Fake Rolex’s, real pearls-a trip through history

Fake Rolex's, real pearls-a trip through history
Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Our first full day on our own. Took a taxi to the Old Town and explored the narrow streets areound Shanghai Old Street. These old buildings are under threat both from the nearby bazaar which is swallowing up everything but also the ever present construction. We saw women washing clothes in the street and men having a chat in their pyjamas. It was Chinese Mother’s Day so this may have been a tradition. We passed a Party notice board warning that selling Western brand conterfeits was illegal and named 20 brand names. 4 yards on we were offered “Rolex, cheap, cheap”. The current discounted street price is 5 Rolexs for 100 Yuan ($14) We stopped in at Mid Lake Pavillion Tea House for some delicious green tea and watched thousands of tourists pour into the bazaar and Yu’uan gardens. It was serene on the top floor watching the throng. Then we decended into shopping frenzy and bought some dried mushrooms which we’ll use when we can face Chinese food again. It’s not that we became sick of the cuisine but after 14 days it’s time for a rest. We then walked though the non-commercialised streets to the Bund. If the Old City was Shanghai’s distant past, the Bund was it colonial legacy, great ecclectic marble monsters on the waterfront. The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, now Bank Pudong, is well worth a peek inside to see what 19th century financial muscle could buy you. Lunch at 18 Bund, formerly Chartered Bank but now a chic mall. Pannini and a drink more than dinner last night. Then took the Tourist Tunnel under the Bund. Do this if you get a chance 35 Yuan one way and you travel in tiny, 8 person metro trains though a stunning little 4 minute laser show under the river. It acts as a perfect transition from the Bund’s 1920’s charm to the 2007 reality of Pudong. Go up the Pearl Tower for some great views. The downstairs is dominated by images of the world. A little saccerine for my taste. It felt like a Chinese interpretation of Disney-esque world harmony. Not offensive just a bit pointless. View from the top great if my vertigo hadn’t kicked in. So Elly looked over the city and I studied the interior paint surfaces in great detail. Thank goodness it wasn’t a glass list of they would have had to pour me into a bucket. Took a cab to Renmin Park which is dull and them took the Metro back to Shanxi Road South and our hotel. A note to those who run London Transport. You can air condition trains really. These were like mobile chiller cabinets, very fast and cheap – like so much in Shanghai. Dinner at the Grand Hyatt in Pudong on the 86th floor. Don’t bother. The views aren’t great because the double glazing reflects your fellow diners back at you. The food is very bland. As with Hong Kong, the food in Shanghai seems to be better the less you pay for it. There are better Chinese restaurants in New York, San Francisco and London that those very few I’ve tried in China.


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