Shanghai Tuesday

illuminated Bund

Ended up coming back to the hotel last night instead of the Long Bar. The Korean BBQ finished us off. We still have two other opportunities to get there so no matter. This morning I am packed and ready to move hotel.

Today I’ve noticed I’m getting a lot of ads for VPN services. Also spoke to a local last night who said they used a VPN to access their gmail account. It must be pretty prevalent. Just goes to show what a waste of time the UK government is expending wanting to watch our every online move. I may well continue using the VPN I’m using in China when I get home – see if I notice any difference in performance. Internet access from this hotel is just 2Mbps symmetrical but there again I am using the free Hilton Honors version rather than the paid premium job. I don’t normally bother with the premium service unless the free one is grinding to a halt.

It’s an odd feeling being awake and up in the hotel room but without anyone to talk to. Everyone in the UK is asleep. I seem to recall we said we would head out to buy some tea at 10am. Checkout is noon. We are heading over the river to the Shangri La after we have checked out.

STOP PRESS. Have just read my emails. We are now staying at the Intercontinental Puxi. Whilst I am disappointed not to be staying at the Shangri La (never having stayed at one) the Intercontinental is perfectly acceptable. Anne and I are staying at one in Madrid in October and it at least brings with it IHG points. Good job I looked innit. Rich has also seen the email so would have gone to the right hotel anyway.

Now that I have a little more time to reflect on yesterday there are a few things that stood out in my mind:

The woman sat in the shop front trimming hair into shape on a wig
The trikes with huge loads
The bloke selling stuff from a scooter who was stopped in the middle of the road by another guy on a scooter who wanted to buy an umbrella off him
The beggars in the food court
The girl stood in the middle of the road with a selfie stick
The bamboo scaffold poles
My credit cards not working in the restaurant
The bar on the 39th floor of the hotel
24million population of shanghai
Hundreds of really tall apartment blocks –  buildings are either v tall or just 2 storey
Taxi driver hooting horn every other minute
Taxi driver in tourist areas not wanting to use meter

Made it to the Intercontinental Puxi. V nice. We have incredible rooms in the “Club Building”. The main body of the party arrived between 11am and noon. No time for lunch as the tour was starting. This turned out to be going to the same place we were yesterday. We went along anyway and I had KFC for lunch (sorry).

The others then shot off to go up Shanghai’s tallest building whilst Rich and I went to pick up our clothes. Boy are they impressive. Jackets were around £86 each and shirts £32. Not bad for made to measure stuff. Was chatting to a Huawei guy who suggested it was a good price. Ordered two more (linen) jackets and three shirts which will be delivered to the hotel Wednesday night. I had to be strong and not order any more than that otherwise I’d end up needing a second suitcase.

Out in the evening for drinks in the terrace of “Bund Panorama” where we got truly amazing views of a very colourful Shanghai night scene. Food turn out to be an all you can eat buffet. Won a Huawei watch in a quickfire quiz. Unfortunately it has Chinese language firmware but still looks cool even though it’s a woman’s watch. Afterwards we went to the Waldorf and drank cocktails and Remy Martin XO until we were sufficiently well oiled that we slid off back to the hotel.

of tourists

and tailors

Good first day out in Shanghai today. We came a day earlier than the rest of the party to get over the jet lag and have used that day to first go and get some tailored shirts and jackets and then do some touristy bits.

Our first port of call was stall 133 in the Shanghai soft furnishings market. Recommended on TripAdvisor. We met with JoJo and Sophie, the two ladies often referred to in TripAdvisor comments and they were indeed very charming.

I chose a couple of copies of the Tommy Bahama shirt I was wearing, one in a purple silk and the other in flowery blue cotton. They recognised it was a Tommy Bahama shirt – cool stuff. Then I have a patterned blue blazer and a tweedy looking sports jacket. All made to measure and ready by 4pm tomorrow. Cost was 2015 RNB. I’ve no idea if this is a good price. It is 20% lower than their starting point but I guess my reference point was the several hundred pounds per jacket it would have cost back in the UK. Quality looked great but I will find out for sure tomorrow.

Rich got 5 shirts, a jacket and a waistcoat.

