China: Final Days in Shanghai

If you missed my last China post, Peter and I spent our final day in Xiamen swimming at the beach, getting sunburnt, singing karaoke, and eating horse ankle. Quite the trip! Click below to check it out.

China: End of Xiamen

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Day 10- After arriving getting back to Shanghai in the wee hours of the morning, we crash till about noon. I am absolutely exhausted from Xiamen and my sunburn is not helping matters. We make plans to hang out at Peter’s coworkers place for lunch and video games. Since we plan on eating there, I decide to wait and not eat “breakfast” before.

We arrive at Rodrigo and his wife’s apartment complex and Peter bangs on the door. No answer. He tries again. Nothing. We try yelling their names. Nope. Brian nor Rodrigo are not picking up their phones. It is hot as an oven in the hallway and I need air conditioning and food (story of my life). Finally, Brian and Rodrigo’s wife come sauntering up the stairs with groceries and inform us that they live in the apartment next door. Well. They take us inside and I am hit in the face with a wall of beautiful cold air. They keep their massive AC in living room cranked on high which makes me so happy.

Rodrigo and his wife are from Brazil and I learn that his wife only speaks Portuguese. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live in China and be unable to communicate with anyone. At least a minority of people speak English which serves as the common business language for expats. But Portuguese? That is rare. His wife is absolutely beautiful with dark hair and stunning blue eyes and reminds me a lot of my friend Carina. I think I have a girl crush.

Brian, another food lover with a voracious appetite, start to devour a bowl of seaweed covered peanuts. Like this:

They look pretty disgusting but are actually very tasty. While inhaling them, we begin to play games on their Wi. I then proceed to get my butt kicked in MarioKart by Rodrigo’s wife. She is a pro. After almost two hours of starvation, Rodrigo’s wife takes the first of 4 batches of lasagna out of the oven. It is SO delicious. After almost 6 hours of playing MarioKart and eating about 5 servings of lasagna we head home. I am so full and think I might fall over in pain.

This is what happens when you don’t feed Kirsten properly. 

Back home, we decide to go for a jog to try and help us digest. Instead I feel worse and sleep it off (at 6pm). After a quick snooze and feeling slightly better, we head down to the Jazz Bar at the Peace Hotel!

An impressive taxi driver weaves through traffic with insane agility and drops us off in record time at the Peace Hotel. And we promptly travel back in time. The thick tapestries and dark wooden furniture are dimly lit with glowing chandeliers and candles on every table. Everybody seems to occupy another world as we focus exclusively on the musicians in the center of the room. The average age of the Old Jazz Band musicians is about 80 years old. How’s that for timeless? While sipping new-to-me drinks such as Manhattans, Cosmos, and Martinis, we listen to the sweet melodies of classic jazz and are transported back to 1920. I almost look down to check and see if I am actually wearing a flapper dress and cap (I wish).

Dazed, we stick around for the next jazz group to take the stage. These musicians are young and hip and many are American. The drummer looks almost exactly like Mike Krohn, my roommates husband. I think I had too many Cosmos. The music is much more lively and modern. After several songs, we head back home, exhausted and full.

Day 11- My last day in China! Saddened by the loss of my fedora at Kevin’s home in Xiamen, we head back to the twisted alleyways off Nanjing Road on a mission. Retracing our steps with purpose, we find the same hole-in-the-wall shop and purchase another hat. I also buy Morgan a beautiful pocket watch necklace. I almost keep it for myself.

Happy and coiffed appropriately, we snag a couple of DVDs at a sketchy store and follow our noses to the same fried bread stand. More delicious, greasy bread is bought and consumed as we make our way back to the apartment. Upon entering the apartment complex, we are greeted by a foreign visitor….

Santa Claus! I suppose he is here to welcome the hot sticky weather, beckoning people to take dip in the now filled fountains in the complex. Wait, swimming in the fountains is not allowed.. I honestly do not know. But I love the fact that China embraces American traditions and pop culture in its own unique way. And all Americans wear cowboy hats. Duh.

We hit it off. Sorry Peter.

Next we clean up for our last dinner out on the town. Peter takes me to a local restaurant that I doubt sees many tourists. Our meal is pretty good but the company is great. Per usual Peter orders about 8 different dishes which are promptly loaded onto the table in succession. Without bothering to fill a plate, we pick and eat directly from the serving dishes. I find that I am becoming quite skilled with chopsticks!

After stuffing ourselves silly with oily vegetables, simmered meat, and tea, we take a taxi back to the Financial District. I am eager to go to the top of the tallest building in Shanghai and marvel at the illuminated city spread out below.

We arrive at the base of the “bottle-opener” and are saddened to see its top floor swimming in a sea of fog. Still determined, we walk slowly to the building hoping the fog might dissipate in about 5 minutes. After walking through eerily empty streets, we are suddenly confronted by throngs of tourists streaming from dozens and dozens of tour buses. Shouting in Chinese, Japanese, and who knows what else, proud men and women in buttoned down shirts and visors wave their mini-flags mightily into the air, briskly directing their people on the sidewalk. It is insane. And it is almost 11pm!

Peter and I finally find the entrance to the “bottle-opener” and make our way to the ticket counter. I wearily eye the huge line of people at the elevator and am suddenly less determined to make it to the top. In quick Chinese, Peter asks the ticket seller if you can actually see anything through the fog. He says no, not at all. Um… so why the heck are these people waiting in line to get to the top to see nothing?? Quietly laughing at the throngs of waiting tourists, Peter and I leave and begin to walk aimlessly.

Viewing the skyscrapers from below is just as magnificent, and just as crowded. The buildings almost look fake because of their precise architecture. I feel very small.

Eventually we come upon a glittering mall and decide to check out the luxury items. I’ve always wanted a purse that costs more than my house. The inside of the mall is absolutely gorgeous, painted an immaculate white with enormous chandeliers and store displays of the best brands in the world. Louis Vutton, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Tiffanys, Swarovski, Dior… You get the picture. After pretending to be high rollers for a while we leave empty handed.

With a final stroll on the elevated walkway overlooking the Needle, we bid downtown farewell and are whisked away into the night. The next morning, I awake early and begin the long journey home. I know I will miss China and miss Peter. But I know for certain that I will return.

Maybe sooner than I think.


One thought on “China: Final Days in Shanghai

  1. A pity you didn’t get to go up the “bottle opener”. I enjoy going up tall buildings and getting a sense of the city from above so one of the first things I did in Shanghai when the weather was good was to go up the SWFC and you can have a look at the view here:
    http://roryinchina.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/xin-nian-kuai-le/
    I never did manage to go up at night but I guess you have to leave something for next time.
    Sounds like you enjoyed China and will be back just like I am thinking of going back.

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