Saturday, 1 December 2007

Things to do in Shanghai...

After having guests stay with us recently I have made some mental notes of what they like to do.

Some are obvious like shop and eat, and shop some more, and eat some more... go to or just look at the Orient Pearl Tower. :)

Others which may not be so obvious but seem popular are:

1. Go to the fabric market. Get something made. If you want a suit you'll need at the very least a full week though. Simple things can be done in about 4 days. Bargain at least 10% if not 20% off! Start with 70% of the price they quote you. Addresses are listed in one of my older posts.

2. Get a massage. Massage places are EVERYWHERE and compared to almost any other country, are dirt cheap. The place we go to we pay 60 RMB for 1 hour for either a full body massage or foot massage. It is located in the Hongqiao/Gubei/Changning area known as "Little Japan" on Xianxia Lu and Zunyi Lu. It is always busy and they do a pretty good job!

When that's done, shop some more and eat some more ;)

Some places I can recommend are:

1. Xujiahui - where you can get anything under the sun, where there are 6? department stores, and the big Grand Gateway mall. Where the geeks can go crazy at Best Buy (or Metro City or Pacific Digital Plaza), and the foodies can go crazy at the top of Grand Gateway and Novel Place, and the shoe-aholics and clothes-aholics can go crazy at any store. My favourites are Pacific and No.6 department store. I can usually find clothes and shoes in there that I like at reasonable prices. The brands at Grand Gateway are generally way too expensive for me (since they are mostly foreign, mostly European brands). For basic staples (plain coloured tops, pants) Uniqlo (in GG) is great. Lots of easy-to-wear, mix-and-match stuff at great prices.

2. Huaihai Lu - previously known as Avenue Joffre, or the "Champs Elysee of the Orient" this road is about 15km long. Yep, mega long. It's divided up into three parts - West, Central and East. Most of the 'action' can be found in the Central part (which is also the longest). I have pretty much walked along the entire street. It is tiring but the most benefit can be gained (for a shopaholic) by walking across most of length of this street (not in the one go!). There is no point to take a taxi and you can take a bus or the subway but you miss a lot doing that since the stops can be far apart. If you are just randomly browsing it's much better to walk, and walk and... walk. Near Shaanxi Nan Lu, Maoming Nang Lu, Huangpi Nan Lu (and in between) there are lots of department stores and boutiques. This street is also the home of wedding dresses and bridal photography stores. One after another, big glass windows with glittering displays of fancy sequinned, frilled, coloured, embroidered, wedding dresses. Billions and billions of different kinds. They must do a good business because day or night, they are filled with customers looking at their large sample albums. I like to take the 911 bus along this street because it's a double decker one and you can feel like a real tourist sitting at the top and looking out the windows. At 2 RMB a trip it's fun just to ride the bus along the whole length of this road to get a feel of what it has to offer you! :) Once you have pinpointed the places that interest you (I actually marked on a map where my favourite stores were), then you can get out and start pounding the pavement.

3. Dain Ti Hill/Neo Tang Dynasty - crazy Chinese modern fushion cuisine. Really tasty. There are chains everywhere but seeing as I just talked about XJH there is one on the 5th floor of Grand Gateway. Usually it's so popular you have to queue for an hour or so but sometimes you can get lucky and only have to wait 5-10 minutes. There is also one in an expat type mall on Huahai Lu near the Hong Kong Plaza. The one with Delifrance out the front.

4. Lynn - modern Shanghainese cuisine. Now I don't normally like Chinese food much but this place was out of this world. It would have gotten a 10/10 if it weren't for the fact that they allowed smoking. The fish with pinenuts was absolutely delicious. It looks like an expensive type of place too (being right near the Ritz Carlton hotel and Nanjing Xi Lu) but for 4 people we paid 490 RMB including drinks.
99-1 Xikang Lu near Nanjing Xi Lu 西康路99-1号近南京西路

5. Wagas - the good ol' staple. My husband is addicted to this place. Opened by an Australian there are now restaurants all over Shanghai. It serves simple, healthy stuff - sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta for a reasonable price, and great smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. Everything is really fresh! If you go after 6pm they have specials on the pasta. The one on Huaihai Lu near Huangpi Nan Lu is always busy and easily accessible.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

I love my Dad and Polly Waffle chocolate bars!

