Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day 5: 15 October 2005

Formula 1 - Sinopec Chinese Grand prix – Qualifying

The end part, and the best part of our Shanghai stay.

There was free shuttle bus service from 4 places in Shanghai. We went to the Stadium pick up and it was organised and we where on a bus within minutes of arriving.

The view from our great seats. The only let down was that I wasn’t sitting in front of the Ferrari garage but as compensation, we had an excellent view of the first corner.

The VIP area, the red carpet etc

First corner view = excellent

Day 5: 14 October 2005

The plan for today is to go to the Fashion Markets, Xiangyang Park = where all the genuine copies of all the major brands are being sold. I have been to this kind of markets before in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I was completely hyped by it. But when I came home to the UK I didn’t use most of the stuff that I bought.

The Market in Shanghai was much, much bigger but the stuff were the same over and over again. The street hustling reached new and higher levels. The first 5 minutes, I was really bothered by it but then I could not careless about them. I did like the irony that Chinese police was walking around in the Market making sure that no pick pocket thieves (my guess) would not bother the Westerns. They totally ignored the trade of fakes. At this part of the town has more westerner influence with western stores and I think many of the Western Hotels are located here too.

We didn’t buy much at all; I bought a “Prada” bad. I would have bought a black Burberry trench coat but I could see that the pattern was wrong. I can’t see the reason if you are going to make genuine copies why use the wrong pattern. We walked back to the hotel and we stopped by at the Hong Kong plaza where tech stuff is sold. Boyfriend tried to buy two PSPs but didn’t get a good price. He checked with three different (?) places but they all gave the same price. My guess is that they did not undersell each other.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Food = lottery in Shanghai

Food was a bit of lottery in Shanghai. Below is one of the better meals I had. I love Watermelon juice!!

It was beef & noddles & garlic. It was yum!!

Day 4: 13 October 2005 cont.

In the middle of this area is the City Temple and it costs 40 yeun to get in. The place was beautiful and well kept. It was a maze of old fashion Chinese houses/temples, gardens and damns full of read fishes. It was such a contrast with the buzzing street life on the other side of the walls and the tranquillity inside of those walls. The Chinese believes that spirits can’t turn corners so the walk ways and the bridges had 90 degrees corners and so fabulous eastern stile to it. The wibe was noticeable good for whatever reason.

In the evening, we went to the shopping street Central Hauihai Road just a few minutes and to the basement of Lane Crawford (sounds like a porn star name but is really posh) to stock up on Cola light, snacks. Boyfriend got a shopping list from the girls in his office, they want Hello Kitty stuff and we found a little just doing Hello Kitty and Thomas the Tank Engine. As a good girlfriend, I helped him the shopping as he was just ever so slightly uncomfortable in the store. Naturally, I bought some stuff for myself as well.

Day 4: 13 October 2005

Today’s program is to go to an area just east of our hotel, called Xinyucheng area. This is a part of old Shanghai that is preserved and now a tourist attraction. We decided to walk and not take taxi. We left the main road and just walked east. We went through some narrow residential streets that don’t have many tourists walking through. The locals had a good look at us but we never felt unsafe.

After 10 minutes walk, we had arrived to the entrance to Shanghai Old Street. It had some beautiful dragons and one of those old gates. Trade and small shops was buzzing with activities. It is at first over-powering to take it all in but after awhile it is kind of settling in. It is so different to the Western way and it forces you to deal with it. I like it.

EXCEPT for all those street hustlers that comes up and say “Lady, watch, dvd, bag” etc The polite “no thank you” x 3 works and keep on walking. Later on boyfriend came up with a great line ”nah, we do bittorrent” They don’t get it but this will kill off any purchases of pirate dvds, that market will die because of another pirate market.

