Shanghai Part I/II.
This week in China… school is out! We’ve had a week off work for National Day, so this week’s blog will be a two-parter to try and squeeze in the events of four days in Shanghai.
Safe to say on Tuesday evening my holidays got off to a splendid start. I was halfway down the stairs with my giant backpack when I remembered I’d forgotten to water my damn plant. Since I didn’t want the beloved thing to die, I ran back up two flights to give it a quick drink before heading off.
Although I was quick, I cant help thinking this is the reason (in addition to the ridiculous overcrowding at the station) for missing my train. Unusually, the people at the train station were most helpful, letting me know I could catch a train just twenty minutes later. On the departures board the place name next to my train number were not the characters for Shanghai 上海 nor characters I recognised. I could only trust the seemingly helpful staff and hope the train would pass through my destination.
I unknowingly boarded the train and sure enough some twenty seven minutes later on China’s speed train marvel, I arrived in Shanghai.
By day, hellbent on being tourists, we bought tickets for an open-top bus tour. Picking National Day was a splendid idea, as it meant 70% of our tour was waiting in bumper to bumper traffic watching the masses bash past each other, wiggling into any nook through which they’d fit. The old Chinese saying describes people covering all terrains; 人山人海 meaning “People mountain, people sea.” (I’ve written the characters as this bunch particularly resemble the objects they represent.)
This snap was taken just off 南京东路 East Nanjing Rd., where we’d planned to go shopping earlier that day. After seeing what we’d missed from the safety of the top of a double decker bus, we knew we’d made the right choice of succumbing to the power of East Nanjing.
Finally we gave up and hopped off at the ‘Waitan’, more commonly known as The Bund, where, if you look very carefully you can see Shanghai’s famous skyline (and a few more people).
Battling through the rush worked up quite an appetite, so many selfies later we swiftly made our way to a bustly street food corner not far from The Bund. As I’d gotten some questions back home about street food, I took many photos, including one of this woman who, after I asked her politely, was happy to pose with her selection of uncooked meats.
Tuesday night was somewhat of a bust; we’d heard through the grapevine that Diva was the place to go, but upon arrival found (in addition to oysters on offer at the bar) it jam-packed with pretentious Shanghai club goers, crowded in a disorderly fashion eagerly awaiting a performer who turned out to be a product of Chinese Idol. After her wind machine and hair flicks became too much to bear whilst being crammed into a small space, we decided to explore Shanghai in search of something else.
Our next stop was an old bomb shelter, now renamed Shelter which we entered by walking (tentatively) down a sloped and windy entrance, finally to reach the inside which was almost pitch black.
If this quirky venue and banging tunes combo had been in Dublin it would’ve been crawling with hipsters, but in Shanghai it attracted a mixed crowd (although the dark made it difficult for me to judge them as much as I’d have liked). The energy wasn’t what I’d hoped, despite the DJ shaking his thang between cigarettes.
While the night overall was quite underwhelming, our second night in Shanghai didn’t disappoint. Knowing a few people here and there comes in handy when looking for somewhere to go and on the Wednesday night we got word of a ‘Ladies Night’ happening in Shanghai’s tallest bar, The Park Hyatt (jeez I’m really name dropping in this one lads). The bar is on the 91st floor, and as the lift brought us up, we could feel our ears popping (which wasn’t at all disconcerting).
It was free entry and free champagne, which certainly reflected the bar’s atmosphere; everyone in the place feeling shit hot because they were drinking free champagne on top of the world.
After Free Drink O’Clock had passed, we were back to Earth with the push of an elevator button, realising there was no way we could possibly sustain such a night out; spectacular views sure come at a price. We swiftly moved on to Cirque nightclub, which had been recommended to us by a promoter (why wouldn’t he recommend a club he works for). With the tagline
Good girls go to Heaven, bad girls go to Cirque …
we wanted to see what the fuss was about. A few 8 feet men, Chinese dwarfs and burlesque dancers later, it was pretty apparent why its reputation had preceded it. Another free entry followed by free drink (hell even I’ll drink if it’s free!)
Vodka bottles filled with who knows what were in ice buckets all around and needless to say it wasn’t difficult to talk any of us into an ‘after party’. The night swiftly got to ‘that point’ and before I knew it German men were showing me topless selfies to prove they were in better shape than the guys dancing on stage who I was photographing for your enjoyment girls and boys.
(Due to one too many rounds of free alcohol this photo doesn’t showcase my best photography skills. )
Somewhere between topless models and dawn I ended up dancing in the arms of a tall African man who had been our promoter and chaperone for the evening. As we danced we moved closer and suddenly, he whispered gently in my ear…”Show me what your momma gave you.”
Alright lads. Time to bail.
Stay tuned for Part II of the Shanghai episode, coming soon 。。。
(Click Follow if you wanna creep all over it once it’s posted).