May 22nd: Pudong

In Captain's Hostel near the Bund: Andrea, Rachel, Bron and me.

In Captain’s Hostel near the Bund: Andrea, Rachel, Bron and me.

Bron and Rachel on the Bund

Bron and Rachel on the Bund

In April last year, two fresh-faced, optimistic Brits boarded a plane to Shanghai in anticipation of a three-year move to China.  A little over a year later, we’re heading back in the opposite direction.

A few days after arriving last year, Bron and I headed for a pub quiz in a now-closed pub called the British Bulldog.  It was there that we met Rachel, a fresh-faced, optimistic American, herself having relatively recently arrived in the country.  Very fitting then, that we should spend our last night in China with Rachel; another of our close friends we’ve met over the last year that we will definitely remain in contact with.

Fitting also (because this is about me and Bron) that our last meal in China should be an Indian, cooked for us by Chong and Isaac’s Indian-cooking ayi.  An excellent, home-cooked curry; a shame we were never able to make more use of her culinary skills.

We followed the Indian meal with a last trip to the Bund, meeting up with Andrea and Rachel’s extra-special man friend, Ben.  A few last cocktails on the Bund (one with both baijiu – Chinese Rice Wine – and rum, tasting as bad as it sounds) to end our time in China.

Airport lounges are never the best place for me to write blogs, so I’ll end this one here.  I’ll add a few more once we’re back in the UK, and then, who knows…

China: goodbye [for now]…

March 27th: Underwater Golf

Bron and Rachel under the sea, playing golf.

Bron and Rachel under the sea, playing golf.

It wasn’t really underwater.  It was on a basement floor, below sea level, but not underwater.  Unless everything underwater is always florescent, in which case I’m mistaken.  Rachel’s idea of trying something “a little different” was certainly that – on Wednesday night, over in the New World Centre in Pudong (on the dark side of the river, where we seldom visit), we ventured into a strange world of crazy golf, Chinese style.  We declined the offer of having our own personal scorer, and stumbled through the course with our florescent golf balls and clubs.  A strange experience…. Rachel has these ideas…

The previous night’s strange experience wasn’t of Rachel’s doing.  An attempt to try out a couple of bars on the Bund before heading to the Red Door restaurant sounds innocuous enough, but after being refused entry at the Red Door for our lack of burlesque outfits to walking out of another restaurant for being insulted by the waiter over my choice of beer (amongst over things), it was another strange night.

A few more such nights await before we leave…

September 9th: Gothic Karaoke Swimming Pools

Meal at Haven

Bron, Rachel and Grace at Haven

“Shanghai’s first gothic restaurant” (and only, I think), claims Haven’s website, “and we will close our doors forever after 666 events”.  Gothic in architecture, not in music (with creepy jazz rather than creepy Cure being played in the background), Haven offers its patrons a unique, vampire-esque experience in a city of copycat, overcrowded eateries.  Our table was in the middle of the huge dining hall, with high-backed chairs and only candles for lighting to continue the theme.   Sadly, the food during our meal with Grace and Rachel on Wednesday night wasn’t spectacular; I guess we were paying for the setting rather than the cooking.

Vampire Karaoke

The bar at the end of the Haven swimming pool

So what do vampires like to do once they’ve finished eating?  In Haven, they obviously climb the grand, sweeping staircase and enter the mysteriously lit door at the top of the stairs.  Behind the door lies a small swimming pool, complete with TV display in the ceiling for bathers to sing karaoke.   Vampire Karaoke.  Again, only in China.

 

Duck Blood

Duck blood

An impromptu Hot Pot meal on Friday night with Andrew and Richard saw yet another new addition to my list of “Foods to try once only”: duck blood.  Congealed and served like meat loaf.  Possibly a delicacy, but probably never again for me.

 

Shanghai is split on two sides by the Huangpu River, with Puxi – where we live – to the east, and Pudong to the west.  We rarely venture over the other side of the river, since to us it largely seems to be made up of huge ex-pat compounds, multi-lane highways and more importantly: a lack of taxis.  Early Saturday evening, we met up with the work gang at an Internations barbecue at a bar called “Face” over in the dark side of Pudong.   A well-attended event, with free drinks all evening long once we’d paid the initial £15 entry fee.  Followed by a taxi back to the normal world for a few more drinks and games of pool.
Only four of us left at the end of the night; a new temporary addition to the late-night gang; Alex, our HR representative in the UK, over here for a month to help out.  So 9 hours after meeting up, we called it a night.

* Hot pot: A communal pot of hot soup into which you put raw ingredients.  Usually thinly sliced pork, beef, etc.  But sometimes duck blood.