Let the haggling commence but I feel uncomfortable doing this so boyfriend steps in. I don’t care if it is stereotypical and letting “the man” dealing with it. From the country where I was raised, you are obedient and pay what the price tag says. But I am getting that hang of the procedure and that is:

1. As a buyer, have a target of what you are prepare to pay … say 100

2. Seller sees western people walking and thinks *cashzzzing* and double the price

3. Seller says I’ll give you a good price … taps in 200 on the cheap calculator

4. Buyer, boyfriend, says shakes his head and hands in a “no no no” geasture

5. Seller gives calculator to buyer, says how much do you want to pay

6. Boyfriend taps in 70

7. Seller laughs, makes gestures that should be interpreted as he will make a huge loss if he sold it at that price. He will then type in 160 on the calculator with the expression that he is giving you such a good deal now that you must take it.

8. Boyfriends say no good price, no good price and type in 80 on the calculator. If the seller don’t agree with you then start making noises that you will think about it (Saying no is rude in this culture)

9. Seller might then type in 120

10. Now it is time to leave, start picking up any bags etc and leave the store then usually the Seller will shove the calculator to you again and boyfriend types in 100. Deal is usually done. OR take out the 100 note hold to the seller, who usually will agree the deal.

Both parties are more or less winners, we have haggled down from £14 to £7 for a bag, tea set or chopsticks and £7 is not much money for us. The seller has probably made an absolute killing cos he knows what price he purchased the stuff for. Probably pennies, if you ask me.

I bought a new backpack in the way above, all by myself. The start price for this Samsonite (?) backpack was 180 and I had in my mind that I would pay 100 for it. I got it for 100 and I am sure that the seller didn’t pay that much for it.

Day 3: 12 October 2005

Today’s plan is to go to the other side of the Huangpu river and see the sky scrapers as the Oriental Pearl (I think it used to be a telecommunication tower). It is the view from the Bund, where we were yesterday.

But on our way to the Metro station, some commotion was happening on the street ahead of us. With a few seconds, I saw the flames pouring out of the window on the top floor of these old town buildings. It was dramatic and a serious situation. Even worse, we saw somebody open the window and could not get out. The fire truck arrived within minutes after the phone call was made. Bamboo (?) ladders were raised and the brave firemen went in to the house. There was a lot of people on the street and the police was also quick to arrive to block of the pavement and the traffic. After a long while, a little First Aid/Ambulance arrived and I have to say it looked very basic, not to the western standard as the Fire truck was.

The fire was in house at the top left courner.

We walk up the Metro station at People Park. The Metro maps are easily to follow and we need to pay 3 yeun to go three stops. A very good price indeed. When we walked up the Ticket booth, the woman could not speak English but with some sign language we got the right ticket. The station has two Metro line called Line 1 and Line 2 – and we were not sure which one we should go on. We pop down to the platform closest to us and of course it was the wrong one. It was Line 2 should go on. We followed the signs which were easy to read. It was a bit of a walk and the tunnel was really wide. I could see that in the Peak hour this would probably be packed.

On the platform they had plasma TVs showing ads and the count down, with seconds, when the next train was due. So very impressive and I so wish that the London Tube could have the same standard. There were markings on the platform where one should stand to enter the train. Two men had seen there was one seat on the train and both were equally determined to get it. I have to say, not even Londoners chase seats with that intensiveness.

The Plaza of International Media Centre, home of the Oriental Pearl, is striking. There are many different sky scrapers, it is breath taking. The dullest one is the Citi Group – just square and nothing else. It is exactly that same as at Canary Wharf. We walked up the Oriental Pearl building and the price for going up to all three levels is 100 yeun. The tour was sort organised and followed some logic but we could not fully work it out. The first stop was on floor 239 and the view was great. You cannot see the end of the city of Shanghai and you see all loads of high raises being used for residents. You walk around in a full circle and then it is in the lift again to go to top level at 350 meter.

Pitcure taken by Boyfriend's digital camera

Picture taken with my moblie phone, Nokia 6260

I stopped by at the souvenir counter to see if there was anything cool for my key ring - and there was. It is just my little thing, I have more souvenirs then keys on my key ring but it is a daily reminder of some the trips I have done.

Then we took the lift down the 239 floor. The level that we had not seen was the 90 meter and we struggled to find the lift that would take us there. With some help from a girt from Shanghai and her Japanese (boy)friend we got there in the end. But coming out on this level was not really breath taking since we had already been on the other levels. But let face it, being 90 meters up in a cool building is something good.

