Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Big Ones

Well, a tad late, but I figured I'd treat you all to a nice Christmas gift in the form of another lovely blog entry. I hope you all had an awesome Crimbo, filled with many Big Ones, and that you'll be getting ready to see in the "one-ders" in style come December 31st.

As you no doubt have gathered based on my last post, this Christmas was most definitely not to be like any other. There was no turkey (goose, duck, or any for of poultry) planned, no gifts under the tree (no tree for that matter), and no family with which to take it easy and be merry. In fact, the only indications that I have in my room that it was/is the Christmas season, are the two Christmas cards on my shelf, and the Christmas hat I got from my secret Santa. Nonetheless, it was a wholesome Christmas which I spent with my girlfriend (and her family), and one that I shall not forget. Italian and Japanese Christmas dinner was more than satisfying, and I was very grateful to have such considerate people to spend Christmas with.

Anyway, I'm sure you're all anxious to know what the crack was with Shanghai.

Shanghai is a pretty rad place. It was however, not what I expected. I'm not really sure what it was that I had expected, but suffice to say, I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed upon my arrival was the haze which covered the city. It was as if there was a permanent fog in the distance. I had heard about the effects of pollution on the cities in China, but this was the first time I had seen it for real.

We arrived at Pudong International Airport about 9pm local time, but it was then an hour coach ride to our hotel and by the time we arrived, we were to shattered to do much and so went practically straight to sleep. The following day we had a city tour, and were therefore woken at 7am. The hotel breakfast consisted of toast, jam, noodles, fried rice, sweet an sour sauce, Chinese dumplings and various other foods that I would not have classed as "breakfast cuisine".

The tour was a mixture of cultural sites and advertising. By which I mean we toured zen gardens, and latex mattress show rooms. Nonetheless, it was an exciting experience. One of the areas we visited had somewhat of a local market street where thy sold all manner of foods, including small roasted birds on sticks. Lunch and dinner was much the same as breakfast, minus the toast and jam, but it filled a hole, and was interesting to try the various dishes which were laid out on our table. I would like to point out here that, contrary to what I had been told by certain friends, Chinese food in China IS similar to the stuff we get at home. The flavour is more "authentic", but it still seems to be the shiny, greasy food you can buy at the local Chinese place in England.

The second day was our "free day", and we got up early to go to a clothes market Naoko had read about on the internet. It was basically 5 massive multi-floor buildings, each housing a variety of stalls and "shops" (much like suppa-shoppa in Kings Heath, but a lot less organized and a lot noisier) which sold a multitude of knock-off goods, and tack. Some of the "finer" establishments sported shop names such as "Armarini", and "Dainholl", and sold things that appeared to be of passable quality.

We then got a taxi to the other side of town, which was almost the exact opposite of the clothes market. The shops were all designer (Gucci, Rolex, Omega, Maserati), and it was a much cleaner and well kept area of the city. I hadn't expected to see such a place in Shnaghai. The architecture was European, and the road and city layout only added to this. We even stumbled upon a Marks and Spencer, complete with food floor and all.

Just before dusk, having walked from the expensive posh area to the "normal" Shanghai, we got lost and ended up wondering down another market street. This time it was a food market held in front of people's houses, and it was fascinating to see the different kinds of fish and meat on sale (including dog). They also hug a lot of the fish on washing lines, right next to the clothes that were drying.

The last major thing we did on our free day was to go and see the view from the highest observation platform in the world. Visitors are allowed to travel up to the 100th floor (474 metres), and the view is pretty incredible, despite the high level of pollution/haze.

Our flight was a 10am the following morning (Chrsitmas day), and so we didn't really get a chance to do much else, but all in all, it was pretty cool. One of the things I noticed though, is that China is by no means as cheap as I thought it would have been. Most of the stuff you buy (apart from food), whether made in China or not, is of a similar price to that in Japan/UK, and for that reason, I wasn't able to go on a mad shopping spree as I had hoped.

Something else i noticed as I walked down the street, is that I often heard people hucking up lots of phlegm, before planting a fat glob right in the middle of the pavement. Nothing wrong with getting rid of the phlegm, but a little decorum if you please.

All in all though, Big Ones, as you can no doubt tell.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year guys and gals.


  1. &, because i have no idea what's "big ones", i googled it & the 4th result is "Chasing the Big Ones 7: Do Girls Really Love Big Cocks? (2001) (V)" hahaha.

    & the definitions urban dictionary has are hilarious as well. see:

    one example: "big buldging often retarted ball sack which ejaculates orange acidic liquid."

    haha all of which leads me to believe "big ones" is something dirty...

  2. ugh my 1st comment didn't go through! so i said something along the lines of:

    beijing & shanghai are big cities that's why everything wasn't dirt cheap. go to any other part of china & it will be/you will be king. + the markets, stores by the streets & the like always jack up their prices for foreigners & in anticipation of bargaining.

    the european architecture place you talked about (victorian IMO) is The Bund which i told you about & you wrote down but obviously didn't bring along with you. it's the river that was old (victorian) buildings on one side & modern buildings on the other (where the tallest building is i guess). & isn't taipei 101 the tallest building in the world huh huh huh?