So my Dad arrived on Sunday and will be here till Saturday. His entire suitcase was filled with stuff for other people. Me, and gifts for friends and relatives that live here. He only brought one change of clothes for himself and a small toiletries case and a camera. There was so much stuff I missed from home, and stuff I wished I brought over but didn't, random stuff, all on a list I'd been compiling over the last few months. One of the things I asked him to get me are Polly Waffle bars. They are a chocolate bar made in and exclusive to Australia (I think). They are not very popular nor common. They are not sold in service (petrol/gas) stations, nor in the checkout aisles in supermarkets. They can only be found in the confectionary aisle and are always on the very top shelf or very bottom shelf, never at eye/chest level. Anyway, I am having my little indulgence now.. the lovely soft marshmallow covered in crunchy wafer biscuit and then coated in a thin layer of chocolate. Ooh I'm so bad I think I'm gonna have to eat a kg of vegetables to make up for this unhealthiness! Hey my excuse is that I need something to cheer me up about this freezing cold weather. So cold I'm going to have to buy/wear long johns. (I should also add that my sister did a lot of the work in finding the things I asked for, so I should give her credit too).

Mixed reviews here

Monday, 26 November 2007

Shanghai Disneyland a reality

OK OK this is 2 weeks old news but I'm sure not everyone knows... yet. :) For the city that has (almost) everything, the world's biggest theme park will soon be landing on our shores too.

Disneyland plan dusted off in Shanghai

By Zhang Kun (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-11-14 07:13

SHANGHAI: The authorities have confirmed that the previously suspended plan to build a Disneyland theme park in this city has been revived and preparations are going ahead full steam.

Qian Weizhong, director of the economy committee of Nanhui district, said residents had moved off the land targeted for Shanghai Disneyland, in suburban Chuansha town. The planned theme park will occupy 6 sq km, which is about 4.7 times the size of Hong Kong's Disneyland, according to the original plan.

"Local authorities have received positive feedback from the central government about the Disneyland project," Qian was quoted as saying by the Oriental Outlook.

Representatives of Disney yesterday declined to comment on the development, saying only: "Our focus is on the successful operation of our first theme park in China - Hong Kong Disneyland."

However, Walt Disney Company (Shanghai) Ltd said in a statement faxed to China Daily: "China is a priority for the entire company, and we have a continuing dialogue about a variety of Disney initiatives, including television, motion pictures and consumer products, of which theme parks are only a part."

Qian said arrangements had been made to ease travel to the planned site.

"The Shanghai A20 highway has opened an exit for Chuansha, near the planned east gate of the Disneyland," Qian said.

Foxtown, an outlet mall located near the site of the planned theme park, is one beneficiary of the development.

Lu Qiang, its CEO, said he was glad to hear the Disneyland project had been revived, as Foxtown had won the right to set up shop after several rounds of bidding.

"If the Disney project was aborted, Foxtown would face great difficulties recruiting tenants," Lu said.

He said he had been briefed about the recent developments by Nanhui authorities last week.

The planned Pudong railway will stop at the theme park. Metro line No 11 will also stop there.

When finished, the transportation connecting the park will be the biggest in the country's eastern region, bringing visitors from more than 50 cities in the Yangtze River Delta.

The plan to build a Disneyland park in Shanghai was first floated in 2005, but was soon suspended. Disney signed a statement of intent to build a Disneyland on the mainland in 2002.

Several suburban district authorities competed over the location of the theme park. The municipality compromised by putting the park in both Chuansha and Nanhui.

The Lujiazui Group and Walt Disney Company then set up a joint-stock company, but the plan was suspended. Hong Kong media reported there were widespread fears that having a third Disneyland in Asia, especially if it were in Shanghai, would harm Hong Kong's park.

An unidentified official from the Shanghai economy committee said the Shanghai plan had been suspended in part because of concerns the Hong Kong park would suffer.

My thoughts? If they want it to be a success they really need to un-China-fy it. Thinking back to our visit to the Dino Beach waterpark and our experience at Universal Studios Japan (Osaka) there needs to be:

1) efficient queueing and barriers to prevent queue jumpers
2) none of this pay an entry fee then pay for all the rides (or in our case inflatable tubes) inside crap
3) have more food outlets with different varieties of food (cuisines)
4) have decent gift/souvenir shops selling COOL or cute stuff, not tacky stuff, pleasantly displayed. Not put out randomly or in an ugly untidy fashion
5) an entry fee that is not extortionate
6) friendly, helpful staff that SMILE
7) lockers (not too expensive) and toilets spread out throughout the grounds
8) crowd control in general
9) signs in English and staff that speak English, mutli-lingual and/or pictorial signs would be most beneficial

They say that it's expected to be completed in 2010, the same year as the World Expo. If this is true then 2010 will be a very big year for Shanghai indeed!

Devil Sticky

Accidently found a new word to add to my vocab - velcro. The Chinese word for this is 魔鬼粘 (mó guǐ nían) which literally means "devil sticky". Haha!

I'll now add it to my fabric market shopping vocab list.

Here is a quick way to get the tones for your pinyin typing. Of course there are other ways too...