Our next item was to go to the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel. I really like the look of this building. We knew it would be a bit of walk but neither of us expected a kamikai walk with running over the zebra crossing with a green light, zig zaging through the traffic jam. This part of town is not made for walking. We finally made it to the hotel and strode in purposefully like we had the right to look around. There is this bar on floor 87 called Cloud 9. I was more causally dressed in my boyfriend so I was a bit nervous. The bar was closed so we settled for the café on floor 54 instead. We had a really nice lunch and the prices were not too bad either. After lunch, we took a taxi home and the cost for the journey only was only 10 yeun. (70 pence)

I have to say that I am happier to stay at our hotel – Magnificent Plaza Hotel - which is not nearly as nice as Hyatt hotel but at least we are living in the middle of it and can walk to most area in central Shanghai. At the Hyatt, you must go by taxi and one would miss so much of the street life.

When we came back to the hotel, boyfriend was a bit more tired then I but I was happy to take late afternoon nap. When I woke up, I had a mother of all headaches. That knocked me out for the rest of the evening even tough I drank water, cola light and took a headache pills. Nothing helped.

Back from holiday

I am back from my holiday in Shanghai and Tokyo. More posts + photos will come. First, we need to go out and have lunch.

Oh – our washer/dryer has stopped working. I did two loads of washing and started a drying program – a very odd smell came from the washing machine. Service visit to be done on Thursday pm – not what we needed. Ah well …

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cola light problems

Day 2: 11 October 2005

We woke up early and it took easy. Went down for breakfast around 8.30 and it was alright. I had two omelettes and four toasts.

We went for a walk to the Chinese department stores at Nanjing Road. I have reached this theory that the Shanghai traffic don’t seem to use the indicators and honking the horn instead. Also, when standing in front of a red light and are about to turn left or right – the red light will be ignore. Something to bear in mind when you have a green man and are due to start walking. Check everything before leaving the safety of standing at the pavement. But it is good fun to watch the traffic and see how they drive.

The Nanjing road is a wide, spacious pedestrianised road and different shops. Everything is colourful and a lot to take in. Boyfriend and I stand out and we get a lot of looks, point etc and unfortunately we also seem to attract street hustlers that want to flog their watches, bags or whatever. They approached us at a regular basis and at the end it was very annoying. I had not expected this level of it and it was disappointing. One woman approached me and really got into my personal space. But I do live in London and kept my hand firmly on my handbag. Boyfriend bought me a really cool pair of sunglasses at Heathrow which are mirrored so people can’t see my eyes.

We continued to walk down to the Huangpu river and the Bund area. This is where the colonial buildings are and on the other side of the river are the modern skyscrapers. An interesting mix. It is a touristy area with a nice promenade and we had lunch there. The place is called M on the Bund (No 5) and had a western feel to it. It had a review on display saying it had the feel of All One Bar at Putney London.

We strolled home through the back street and there is where I came to this, for me, startling realisation. All the Cola light (Diet Code) on display in different stores are out date !!!! The way I read it, they all expired in Aug 2005. Pepsi has a huge market share but I am a Diet Code addict and I will not settle for anything else (It is after all my right to have Diet Coke/Cola light anywhere in the world – so promised by the Coca Cola Company). The Cola lights I bought yesterday were out of date and I poured them out since they had a funny/ bad taste to them. Today I had to stop at McD to get my Cola Light fix and it was alright. Diet Coke and Cola light taste different.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Shanghai is WOW!

Day 1: 10 October 2005

We have arrived in Shanghai. We flew with Virgin and it was ok but I thought it would be better. Bit of hype around the brand, I guess. I also think that our plane was a bit old.

Customs and immigration were no problems at all. Then there was the highlight of the day, THE MAGLEV TRAIN. In 8 minutes from the airport to central Shanghai. Speed was 431 km/h or 269 mph and it was bloody wow. I was so excited, just like a little kid J. It makes the Heathrow “Express” and defiantly the so called Stanstedt “”Express”” look like a third class alternative – we should be ashemd to call our trains in the UK express.

