustenance and then to People’s Square for the “Meet Market” where parents and grandparents advertise their single adult children as potential mates. Take note, Maddie! Your picture could be going up on a seedy umbrella in the park, along with those of hundreds of other young people.
We dropped off our purchases and headed to Pudong to see the sites. Up the ‘Bottle Opener” which in another year or so will be the second highest tower in Shanghai. Still, very impressive as the day was mostly clear. Strangely, we could see Pudong quite clearly but Shanghai was in shrouds. No matter, a stroll along the elevated walk-way brought us back to the subway and across the river.
You haven’t truly experienced Shanghai unless you’ve had a wild ride in a cab with an insane driver. Nicki and Bruce were sitting in the prime seats to view some of the made-in-China manoeuvers. Even I was covering my eyes at some of the near misses he made while merging (we might call it ‘cutting off’). More than once, he had to slam on the brakes to void collisions—I could see a shiny new Buick impaled on our bumper. Of course it didn’t actually happen but oh, what could have! Horrifying, really.
Later, we had dinner at Tianzifang, in Lapis Thai. Are you drooling yet, Woohoo Shanghai ladies? Wonderful food and fun shopping in this quaint neighbourhood.
Back to the bar in Howard Johnson’s where we talked until the wee hours (at least 11:00 pm!).
The next day was spent mostly walking, We started off having breakfast at Starbucks in Yu Yuan Gardens. It was great fun. As you can see, we sat at the window. As usual, people could not stop themselves from first of all staring at us and then subtly trying to get our photos and finally they were almost lining up to take our photos. I couldn’t resist getting a copy for ourselves. But, just like the photo above, we felt just like monkeys in the cage at the zoo.
Then back to pick up glasses (Ed. note: Glad they are working out Nicki!! :-)) then up Nanjing Road and all the way to Xintandi. On the way, we had a few “China” experiences with neighbourhood plumbing off an alleyway (not recommended) and seeing the old juxtaposed to the new. Of course Xintandi epitomizes that aspect of China with its modern restaurants and mall.
We parted ways here, and we headed back to Honqiao and home in Jiaxing. They had a few more days in the city and were then going to Wuxi where Bruce would finish his work, then head home for the last time. It seemed like we were old friends, but old friends who agreed it was good to be part of the same family. Hopefully, we will meet again in NZ or maybe in Canada. It can only be good!
After a LOOOONNNNNGGGG three days at school, we were off to Shanghai for our flight to Moscow to start our European Experience (Ed. note: Thanks for the ride Tim – what time did you depart?). As usual, we got on the plane 25 minutes before departure time (Ed. note: whoops, scheduled departure time). We were sitting in business class – not nearly as expensive on “Aeroflot, the Russian Airline” – and were immediately offered champagne. (Ed. note: THUMP!) And then we sat there – we were (as usual) 1 hour and 20 minutes late departing.
We finally took off and soon after the first meal was delivered. The quality ranged from excellent – like this smoked fish and pate salad to less than palatable – my chicken was done to a level only one person I know would have enjoyed and you know who you are, Ria.
Terry made a new friend. He wandered up from the back somewhere and stood there watching Terry eat for about 15 minutes. Although she offered him a bite of everything, he very politely shook his head no each time.
The flight crew was typical of Air Canada on the first leg – not helpful or cheerful. The captain came back through at one point and Terry asked how to get the TV going. He just shook his head no and kept going.
The highllght (?) of the flight was this uhhhh, person (Ed. note: PIG)
First, he topped off this white outfit with white athletic socks and white loafers. Then he CONSERVATIVELY, had 10 shots of what was likely scotch or rye by the colour of it. At one point he had 2 within five minutes, At another point, he had one so he ordered one for his wife and when that one came he downed his and drank hers. He had the flight attendant bring his wife a second piece of black forest cake and ice cream (Ed. note: Dinner provided a choice of one or the other for dessert) and then half an hour later got another bowl of ice cream for her – and this was after getting them to bring her her dinner half an hour before dinner service even started! In the last hour he was “secretly” smoking an electronic cigarette (forbidden), playing on his ipad after being told specifically to turn it off and using his phone as we started the landing run. He played a movie on his ipad – but didn’t have earphones so just turned up the volume and ignored all the looks he got from the people around him. (Ed. note: Luckily we had our own headphones on so couldn’t hear it.)
Enough of getting to Moscow for now – next time we’ll discuss the Kremlin, driving in Moscow, the luxurious Golden Apple Boutique Hotel and “Where in the World are Karen and Mal?”
The Shoe Blog
From Pudong Airport