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Tim Foolery

Home » 2013 » April (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Shanghai-Lights: Shanghai Metro System

I always ride the #Metro in whatever City I visit. I think it allows you to really experience the City as the locals do…plus it it usually a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a taxi. If I can save $25 a day on transportation and reallocate those funds to a cocktail or two in the evening I call that a win.
The Shanghai Metro System has 12 separate lines that will connect you with all aspects of the City.  The Metro is extremely easy to use and has signs in both Mandarin and English (the upcoming station announcements are also in English as well).
We only rode on three separate lines but they were all very clean and well lit. Unlike some Metro systems, Shanghai felt very safe. I wouldn’t think twice about taking it anywhere a tourist would be interested in going. Like any large City, I am sure there are places that one wouldn’t go (on the train or off), but we didn’t come across that at all.

Like the Paris Metro, several lines in Shanghai use a continuous car system – unlike Chicago where the L trains are made up of 8 separate cars.  In Shanghai you can walk from the front to the back of the train without issue – on continuously long corridor allows for the maximum passenger capacity.

Loved this little superman on the subway. Evidently
Metro germs are his Kryptonite.

I recommend to hop on the Metro in any City you are visiting. You get a better feel for the City and you really get to live like a local. Do it, but be wise about it.

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Shanghai-Lights: Yuyuan Garden

Even after a very full first day in #Shanghai we still had a pretty busy second/final day planned.  Our main stop today was the Yuyuan Garden, which was a very short 10 minute walk from our hotel.  The Yuyuan Garden is a major tourist attraction and is even has a “tourist mart” for all the touristy crap gifts you may want: watches, plastic pagodas, parasols – you know that stuff you find in every City.

We were in Shanghai right before the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, so the park (and the City as a whole) was totally decked out. The temples were packed with people and the air was full with incense.

Burning letters for a clean start in the New Year

 
The Yuyuan Garden is full of classic Chinese architecture and is a quiet refuge in an extremely loud and busy City.  The park itself was quite busy because of the New Year preparations.  A visit to the Yuyuan Gardens is definitely a highlight of an trip to Shanghai.

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Shanghai-Lights: Mr & Mrs Bund

Fine Dining in Shanghai. @Departuresmag had a well timed article about all the great restaurants in Shanghai right before we left.  After a quick read of this article we decided for our one nice meal in Shanghai we would visit Mr & Mrs Bund.

We hopped a taxi from our hotel and in less than 10 minutes were are the restaurant — or so we thought. The cab driver dropped us off too early — took us another 5 minutes to walk to the restaurant.  Like most of our taxi experiences in Shanghai we were frustrated.

Mr and Mrs Bund is a restaurant by Paul Pairet (of Mosaic Cafe, Jade on 36 and Ultraviolet). Like many of his other restaurants, this place is heavily French influenced.  It’s obvious why we visited now, right?

We were quickly seated and menus were delivered.  Without wasting a second, the waiter came over and attempted to take our order. We hadn’t even opened the cocktail / wine list at this point, let along the full menu. As we asked for a couple more minutes to review the cocktail list, he took our food menus away.

Warm towels were then delivered to our table.

Our cocktail order was then taken, but full menus were not returned — but the waiter did return before the drinks were delivered and asked for our entree selection.  When we asked for the menus the waiter was visibly upset with us.  As he stormed away from our table a waitress grabbed him and chatted for a moment then our waiter stormed off in another direction and this new waitress brought over our menus. Saying nothing.  The service continued like this throughout the meal with our first waiter then waitress alternating between our table.  It was very odd and very uncomfortable for us.

Interiors of Mr & Mrs. Bund.
Tomato, goat cheese and balsamic salad.
Steak au poivre
Profiteroles with chocolate sauce…with a second
in the background. Oink.

Throughout the meal, the music in the large room would go silent then a more clubby tune would be blared from the speakers, the restaurant lights would drop and you’d see half a dozen servers trailing a sparkler filled cake – celebrating everything from birthdays to anniversaries to the unknown.  This really reminded me of the Olive Garden, Red Lobster or some other chain restaurant in suburban America. Luckily we were not celebrating anything other than bad service.  Good food, but really bad service.

Would I return to Mr & Mrs Bund?  No, not at all. I was quite disappointed in the execution and honestly the space.  The front house execution was extremely poor. The Departures Magazine Article had several other restaurants that sound much better than how Mr and Mrs Bund actually turned out.  I’d give one of those a try.

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Shanghai-Lights: Pudong Architecture

I love #architecture. Anyone who knows me, knows this.  Shanghai is home to one of the most beautiful skylines in the world, if you love modern architecture.  Shanghai is also home to the worlds 5th tallest building (Shanghai World Financial Center) – you can see this building below, it’s the building that looks like a bit bottle opener.

Just 15 years ago, Shanghai’s skyscraper neighborhood was home to just one tall building (Oriental Pearl Tower) – the rest of this area was farmland and rice paddies.  How things change in less than two decades.

You can see a major new tower under construction as well. This new building is called the Shanghai Tower and will be 632 meters in height with 121 stories and will be the tallest building in China and the second tallest building in the world (behind the Burj Kalifa in Dubai).  It is queued up to be completed in 2014.

 

 

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Shanghai-Lights: Chinese Foot Massage

A foot massage is one of those required stops when visiting an Asian country, isn’t it? This was to be my first authentic Chinese foot massage. I’ve read that the best ones are given by elderly blind Chinese men and women.  This is their trade (hell, a blind old man can’t drive a bus, so he needs something to do) so they do it very well. After a bit of pulling teeth, we got a recommendation for a reputable massage parlor for an authentic foot massage.
From what I’ve heard and read these foot massages aren’t the soothing, relaxing Swedish massage you get at a spa here in the US. These masseuses dig into your feet to release pent up stresses and can be quite painful, but the end results make your entire body feel amazing.
MS and I were led into a room with two chairs for our massages. We change into the pajama bottoms provided and begin to soak out feet. The space wasn’t all that soothing – it was quite, but had a distinct smoke smell…hell, everything in Shanghai had a tobacco smell about it.
Our home for the next 60 minutes.
Post soak hooves.
That tea looks like the water our feet were just soaking in. I’ll pass.

This hour long massage was quite disappointing. Instead of being the semi-painful massage I was expecting, it was just a calm foot rub.  My expectations definitely were not met.  We both left a little frustrated – we didn’t have time to get another massage someplace either.  The plus side, the massages cost us only $13 each (the cost of an average weekday lunch back home).

Have you had an authentic Chinese Foot Massage before? Where did you get it, in country or in your neighborhood back home?  I’m not going to provide more details on where this massage parlor was because it was a disappointment and there is NO chance you guys will accidentally stumble upon it.

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