We then walked towards the river but found ourselves in an area that seemed to be a combination of residential and industrial with no access to the waterfront. Walked on a bit and came across the start of the main touristy bits called the Cool Docks. Paid a fortune for a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water.

Thereafter it was a stroll through shopping areas and to the Town Temple which was no longer a temple but loads of shops. We stopped for lunch in some sort of food court. We had to regularly fend off hawkers (if that’s the word) trying to sell us fake Rolexes and handbags. I don’t wear a watch but I did buy a manbag in a proper shop. I need one:)

Decided by three o’clockish to head back to the hotel to chill a bit. Taxi was 29RNB though I did have to get the hotel bellboy across to check because the meter said 2900 which seemed a huge ripoff. Couldn’t see the decimal point! 🙂

Sat in reception lounge for a while sipping green tea. The waitress would occasionally bring more hot water to refill our cups. Then to recharge phone and left it in the room whilst I went for a haircut. 300RNB including tip. More than I’ve ever paid for a haircut before but we have to remember its a 5 star hotel and it did include a wash, blow dry and head massage which I hadn’t been expecting. Looking lovely with 20 years knocked off me I am now back in my room writing this post before getting ready to head out for the evening.

Plan is possibly a Teppanyaki followed by the jazz at the Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria which is apparently hugely famous and is (also apparently) the longest bar in the world. Bring on the night.

Lots of interesting pics and vids. I’ll have to think how I share them all with you.

Tomorrow we are moving to the main conference hotel, the Shangri La.

tailor

Hello Shanghai

it’s been a while

Had a fairly good night’s kip on the plane, fair play. Did wake up somewhat dehydrated but water and tea sorted it out and I was fine by the time we landed ahead of schedule at 4pm. Took over 2 hours to get out of the airport though despite the sign saying their target through passport control was 20 minutes.

Bought a ChinaUnicom sim with 3GB of data for 250RNB and took 1000RNB cash out from the cashpoint at roughly 8.5 to the pound. There was a bit of an incident at the cashpoint machine. I followed the on screen instructions and out came 1000RNB but I hadn’t had to put my card in – wow. Turns out the previous user, someone called Matthew Bates if I recall correctly, had left his card in and it was still active. Turns out you have to manually eject the card.

We found a policeman and handed him both the card and the cash. Should really have taken the cop’s details but we had just got off a long flight. I guess the  owner won’t find out about it until he is away from the airport and will just have to cancel the card and probably lose the cash.

Took over an hour to get to the Hilton and in the meantime used the sim. Sites like Facebook and Google are blocked here but I have just installed a vpn client. Unfortunately couldn’t get it to work on the phone although it seems to work fine on the laptop. Rich has his working ok on his phone but not on the chromebook. Will work on it.

Skype worked fine over 4G and called home. Anne was out at church but Hansk and John were in. John had taken 2 wickets in cricket yesterday but rain eventually stopped play and the match was abandoned. WhatsApp also works.

Good internet access at the hotel including Facebook and Google!

Great meal at the Szechuan Court restaurant on 39th floor and then had a few drinks at the bar on the same floor. Fantastic views and some great light show on the tower blocks that slowly all shut down as we approached midnight.

Found out in the bar that the Hilton is the only hotel in China where you can access Facebook and Google. The guy didn’t know why.

Smoking is allowed in bars here which we found strange.

Popped a melatonin before bed which seems to have worked.

Just had a video hangout with Joe who had worked a 9 ½ hour shift at the Taphouse and Kitchen, hit the jam night at the Magna Carta and then headed down with the lads to the Straight and Narrow before grabbing a pizza on the way home. He was in the takeaway when I spoke to him.

Decided that today’s main objective is to find a tailor and get some jackets made. Stay tuned.

A long day

London to Shanghai

Urgh. Alarm at 4.20am. Woke (for the second time) just before it. Quick shower and shave and off out into the early morning. Speedy checkout was v useful. Plenty of Ubers around. 3 minute wait then 30 minutes to Heathrow T5. Easy peasy really.

It was a bit odd driving through London past lots of houses where there would have been people sleeping. Was almost a sci fi experience. You felt as if they were all in their pods waiting for the time to be reactivated. Life without sleep makes sense if we were able to do it. Cram far more into your time on this planet.

