In the spirit of big surprises, it was only fair to jet into Shanghai to see Anke & Lars off before they head back to Germany to pop a sprog. So, an entirely self-indulgent choice for an expensive weekend that was worth every penny to see these guys in their natural setting.
Michael & Tanja had flown in from Singapore also for a nice weekend and we had just about managed to persuade A&L; that there not going to be any surprises, when I turned up at her door, loaded down with luggage bulging with Taiwanese bullshit that would surely set off multiple airport alarms if only they knew.
Street racing in Shanghai
The weekend was structured as a series of alcohol-fueled toboggan rides around the city, punctuated by extended periods of indulgent massage, good food and generally tuning back into the experiences we all shared in Taiwan together – which took all of 3 seconds.
Shanghai is not the most walkable city, so taxi rides in all directions are necessary if you hope to actually get anywhere. The drivers in Taiwan and China do share a certain love of attempting to scare their passengers at every opportunity – usually by jumping red lights or feigning swerves towards static objects or oncoming lorries.
Where they diverge is in their respective communication and friendliness towards their clients – Taiwanese cabbies are a friendly bunch, and the diametric opposite of their colleagues across the water who verbally maul their passengers. In our case we can hardly blame them – we told him to ‘follow that cab’ that contained the lead group and was piloted by the Chinese Fernando Alonso. Particular skills were displayed in lane changing, cornering, and sudden braking. He also had no clue he was being followed, and knew only that he was in a rush to a vague destination. Our driver, on the hand, knew full well that the only person with the address was in the front car, and he desperately tried to keep up, until he exploded with rage, pulling alongside the other car and battering expletives to the bemused driver, all accompanied by a background soundtrack of snorting belly laughter and the flashing of cameras recording the event.
Hangover cure no. 163 – great food at a cute little Italian restaurant
Nice doorways in the area that is being saved, reclaimed and protected by the local design industry – much to the bemusement of the locals who would probably prefer a new shiny apartment building.
Inevitably, with Anke and Lars and a farewell party, a trip to a hot spring was in order for the afternoon. Now, I am usually (and perhaps slightly inexplicably) slightly ambivalent about these places, but I knew we had our heads screwed on when I saw the neon rising above the skyline. Think Club Med for Chinese people, combined with the very worst neo-classic Gothic / Greek / Holiday Inn architecture, and several thousand locals running around in ridiculous day-glo pyjamas. Welcome to Shanghai, traveler.
The boys are back in town (but sadly missing Markus, although we all spent the entire time terrified that he would storm in on us … especially while sitting butt naked in the sauna!)
“I would like to add one thing”
I can see you!
Happily detoxed, I was happy to see that retoxing services were also available inside the premises.
Luckily, Gerhard and Klara had planned a big house party in his place for the middle of the weekend, and in full Easter theme, they had dressed up as rabbit and chicken. As the alcohol flowed, the costume somehow managed to migrate its way round the party, inevitably ending up with Michaell Lars and I, and predictably howling laughter from the ladies.
The Easter Bunny
Luckily, the guys had planned a final Oesterbrucker (or however it is spelled) and this capped off a really great weekend of good food and good people and bad alcohol (I can still taste the Jagermeister, Gerhard). With any luck I should be able to pop in to see the guys again while on business in a week or two, and of course I am sure to see M&T; before too long in Singapore. But what a weekend.
View from their apartment down to the boats chugging by below.
Team Taipei (minus Markus) in full effect … with ‘Made in Taiwan shirts that I believe everyone will cherish for eternity.