A Fun-Filled Vacation Week in Shanghai

Just hitting the tail end of a vacation week coinciding with China's October 1 National Day.  Yes folks, the PRC is now a little over 59 years old.  Next year will be the big 60, an important landmark in ancient Chinese numerology, so expect big things. 

Well, I managed this past week to live up to part if not all of my pledge to finish the book manuscript.  I have the chapters basically done and am still putting the finishing touches on footnotes, but have yet to write the revised intro and conclusion.  I was hoping to get this done this past week, but the vacation week had other plans in store.  Here are some highlights:

On Wednesday the 1st, we attended the wedding banquet of Mency's father's mother's elder brother's son, who is in his fifties.  He married quite late in life owing to a condition he picked up as a child which left him with a lame leg.  Presiding over the wedding banquet were the groom's five sisters and two brothers.  Imagine growing up with seven siblings in Shanghai in the Mao years.  Life wasn't easy on these folks, but they are all healthy and have many children and grandchildren, who were also in attendance.

On Thursday the 2nd, my friend John Zhang invited us out to Sheshan, about an hour's drive south of Shanghai.  There's a fancy resort hotel there with a nice outdoor and indoor swimming pool, and an artificial beach.  We spent the afternoon sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the pools, then joined John, his wife Jenny and son Perry (3 year old) and Jenny's sister and her husband for dinner.  They have a daughter named Jessica, five years old and a real spitfire.  The three kids ran around the restaurant making mayhem while the adults ate pizza.

On Friday the 3rd, Mency, Sarah, Mency's parents and I headed by van to Baoshan, a suburb north of Shanghai city, where we spent a day and a night at another resort hotel, the Crowne Plaza Malaren, along with our friends Paul, Stephanie, and their son Nathaniel, who is almost Sarah's age.  The hotel is surrounded by a fine golf course, and beyond the green horizon are smokestacks and other features of an industrial town, where the famous Bao Steel company is located.  The hotel is also surrounded by gated communities of villas, most of which looked unoccupied.  The whole place has a ghost town feel to it.  Sarah and Nathaniel had a great time playing together as usual.  We also got to try out our driving skills at the golf driving range.  We returned yesterday afternoon.

Last night (Saturday the 4th) I joined my good friend Lawrence and some other expat mates for a few games of pool at Racks, a pool hall in Xintiandi.  After a few games, we headed next door to Club G Plus.  This is a cookie-cutter nightclub with the chain club feel to it.  Red disco lights, tables with Chinese customers playing drinking games and dice.  The club was playing a bunch of old hip-hop standards, and people were getting very drunk (the club offered five "free" drinks for the 50 RMB cover charge).  As usual the sound system was cranked up too loud to have any sort of conversation, so we left pretty quickly.  Along with Scott, another mate of mine, I headed over to Fuxing Lu - Yongfu Lu kou and into the underground tunnel leading to the Shelter, probably the coolest student-oriented club in town.  A DJ was spinning techno music, and the place was jam packed with mostly foreign students or young twenty-somethings.  We hung out in the back of the club a while, then moved on to Windows, where the usual crowd was shaking to the usual hip-hop tunes.  We called it a night around 2 am. 

This morning I felt quite poisoned.  I've decided to make it a goal to lose five kilos and made a pledge to myself not to touch alcohol until I get below 80 kilos.  We'll see if I can live up to the pledge, but I figure if I announce it on this site, that's a bit more substantial than just muttering it in the wake of a hangover.

Anyhow, as any parent knows, nightlife and family life don't mix well.  Which is probably the main reason why I've lost touch with the nightlife pulse of the city over the past few months.  Getting woken up by your four-year old daughter jumping on your stomach in the morning is no way to recover from a long night on the town.  But still, it was fun to be lost in the bliss of alcohol and pounding music again for a short spell.