Difficult to believe it was ten years ago, but it was quite a trip to Shanghai. A little impromptu, the holiday was due to a friend getting married in the city, and so a group of us went for the occasion. It was a chilly time to go, right over the new year period.
It’s a remarkable city, a metropolis really, which carried the slight veneer of colonialism from yesteryear, but showing signs of the rapid advancement of the Chinese economy. Something of the skyscrapers had a slightly science-fiction feel to it. It was busy though, with millions of people working there.
One little quirk were the old temples dotted around. From the outside you wouldn’t know they were there, but inside were these little old buildings and pools. It was quite a peaceful oasis in such a busy metropolitan area.
One night we went to a jazz club called the Cotton Club, getting a live performance from a US jazz singer. She had this strong southern state accent and the coarse voice of a heavy smoker. She was a great singer though.
Eating out was an adventure. None of us had even a rudimentary understanding of Chinese so we spent a lot of time guessing what was on the menu. On one occasion we ate at a ‘hot pot’ (a restaurant where you boil/cook your food at your table). A friend of mine ordered chicken, thinking it was a safe bet. To everyone’s surprise they brought out a small frozen chicken – the whole bird – plucked and cleaved into square prices, bones, offal and all. It tasted pretty good from what I recall.
There only a week it was nothing more than a snap shot of the city. In the future I’d like to go again.