So you may have heard my brother was here for two weeks with his friend Ben. It was a vacation for them, but for me it was two weeks of playing host and tour guide by night, and working at the office by day while they slept till mid afternoon! Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time the two weeks were up, but I think I fulfilled my duty as we ticked off a wide variety of activities in a relatively short space of time. Here are some of the highlights, which could probably help anyone expecting visitors to Shanghai this summer and wanting to put together an itinerary …
This place has been my go to roast duck joint for two main reasons – firstly, the duck is as good as I’ve had outside of Beijing and secondly, well, it’s across the road from where I live. The service has always been appalling, but the food, not just the duck but also the other main course dishes, has always been excellent. But we were horrified to see several huge rats running around in the rafters quite casually. The staff seemed fairly unconcerned when we pointed this out and as a result, I’m going to have to take this place off the list for a while!
I genuinely cannot decide if this or VUE Bar at Hyatt On The Bund provides the best view of Shanghai by night. From VUE Bar you can see a spectacular view of both sides of the river at the same time, but Flair has a stunning and unique view of the nearby Pearl TV Tower. Beware though, they have a minimum and frankly ridiculous 350 RMB per head charge for the privilege of sitting outside. Fortunately, there’s no minimum if you sit inside, and you’re still free to wander out to enjoy the view.
One of the big surprises of the 2 weeks was how Rich and Ben became obsessed with Taiwanese bakery 85 Degrees. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from there, despite having one just across the road from my home, but Ben and Rich were over there several times a day and often did bakery runs at 2 in the morning. Apparently, the “French donuts” are to die for.
Perhaps less of a surprise was how young Ben enjoyed having a shampoo at Tiffany salon at Raffles City in People’s Square. We were just passing by, but my stylist spotted me and with some justification, pointed out that I was overdue for a cut. Ben is very particular about his hair so refused to have it cut but didn’t seem to mind have a shampoo while he waited for me. Of course, in China, a shampoo includes head massage, ear cleaning and a few “accidental” brushes with various parts of the shampoo girl’s anatomy – all for 24 RMB!
Every tourist’s favourite destination – the fake markets. Yes, that’s not 1, not 2 but seven Ice watches at 50 RMB each including the boxes. I personally detest this place and the way they start their opening prices at ridiculous prices before eventually collapsing the price once you threaten to walk away. So a watch that starts at 1,800 RMB ends up costing around 300 RMB. I suppose that’s all part of the game. But how can a fake A&F tee shirt cost more than a real one? Riddle me this (or should it be “riddle me that”?)
In some ways, we peaked too soon. Young Ben’s highlight of the fortnight was the very first jet lagged night out, when he met the very lovely Jenny at Eden, one of the new additions to Shanghai’s club scene.
How do you top an amazing first night? Well, a visit to M1NT is probably a good option, especially when the dancers are doing their thing on the bar top.
And so there you have it. A flavour of what the last two weeks have been about. More to come, but I’ll sign off for now ….