Everything here is hectic; Shanghai never stops. The old folks arise at sunrise to do their morning Tai Chi before being gradually interrupted by the commuting masses. Armies of three patrol during the daytime as grandparents take their single grandchild out and about. Local restaurants fill to bursting point between 12pm and 1pm as the Chinese, in unison, eat lunch, and again between 6pm and 7pm as the commuters stop off enroute home; Western style restaurants fill-up a little later. Street vendors appear after 10pm to feed the stragglers and restaurant workers, offering miscellaneous veg and meats on-a-stick. The bars and clubs close their doors in the early hours as the revellers stagger home in a manner completely discordant to the graceful movements of the Tai Chi masters.
To survive in Shanghai is to be swept along as one of its adopted citizens, going with rather than against the flow. Never quite understanding but fully accommodating this is a place where everyone seems to do everything at exactly the same time. Chaos, but somehow organised. The more we flow with it, the less time we have to miss the UK.
We’ve had week of mixing with locals and expats; KTV (Karaoke) and whisky with green tea (starts off weirdly; gets better over time) with the HR team on Thursday night to say goodbye to Alex as she ends her 6 week trip to Shanghai. We discovered it’s impossible to duet with JB since what he may lack in tunefulness is fully compensated by volume (and always entertaining).
On Friday night I joined Bron and her marketing colleagues for a sauna. OK; technically, this was a meal in a Korean barbecue restaurant where you cook your own food. But the lack of air con and being positioned directly in front of hot charcoals meant a good compromise between sweating the toxins away whilst ingesting others.
On Saturday Bron and I disappeared out on a boat at a yacht club an hour away from Shanghai with several other ex-pats as part of an Internations trip. Mid-October and still shorts & t-shirt weather; I could do with the weather staying exactly like this (mid twenties) but sadly it won’t last. A barbecue to follow the boat trip and a little dancing to Shakira (my “dancing” lasted maybe 10 seconds having steadfastly refused until nearly the end of the song). And the happiest corner shop owner in the world as a coachload of (mainly) foreigners pulls up outside her shop to purchase a few beers for the journey home.
A cracking Sunday roast (our first in Shanghai) today with JB, Elouise, Ryan and Richard and a few games of pool to round off the weekend.
The routine of chaos begins again tomorrow….