We took a taxi from the train station to the Magnificent Plaza Hotel.We probabaly got ripped off cos the taxi driver did NOT want to go on the meter. First offer was 250 Chinese money and we settled at 150 Chinese money.

The hotel is alright and has a certain charm to it. They also have English speaking staff at the Front desk. It is located a bit off main tourist/shoppin area but that suit us just fine.

After a nap, we went off for a walk to get something to eat and drink. People do stare, I am blond and blue eyes and boyfriend has dyed a strip of his hair with a green/blue-ish. The area is wow and it was great just to go and look around. It is just so different (in a good way). I also found Cola light, Pepsi seems to have a bigger market share but I need my Diet coke/cola light. The price was 3 Chinese money (or 3 pence) for a 600ml bottle. Nice!

Awvee Storey:
Definitely a stor(e)y I never heard about. Didn't know who this guy was (happens a lot during the pre-season). Turns out to be a walk-on from Arizona State who played in 9 games for the Wiz last season. Awvee was the man of the match for the Wi

Thursday, October 06, 2005

You get what you pay for

*sigh* I have been dealing with a person and she is absolutely rotten at her job. She is a self-employed qualified Accountant with an ACCA comment at bottom of her emails. Me; I am qualified by experience and employed.

I am so much better on what I am doing then she is.

This useless cow (she has been called worse by me) is doing the Accounts for our resident association in the private block of flats. The Accounts could not be easier. 20 flats pay their Service charge to the Management agents and then they paid the bills for insurance, maintenance and electricity etc. Then in January, the spreadsheets are being sent to this “Accountant” – her annual charge is around the £300, which is cheap as shit. But then again, we get a shit service.

I had agreed with her in writing that this year we should start March/April. To keep it short, the work started in June followed by a start/stop dance routine. I am off holiday now in October so her deadline was 30 September.

I could finally agree the Account on 3 October and I have now been waiting for the copies to sign. I thought they might arrive yesterday or today but I didn’t receive them so a follow up email was sent. The reply was:

I have printed out the accounts but want to send them special delivery. I wasn't sure if you would be around during the week to sign for them so intend to send them tomorrow for you to sign for them Saturday am

Right ... never giving me the option to have them sent to my work address or checking with me what the best option is. I am after all the customer.

If I had done the same where I work, finishing a project and holding on to the info until it suited me to send it off – well I would have received a fierce bollocking and got fired.

This woman is really pissing me off. The only consultation is that I have been right in everything and she probably dislike me immensely. The management agents don’t really like me either. They have had a cosy ride before I started asking the questions.

If you pay nothing for a service, then the service will be nothing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This morning

I was later then I thought this morning after checking the digital clock at my tube station. I walked/ran down the escalators and I saw there was an westbound Central line train on the platform with the doors open and nobody is pushing to get on. This usually means one thing, the train has been on the platform too long and something is wrong. The last bit I happened to mumble out load – I am not a morning person and I don’t fully functioning in the mornings.

I found a space on the tube, waited less then a minute before the tube left. Not to bad, I thought. Then we were in the tunnel, and it was pitch black. My brain went through the following thoughts:

  • I can’t see anything
  • It is pitch black – that unusual
  • Everybody is quiet
  • No lights are on
  • No emergency lights are on
  • I am glad the tube is only packed and not jam packed. I have some breathing space
  • Hmmm, it is a long tunnel to Liverpool Street Station
  • Ah well, I have not got a problem with this
  • Wow – it is really pitch black
  • This is what it could be when a bomb goes off
  • I am glad I bought my little but strong flash light that I have got on my key ring
  • Huh - what is that light?
  • Oh somebody's mobile phone
  • Is somebody being a bit panicky?
  • Why is somebody panicky?
  • There is another light from a mobile phone
  • How long is this tunnel?

Automatic voice: Next station is Liverpool Street Station …

Tunnel lights and the next station is soon here. There is it. One more station and I am off to work.

