As 2012 slipped away I was fairly ambivalent about what I had achieved last year and so I promised myself I would do more, travel more (for pleasure) and experience more, I mean lets be fair living in shanghai is an opportunity that needs to be grabbed by the proverbial balls. This seems to be gaining some good traction!
One of the greatest things about living in a big city is that there is constantly something happening in the city. That is besides the 500 restaurants and bars opening and closing every month, Shanghai fashion week, auto show etc.
April was a rather busy month all in all. I moved from a serviced apartment in Xintiandi which is basically like living in an apartment sized hotel room inside Melrose Arch, which is basically the upper East Side of Manhattan. This sounds like a great setup, and it is, in the beginning, but when you have seen the breakfast room and the hotel sized gym for the 300th time it starts to get rather claustrophobic!
A traditional Chinese lane house is the new destination for a year. This is basically a small lane off a normal road in the old French concession with blocks of 6 story houses on either side of it, you can either take a floor, two floors or the whole thing! Ours has been renovated for the last 6 months so it is all Chinese (including the very loud, very communal neighbors) and all modern Laowai on the inside!
In between that there were a few surprise events. The first was the Shanghai GP. I’m not a massive F1 fan, I’m not sure why I guess I just never got into it really but from a day at the races I can clearly see what all the fuss is about.
From the parade of the drivers around the track to hearing those cars roar around the track at speeds that are barely comprehensible I have to say this does seem like something I could get used to. The only down side I would have to say was the spectacle!
The Chinese are generally pretty good putting on a fairly decent show but in this particular instance there was very little to show off. The stands outside were poor, the big screens were not existent and you had to rely on the ever present iPhone to work out who was even in the lead.
Lastly the crashes were terrible, meaning there were none but I suppose that’s uncontrollable
After that it was off to an orchid festival at the Shanghai botanical garden which is basically four monumental glass cocoon type structures filled with 30 000 orchid displays from countries around the world, apparently orchid displays are big in the competitive world, similar to competitive cup stacking or roshambo.
Every possible shape size and color of orchid in existence is housed in these massive human sculptures and needless to say was seriously impressive!
One main hall just had individual entries. Bouquets and single displays of orchids lead you through a room filled with personal creation from around the world until one solitary orchid stood alone in a room, the one orchid to rule them all, the winner!! I have no idea why it won and I have no idea why anyone cares but here it is!
Outside of this is a garden path that looks like something Willy Wonka created, with flowers of type and color I’ve never seen in my life, leading into a modern designed gargantuan stone quarry.
It’s nice to get a little out of the city and get a bit of fresh air especially when you see the greatest of Chinese innovation in toiletry. A public moveable toilet that counts the amount of time you spend in there (the electronic board above the sign) – as if there wasn’t enough pressure, apparently it’s called a ‘Emiction Compartment’
Lastly this month was the grandiose Shanghai auto show. It pretty much consists of 20 of the biggest halls I’ve ever seen in my life housing every car manufacturer I’ve seen, heard of and couldn’t make up.
From the glamorous Lambos, Ferraris, Bentlys, Porches, Astons and on and on, to the genius’s at SMART car who probably were the most fun.
Then of course there are the extras! Mercedes and BMW fly in their cleaning crews for the show cars from Germany to the Italian companies who more importantly fly in their models.
One stand out mention does have to go to the home grown Chinese supercar. It may have been ugly as hell from the front but the rest of it was seriously slick – they catch up quick over here!
For me though the winners were quite simple. The Koenigsegg in matte white, carbon fibre and baby blue was simply sensational, that car just is something to be marveled at. The new Range Rover sport is for me currently the best 4×4 vehicle alive out there and then finally the new Jag F type (not in this crap colour) which I think may need to be purchased along side the Range sport if I ever return home!