Last Days in Shanghai

Another daughter, at home looking after my cat, asked me if I had any plans for my last two days in Shanghai. My first response was find breakfast and coffee but otherwise I did not have anything planned. I had arrived at my hostel by 7:30AM. Although not happy with the room at least I had one that early in the morning. Which had me thinking Maybe I should do something for my last days. First, coffee. The lounge was open, I cheated and bought a cafe latte – time to deplete my CNY. Then to the streets for breakfast, always some great choices, and I was only a block away from my previous hostel (now clad in bamboo and mesh along with the rest of the block – still open though) so I knew where to go.

Then a bit of a wander, over the next two days I found a park I had not been aware of, walked up to Nanjing Lu in an attempt to find Jing’an Temple, took the subway to an Apple Store, despite hearing Apple is not in China, (there are at least three stores within walking/subway distance of where I was staying) to find out why my phone was not charging.Typical Chinese store though, there was rain dripping through the ceiling, onto one of the tables where people were sitting with their devices. Hurray, only needed a new cord, charged it long enough to visit some old haunts.

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I managed to get turned around and headed towards Yu Yuan, a tourist Mecca I always try to avoid. Once I was headed in the right direction, to a favoured Starbucks at Huai Hai Lu and Shaanxi Lu, many blocks away, I took my time to appreciate the architecture from 100 years or so ago that is still standing – not too many changes since my last time in Shanghai – window shopping, most items beyond my means, and enjoying a light, misty rain. Of course I stopped for a coffee, and shared a pretzel type treat with my travel companions. I have never seen these anywhere else.

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Then onto Xinle Lu where I hoped to check out three places I often visited when living in Shanghai. First, Frangipani, a fabulous salon for manicures and pedicures. While still at home I had checked online if they were still in business. All I found were men asking, “watch, your, bag?”, this was not a question nor a statement to take care. When living in Shanghai, more than any other city, the restrain of ‘watch, bag, DVD’ was common on Huai Hai Lu until the knock off market was shut down, and, it seems, street sellers forced to move on. Of course DVDs are no longer hawked, I have no idea what ‘your’ meant.

Frangipani did not seem to exist. On to an eatery loved by locals and foreigners for the past 20 years or more. I was looking forward to a plate of their white shrimp with dragonwell tea. Drats, closed. A look in the window seemed to indicate they are still in business. My final destination, was to Dragonfly Massage, the best massage parlour in all of Shanghai. At one time there was a Frangipani next door – not anymore. Dragonfly is still there, I checked out their menu, calculated my RMB, then bid a sad zai jian (farewell). I did not want to withdraw more money from an ATM. All I spent that day was money for my phone cord, coffee and street food and a questionable dinner at the hostel. I still had not managed to find the temple.

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Breakfast was an extremely thin, giant crepe, minus the French fluffiness, an egg broken, then scrambled on the crepe while it still cooked, topped with green onion, a minced vegetable that might have been dried, or lightly pickled, onion. The crepe was then folded in half, a sauce spread, a piece of deep fried bread (like a churro) placed atop, before the whole thing was rolled up, cut in half and bagged. I also found some tea eggs (cha dan). Heaven in street food. I eventually added a small carton of yogurt, all I needed was coffee.

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The coffee had to wait. I headed to the Bund via East Nanjing Lu, a large section of which is a walking street, usually crammed full of shoppers carrying high end purchases or window shopping. Get there early to see the street quietly waking up with fan dancers working on routines, grandparents playing with the one grandchild (how do four grandparents share one grandchild?), delivery trucks/ vans/motorbikes/ and bikes, businesses beginning to open with the the raising of steel doors and sleepy staff unlocking doors. (In many places staff still sleep onsite – I do not if that is the case with large companies). It all made the stroll to the Bund relaxing.

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The two tallest towers across the Huangpu River were shrouded in grey clouds, appearing like the tops of trees lopped off. The Fairmont Peace Hotel on my side of the river looks as grand as ever, once again, I made a promise to return for tea. If I can do high tea at the Empress every ten years then I can do tea in Shanghai -way overdue, I have never had tea at the Peace Hotel. I loved that I could look down East Nanjing Lu without my view of the Pearl Tower being marred by vehicle or human traffic. A rarity.

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On my way back to the hostel I finally stopped for coffee at a KFC – passable. I still had not decided if should attempt finding Jing’an Temple. I was working at spending my last 100CNY, not including my room deposit. The inclement weather made my decision for me. I returned to the hostel, a walk in the rain was a way to prepare for home. It was silly I could not work my way to the temple, I had been there only four weeks earlier! A wonderful excuse to return to Shanghai.

My bags were packed, I was ready to go. Home was on the horizon.

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