PaperQueen in Shanghai - Week #3 (Feb 22 - 29, 2016)
They're BA-ACK! Remember when I was boasting of empty street traffic and no pollution.... My eyes are now burning and the subway is packed. Yesterday I actually got physically shoved to make it onto the packed subway - now I feel like I'm in China!
Our daughter Georgia arrived on Saturday, the same plane that Jack flew home on. Bye bye Jack! Since we spent our first week touristing with Jack, we had a list of "must do's" and "skip that's" and knew to take Georgia to the Hyatt's Vue Restaurant to try their Dim Sum brunch and get a photo of the incredible view of the Bund. The food was exquisite. Each dish was brought out individually. Everything in China is about sharing where food is concerned. I much prefer the sharing custom, trying new dishes, eating more slowly (chop sticks) and not eating as much. The Dim Sum was beautifully presented in darling handprinted bowls and dishes and then brought out on yet another lovely tray. The presentation was 10/10. For those of you that know me, this is one of my weaknesses (serving bowls/dishes) and I will definitely be bringing many back home. Note the Baccarat water glasses. Nice touch.
(The complimentary dessert they brought us at Dim Sum)
The Community Centre Shanghai (CCS Pudong) in Jinxiao, Pudong, the expat area where we live in, is very helpful for expats to get in the know of what to do in Shanghai. One of the activities they had to offer was a "Cashmere Tour". Hello, you have my attention! I signed up and found out that I had missed the tour by a few days and the next one wasn't going to be for another month. Pack that! Through my BFF hairdresser Emily, I found out the name of the guide and hired her directly to take Georgia and me. The Cashmere Tour expat lady, Fiona, emailed me back letting me know she and her driver would pick us up at 9:30am outside our apartment on Tuesday and would that be ok? Um, let me think about that. Yes. They, Fiona (my second new BFF) and Mr. Lim, her driver, picked us up and drove us to this very obscure, out in the boonies, freezing dump of a mall (I like to think of them as diamonds in the rough) that had every conceivable cashmere sweater style known to mankind. We picked up a few sweaters and a gorgeous cashmere blanket. I will definitely be bringing some blankets back to Vancouver to sell at my Spring Trunk Show. Best Mother's Day present ever. (DM me if you want to order several - every colour available - I just have to pre order to have them made.)
(Just a few of the cashmere styles offered)
On another day of Shanghai exploring with Georgia we stumbled upon a quaint little shop with the most divine cashmere coats in the French Concession. (Cashmere to China is like salmon is to BC, everywhere.) When we went to pay we were told (in pure Mandarin) that they only accept Chinese credit card, Chinese bank cards or cash (which is king here). This is very typical in China and drives me crazy. As tourists/foreigners were are expected to carry around wads of cash everywhere. So archaic. Because I didn't have enough on me I was told to go to the bank machine (the entire conversation was in pure Mandarin and a lot of hand flailing). As we left the store to find a bank machine we noticed that she was following us. (Clearly a determined woman and she was not losing this sale.) She locked up her store, cashmere coat in hand, and marched the three of us over to the nearest bank machine, which didn't work. Many Chinese banks also do not accept international bank cards. Again, so frustrating. Grrrr. There was then another Mandarin discussion as to where another bank was. Second bank, no luck. We finally found an HSBC and bingo, out came the cash, which I then gave her in the little ATM room in front of a lot of puzzled lookers. She then gave me a motherly pep talk about the importance of zipping up my handbag because of robbers (more Mandarin, more hand motions) and off she went. The whole experience felt like it was a scene out of 'Love Actually" when Colin Firth comes to marry the Italian girl and the dad and fat sister march him through the town. It was very funny.
(Cheung (that's what we call her - because of the bag) - translating the bank machines instructions - a determined woman she was!)
Foot massages are fab and very popular in Asia. In a sultry lit, tranquil room they start you off by having you sit on a comfy bench, your feet in perfectly hot, heavenly water and your back facing the masseuse. They begin by giving you the BEST shoulder, head and neck massage of your life, then proceed all the way down your back. You then turn and sit in a big slouchy chair as they go at your feet, massaging every little nook an cranny imaginable and then up your calves. (After walking as much as we have been it was heaven on earth.) You are basically a passed out hot mess (in a good way) by the time they are done with you. We stumbled home and went to bed. Best sleeping remedy ever.
(I have learned to never have a photo taken in close range next to this beauty without sunglasses on, ever (aging sucks). - Tianzifang Alley - one of our fave places)
Everywhere we go people want to take photos of Bruce because of his height (he is 6'7"). It's like travelling with a celebrity. So funny.
(Photo Op at the egg lady's stand - it was her mother that wanted the photo - look at the height difference!)
Another group wanted a "jumping photo". Hysterical - it took about ten minutes to finally get this one shot where most of the kids were jumping. Group jumping shots are hard!
Men carrying handbags
Georgia left yesterday and now it's on to a "new normal". Bruce working M - F and me venturing about and doing random Shanghainese things. Yesterday I met a man in a cab we were sharing named Peter. He works for a wholesale fabric company. I asked him who he sells to and he said Zara was one of his bigger clients. Holy cow! I asked him where I should be shopping and he told me of a place called HaiNing China Leather City. Looks like a road trip might be in my future...
Until next week!
wēn bié (kiss good-bye)
What a fabulous experience. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see those cashmere blankets.
Bruce isn’t that keen to carry my handbag but I’m all over it. Safe travels.
fun to follow you in your adventures…..China is full of fun packed interesting things. Look forward to seeing what you bring back with you. Enjoy the rest of your trip!
Great pictures,it brought back some great memories of our visit in 1982 and briefly in 2004.It has certainly changed! I am glad you are having such a good time. Cheers Penny
As a writer, I am just loving your posts, Annabelle. You’ve given me the idea to do something similar on my blog when we’re in Berlin and Italy this Spring. Don’t know if I could handle the crowds in China but living vicariously through you, has been wonderful. Looking forward to Week #4!