Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Jelly" means "Here" in Mandarin, then

Amazing. I now know why my sister seems to keep discussing jelly with taxi drivers in Shanghai. So, when my sister yells “Jelly, jelly, Boo! Jelly!” she’s actually saying, “Here, here, no! It’s here!” Gotta love Mandarin. In fact, I’m very proud of my sister for having learned a good basic grasp of it, it’s a very difficult language.

So, we managed to get off the ship at noon, and this time with my friend Paul in tow as well as Eric, we headed back to Le Royal Meridien, where my parents are still staying since the last time we were docked in Shanghai.
Since our last visit, my sister has quit her job, (see, they move quickly in the world of high fashion) and she was in a job interview when we arrived.

We checked in and agreed to head off on our mission to get Paul some fabric, to redecorate the Officer’s bar onboard for his upcoming 26th Birthday. My sister had told us the best place to buy fabric is the Donjiadu Fabric Market.
We are lucky that the ultra-attentive concierge staff quickly produced a little flash-card with the Mandarin translation for us, Shanghai is not a place where the taxi drivers speak or understand directions in English.
The market was indoor, and on 4 levels. There were lots of stalls with mock-ups of recent Chanel/Westwood suits on mannequins outside, with the picture of the original attached to them, yours made to fit your body for a fraction of the price of the real ones. I tried on a red coat with a ridiculously high and wide collar, I loved it, it was a Gucci copy, but decided against buying, you really have to be feeling strong to go through the whole haggling/fitting/buying rigmorole.

With fabric procured, and having met up as a group now, we got taxis to another indoor market, a “fake” one again, Fengxiang Clothing Gift Plaza on the Nanjing Road West. Our next mission, you see, was to get Eric that Arcteryx jacket he’d had his eye on since the last time we were in Shangers (it’s what all the expats call it!)
He got the one he wanted, at just over $100 US, which is good because it appeared to be the real thing (a lot of this stuff actually IS real, it’s made in Shanghai and just never makes it to where it’s supposed to go) and so worth around $400-$500, but I knew the purchase had been too quick, and when the seller even threw in a decent pair of thinsulate gloves, he knew he’d still overpaid, he just hasn’t perfected his bargaining technique like me.
The thing is, you have to offer literally a third of whatever they say the price is. This may sound grotesquely harsh, but that’s what sellers try to charge people, and from there the haggling begins. Basically, if they follow you when you try to walk away, you know they’ll accept that price and are just trying to make more out of you by pleading that your offer is too cheap. I do realise it sounds cruel to be so contolled with your money, but often these vendors try to take advantage of American/English tourist’s unfamiliarity with the currency or convince them to pay retail price for fakes. I say WISE UP! I mean the average daily wage in Shanghai is RMB35, that’s like 60cents US an HOUR, and it’s liveable because the value of goods due to lack of taxing/import etc. is less. We shouldn’t be paying US prices here (and we DEFINITELY shouldn’t pay London prices! EVER!)

Eric also bought this wicked orange ski suit, (yes, he can even make orange work) for much less this time, RMB450 (and guess who did the buying for him!) which is about $60 and a good deal as again, it’s identical to the real thing and may well actually BE the real thing.

He also sneakily bought me a cute black Mickey Mouse shirt for my rehearsals (we have to wear black, but I’m pushing the logo-inclusive envelope as far as I can!)

Loaded with our stuff, we walked through the People’s Square, past the Park Hotel (which I want to name Pang Hotel) for a cocktail and a sandwich for the boys before their journey back to the ship. It was a gorgeous afternoon, sunny and lazy-like.

A strong blueberry mojito inside me, and I walked back with my parents to the hotel for a swim in the pool before dinner. We also booked the whole Scarrott family in to the spa for various treatments at 5pm the next day.

Dinner was in a wonderfully salubrious Chinese restaurant on the Bund, where this photo of my parents was taken. Afterward, my sister and I navigated the subways under the main road to walk along the Bund (this is scary due to the abundance of very pushy beggars and motorbikes, yes MOTORBIKES that run rife down there) and I took this picture of her wearing the pleasure boat’s tiara, see? Nice.

We went across the street from where we had dinner, to an extremely chi-chi drinks spot called Glamour Bar, the cocktails were amazing, I had something pink and sweet called a Miss Martini to start, and I forget after that(!) and there was a good lyricist, pianist and bass player doing a final set.

On to for the final part of our evening, where we met back up with Eric, after his dance sets on the ship, and drank in a German Brauhaus, with a Phillipino band, and met many of the cast. . They had litre glasses of beer! I refused to buy Eric this ridiculous serving of beverage, getting him instead the more sensible half litre, which was still gargantuan, and still we all got drunk.

After a lovely night’s sleep in the Meridien, Eric and I decided on an early swim. This is him, pre-pool. I won’t dwell on it (because he reads this and will get narcissistic on me) but Good Grief this man is a good looking man….
After a swim and a soak in the Jacuzzi, we met up with my folks and headed to the Shanghai Architectural museum. I LOVE this typo: “Individuation” (individuaSHON!) is the word du jour. It’s what they’re all saying in Milan.
The museum had a scale model of Shanghai, and the intended renovations and city plan in time for the 2012 Expo there, that covered the whole of one of the floors. Here’s my Dad, doing what Dad does best, talking about buildings to Eric.

We walked the streets, stopping for a coffee in Starbucks and being handed a weird plush banana for buying two of their new Banana-coconut-coffee Frappuccinos (I wouldn’t really recommend them, and I was a partner at the green goddess of coffee myself at one point!) as well as purchasing more DVDs. I got the whole 3rd series of LOST. AND IT WORKS! YEAH! I’m so into that series, and we’ve been unable to get it thus far. I’ll be SO popular on the ship now.

Eric left us at 3pm, for his rehearsal at 4 onboard, and we met up with Jo at chi-chi shopping mall Plaza 66, where after much deliberation I bought a very expensive Karl Lagerfeld black shirt for my friend Paul’s Birthday which is tomorrow.

At 5pm, the whole family went for our first EVER simultaneous spa experience. I shared a room with Jo, and she had a Balinese massage, while I had hot stones rubbed into me until all my knots were pretty much gone. It’s not for the faint-hearted, occasionally the stones are REALLY hot, but it works.
Meanwhile, mum had a 90 minute facial, and Dad got beaten up by a Chinese lady under the pretence of a Reflexology treatment. He was visibly shaken on returning to the reception, where Eric, having finished his rehearsal, was waiting.

I took him up to the 44th floor, where between 5.30pm and 8, there’s free booze and dim-sum, so that he could eat before his 8.30pm shows. This is the concierge dining area, pretty sharp huh?

With Eric in a taxi, my sister and our parents headed over to a Spanish-ish restaurant Messa, where we ate on a terrace on the 2nd floor of the place. Although service was slow, the food was great, and we had a chance to plan our next holiday, in December if all are well and available. The Polish manager ordered me a taxi back to the ship for 10pm, which I accepted sadly, waving to my family all the way. Guys, I LOVE YOU!

Back onboard, a quick Happy Birthday shout-out to Roque on his 70th, our Trombone player, before bed.

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