Shanghai-Pudong Airport (Terminal 2)

This is a series meant to help you find the best of the best in lounges everywhere.

Our 12-year-old, Jack has become a lounger-extraordinaire. He knows how to get the most out of any lounge experience and always manages to get our full money’s worth out of any visit. As a result, we have come up with a lounge rating system according to our very discerning lounge critic. Enjoy, and may you too achieve lounge nirvana!  

Jack’s Rating System

1 (worst)—5 (best) 

Ambiance

Comfort  

Sustenance 

Bathrooms 

=

Overall Score

________________________________________________________________________

Shanghai Pudong Airport

Priority Pass Plaza Premium Lounge #77

Terminal 2

(Priority Pass)

Ambiance: 5

Comfort: 4

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No more paparazzi!

Sustenance: 4

Bathrooms: 5++

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Your throne awaits!

=

OVERALL: 4.5

Jack really liked the ambiance this lounge had to offer because you could look down over the gates at the airport. Although the sandwiches here are freshly made, Jack prefers the prepackaged ones he has found in most other lounges. What can I say, sometimes he likes the finer things in life and other times, he prefers to keep it simple. As for the bathrooms, those are what put this lounge’s rating over the top. Japanese Toto toilets with heated seats made Jack feel “fancy” and became his favorite bathroom out of all the lounges we have visited.

China-Shanghai Pudong Airport T1

This is a series meant to help you find the best of the best in lounges everywhere.

Our 12-year-old, Jack has become a lounger-extraordinaire. He knows how to get the most out of any lounge experience and always manages to get our full money’s worth out of any visit. As a result, we have come up with a lounge rating system according to our very discerning lounge critic. Enjoy, and may you too achieve lounge nirvana!  

Jack’s Rating System

1 (worst)—5 (best) 

Ambiance

Comfort  

Sustenance 

Bathrooms 

=

Overall Score

________________________________________________________________________

Shanghai-Pudong Airport

Terminal 1-Lounge 37

(Priority Pass)

Ambiance: 2IMG_0313

Comfort: 2IMG_0314

Sustenance: 2IMG_0318

Bathrooms: 0

=

OVERALL: 1.5

According to Jack, this lounge provides just the basics. Overall not very impressive. Comfort was rated a 2 because it did have comfortable chairs but no working power ports. Sustinance was sub-par but was granted a 2 because of the “delicious prepackaged sandwiches”. I guess he liked them because by the time we left, Jack had eaten 13! Bathrooms are just a very dated small single stall and honestly you would be better off using the bathrooms outside the lounge.

 

Eat Your Way Through Shanghai on an UnTour Food Tour

Sure you’ve been on city tours before. Typically they involve boarding a bus or walking in a large group with a guide pointing out important landmarks and city highlights. Well, my friend, this tour is nothing like that. No, the UnTour Food Tour takes your city tour up a notch.  Read more

Go For a Ride With Culture Shock Bike Tours

Shanghai has many sites to see. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to narrow them down. Culture, history, architecture. Museums, tours, activities. The possibilities can be overwhelming. And let’s face it, most people have a week, tops, in order to squeeze in as much as possible. 

Since we have established it is impossible to do it all, it becomes important to focus on opportunities that will give you the most bang for your buck. Perhaps ones that combine history, culture, and fun together in one happy package. Enter Culture Shock Bike Tours. This is a company that offers morning and night tours through the streets of Shanghai via vintage Forever brand bicycles. Read more

Only in China!

A picture says a thousand words. Frederick R. Barnard

I love China!
My favorite aspects of living here are the things you see that get lost in translation, whether it be in words, or in cultural differences. I enjoy observing how our cultures differ and have learned much about tolerance and understanding when people do things differently than me. Many things here are the same, but oh so many are different.

These are a few of the many things we have experienced over the course of our two years living in Shanghai. They have made me smile and I hope will do the same for you. I can only imagine what the Chinese think when they come to America and see all the crazy things we do!

The Chinese tell it like it is

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Food safety is always a top priority

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I may not get hair in my food, but I sure hope they’ve washed their hands!
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Yep, that’s a dog at the table behind me.
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There’s nothing more appealing than fresh vegetables with a hint of cigarette smoke.
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Steak, anyone?

