May 2015: Two Years Later…

SAM_3664Nearly 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.

Jude, me, Rachel, Kim and Bron in front of Shanghai's new skyline

Jude, me, Rachel, Kim and Bron in front of Shanghai’s new skyline

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?

5th April 2012: Sims Arrive in Shanghai


“Here?  Here?  HERE?

The two Virgin Atlantic chauffeurs seems a little concerned about our choice of destination, unwilling as they were to proceed any further down the narrow lane leading to our Shanghai house.  Unloading 7 suitcases, 1 guitar, 4 bits of hand luggage (plus a little duty free) and lugging them down the lane was always going to be a challenge – many thanks to the workmen currently finishing off work in the house for helping to carry them up three flights of stairs (and no thanks to the Virgin Atlantic drivers).

The sheer amount of luggage was always going to be a bit of a challenge – from grabbing the suitcases as they arrived in the airport (although a genius idea from Bronwen to put colour-coded luggage straps around each one eased the task somewhat) to watching the Virgin drivers struggle to load them all into two saloon cars.  Rhian had suggested we may look like royalty arriving with so many suitcases – although it’s probably normal for royalty to have co-ordinated, matching suitcases, rather than 7 completely different ones.  And fortunately, the lovely customs officials decided we were struggling enough without having to place them through the scanner upon arrival.

So one housecheck later (locks on front door – yes please, bare wires and light-bulb above shower – no thanks) and we were in.

The house is fantastic.   It’ll be even better once we have furniture…