I am back

In China that is – this time in the capital city of Shanghai. I am working for the Aerospace division of Honeywell doing meetings for the Air Transport Division. They are doing regional conferences around the world. I did the culinary for all 6 and actually on site for 2. It felt very kool getting to come back to this amazing country. I had a warm feeling hearing people say the familiar Neehow – which means hello to each other. And fun for me to automatically say it back. The convenience of this trip is I was able to fly Delta direct from Atlanta and the flight was about 15 hours. When I arrived at the airport there were still reminants of the Olympics all over the airport. A couple of Beijing 2008 banners, billboards advertising the Olympics and some tourist books that had the Bird’s Nest on the cover. I wasn’t surprised by any of this as the Chinese are going to hold onto this memory for as long as possible as one of their more aspiring moments to the world.

The 45 minute drive from Pudong Airport to Shanghai is one that tells a lot. Number 1 people own washing machines but not dryers as everyone whether it is a nice apartment building or old and crumbling has their laundry hanging in the window to dry. and #2 centeral air is non existant over here. Everyone has window units.

Staying this time at the Sheraton in the old part of Shanghai. The city is divided be the river one side being the old part the other side being the new part. I am working with Irene Loh who is a meeting planner for Honeywell based out of Shanghai. Irene is a sweet as they come and I am blessed to have someone who is excited I am here and truly wants to spend some time showing me around and explaining the city to me. First order of business on Saturday was to meet with the hotel to go over all the BEO’s. We did end up making some changes to the menu because I had too many sweet things on the morning menu. Irene explained Asian’s like savory in the morning almost more than sweet. Steamed Dim Sum buns, Egg Rolls and Finger Sandwiches are amoung the most popular. So we made the changes along with some space that needed to get rearranged. In Asia they don’t charge for little incidential meeting things that we do in the states which is nice. Power cords are free; each meeting room gets 1 wireless mic for free and flipcharts are complimentary as long as you aren’t asking for too many. Also when it comes time for eating banquet style the Asians really do want you to enjoy banquet style. To them 10 choices of entree type foods are very typical in the food world to them. Remember from Beijing – it is most common in the Chinese culture to ask someone if they have eaten – OVER asking them how they are. My needing to cut back on budget though had me cutting down the entree selection to get the price lowered. Doris our catering manager here was more than gracious in working with me.

Once business was done Irene and I went off to eat lunch – because I don’t miss a meal and then to the fabric market to get clothes made. Irene took me to the old side of Shanghai to a restaurant on the river that looked over to the new side. In between the river were many riverboats filled with toursits, a floating electronic billboard and barges tugging up and down. This isn’t a river that is used for recreational activities at all. Shanghai was actually occupied by the French a gazillion years ago so has many French influences regarding building and lifestyle. We ate a fusion restaurant and was not bad. I had a Malyasian style lunch of Rice, Spicy Prawns and Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce.

After lunch Irene and i went to the fabric market to get some clothes made. Luckily for me she did my barganing. There are about over a 200 stalls with fabric and different tailors all hanging sammples of their clothes and styles. Then they have many books that you can select what you want to have made. I am having several short skirts made for a cost of $100 RMB which is roughly $14.00 USD. Most of them are going to be ready by Monday and the order was placed on Saturday afternoon. I am also getting a pair of pants made that I don’t have much hope for as I never have lunch with getting pants made but I am trying it again as they only cost $22.00 USD and they are fully lined..as are the skirts. The last thing I am getting made and I hope this works is a cashmere winter coat. is saw a style that I like that ends above the knee and decided to go for it. That too will be ready on Monday afternoon. If it doesn’t fit then they will make adjustments on Monday and I can go back on tuesday to get it.

Irene said that it is fun getting clothes made but in the long run she finds they don’t hold up as much as commercial clothes. I can see where she would say that but I so far have really enjoyed all the clothes I had made during the Olympics so why the heck not try it again.

After being on our feet for several hours Irene had the brillant suggestion to go for a foot massage. I think I wrote about this in Beijing but this is so much fun to do. They have massage palors all over the place and it is so dirt cheap people get it done constantly. It is something they do naturally here in Asia. We did an 1.5 hour massage and trust me it is so freaking relaxing and it cost $17.00 USD with a $4.00 USD tip. I feel asleep as my feet were getting worked on. Irene also explained that you can buy a package of 50 foot massages for a big discount and then keep going until they are used up.

On the way to dinner I asked Irene how far Beijing was to Shanghai. She explained it was 2 hours flight north. They see far colder weather than Shanghai. This makes sense as the local staff in Jing commented that it will be cold in Shanghai in October and to bring sweaters. The reality is it isn’t that cold here but it is now getting cold in Jing. Irene said that actually up till about 5 years ago though that Shanghai malls and buildings was much colder in the winter inside the buildings than Jing…because Jing was considered a cold climate to the government and Shanghai was considered warm climate. So even though it gets cold in Shanghai probably like the Carolinas in winter – they didn’t heat any of the shopping malls and public buildings so imagine doing shopping or doing business in January in a cement building it is freezing. Whereas in Beijing because it does truly get cold – much like Pennsylvania in winter they do heat everthing. Irene said it was only about 5 years ago that the government started heating all the buildings in Shanghai so now it is doable in the winter time.

We went to dinner at the Shangri La hotel’s Chinese restaurant. Luckily for me there were many items on the menu that anyone would recognize. Dinner was very good and I tried a couple of items I never had before. What was truly one of the best was the fish. It was steamed and fresher than fresh. Plus they bring the whole fish to the table..present it and then take it to the back to debone it. I should mention Irene isn’t Chinese she is Maylasian so a lot of the Chinese customs are familiar to her but different than her home culture.

After dinner we were waiting to take cabs back me to the hotel and her to her apartment..and we saw cars pull up with a pink ribbon on the door. These meant they were bridesmaids car…as the hotel had a couple of weddings that day. Last I took a cab back to the hotel. In the cab – the driver didn’t speak a word of English – the ride took about 35 minutes as there was a lot of traffic. Plus I was going from the new side to the old side. Cabs in Shanghai are just as cheap as Beijing and drivers are not used to being tipped much if at all. This guy was very good driver and my fare was $42 RMB which is approx $5.50 USD for a 35 minute ride. So I gave him $50.00 RMB and said no money back…he didn’t understand and started to give me my change…I tapped his window and shook my finger and said no money – money yours. Well he finally understood and the smile of sheer excitement of getting an 8RMB tip was overwhelming to him. Which is approx $1.10 USD that he couldn’t quit saying sank you to me..the chinese don’t do “th” their “th” comes out as an “s”. For me that was a perfect way to end a perfect day courtsey of Ms. Irene Loh.

Folks, that is my story for now and I am sticking to it.

Wow – weird being back on this blogging thing.

Claire

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