Shanghai: Executive Perch and the Chinese Machine

Shanghai, China, March 2-4, 2013.

We stayed at the glitzy Renaissance Hotel just next to Yu Garden in Shanghai, a special treat for me in its location and in our access to the executive lounge for breakfasts and cocktail snacks – well really meals.

Here’s the the iconic view from the 17 th floor lounge, where the masters of the business universe make their deals, perched above Old China in the Yu Gardens, buzzing with vendors and red paper lanterns, and the stately anchors of a more recent past: the colonial buildings of the Bund.

Here’s John, one of the global masters of the universe.

The Renaissance Hotel Yu Gardens.

Lots of gorgeous modern glass pieces contributed to the glitz.

We took a spin from our hotel through an alleyway of traditional old houses into Yu Gardens at night.

Here’s a guy in the Hong Kong airport making noodles before our flight to Shanghai. I got some great video footage of the stages, from kneading the giant glistening wad of dough to plopping the perfectly thin strands into the boiling pot. Then I ordered a bowl of noodles as this guy smiled.

Views from the hotel:

Yu Gardens is the island of low red tile roofs in the sea of skyscrapers.

A few thoughts on the Chinese work ethic. We made a visit to Jenny Tong at Pearl Village in Yu Garden to get our friend Peg’s pearls restrung. Of course we had to purchase some of her new creations – including some multi-strand bracelets.

Ever since a chance first purchase at her stall over ten years ago, we’ve visited Jenny on each of our trips to Shanghai over the years (and John, dear boy with three daughters and a wife, has made a number of those pearl outings on his own). She’s always in her booth on the second floor of Pearl City, surrounded by other vendors with similar pearl offerings, no matter whether we come during a week day or a weekend, early or late in the day. I asked her why and she said, incredulously, “I own this business. I must be here.”

Ah, the Chinese! What hardship must a country endure to produce whole generations of people willing to work like this? Even Gunter, our dear friend in Esslingen at the heart of Europe’s productivity epicenter, said the Germans are no match for the Chinese,

But at what cost? A boyfriend, a husband, a child, a life? I wonder what Jenny goes home to and where she thinks this pearl booth will take her. I’d like to ask her, but her English is limited to matters of pearl quality and price and things she can do “no problem.” Her fingers fly as she snips apart strands of pearls she has strung earlier to free up the needed pieces for Peggy’s rejuvenated necklace.

Peggy already had the green and white pearls in the mixed segment of the necklace – which we carried loose in a little bag. She asked us to see if we could have someone extend the necklace to make it 18 inches – so the pearls on the clasp end are new. This cost about $20 US.

On the street, we watched a girl make carmel animals by “painting” with the hot carmel onto a marble surface and then sliding a spatula beneath the thin dragon or animal shape and attaching a stick. Of COURSE I had to eat one.

Success. We found and bought three more embroidered tapestries like the one I already have at home. There are so many different types – birds, pond scenes, pandas – but the one I really like is this one with the embroidered koi.

Change in China. Don’t blink. We found Yang’s Noodle shop in the Nanjing area. (2/F, Huang Pu Hui, 269 Wujiang Lu). We went up a fight of steps in one of the shopping malls which line the street – indoor shopping strips offering all kinds of restaurants and shops and even one place which touted seating around a suma wrestling ring. Given the posters of giant men in tiny thongs, I’d find it less than appetizing.

John remembers going to Yang’s dumplings ten or so years ago when it was no more than a hawker’s stall on the street here. Now it has moved into a shopping mall with an escalator which delivers eager dumpling eaters to the ever present waiting line.

The dumplings, however, are still a bargain at four for a dollar. The hot pork sausage broth bursts out as you attempt a bite, which is best done with the dumpling balanced on a spoon and chop sticks securing it. Inevitably, one of us gets a Shanghai dumpling stain on something.

One online review suggests this eating style: “Though a bit tricky, your best bet is to puncture a sizable hole in the firm dough, suck up the delicious soup, dip it in sweet vinegar and devour the rest” (

Yang’s Dumplings – A fancy neon sign signals a modern Yang’s – a place which now has a websites that helps you find the Yang’s near you.

We got tickets to the ERA “Intersection of Time” acrobatic show that night. It was phenomenal! A theatre in the round sort of thing, it gave everybody, even the upper gallery seats, a thrilling view of the performance.

Photography wasn’t allowed, so I’m attaching a Youtube link. The show was a cross between traditional acrobatic performance (one “trick” after another, which tends to get tiring), and a dramatic story with exquisite ballet. The lighting, sound, and costumes combined with the grace and strength of the performers in jaw-dropping scenes. It was all there: tight rope, trapeze, juggling, and stunningly modern and romantic dance.

The most memorable was the final performance where SEVEN motor cycles rotated around INSIDE a giant sphere – yes, going sideways and upside down. Here’s a link to a Youtube video.

While John had a meeting on Monday, I discovered a new, closer souvenir type shopping mall called “Hancity Fashion and Accessories Plaza.” Now the kids have My Little Kitty backpacks and transformer dragons and warriors. I have another version of a koi wall hanging. Now we are off to Seoul.

Good bye dear Shanghai. No other city has dumplings or glitz quite like you.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Shanghai, China


2 thoughts on “Shanghai: Executive Perch and the Chinese Machine

  1. Amazingly Peter, my husband, was in Shanghai the same time as you. Unfortunately, he returned just as I was reading about the wonderful Pearl Village. What a lost opportunity! Maybe next time…….
    Kaye from Apatchy Quilting

  2. Next time your husband is in Shanghai – Jenny Tong business is called Tongxin Jewelers in Yu Yuan (or Yu) Garden. She is in her stall #11 on the third floor of Pearl Village seven days a week.

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