In Love With Shanghai Again

BACK IN SHANGHAI – It was a last minute plan. Mum-in-law is here and I have to clear some outstanding leaves from last year. It is 10 solid days of holiday. Thought of spending some quality time with Felicia while mum-in-law baby sit our little boy. Then again, it is always my dream to backpack from Lijiang to Mount Everest. I couldn’t resist the offer proposed by my new friend, Jo. So many destinations in mind but so little time. After 3 days of bouncing itinerary, we decided to settle for Hangzhou and Shanghai and save the Mount Everest trip for mid-year. (It was April 1st when I contacted my friends in Shanghai about my visit – and all of them thought it was another April’s Fool joke from me!)Coming back to Shanghai is like a trip back home. I have so many good friends and families here. It is a familiar feeling. Even the DVD shop aunties recognized me. I love the city’s dynamism so much. And now with the World Expo, Shanghai streets are so clean and green. It just get better every visit. There are so much new things to see and discover. (Suddenly, I feel like moving back and settling down in Shanghai as my home for good! What a dangerous thought!)

A very short stay indeed but with the right combo of travel mates – Harshad, Josephine, Felicia and me. No Elkan to distract us. Josephine is such a darling – she is a sunny cutie with that prima-donna edge. We enjoyed cracking jokes with her. Harshad, as usual – a traveler’s nightmare. No scary inspection at the Chinese customs – but he was “checked” again due to so many impossible reasons! He must be cursed! Tracy? Many asked. She was enjoying a 12-day backpack in South Africa! Imagine her doing bungee, sky-diving and cage-diving with the sharks!

We filled our 4 short packed days with lots of activities. Well planned and timed, we managed to show our HK and Malaysian friends Shanghai’s very best attractions. Thanks to Hovman (for sacrificing 2 hot nights with Jo), Echo, Cousin Yei, Rebecca, Alicia, Johnny, Ming and Calvin – who managed to accommodate us in each and every way.

Here are our best moments in Shanghai and Hangzhou!

Day 2-3 (Hangzhou)
Peach Blossoms – It is the perfect season to visit Hangzhou. We visited the West Lake, the West Lake Wetland and the famous Lingyin Temple (which was built in the 400AD). Great weather and beautiful blooming to look at. The only setback we had was the lousy driver we hired. He was a nice old chap but he was very blur and lost. The road from Shanghai to Hangzhou was filled with life-threatening moments. Twice, I caught him dozing while he was driving! He wasn’t very familiar with the roads in Hangzhou and we wasted good time circling the city. In the end, it was Felicia who lost her calm by suggesting us to drop him for our night tour. Hovman called him “Mr Holland”!

Harshad was indeed charming. Many times in China (Dongguan or Macau), we saw Chinese girls ogling at him! Same here in Hangzhou, he got lots of fans staring at him. It wasn’t the “alien-stare” but “stares of admiration”. I wondered what kind of charm he was carrying. I suggested Harshad to put a “Crescent” on his forehead – that would make him even more popular with the locals! (We saw many Indian-like-Gods in Lingyin Temple anyway!)

Later that night, we met up with my new colleague Selina (mmm..who was there with a mysterious date!) and we had dinner, night-shopping and drink till 1am. I am back to my usual self…Tried hooking her up with my golden bachelor buddy.

Day 3-4 (Shanghai)
Immediately right after our Hangzhou trip, we checked in our luggage and headed for the new bund. (According to our great Inglish Harshad, it should be pronounced as “boon” – as it was named by the German.) The new bund was only completed last week (after a long 37-week renovation).

The next morning – We met some of my old colleagues (Alicia, Calvin and Rebecca) for a quick lunch at my favorite Jade Garden at Maoming Road. After lunch, Echo played host and drove us around the city. We brought Harshad and Josephine to Yu Garden (where we had the giant soup-dumpling) and Mo50 (a lofty area of art factories, graffiti walls and galleries). Later that evening, Johnny and Ming bought us nice Thai food at Hengshan Road. And we ended our last night in Shanghai strolling the enchanting designers’ alleys at Tai Kang Road.

When it was time to say goodbye, there was a subtle sadness in me. Surely, I miss my friends, my cousin and those places that I used to frequent so dearly. This is the place where I witnessed the impossibles and the wonders of the Chinese. This is the place where I learn the importance of kinship and friendship. This is also the place where I made many life-long friends.

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