Boy did we live it up this weekend! We had a great time being unadulterated tourists in the grand city of Shanghai, home to around 16 million residents and according to Wikipedia, the 8th largest city in the world. We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday blissfully disregarding work at home and going the whole hog in the most Westernized city in China.
The first thing we did after getting to our hostel (Le Tour) was to take a nap. Ah, yes… vacation.
After that, we trekked to one of the foreign language bookstores in town, astutely named “Foreign Languages Bookstore.” There, we bought a couple of English books (I bought The Travels of Marco Polo and D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love; Joel bought Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood) and an English language map of Shanghai. On a side note, apparently the best-selling English translated book on the Chinese market is Who Moved My Cheese? Funny, for a society that doesn’t eat any cheese.
Following our book binge, we went to a French supermarket Carrefour (they’re called hypermarkets here) where there was a wine festival happening that evening. Not knowing what to expect, we ate dinner at a delicious little Singaporean cafe (in the food court!) then headed to the wine fair. It turned out to be quite the event. The entire basement garage had been converted to a tasting room lined with bottles from the four corners of the world. All the wines were available for free tastings, and there was an amazing jazz band playing in the midst of it all. Plus, all wines were discounted 20% that night. Needless to say, we had a great night and it was (for the most part) free!
The next day we did some heavy sightseeing, starting off with our first Chinese Starbucks (somehow it seems wrong to go to Starbucks in Shaoxing, but ok to do it in Shanghai) walking around the People’s Square, the Shanghai Art Museum, the Bund, the Riverside, Pudong, Old Town, and so on (as our students would end such a sentence). I bought a knock-0ff LeSportsac bag with little birds all over it. We met up with our friend Suj’n from the states, fortuitously in Shanghai on the same weekend, and had a lovely dinner with her and her hosts (also U.S. transplants) at a swanky Western restaurant overlooking the river and the Bund. I had the three course dinner (main course: pan-seared lamb) which included wine with each course for the astonishing price of $25.
Here’s a video of our day to prove we were there.
Finally to round off our day, we went to a little bar to see the band Lonely China Day, on tour from Beijing. It was a little dive bar, and the band was great (even if the drums were way too loud). To me, this part of the day had the most “American” feel to it; I felt as if I had been transported to the Crocodile in Seattle to see a band play. We finally headed back to our hostel around midnight, tired but elated.
Lonely China Day plays in Live Bar
The next day we headed back to Shaoxing, but before boarding the train we made a quick stop at IKEA (yes, it was the ultimate trip in Western shopping) to buy a couple of lamps and other goodies for our home.
All in all, a fun vacation was had and we enjoyed ourselves in the biggest city in the PRC immensely!