A little bit of shopping...
Sat 3 Mar 2007 - Sun 4 Mar 2007 17 °C
Woke up very late on the last day - nearly 11AM by the time I woke up. I had inadvertently locked Fergus out of his place, so about an hour after I fell asleep I had to wake up again. Thankfully, I didn't feel all groggy and sleepy, so we stayed up talking and had a nice relaxing Japanese grapefruit and vodka concoction in a can that he had brought home, talking about China and Shanghai and what our plans were for the next day. Of course, as plans are wont to do, they didn't remain, and had to change through the day, but in the end it was for the best, and today was far less stressful than I had anticipated.
After messing around for a while, showering and packing up the last of my things, putting Band-Aids on our various battle wounds (my blisters and Fergus' thumb stitches), we made our way out to Yuyuan Gardens, braving the crowds for what are apparently the best steamed dumplings in Shanghai. When they're in season, apparently, crabs are the biggest thing in Shanghai, and the Nanxiang Dumpling House at Yuyuan Gardens has the best crab meat dumplings and other fare in Shanghai. Of course, there are always massive crowds even without the dumplings, and we had to wait in line for half an hour to get a table that we had to share with five other people. In the end, it was nice and communal, and the food was well worth it.
What we ate was delicious, but it sounds absolutely disgusting, so prepare yourself for gross-sounding names. The specialty are crab brain soup dumplings, which are divine; they're filled with crab brain soup, and the trick to eating them is to bite a small hole in the side, suck out the soup, and then shove the whole thing in your mouth. I can't remember the name of the dumplings, but we made up a cross-cultural phrase that plays on the "don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs", only replaced "eggs" with the name of the dumplings. There were also shrimp balls, with crab something-or-other inside, and triangles made with spring roll wrappers that had tofu and crab ovaries in it. They sound gross, yes, but they were absolutely delicious.
Then we had a wander from Yuyuan Gardens, over to Xin Tian Di area, which translates to New World, roughly. It's sort of like the Rocks in Sydney, where they've kept lots of old buildings and done them up with cafes and restaurants and a live music venue. It's a smallish area, but the buildings were all built close together, so there are lots of little alleys, and it's home to some of the best and most modern restaurants in Shanghai. The architecture is called Shikumen, which has something to do with the stone and brick architecture. Short buildings, but gorgeous, and a nice walkthrough.
From there, we walked down the main shopping street of Huaihai Lu (where I had had dinner the night before; much better during the night with all the lights on, though!) and back to Fergus' apartment for last minute-type things. Somewhere in there I got all my shopping done, and my foot started to hurt, but it all worked out in the end. Fergus helped me to the Magnetic Levitation station, and my bags were manageable from there, with the aid of carts and everything. At the airport, I found that my bags were overweight and had to contend with that, but it turned out all right in the end, as my parents had given me some extra emergency money. Smooth sailing from then, though; I've been on enough flights that I really feel comfortable catching flights. And the Chinese customs officer was the smiliest customs officer I've ever had to deal with!
The flight home was good; nothing really went amiss and I saw a couple of movies - The Prestige and A Night At The Museum, both of which were all right, thought the first was a little dark for an in-flight movie - and finished up a book I borrowed from Garth in Guangdong. I didn't get any sleep, but by the time I got back to Sydney, my energy was back, just in time to show off all my photos to the family!