Monday, October 23, 2006

Stuff from Last Weekend

I never got around to writing up all of the adventures I had last weekend as I had promised so let me try to catch up:

There's a new club on the Bund in Shanghai called "Attica". I got invited to the "soft opening" last Friday night. The location and decor were absolutely beautiful. I have no idea how that place is going to make any money. The capacity of the club must be over 2,000 people and I wonder how many people in Shanghai can afford $15 drinks. Then again, the night I was there, most of the crowd looked like they had just flown in from St. Tropez. I don't think I've seen so few Chinese people in one place since my time in Abbeville, Alabama earlier this year. And apparently, if you just sit down at a table marked "RESERVED" and one of your friends proceeds to cop huge attitude, the waiters will leave you alone.

If you know the right place to go, getting custom-tailored clothing in China is cheaper than getting your shirts laundered 3 times at the Marriott. Here's a pointer: if you're coming to Shanghai and want to have a suit made, I'd bring some classy buttons from the US.

On Saturday afternoon, Tracy and I went to a newly-opened traditional Chinese massage place and each got 2 hour massages. Total cost for both of us: $22.

Unless you're really REALLY into Sim City, go ahead and skip the Urban Planning museum. While it's cool to think that the government has master-planned the future development of Shanghai 10 years in advance, one trip to Pudong very quickly deflates that myth. In the mid-90s, Pudong was a huge rice patty across the river from the historic Bund. One would think that with so much undeveloped land so close to so many people, the government could have done something really cool like developing mixed-use buildings set along pedestrian walkways and loads of public transportation. Today, it's nothing but urban sprawl. They should have turned the entire development over to Disney or Intrawest.

One of the most popular (and certainly most crowded) places in town is an area restored to 17th-century Chinese charm known as the Yu Gardens. It's an area of about 3 city blocks filled with souvenir stores and restaurants. It's packed with tourists and shovey Chinese people hawking loogies everywhere. For clarity, the area just OUTSIDE of the Yu Gardens is crowded. To get into the actual Yu Gardens, you need to pay 40 RMB (about $5). The $5 is a big enough deterrent to change the density of "annoying person spitting and shoving you per 100 square feet" from about 87 down to 0.04.

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