Tag Archives: The Bund

A dinner escape on the Bund

9 Feb

After my harrowing experience with the air conditioner – I was pretty rattled.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had a client dinner scheduled that evening and so leaving the final details to Li, I headed to the Bund to meet my contact.

I had decided to book a restaurant which I had not gone to before – El Willy on the Bund.  The cuisine is Spanish fusion which made me curious, given that I had lived in Spain nearly 15 years ago now. The location is central, a little farther south than where I had taken my mother last year and it is inside a beautiful building.

As soon as I stepped in past the doorman, I could feel my nerves start to calm.  The building had an interior courtyard with the fall wall painted with foliage and the lights slowly changed to bathe the multiple layers.  It intrigued me so much that I snapped a couple of photos.

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Right as I arrived, I got a call from my client who was running a little late which was a good thing because it gave me the chance to sip some tea, relax- and look at the beautiful view outside the windows.   Our table was situated perfectly, giving me access to the view.

The night was clear and crisp and the buildings on the Pudong side of the Bund sparkled.  Multiple buildings had moving patterns dancing across the front celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday.

The Bund - though I've seen it so many times, it still thrills - you can just see the darkness of the new tallest building against the night sky

The Bund – though I’ve seen it so many times, it still thrills – you can just see the darkness of the new tallest building against the night sky

Because it was a client dinner – I didn’t take any photos of the food, but I would go back there gladly at any time.  We sampled the tapas style plates – the smoked salmon croquettes were amazing, the traditional tortilla almost up to my Spain standards, fresh sardines and coddled eggs with chorizo and walked out with silly smiles on our faces.

El Willy delivered – the food, atmosphere and beautiful views reminded me again why I love Shanghai.

I love Shanghai!  The buildings captured my mood.

I love Shanghai! The buildings captured my mood.

Where do you go when you need to be re-inspired?  What rejuvenates you during the darkness of winter?


Guest post – I’m ready to move to China* – Part 3

21 Jan

*except for that whole “speaking Mandarin” thing

I am pleased to announce that I’m starting the year off with something new on the blog.  My good friend and cousin, Matt came to visit me mid-October and before he left I gave him the idea of doing a guest post.  This is the final segment of the three.  To read segments one and two with his observations, click here.

Greetings all for a third time! We’re rounding the bend for the final lap here, people. Can it be that I’ve finally run out of things to say? That can’t be true: this is the Internet, where people never run of things to say, no matter how stacked the empirical evidence is to the contrary.  Here now is my final set of observations from my visit to China:

  • Friday afternoon is a bad time to visit a popular museum. This should be obvious, but I still got to find out first-hand at the Shanghai Museum. Lots of foreign tourists and well as Chinese tourists. (Just count the group guides with their flags!) And everyone was taking pictures of everything. I know that’s hardly a revelation, but seriously, how many photos of ancient Chinese bronzeware (or celadon vases) does someone need to really capture the essence of the exhibit? Camera use ranged from smart phones to “professional photographer”-quality cameras. My 5-year-old Sony digital was somewhere in between. Yeah, I took pictures too, but few and far between.  …I’ll get off that high horse now.
  • The Saturday before I left became “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day.” In the morning I went to the Shanghai History Museum, where I spent about 45 minutes watching a film in the entrance hall. And that wasn’t even the whole running time! This film primarily covered the life of turn-of-the-century gangster Du Yuesheng from his early days through the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists through World War II. But the movie inexplicably broke away to also tell the stories of two famous Chinese actresses (Zhou Xuan and Li Xianglan). I felt that movie (which had English subtitles!!) gave me a fantastic look at the history of Shanghai through the first half of the 20th century. I recommend watching it (I don’t know the title), but maybe not while standing in the Shanghai History Museum foyer for an hour.
  • “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day” was more than one movie! That afternoon at the Postal Museum (My hostess has covered that too well for me to add anything) I found myself watching another movie. This time it was “Romance in Philately” playing on a small TV (with English subtitles) in the 1980’s timeline area. At first I thought it was a simply a short promo for the Chinese Post Office: after flirting with the cute postal carrier, the hero visits multiple friends who by sheer coincidence all have elaborate stamp collections! It’s as if stamps are the coolest things ever in this movie world. But then the movie plot actually deepened: the cute carrier called the hero’s bluff (he tried to pass off his borrowed friends’ stamps as his own collection) and he had to regroup to win her heart. I admit, had I not been at the museum with my friend, I would have stood there and watched that entire movie too. (We ended up watching about 15-20 minutes worth.)
Movie details

