Saturday, September 17, 2005

a glimpse of Shanghai

Robina and I was in Shanghai for a couple of days. we took it easy, in between a typhoon and resting time for Robina. Discovered that Coffee Bean and Breadtalk outlets were very common here in SH. There was a "Kopi Bean" in Parkson Mall near our hotel. It was very convenient to lug my iBook down to Kopi Bean for its free wireless after our lunch and dinners at Parkson.
walked into Raffles City mall in downtown SH. pleasantly surprised that it was a well designed singapore-style mall (S'pore developers what!) down to its food court. many China mega-malls are simply too huge to be customer friendly once u get over the novelty of their acres of space. plus there's a Singapore restaurant (Crossroads) at the food court, got soursop juice too! (a tad sweet tho...). there large presence of Singaporeans (and probably Malaysians too) could be seen from the numbers of S'pore/M'sian restaurants in SH. In Parkson (a M'sian shopping centre) there are two S'pore restaurants (Crossroads and Chinatown) and Kyros kebab from KL.

We often hear S'pore accents and Singlish conversations when we wander around our hotel area. Robina and I exchanged arched eyebrows when we heard two (obviously) Singaporean guys walking towards our hotel. one was dressed in bermudas, waist pouch and sandals: the uniform of kopi tiam uncles. Bemused (and cheeky), I shouted:"kopi siu dai!" in their direction. Robina asked me what I was shouting. I told her that was Shanghainese dialect for "coffee less sugar". Robina actually bought it, since she was quite charmed by the soothing Shanghainese language. When I realised that she acually believed me (I wasn;t trying to con her in the first place), I came clean and told her it was kopi tiam Hock Chew lingo.
During one of our free afternoons, we strolled to the spralling Nanjing Road pedestrain mall. nice place to rub shoulders with literally millions of local Shanghainese and Chinese tourists. being jaded tourists, we didn't even made it to the Bund (keep for next trip!). our Huang Pu River cruise did not happen bcos of the incoming typhoon (lucky didn't book early!).
no more touristy roamings until our last day. we hopped down to the "old" part of SH; actually it's more like refurbished for tourists. Cheng Huang Temple area, next to Yuyuan Gardens, is now totally commercialised with tourists shops (or tourist traps). although if u venture off the main tourist areas, u can still catch glimpse of old SH (aka crowded, grimy and spitting) which tourists find quaint...
we came across local residents making full use of the tourist spot. at the nearby garden we saw local uncles and aunties doing social ballroom dancing (u can see this is any Chinese parks in mornings and evening). here we spotted senior citizens practising their Peking Opera, providing free entertainment for gawking tourists.
we topo'ed our way to Nan Xiang restaurant that serves "xiao long bao" dumplings. there's a price differential as u proceed up the three floors. ground floor is the take-away section: cheapest. most tourists crowd into the second floor. third floor most ex (but most tables available). here we saw the workers skilfully "de-crabbing" the hairy crabs. the meat goes into the delectable dumplings.
more workers delicately kneading the dough with the meat filling.
we were keen to compare the xiao long bao from Din Tai Feng and Nan Xiang. there are Din Tai Feng branches in Taipei, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai. we found the Taiwanese re-introduction to the "homeland" of xiao long bao more refined. our driver had told us that "old SH" stuff were better, Shanghai-nistic pride! Din Tai feng's products are smaller and more dainty. but the "soup' inside the Nan Xiang baos were sweeter and more delicious probably due to the abundance of fresh crab meat. on the whole, we found DTF was better!


At 1:08 PM, Blogger Jenad said...

woah ha ha ha... interesting account of your stay in SH!! I want to visit SH & Beijing sometime soon.... I hope, maybe with Ad travelling abit more, he'll clock enough points for the both of us to come visiting! Wait for US!

I cant believe that Robina bought the Kopi Siu Dai.... maybe she should hang out more at kopi tiams when she's back with us when she's back fav is milo dinasour!


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