Nearly five years have passed since I first visited Shanghai, a city with an ineffable draw on me. Following our reluctant departure in 2013 after little more than a year’s residence, we returned as visitors last year with a little trepidation. With hindsight we needn’t have done so.
No such concerns or worries this year – if it’s too cliched to call it our second home, then let’s just say its a place in which we feel more at home than just about anywhere else. We know the heart of the city well enough to walk for hours without getting lost; we know just about enough Mandarin to placate angry taxi drivers; we know our favourite restaurants and bars; and we know its people: ambitious yet reserved, modern yet traditional, energetic yet bloody slow when walking.
Sandwiching our trip to Vietnam, our time in Shanghai was intentionally more social than cultural. Whilst many of our ex-pat friends have since moved on, a few stalwarts remain along with most of our Chinese friends. So we had a deliberately packed agenda of socialising, eating and drinking.
In Shanghai there’s no better “local” than Masse (it’s been a year but Chris, the co-owner can still greet me by name); no better cocktail bar than Closless; no better excuse to smuggle in a little rum purchased in Vietnam than a beach party south of the Bund.
From the night of bizarre Chinese entertainment (face changing magic guy who helped me knock over a beer) to being thoroughly under-dressed in one of Shanghai’s poshest restaurants (my shorts and bright orange t-shirt combo not exactly mixing well with the suits and cocktail dresses adorned by the other clientele) , we loved our brief return. Last year we celebrated our wedding anniversary sat at the bar on a Virgin Atlantic flight; this year we celebrated eating Sichuanese food with two of our favourite Chinese families.
Thanks to everyone that found the time to meet up with us.
And yes, we’ll be back next year. How could we not?