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The very Western side of Shanghai - Part 2

Do you have any Percy Pigs?

overcast 28 °C

As I mentioned, however Western life can be here there are always little reminders that this is definitely China. My week continued with this in mind and I was sent home from work the next day after a sewage pipe burst next door. A maintenance worker kindly told us that we should all go for lunch, as soon the street would be out of use. We did not return.

This gave me the day to explore Tianzifang markets; put this at the top of your ‘To Do In Shanghai’ list. I don’t often get to see Shanghai during the afternoon so it was great to walk around the district while it was relatively quiet. The narrow streets consist of boutiques, café’s, galleries and shops selling traditional Chinese gifts. We were there for an hour or two but you could easily spend a whole afternoon there if you stop for lunch. We went to a small teashop that intricately brews any tea that you would like to try for free. This was probably the most ‘Chinese’ part of my week, and my friend was happy to practise some of his new speaking skills. But even so as we came out of the small streets and onto the main road, we found ourselves in Subway on the way home.

That night we went to Bar Rouge, a favourite spot for us interns and popular amongst expats and native Shanghainese alike. From the rooftop you get the perfect view of The Bund (Shanghai’s skyline) lit up and it’s worth going up for just for one drink to have a look. People are always lined up against the rails along the Huangpu River, which separates the two major districts in the city, so it’s nice to get a view from above the crowds. I live in the commercial and residential half of the city, and the river overlooks the financial zone of Pudong, where the most recognisable skyscrapers are. At night, this is my favourite part of the city and the thing that I couldn’t wait to see again after my visit last year.

The next night, my friend and I went to Wagas, a (Western) chain serving really fresh food and one of the few places you can find muesli or a salad that is sustaining. I was almost crying with joy over my bowl of pesto and pine nut pasta.

By Sunday (after eating pan fried noodles for lunch at least) I found myself in the expat hub that is Marks and Spencers. While most Western stores have their odd Chinese variations, everything about M&S is identical to one at home and you can guarantee you’ll see at least half of all expats mothers dragging a child around the cardigan section. I queued with my hot cross buns and waited to be served by a girl who couldn’t speak English, which was fine, but very frustrating for the couple in front of me. I was interrupted by an older Chinese man, asking if they did or did not have what he was looking for. She looked at me. Even I know what he’s saying, I thought. Then I realised it was what he was looking for that she didn’t understand. You mei you he shouted (have not have?)… Percy Pig. The poor girl didn’t answer. P-E-R-C-Y P-I-G he spelled out for her in determined English. Having scanned the food isle for them myself, I used my limited Chinese to tell him mei you Percy Pig. He thanked me in Chinese and looked like he’d never said any other English words in his life. I laughed to myself as I left the shop as that really summed up the very Western side of Shanghai. The weekend ended in Wagas (again) a few other interns, a latte, and a slice of apple and cinnamon cake.

So I might not be having the most cultural experience, and I have avoided the odd rice and noodle dish occasionally in favour of a pizza, but every day I’m faced with a situation that teaches me something new about China. In many ways Shanghai is incomparable to a small town in the rice terraces, but also many things that face a foreigner when going to China, or anywhere unfamiliar really, I’m sure are the same where ever you go. IMG-20140822-WA0008.jpg20140816_151747.jpg

Posted by emilyferris 23:22 Archived in China

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