Movie details

  • Everybody knows that the Bund-side of the Huangpu River is the best place for panoramic photos, but Suzhou Creek is a hidden jewel that can hold its own, skyline-wise.

Reflections on Shanghai 2 Reflections on Shanghai 7

  • Greta tried explaining to me about the two degrees of spiciness in Chinese food: I’ll paraphrase them as “heat” and “numb.” I couldn’t wrap my head around “numb” until we went out for Sichuan-style food the day before I left for home. (She covered this on her post of her favorite Sichuan restaurant in November.  To see it, click here.) One entrée was some spicy ribs that ended up perfectly encapsulating the “numb” concept: there’s not really any heat-based pain, just a weird buzz on your lips, like you’ve been trying to play the trombone or some other brass instrument. I can’t think of any dish States-side that replicates that feeling, so chalk one up for new experiences in China!
Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

  • I’m notoriously famous for my last minute rushing regarding travel. (In fact, I barely made my initial flight to Shanghai from Chicago! I had to carry-on my large “camping” backpack…) So the Monday morning of my departure I resolved to break the trend. Alas, Fate had other plans. What should have been an easy transfer from Line 9 to Line 2 (and then to the Maglev) became unworkable thanks to crowds for the Line 2 transfer at Century Ave. so dense they came up the stairs from the lower platform! Is that normal at 9:30am? Was there an accident or a delay in the service? I didn’t know and didn’t care to find out. Summoning all the accumulated subway skills of the past week, I transferred to Line 6 instead. I took that to Line 7, and Line 7 to Longyang Rd. and the Maglev. And once again I was hustling for my flight, but at least this time I made it in time to check my bag!
  • At the airport I had 58.5 RMB left in my pocket. So I bought a decorative table mat for 58 RMB from a store next to the security check entrance. No monetary exchange for THIS traveler!

Matt and Greta - Pudong Skyline 1

And that’s it! Thanks for reading all about my Chinese experiences. Thank you both for letting me visit you and Li, and for letting me repeatedly take control of your blog. And best of all, I succeeded in not mentioning my favorite football team, the Chicago Bears, anywhere in these blog posts! No, wait… Aw fiddlesticks!


Thank you Matt for your posts and fresh view of visiting Shanghai!  If there are any questions for Matt, feel free to leave them in the comments – either he or I will do our best to give you an answer.  Looking at the photos of the Bund and blue skies remind me why I like living in Shanghai so much.  Anyone else want to come visit?

The Shanghai Postal Museum – finally!

31 Oct

I had tried to go to the Shanghai postal museum last year only to find out it was closed.  Recently I had a friend in town and so when he asked for things to do, the museum came to my mind again.

After a little bit of confusion – the museum is only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays – we headed out on a Saturday afternoon to see what was up.

Approaching the museum

Approaching the museum

This time the museum was open – at least the second floor, but the first floor was closed.  That was fine – it was an improvement from before when I couldn’t get in at all.

Posing by the mural at the entrance

Posing by the mural at the entrance

I was pretty impressed.  The museum was very informative and almost all bilingual.  The main exhibit was the history of the postal service in Shanghai which in some form is less than 150 years old.  Prior to the standardization of the service in the 1940s/1950s there were a lot of private delivery companies and no standard service.

The father of the Shanghai postal system - Zhu Xuefan

The father of the Shanghai postal system – Zhu Xuefan

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai - really beautiful.  Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time.  Also - the dragon - pretty special.

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai – really beautiful. Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time. Also – the dragon – pretty special.

Because the post office is now a state owned enterprise in China, there were a lot of things that made me smile.  They had done a propaganda movie and were showing it – sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s about the valor and strength of post office workers.  There was also a postal song – which you could listen to over headphones.

The post office song

The post office song

And me listening to it - not Mozart, but pretty good

And me listening to it – not Mozart, but pretty good

In addition to the specific history there was also a collection of post boxes from around the world and of course lots and lots of stamps.  I also noticed a pretty decent children’s exhibit that explained what the post office did.

Any guesses on which countries?

Any guesses on which countries?

A few of the many stamps on display

A few of the many stamps on display

After going through, the only regret was that the third floor roof garden wasn’t open.  I had heard that there were beautiful views from there of Lujiazui.  Talking to the security guard he said that it has been closed since the Expo finished (back in 2010) because they believe it is too dangerous for visitors.  Makes me a little suspicious, but couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

Lujiazui - from behind!

Lujiazui – from behind!

The museum finished, we went and took a couple of shots looking back at Lujiazui from the edge of Suzhou Creek.  I am glad that I finally made it to the museum and would recommend it.

Happy Halloween to you all!  It was six years ago today that I got on the airplane for my first trip to China.  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and how much has happened in the last six years.  Keep reading and commenting and I’ll find the time to keep blogging!  Your support keeps me going.

Summer skies from 43 floors up

25 Aug

Despite the heat, there have been some beautiful blue skies over the last few weeks.  It seems like every time I glance out my office window I see views that make my heart expand.

I look north – north east typically, but there was one day recently that had me scurrying to our conference room with a view east towards the Bund.  The sky was so clear that it looked like I could jump out of the window and land on the TV tower.  Here are some of the photos from that amazing afternoon.

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Then on another occasion I was about to go home from work when I glanced west out of another set of windows.  The shades were drawn because of the intense heat of the day, but I saw amazing colors of orange as the sun set over the elevated highway.  My phone was close by and I snapped two photos.

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In both of these cases it required me looking up from my computer and looking around me.  I am so glad I did!

I use photos like this to remind me how beautiful Shanghai can be – and to carry myself through the gray skies to come.

How do you capture the beauty in your every day?  Do you take time to notice?  Which shot is your favorite?

My Shanghai – Mr. & Mrs. Bund

4 Apr

With visitors in town for much of March, things were very crazy, but the last night in Shanghai – instead of taking them for a final Chinese banquet, we went for western food at Mr. & Mrs. Bund.

Mr. & Mrs. Bund has received honors from multiple places including being on the top 50 restaurants in Asia.  The cuisine can be described as whimsical – all the classics are present, but with a twist just enough to make you think twice about your dinner.  It seems to me a place that Anthony Bourdain may discover on No Reservations, or something that would show up on the Travel Channel.  Exploring a city through its food – something I continue to enjoy.

This was the second time that I had been there as the first time was for a client event and I thought it would be a perfect way to cap a visit to China.  The food itself is amazing, but the view – a full panorama of the bright lights of Lujiazui, seems almost surreal as night falls.

The amuse - a "tuna fish mousse" - and beautiful fresh bread

The amuse – a “tuna fish mousse” – and beautiful fresh bread

Toasting the night with the lights of Lujiazui behind me

Toasting the night with the lights of Lujiazui behind me

Our side dishes to share with my steak in the back with a luscious sauce

Our side dishes to share with my steak in the back with a luscious sauce

The signature lemon tart dessert - it fools the eye, you can eat the entire thing!

The signature lemon tart dessert – it fools the eye, you can eat the entire thing!

View from the terrace after our dinner with the lights sparkling in the evening

View from the terrace after our dinner with the lights sparkling in the evening

Mr. & Mrs. Bund is an expensive restaurant and not something that I’d have every month, but it too is part of my Shanghai.

Have you treated yourself recently?  Where did you go?  For readers in Shanghai – any recommendations?

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