Split bottom pants are all the rage with the youngsters

The locals are experts in efficiency

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And they can sleep practically anywhere! 

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Just another day in Ikea. But the thing I love is the empty bottle of wine next to him.
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A driver taking a nap in a lobby

But sometimes things just get lost in translation

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Umm…
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“magic seeds refresh your dream life”
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I like this kind of health food!
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Club B.M.? I wonder if they have nice bathrooms. Lol!
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 A life lesson for us all

Then there are those things that you can’t explain no matter how hard you try

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A claw machine for cigarettes.
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There are no words.

And there you have it! After two years, things here continue to make me smile. I hope these pictures gave you a little chuckle today. We all need things that are just a little different to help make our world a happier place.

A special thanks to Jenny Kuchel who shared some of the memories made during her 12 years living in China. 

Lost in Translation

I had an interaction today that reminded me how living in a foreign country is not always easy.

My son needed new gym shorts, so off I went to the school uniform shop. A simple enough task, right? Ha, why would I think that? Silly me!
Walking into the uniform shop, I greeted the lady behind the counter. Our conversation went something like this:
I said, “Hi! I need a pair of extra-large gym shorts please”.
To the reply of, “Gym…? What do you mean gym?”
“You know, gym…umm…like to work out…umm…exercise…?”.
Blank look in response. I walked over to some sample gym uniforms hanging on a rack and pointed to a pair of gym pants.
“Like these but short”.
To which she repeated her question, “What do you mean gym?” In an effort to understand what I was trying to say, she went to her computer and begin a search. I have no idea what her search word was, but the result yielded a picture of jeans.
“You mean this?”, She asked while pointing to said picture of jeans. At this point, I’m sure she thought I was utterly crazy coming to a uniform shop looking for jeans.
“No, gym…er…umm…P.E.?” Ding, ding, ding! I could see her eyes widen as realization set in.
Off she went to find the shorts. When she came back, she was holding two pairs of gym pants.
“No, I need shorts. You know, short, not long.” I explained while pointing to my knees.
Off she went again. Returning empty-handed she said, “we don’t have any men’s extra-large. Our largest size is children’s 16”.
“Well, according to your chart right here,” I began while pointing to their sizing chart posted on the wall, “my son would be a men’s extra large (While he is very tall, Chinese sizes tend to run suuuuper small). If you don’t carry anything bigger than a 16, what is he supposed to wear for gym? I mean P.E.”
Again, blank look. She tap, tap, tapped at her computer, looked up and said, “maybe he could wear shorts for P.E.”
“Yes!” I replied, more than a bit exasperated. “Do you have size extra large?”, I asked thinking we were going around in some sort of vicious circle.
“Yes, we do.”, She replied with certainty. With that, she turned around to the fully stocked shelf behind her and pulled down two pairs of size extra-large gym shorts.

I left having completed my task but giggled and muttered under my breath, “what the heck just happened?”.

I wish I could say I was surprised by this interaction but things like this happen on a daily basis. Some days I wonder if I really do make any sense at all.

Here are a few more examples of things that just get lost in translation:

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Hey, who are you calling a loser?
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Well this is a nice shirt for Disneyland
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Shanghai good-looking corporate image planning. Nice!
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umm…
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I can’t make this stuff up!
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“waring danger”

All in all, this is just another part of our adventure living abroad. I am thankful for frustrating yet ridiculously funny things like this that happen. I hope I made you smile through my story. Sometimes it’s the ridiculousness that makes life entertaining and keeps you giggling your way through this crazy thing called life.

Shanghai Walks: a trip back in time

There is something in Shanghai that is very exciting and alive – the idea of a city with two different souls, one from today and another from a long time ago, is amazing.

-Alessandro Michele

The city of Shanghai paints a somewhat unusual picture. It is difficult to describe the discrepancies you find here on so many levels. The have’s and the have-not’s; old art-deco buildings amongst new futuristic skyscrapers; glitz and opulence a neighborhood away from street food, entire families sharing a two-bedroom apartment with no heat and laundry hanging from windows. All this and more is what makes the city such a fascinating area to explore.

Last weekend we pulled out our trusty Shanghai Walks book and did a walk entitled, “Suzhou Creek & the Real Shanghai.” For about 2 1/2 hours we wandered up and down the streets behind The Bund learning about the British and American Settlements in Shanghai in the 1920’s, as well as the Jewish migration from Europe and Japanese take over in the late 1930’s. To walk the streets of so much history is fascinating.

Our walk began on The Bund. For those of you who do not know the area, Shanghai is essentially divided into two parts by the Huangpu River. On one side sits the new section, or the Financial District, also known as Pudong. The other side is the old section, called Puxi. A river separating the future from the past. You don’t get any more literal than that. So, our walk began on the historical side of the city. We walked out to the river to look across at the towering skyscrapers that make up the iconic Shanghai skyline. The Oriental Pearl Tower looks like something you would find on the moon with it’s three bubbled levels and smooth silver detail.IMG_7411

From there, we turned around and headed into Puxi. Our first history lesson was that in the 1920’s the British and Americans established settlements in neighboring areas of this side of the river. Just looking at the buildings along The Bund convey the strong British influence during the time. It seems more like you are walking up and down the Thames than the Huangpu River. Gorgeous neoclassical marble buildings with ornate detail all convey an old-world European charm.

Money and culture flooded into Shanghai during this time. Theater, religion, and recreation all became popular pastimes amongst the ex-pats and wealthy locals living in the area. It is fascinating to walk along the Art Deco buildings in this section of town and feel so far removed from Asia. These buildings hold many stories, and opulence remains with stores like Cartier, Patek Philippe, and Gucci lining the streets.

It seems the British and Americans lived in harmony with the Shanghainese until Japan invaded in the late 1930’s. At this time, Japan bombed the city then proceeded to invade, taking over the once peaceful area. The lower-class Shanghainese were forced to move a bit farther away from The Bund, establishing their own neighborhoods. Our next walking point took us through these communities. What a contrast to the wealth we saw a mere two streets closer to the water. Dirty streets, laundry hanging out to dry from every window, local street food vendors offering some great (and not so great) looking dining options. No Ferraris or Rolls-Royces roll through this area. Here, they are replaced by scooters carrying entire families, chickens, and who-knows-what. But even in this section of town, the culture is rich. Perhaps not rich in monetary terms, but in their deep culture. I’m sure just as we observed in the streets closer to The Bund, these roads have changed very little. I can imagine walking down this area in the 1930’s and experiencing many of the same sites, smells, and customs that we do today.

Turning back towards The Bund is a large area under construction. Out with the old, in with the new. The remnants of thoughtfully designed Art Deco apartments stand in a crumbled heap. If those walls could talk, I’m sure they would tell tales of the glory days when the future looked bright and money and opportunity endless. I understand the push forward to make new and refresh cities, but it saddens me when there is not a middle ground. Back in the day buildings were not necessarily made to last here. They were put up quickly and lived in hard. Many of them could not be restored even if building crews wanted to, so they must be torn down and built anew. I suppose you could look at it as an opportunity. New walls to hold new stories. But I love the past and grieve a bit when it is not preserved.

 

Our walk concluded back where we started, standing in front of the Peninsula Hotel on The Bund. We put our pinkies up and went in for a much deserved afternoon cocktail. I thought as we sipped our delicacies what a contrast it was to an hour earlier when we paid 25RMB for our lunch made by street vendors on the local streets.

Shanghai is deep and layered in its history. It was fascinating to walk the streets and imagine life here in the 1920’s-’30’s. Shanghai is also a contrast of past and future, of the wealthy and the poor. But through it all, despite our history or backgrounds, we still manage to come together and make the city special.

Our walk opened my eyes to many things I have passed time and time again but never took time to really “see”. If you have the chance, step into history. Don’t just read about it in a book. Walk the streets. Stand where you are and take it all in. Imagine a time of days gone by when life was different, yet somehow much the same as today. I am thankful we did, and I know you will be too.

Special thanks to Barbara Green, Tess Johnston, Ruth Lear, and Carolyn Robertson for walking the Streets of Shanghai and writing The Streets of Changing Fortune: SIX SHANGHAI WALKS so we could too!IMG_7522