Monday, October 03, 2005

OMG !!!

I love bittorrent! One of the reasons is that you can pause the program and finishing laughing your arse off before the next stupid thing is being said. Boyfriend and I have one of those moments on Monday evening.

We were watching The Apprentice Martha Sterwart Episode 2.

The winning team reward was to help with a garden in an inner-city area for kids. (The task had been selling flowers). Obviously, this has to be very, very, very meaningful and deep.

Contestant Sarah (Event Planner) said the following:

I think that Martha was teaching us that rewards are not about taking, sometimes rewards are about giving. And, eh, she does a lot of community Service herself and she wanted to give us that experience.

Could this be the same community service that the Judge was handing out by any chance???

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Nice food + some shopping in France

Friday 30 Sep 05: The admin staff (or the plebs) will have lunch in Boulogne, France. *YAY* no work all day *Double YAY*

The Sales staff (the real employees) will be in a 4 day conference in Spain. That will be a quiet time when they are away *yay* plus they have to not only listen to the management bullshit, they have visible like it too.

Email: Have to be at the office at 7.45 sharply… What??? (Normally we start at 9)

Ah well, got there in time and jumped on to the coach. I had my Diet cokes and some nice pastry what on offer. Snoozed a bit on the way down, especially on the Eurotrain (not to be confused with the Eurostar). There was some weird movement on the Eurotrain and I could feel that I was close to feel sick. Might as well just sleep to ignore the whole thing.

The view from my coach window on the Eurotrain:

We had a nice lunch at The Welsh Pub – good quality of food. One doesn’t always get spoiled with the food quality here in the UK, even if you paid for it.

Starters: melon and Parma ham *mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm*

Main: Fillet steak with potatoes gratin and béarnaise sauce. One my all time favourites. Something had gone wrong in the planning cos 8 staff had chosen this but only 7 had been passed on to the restaurant. Would anyone volunteer to have the chicken instead? Answer was no. At the offer of 4 fillet steaks and some booze as compensation when we went shopping afterwards, one member of staff held up her hand. But somehow the kitchen found an extra steak.

Sorry I forgot to take a photot before I started to eat

Cheese plate: I ignored this because my tummy was full and I had the following left to eat:

Desert: Chocolate cake with ice crème. This was wonderful. Creamy chocolate in the middle * yum yum yum* Completely forgot to take a photo of this :(

This lunch was suppose to be 2 hours according to the schedule but it ended up being three and half hours before we left the restaurant. The plan had been to go shopping at Citi Europe after lunch but now there could only be 30 min of shopping.

Citi Europe is a huge shopping centre just outside Calais. My boyfriend had explained to me that this for all the Brits who wants to go aboard to buy cheap booze and cigarettes without have to deal with the French people.

I didn’t really feel the shopping buzz but then again I am going on holiday soon and want to spend my money then. But I tagged along to the supermarket. I had a quick look at the sweets section but there was basically the same stuff that could be bought in the UK. I couldn’t be bother.

When everybody was back, the coach drove through a security control before the Eurotunnel. On the bus, everybody was buzzing of what they had bought. After this control, where another stop for 15 minutes and another shopping place where cigarette could be bought (apparently no ciggiz could be purchase in the previous place).

I bought some stuff from Lancôme and Clinique and I thought I had made a bargain. Thanks to the internet I found out that my bargain was not really THAT good.


High Street Boots


France £


Clinique Clarifying lotion 2


€ 23.20



Clinique Pore minimizer


€ 23.20



Lancôme Aqua Fusion


€ 37.00



Lancôme Renergie Yeux


€ 36.60




After all the rushing about, we made it on the scheduled 18.33 train back to the UK. But oh boy was the journey home taking forever. One member of the board was on this trip, we after all needed to be properly supervised. She lost her temper a few times and that sucked.

The coach was back the office at 21.00. So this day out of the office lasted much longer then a normal working day. I was tired when I came home and definitely thought it was a bit much time spent on the coach. But it was nice to chat with other member of staff that I normally don’t see.