Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shanghaied By Shopping

I’m baaack...with an enormous suitcase (H was NOT amused) and a terrible, I believe pollution induced, hacking cough and fever (H was REALLY not amused, as he didn't want to catch it before his next trip in less than 24 hours).

What can I say? China is the bomb, except for the pollution, which is ever present and unremitting! Blogging was not particularly easy. I'm convinced that Google sites were being blocked the first few days in Shanghai and in Beijing, my internet access was spotty. I missed you!

THIS is what Shanghai looked like: cloudy, foggy, misty, polluted-y. I saw blue skies one day.

This was the only picture I have of the lobby of our hotel in Shanghai, the Grand Hyatt, because they’re very touchy about photographs in certain places, except you never know where those places are until the always-present minders tell you no pictures.

On to the good stuff...Have I shared with you how really touched in the head I am about shopping when I travel? I look at it as an extension of other cultural experiences like museums and monuments. H thinks it’s just because I like to buy stuff. Well, of course, there is that…but, actually, I take great pleasure in seeing various objects around the house from different places and remembering where I was when I bought them.

My 2 greatest shopping hauls until now, were in Cambodia and India – 2 separate trips. I LOVE the silk scarves I bought in Siem Reap and I wear one (or another or another or another) almost everyday, which makes me think of majestic Ankor Wat that I feel lucky to have seen. India was noteworthy for the cushions I bought. Since I know H isn’t reading this, the number hovered around 20. I now have a pillow or silk pillow cover to suit any need or situation. That was a trip with my beloved A, who was living in Bombay (before Paris) and boy, did she know where to take me!

In Shanghai, we were a small group of multinational spouses (this time, no husbands in our group). This one day was basically for shopping. (We enjoyed more cultural pursuits, with a bit of shopping, on following days.)
3 of us tagged along with one wily shopper (she was French…need I say more?) and we went to an indoor silk market, The Shanghai South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market , where we found stand after stand of silks, cashmeres, scarves and bags and more...

We split up and I fell for one girl’s “Hi Lady!” I LOVED a green pea jacket (not green pea…jacket – a pea jacket that was green) and then, as we were bargaining - I AM a prodigious bargainer - she asked me if I wanted one in red too. I figured I wouldn’t be coming this way again anytime soon (after H saw my suitcase, he concurred) so why not? (The wrinkles are from the 24 hour trip.) It was my very first completely made to order clothing item(s). And since we're dishing, each CASHMERE jacket was about $65 - remember it was made just for me and ready in 48 hours. (Amazingly, I could have had it in one day, if I had needed to.)


A few more bits and pieces were procured, I don’t want to go into too much detail, so I don’t blow my line “Oh, this old thing” when new purchases are brought out from time to time.

We made a quick hotel stop and then back out again. This time we were accompanied by a fine guide whose mission was to take us to an antique market and to look at antique furniture.
The Dongtai Antique Market starts out as a typical street market - stall after stall of things you never thought you needed, but then decide you can't live without.

Half the time, of course, I had no clue what I was looking at, but then when I found a doughnut-shaped lacquered box for necklaces or another box for bamboo skewers for lichee-gathering in distant parts of China (okay, I made that one up), I had to have it. I never have buyer's remorse, only non-buyers regret.

We saw some beautiful porcelain, old calligraphy pens and many other relics of old China, so many of which have been destroyed at various points in China’s history.

At a later stop, the furniture was striking. If not for the shipping around the world, it would not have been outrageous. I figured new dining room furniture might be a bit much to pull off, even considering that H doesn’t notice much.
I’m trying to remember if he figured out we got a new car about 4 years ago…

Dinner that night was a fine banquet at the
Xiao Shan Qing Restaurant in the Shile Boutique Lifestyle Centre with these beautiful folks entertaining us before dinner.

I'm guessing the name of the restaurant referred to the flute one of the musicians was playing.

The Menu
Mushrooms in Smoked Dried Bean Curd
Pears in marinade
Pork Terrine in “
Huai Yang” style
Seaweed Egg Roll
Xiao Shan Qing Consommé
Five Wellness Bao
Sautéed River Shrimp with Long Hing green tea
Money Bag Chicken with Asparagus
Beef Fillet with Black Peppercorn Sauce
Thousand Layer
Lotus in light spicy flavor
Braised Mushrooms with Abalone Sauce
Xiao Shan Qing Fried Rice
Fruit Platter

What did I like? I loved the bao with the soup. I liked the seaweed egg roll and the lotus root was good in a very spicy, very delicious sauce. The fried rice was greaseless and without a trace of soy sauce. In fact, the fried rice I had everywhere in China was superb.

Next time, a cultural tour of Shanghai with architectural landmarks and spring rolls made easy…


Emiline said...

You're back!

You've reminded me how much I love shopping on vacations.
I like the jackets...
I also like the beads. Are those necklaces? They look like something I'd wear.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Just gorgeous stuff. You really know how to make the most of your time abroad. Hubby and I are on a tight budget this year, so we're not doing any serious traveling, so reading your blog these days helps me travel by proxy (even if it does make me hate you in that envious kind of way).

Tracy said...

Welcome back! I envy your travels, especially the shopping!

Cynthia said...

Reading this was so exciting! I'm so glad that you're back!

Sue said...

Hi, Em,
I'm so bummed that it's May and it could be a few months before I can wear those jackets. Maybe I need a trip to Buenos Aires.

Darn!!! I didn't get any of those beaded necklaces. Do you think I should have?

Hi Rach,
For some reason, my husband doesn't exactly agree with how I spend my time while traveling.

Go ahead, hate me, I can take it. Unfortunately, there won't be too many other opportunities for it in the near future...

Thanks, Tracy,
I LOVE my stuff!

Hi Cyn,
You're so sweet...Reading your blog every week is like traveling to exotic locales.