I had a really great day with an old friend yesterday (Saturday).
After a week where there was never (apparently!) enough time for sleeping I had the luxury of a late start: an 11:30 hotel brunch of spicy chicken and Shanghai-style rice – the rice is more like a soup – in preparation for a 2:00pm pick-up.
First destination was a place called YongFoo Élite . At various points in it’s history this place has been the consulate for Vietnam, Russia and most recently Britain. Today it’s a restaurant plus private club, and during the guided tour I could find only one descriptor – cool! The decor is wonderful/eclectic – but not worth becoming a member for one visit to Shanghai per year and that’s despite Sharon Stone being a prominent visitor the week before.
Afternoon tea was taken but no scones, preserves and cream as brunch was still too close behind…
Next a taxi downtown and a walk through an electronics arcade – digital cameras were quite attractively priced – I’m considering a Panasonic LX2 as a pocket camera (most pocket cameras have terrible wide-angle performance, but this has 28mm equivalent) – the ‘sticker’ saving was ~100 Euros vs Swiss prices and perhaps another 50 by negotiation but it’s a long way to return it if there’s a problem! Anyway I only walked away with a universal CF/SD/MS USB card reader for 45RMB – that’s ~4.5 Euros but fully functional, hence the photos!
Next step was a few shops in search of a jacket/suit with a Mandarin style high, round collar – I’d seen similar in an ‘in-flight’ magazine but couldn’t remember the brand. We took the undergrown rail even deeper into ‘downtown’ and checked a few shops but failed to find anything – well, not exactly true, we did find a almost good Häagen Dazs rum and raisin ice-cream! Anyway we continued our walk through this main shopping area with the Shanghai TV Tower growing larger in front of us until we reached the ‘Bund’ and a quick touristic walk by the bank of the river to see the towerblacks across the water and the floating ‘TV Ships’ and their advertising.
But now it was getting close to 6:30pm and our dinner reservation.
Dinner was at M on the Bund, on the top floor of a building that afforded unbroken views across the river – we planned to sit outside, but after walking all afternoon it/we, was/were too hot – so we took advantage of air-conditioning and still rather excellent views. It’s a ‘western-style’ restaurant and my first of the trip, but was chosen by my friend. Food, service and even the wine-list were very good. My friend could only be ‘forced’ into a single glass of Champagne – a passable Tattinger – so no bottles were purchased, fortunately the there was a decent selection by the glass and I chose a Torbreck Shiraz which frankly jarred with my slow roast lamb – but hey,…
As we were leaving we happened upon a cordon of Ferraris parked outside the restaurant, but as we found no drivers we had to take a taxi to Xintiandi – an up-market bar area of smaller brick-built buildings. Guess what; here was my suit/jacket brand – the shop of Shanghai Tang – only one problem, the jacket was 500 Euros – these designers! My friend laughed and said try it on, I’ll take a photo and we can take it to a tailor and have one made for 50 Euros – Chinese practicality for you! Anyway, following a leisurely orange juice, it was back to the hotel after a super day.
Today (Sunday) will be tougher; after two wins on my ping-pong tour of customers – I couldn’t let the last one win as I didn’t know the score as they did it in Chinese, anyway it meant he didn’t get a discount! – I think this afternoon they may wheel out some ‘bigger guns’!