To be fair, all birthday invitations were sent out with a disclaimer: “This could be the best/worst night of your lives”. I’m hoping in reality it wasn’t that black and white, but I’m certainly leaning towards the former. So on Friday night, 2 days in advance of my actual birthday, I and 25 other people (colleagues and Shanghai friends) were entertained by a giant karaoke screen and a small swimming pool, featuring a swim-up bar and a shiny metal horse. So far removed from anything I would ever do in the UK that it had to be done. In fact, I’m pretty certain that if anyone had invited me to such an event in the UK I’d have steadfastly refused to take part in anything so crass and vulgar.
We had a great night.
Earlier in the year, Rachel, Grace, Bron and I had a meal in Haven, a gothic-styled restaurant and had a wander around afterwards. We discovered the swimming pool at the top of the grand, sweeping staircase. Discovering it was available for private hire, it seemed the right thing to do to reserve it for a strange birthday party.
With only a few willing to brave the pool at the start, by the end of the night the large majority were in the water. Even those who had neglected to bring their swimming costumes (nothing dodgy here – the venue offered guests free bath robes, probably not intended to be used in the pool, doubling as impromptu bathing outfits) felt the urge to take a dip. I think those present would agree that we don’t really need photos of people in swimming attire plastered over the Internet – so I’ve uploaded just one photo from the night from a safe enough distance!
Stefan left a few belongings there and went back on Saturday to collect them. “That was a wild night last night!” said the staff. I don’t think I’ll ever have another birthday celebration quite like it.
Today (Sunday) Bron, Stefan and I went out to Thames Town – a bizarre area of English-architecture inspired buildings and housing on the outskirts of Shanghai. Built in 2006, the town was supposed to attract up to 10,000 residents but instead lies pretty much empty; a ghost town featuring a man-made Thames river and unoccupied fish & chip shops. Probably the fact that it’s so far out and 3 miles from the nearest Metro has a lot to do with it. Worth the visit though – yet another one of Shanghai’s many bizarre tourist attractions.
And How can it be 5 degrees one day and 18 degrees the next? This isn’t normal. I only do summer (t-shirt) and winter (t-shirt and coat). This is confusing.