Shanghai, Day 7
My work is done here, Fredi has arrived and it is time to play, so we said goodbye to Beijing’s hazy sky and headed to the airport. There is a blue sky over China and today we saw it for the first time when we landed in Shanghai.
The 2-hour uneventful flight on China East Airline was followed by the longest cab line I’ve ever seen. Imagine a blue-level advisory at Hartsfield; not long enough to make you jump line and run down the up-escalator but long enough to be glad you stopped at the loo.
We had been told the cab ride to the Hilton would take 20 minutes and the fare was 40 yuan ($6). Not many cab drivers speak English so you must have your destination written in Chinese. But this cab driver knew 2 things in English, 150 and 2 hours. As soon as we exited the airport and he had us trapped, he said 150 yuan ($20). He repeatedly butted his fists together to mean traffic and said 2 hours. So just like that, the fare had more than tripled.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at the hotel. I stalled paying the fare until the hotel bellman opened the door and I got him involved in the fare debate. He realized we were being cheated, he got upset at the driver, said no to the 150 yuan and gave that 2-English-words-speaking rogue hell. We finally paid 70 yuan and were glad to get the hell out of there.
Finally, we’re checked-in, unpacked and it’s time to explore. Since I did not get to sleep the entire flight here (I’m not calling any names), I was generously alloted 30 minutes (count em) to rest before we hit the town. Our first stop for cocktails would be Manifesto, a very trendy restaurant just a short walk from the Hilton.
Manifesto is on an interesting street. It’s a mix of old Shanghai and new, very hip, very western establishments. Right after you pass what looks like an authentic mom and pop dumpling shop, your next steps put you in front of Goodfellas and Badlands. I think the attraction to lure you in those clubs is the gangs of babes hanging outside the entrances. Need I say, we did not stop at those.
We were greeted at Manifesto by the host Jacob, who is a very cool, Polish transplant who speaks Chinese. He led us to the chic upstairs bar and we slid into a soft deep cushioned sexy banquette (not the bed) for cocktails. There really is a partially hidden queen size bed with huge throw pillows next to the dj booth. We liked the place and Jacob was so delightful and knowledgeable about the city, we cancelled our later reservation at M on the Bund and would stay at Manifesto for dinner.
During cocktails DJ Beck and I connected. I was slowly sipping my Tshing Tao, Fredi was enjoying her Limotini and DJ Beck was mixing a smooth, early evening blend of velvet-soul and funky base-lines. I heard him spin the first three notes of “Checking out,” I turned to him and asked, Curtis Mayfield? He gave me the universal nod for, you’re cool. Hey what can I say, no matter what nationality, hip is hip.
We had a delicious dinner; started with steamed oysters in champagne sauce and caviar. Then dined on sea bass and grilled tuna. The people watching was also highly entertaining – a lot of Prada, a lot of Zegna, a lot of Armani, no knock-offs. There were just as many westerners as Chinese in the house. This place and crowd could easily fit right in Manhattan or London.
Around 10 PM the meter on my 30-minute recharging had about elapsed, I was dead tired, so we took a slow stroll back to the hotel. Slow that is until we neared Goodfellas.