Thursday, December 18, 2008 ;
We packed up in the morning and our host kindly drove us out to Puxi (the other part of Shanghai). We wanted to stay the last night in a motel within the city so that we can go some last minute shopping, and be near the HongQiao airport, since our flight back to Tianjin leaves from there Sat afternoon.
He picked up the lady from Mudanjiang and let her join us too. He brought us to a very nice Singaporean restaurant called Crossroads. It was situated in a hotel, and the waitresses all wore SIA costumes. Their char kway teow, Hokkien mee, sambal kangkong, salted fish bean sprouts were all delicious. Only the chicken rice was a disappointment. Dh insisted on giving a treat, and we found that for so much food, and having fed 6 of us, it was actually very cheap! Our host agreed that Shanghai does have cheap and good food. Ahhh, again, why can't we be stationed here?
Dh had to go to the immigration to collect our passports that had the permits stamped in them, so it was me, the lady, host and both ds. They asked where we would like to go.. I asked to walk along Nanjing Lu, since it is the Orchard Road of Shanghai.
It was so crowded and our host came up with a great suggestion. He told me and the lady to go ahead and window-shop and explore every department store, while he and the boys retreat to KFC. It was a win-win idea for all of us, isn't it?
He is not keen to walk in the crowd and look at clothes. The boys had a gift of toys from the lady, and couldn't wait to sit down to play with them. They don't like shopping too. And their eyes lit up when the host suggested KFC.
So me and the lady got to walk and talk for quite a long time, while browsing all the stores. She was able to tell me a lot more about which Chinese fashion labels were good and so on. She used to sell ladies fashion apparel and then switched to cosmetics and now she is doing jewellery sales.
After what seemed like a long long time being free of kids, we went to KFC to look for the men. I was concerned if the boys would give him a lot of trouble. But I saw the kids with Milos and fries and nuggets, and the host with Coke and sundae, all happily chatting and playing with the toys! ds2 was on his lap too!
He went and got more food and drinks for us, while I asked the boys if they have been good. It's so delightful to have all these voluntary child-minders!
We talked longer and then we received the call from Dh that he has collected everything and has arrived at the subway station near us, so we went to meet him. Our host and the lady then left for the nightly Bible study while our family walked a little more, hoping to look for things we can't find in Tianjin.
There were these ingenious seats in a department store, which let the kids have so much fun playing in the holes in the middle. Kids can even lie down cosily to rest. So Dh sat with them while I looked around. Nice...
After dinner, there were still lots of people shopping and walking along. At night, this street has earned the name of "Las Vegas" of China. However, it must be referring just to the bright lights and not the casinos, since it is a shopping area only.
Below are some pics of the night scene.
Look at the crowd still milling around.
Small trams to ferry people up and down the long long Nanjing Lu. Orchard Road should have something like that, huh. Only 2 yuan and you can hop on and off along the way. Tianjin has this too at the main shopping district.
Drivers of these vehicles will keep asking if we want to go to The Bund (上海外滩)。 It would be lovely if it was just me and Dh but with the kids, we gave it a pass, since the kids would not appreciate the history and the beauty of the skyline at night. Furthermore, it was getting late.
Back to the motel. By the way, most of the motels in USA have branches here! We saw Super 8, Travelodge and so on. We stayed in motel 268 though. It is very cheap but still clean and safe. We took the family suite with 2 bedrooms (kind of partitioned). Each "bedroom" had a bed. One had a larger bed, probably king size, and the other was a double bed. So there was plenty of room. Only 358 yuan (S$70+) a night. Terrific value for the location.
You cannot find a room like that in Singapore, in Orchard Road, for S$70+. In fact, we met at least 10 other Singaporeans there. For example, 3 girls with huge backpacks, travelling together, checking in when we were checking in too. They spoke excellent English (no lahs and lors) but the accent is unmistakeably Singaporean.
You know, sometimes, just the way we say "What?" or "Huh?" will give us away.
Then the next morning, I met a family with 2 young boys too, even younger than mine. They were checking in when we were leaving. It's so funny. The mom looked at me, I looked at her. I glanced at their stroller and their luggage, then I wanted to ask her, but she asked me first, "Are you Singaporean?" haha
We went out to walk and soak in the culture and the way of life some more. Didn't buy anything, just walked around and observe things.
Shanghai's busiest shopping district still has a good mix of alleys. In the small alleys, you can still find slums, illegal vendors, and all kinds of salemen selling wares from their pushcarts and back of vans. Here is an example.
But just another block or street away, you see all the well-groomed, well-heeled locals or wealthy tourists buying top end branded goods.
When it was time, we headed for the airport and flew back to a very cold Tianjin.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow