Shanghai and Hong Kong were much different experiences for us compared to Beijing and Xian, mainly because Shanghai and Hong Kong are international cities and because I had good friends and family members showing us around both cities. I think you need to visit China with someone who speaks Chinese. We had a guide or a friend in each city in China and it really made a big difference. Our guide, Rafael, in Xian (recommended to us from our friends the Hagans) was awesome, he really took care of us.
We took an overnight train from X’ian to Shanghai. It was terrible-long, somewhat clean, and the air conditioning didn’t work. It was a long night. This was our 2nd overnight train in China. The first one was from Beijing to X’ian. The kids were pretty excited since this was their first experience on a train. Kelly and I found the first overnight train experience to be somewhat overwhelming-we got to the train station pretty early and we were literally the only westerners in the entire huge train station. We thought that was kinda strange. As we got closer to our 9:00 PM departure time more and more groups of western tourists showed up, which made us feel a little better (is that bad?). After our 2nd overnight train (to Shanghai) we decided that we were cool with the train thing and bagged our last overnight train (Shanghai to Hong Kong) and just took a plane. I figured that if we can’t get a good night’s sleep on the train, what’s the point. Add to the fact that the scenery wasn’t that great either. Kelly and the kids were real troopers, I’m glad we as least gave it a try.
We had great time in Shanghai mainly because our friends, the Shu’s, (Malcolm and Haeli and their kids Oban and Ansel) gave us the red carpet treatment. Malcolm is a friend of mine from my days at Lehman Brothers and he is a restauranteur in Shanghai. He started a chain of fast casual restaurants called Sproutworks which serves fresh salads, paninis, juices, and shakes – definitely check it out if you’re ever in Shanghai. Both Malcolm and Haeli took time from their busy schedules to show us around, along with their private driver, which was really convenient.
This is my third time in Shanghai. My really good college friends, Sean and Hugh, used to live there so I’ve visited them before. Visiting with the kids this time I was curious to see Shanghai during the daytime. There really isn’t much to see from the sightseeing point of view, so we spent the next few days walking around the French Concession area (lots of expats) and Xintiandi area.
We checked out lots of restaurants-most of them run by Malcolm’s partners or friends. We celebrated the twins birth day at Liquid Laundry-Huge full floor open space with a Brewery and Pizza oven – delicious! Other food we ate: Dim Sum. Shanghai dumplings at Din Tai Feng. Mexican food at Cantina. Burgers at Blue Frog. Taiwanese food at Malcolm’s Uncle’s former restaurant Bellagio. Amazing final night dinner at Mercado (rustic Italian) overlooking the Bund.
Happy Birthday Lauren and Grace
Thank you Uncle Malcolm!!!
I forgot how beautiful Hong Kong is. Kelly and I ended our honeymoon with a weekend here many years ago, but at the time we were just ready to head home. It reminded us of San Francisco given all the bridges and the bay setting, but it has 7x more people than San Francisco. For a big city it’s pretty efficient-you can find a cab anywhere and the subway is great. We stayed at the Harbour Grand Hotel on the Kowloon side which had ok rooms but ridiculous views of Hong Kong and a rooftop pool. I caught up with another old Lehman colleague Voon Wong (a.k.a. Voon-doggle) who just moved to Hong Kong from the Bay Area. After dinner with his family we had a drink at a rooftop club overlooking the city that had an (empty) jacuzzi in the middle of it. Also had a chance to catch up with my cousin Ralion and his cool wife Des. It had been way too long since I saw him last.
View from the Pool
Next Stop: Vietnam (Hanoi, Hoi An)