Monday, July 23, 2007

Of summer in Shanghai

Day 2 (part II)

Back at the hotel at around 7.30pm. To my surprise, I managed to get back to Pudong considering that there is actually a ban on taxis using the Yan'an Tunnel during peak hours, that is, 5-7.30pm. Then again, perhaps I just lost track of time cos when i last checked my watch, it was already 6.30pm. Nevertheless, i dropped off my belongings, changed into something more formal (read: dress, jacket and nicer shoes) for dinner.

The night was still relatively young, mummy was still out, and i decided to do some exploring on my own---dinner and perhaps a bit of clubbing no? But first, a safety check. I hopped over to the concierge counter and asked James and Charlie (2 people I would end up pestering for the next few days) if I could get a cab back easily from the Bund. Not easy, replied James, especially during peak hours of 9.30 onwards.


Was it safe for a girl to travel around by herself?

Not very safe.

I honestly didn't want to remain cooped up in the hotel room. And neither was I interested in exploring the Super Brand Mall. So I hired the hotel driver to bring me around Shanghai, and yes, bring me back, and asked James to make dinner reservations for me at Tan Wai Lou---a Cantonese restaurant on Bund 18---for 9.30pm. While James got busy hiring the driver and calling up the restaurant, I waited with Charlie and read the South China Morning Post (Hongkong's main broadsheet) .

At 9pm (just as James said---in Shanghai, the people are very precise when it comes to timing, often describing distance from one place to another in minutes e.g. it's a 3 minutes walk, or a 15 minutes drive. What is unusual is their uncanny accuracy as to the number of minutes it takes to travel. Did they time themselves using their watches?) an Audi came to pick me up. A young man opened the door and James came to check everything was alright. And we were off.

The driver's name was Ronnie and he was a very pleasant fellow. I asked him to take me around to see the Bund, both West Nanjing Road (Nanjing Xi Lu) and East Nanjing Road (Nanjing Dong Lu). Mine you, these places are relatively far from each other, so I was quite happy sitting in the car, taking in the sights while it was noisy and crowded outside. He drove us past major landmarks and we chatted easily. All in all it was a very pleasant and cosy experience. I have always liked the feeling of being safe and warm inside the car while it was crowded and unkempt outside, though I wished my sis was there with me. I'm sure she would have had a great time too.

I reached Tan Wai Lo rather late, without much of an appetite as I was enjoying my car ride, only to realise that they weren't taking orders. Neither was Sens+Bund, a French restaurant within the same building. So the waiters---a young lady and a young man, both looking as though they couldn't be more than 20---helpfully called Ronnie back (i did not turn on the autoroaming for my hp). I didn't know the Chinese word for driver, but so I simply translated the Cantonese one---cheir fu became che fu. It worked.

We went back to the hotel to see if my mum had already come back. All in all, this was around 2 hours, perhaps slightly more say 2.5 hours. Mummy had just come back and she didn't want me to go out again cos she felt Ronnie was too young to be a bodyguard should the need arise, and she was too tired to accompany me. So it was bye bye Ronnie and the end of Day 2.

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