Mission Accomplished

Riding Bikes in Shanghai, originally uploaded by kdt.

A proud owner of a wool and cashmere tailored suit is writing this post! It was one of my goals of this trip to buy a tailored suit. It is quite an experience, not because of the flourish but rather the ruthless efficiency. We arrived there sweaty (long and some times lost walk from the Metro station) and within 15 minutes I had selected my fabric and been measured up. That was Sunday, they had three days to finish the suit because it need to be ready by Wednesday. So another fitting was booked in for Tuesday and with pickup on Wednesday.

I am impressed, Dave’s Custom Tailoring managed it. The two subsequent visits were also less than 15 minutes.

Our second visit involved us riding our bikes from our B&B to the shop through the centre of Shanghai. I suspect we are amongst a few select customer’s of Dave’s that have arrived by bike. Usually customers arrive in large black European cars or at worst a cab. But no matter, the kind guard at the gate looked after our bikes.

After the second fit, we rode our bikes to the Metro station to catch a train so Helen could give a thumbprint…. Hey Helen when is that story going to be posted?

The second half of the ride was in three words… wet, Wet, WET! I wish I had bought those emergency ponchos I mused about during the Kathmandu sale. Oh well. Riding in Shanghai traffic with one hand on the handlebar and one holding an umbrella is amusing. We didn’t catch a chill though because it was way too hot.

All up we rode about 21kms that day.I have embedded a google map to show our route (so you may need to visit our webpage to see it blog.hmkdt.id.au). You may need to zoom out a couple of levels to see our route.

I bikes were almost brand new and the seats were so low even Helen complained! We got plenty of stares and an occasional smile. We managed to stop an entire worksite as would stood at the side of the road trying to work out where we were. No one offered us their ponchos though.

Visiting a library in China…

Checking out, originally uploaded by Helen K.

I know that you are all wondering if we visited a library while in China. Well…. yes we did. If you just want to wander around library in Shanghai, like we do in Australia, well you can’t.

We managed to visit the Shanghai Library which is a very large building with a number of floors, in the french concession quarter. To visit any of the rooms, you really need to have a “Reader’s card”. However, to be frank I really didn’t want to attempt to even explain to the people at the application counter, all I wanted to do was wander around and take a couple of photos, and we were short of time, so I will admit that we didn’t even attempt participating in the red tape process.

However, after we put our bags through the security check and into a locker, we did manage to get into the chinese books section , which also lead into the library shop. We ignored the “insert reader’s card” sign and two staff sitting at the entry (people on the door had no english – one for us!). There were lots of books in Chinese. I’m sure they were good, but the covers were unappealing and had very few pictures.

Each section had its own check out area, which was staffed by a lot of people. There were more than you can see in the photo.

The Library shop, was not your ordinary library shop. It sold nothing to do with libraries, but books about China (in chinese of course), plates, paintings, books, traditional CD’s, and tourist books about China. Surprisingly Kym bought one, as the map was better than the one we were using.

The lack of language is certainly a barrier when on holidays in China and Japan when searching for libraries!

Waiting at Shanghai Pudong Airport

Happily Waiting

Here we are playing with Photobooth on our Hackintosh. The camera ain’t too bad. There is on an endless loop of a chinese cartoon about swine flu which extolls the virtues of blowing your nose into paper to keep the swine flu that comes from America away. Plane leaves in 30 minutes it’ll take about 3hours to get Tokyo. We are looking forward to the change in pace!

Updates on red thumbs and wet backs coming tonight.

Following in the steps of Monty Don

Suzhou, originally uploaded by kdt.

On Monday we followed in the steps of Monty Don by visiting The Humbler Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou. But first we had to buy rail tickets. If hell is hot an sweaty then I’ve found hell on earth the Shanghai Railway Station ticket office. We lined up only to find that we had to go to another queue for English speakers. It seems like most Chinese are also English speakers so the queue felt very very slow! Only standing tickets were available. I was now getting very concerned, expecting an Indian style crush with me hanging out the door. But everything got better as soon as we arrived at the waiting lounge, air condition, free water from Tibet. Even better the train that turned up was a new High Speed train. Very impressive. In fact the Chinese rail system is very impressive in the way it handles the numbers.

We were feeling a bit lazy so we accepted an offer from a tout for van for 6 hours at the cost $20, less walking, happier legs. Off course we knew there would be a catch and were prepared. I got some ties and a pillow case or two at a silk shop 🙂 and we had a chartered boat for the cruise which was a little more expensive than a regular cruise would have been.

I guess at this stage you’d expect me to write something about the garden. Well the garden is very impressive. But can I do a Monty? No! I suggest you check out his DVD. In the mean time admire the photos we’ve uploaded.

View of Shanghai… cloudy and rain

View of Shanghai… cloudy and rain, originally uploaded by Helen K.

We’ve been on holiday a week now…. and I can truthfully say it is hot. It is not just hot, it is humid too. It is the kind of weather where you are so hot the sweat is dripping down your back while you are walking.

Even when it rains, it isn’t cool and doesn’t last very long. It reminds me of someone coming along with a bucket of water and tipping it out. If you get wet (and you will because it starts so quickly you haven’t managed to get your umbrella out quick enough), your clothes are dry within 30 minutes, and you are wishing it would rain again.

However, we have seen the wild weather that is currently off the South Coast of China, and hoping that it doesn’t affect Shanghai at least until next weekend, after we’ve left. I’m being slightly selfish as if it rains my shoes, my feet will get wet.

…Well the above was written on the train a couple of days ago while it was hot, and sultry. I take it all back as it is continuing to rain, and rain, and rain. It is the kind of rain where umbrellas aren’t very effective in keeping you dry. However, the days have commenced with a good outlook, but by the afternoon the rain is firmly set in place. According to the weather reports, the rain should be decreasing tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

News Flash

Helen has just arrived back at the apartment wet and with a red thumb from her thumb print given to the Shanghai Police. No need to worry guys!! Full report later.

A Saturday in Downtown Xi’an


On saturday we took it pretty easy and decided to wander around Downtown Xi’an. I converted my digital SLR into a fixed focal length brownie. Zooms are overrated anyway. We took a bunch of shots as we walked past the Provincial Government HQ, past the shops, auctions and street vendors all offering mobile phones. Marveled at the range of washers, air conditioners and refrigerators with interesting sizes and designs. Visited a historical monument or two and designer label shops. The Muslim quarter was the highlight with greats sights and sounds. This is where we settled down for a lunch of 20 dumplings! Finally we returned to our hotel for a peach smoothie and donut not bad eh? Anyway I’ve put together a slideshow for you.