Last night had a couple of beers with Baskers and Tim. Always good to see them. Then a quick bite at Garfunkels. Not particularly good service and only ok food. They took the order quickly enough but it took ages to come. Bed.

Now in the galleries lounge. Bacon roll, croissant, milk and OJ. This is going to be a long day.

On the plane headed East to Frankfurt. Bit of day trip. Brain is somewhat frazzled with the earl start. Should really try and get a bit more kip but experience suggests it won’t happen. A frazzled brain doesn’t lead to creative thinking either. Perhaps a cup of tea or coffee will do the trick. I won’t be partaking of the cardboard croissant I’ve seen on the trolley as it passed by to the front of the cabin. Had a bacon roll and a croissant in the lounge before the flight.

Life in the fast lane is in my ears. Very appropriate.

My attire on this flight is my new Fat Face shorts, a burgundy and white Hawaiian shirt and sandals. Oh and my Tommy Bahama straw hat. I also have a pair of long trousers and long sleeved shirt and a pair of socks in the carry on bag just in case I need them for the overnighter to Shanghai.

We have been looking forward with a degree of excitement for the Shanghai trip. This is coming from someone who doesn’t get excited about such things. I did some research about places to go and see during some of the downtime we will have but decided it wasn’t worth planning anything ahead.

Did note that sites such as Google and Facebook are blocked. This is a stark reminder that we are headed to Communist China. Will have kindly provided me with access to his VPN server and both laptop and phone now have the clients set up. Will be interesting to see it in action. I quite like the idea of posting to Facebook from China. Not sure what bandwidth we will be getting but hey…

I have coffee. Don’t normally drink the stuff, especially the muck they serve on planes, but the brain is telling me it needs it. Ah the glamour of international travel. The captain has just been on telling us we are about 30 minutes away. A lady captain. See more of them these days. Hear more of them is a more accurate description. Didn’t catch the name as my sounds are still in my ear.

American Indian (i.e. Asian not indigenous) family at dinner last night. The parents were constantly on their phones whilst the kids had colouring books.

As we were coming up the escalator from the transit area to the gates (we were boarding at C62 T5) I noted as I was singing to myself that a woman a head of me and Rich turned and smiled to herself. Nice to be able to bring a bit of sunshine into someone’s life. Wonder where she was going?

It’s an interesting concept. The chance meeting with someone who you see once for maybe ten seconds and then never see again. It happens a lot of course. It fits in my philosophy of “chinks” on philosopherontap. This year all these diary entries are down as chinks. Long chinks maybe but these things need to evolve. Nothing stands still. Stand still and catch atrophy.  Move it on baby.

I’ve been calling people baby for years. Part of it has been to see how they react. Part of it is because I don’t really care what people think anymore. That isn’t totally true. I’m not in the game of offending. Live and let live eh? I’m wondering if there is something else I should move on to in this respect. Something beyond baby. I dunno.

This whole not offending people concept is something I’ve been thinking about. I don’t think it is possible to reach the state of perfection in creative writing without truly telling people what you think. Pouring out your innermost feelings. Maybe it’s part of the British reserve thing. I’m not sure I like that concept because really it’s English Reserve. And I’m not English. The emotional stuff is something I’ll probably have to build up to. Maybe it isn’t even there. Who knows?

I’ve certainly throttled back from writing trefor.net stuff this year. This is  subconscious move away from the constraints of writing for business.

I like a bit of Offenbach. I say that because we are on a train  whose final destination is Offenbach Est. We are in Frankfurt. Already had a bit of drama. Picked up our bags and having inserted a credit card to pay 1 Euro for a luggage cart found our way to check in for the next flight which is in 10 hours time. In front of us at the BA checkin were two guys, the younger of whom was distraught and swearing (scheisse – whatever that means!!). They had arrived earlier on but one of them didn’t have his passport with him so they then had to go home and get it only to find that upon their return the check-in had closed. Oops

Took a while to find money, the station and to buy a ticket to town. The machine didn’t like our credit cards nor, initially , our cash. Now we are on a warm train with 30 minutes until we get to OffenbachOEst which presumably is where we want go.

Eventually found the main station after going too far past it. Hopped on an open top tour bus (E17) which was very hot in the sun so sat at the back in the shade. Wasn’t really worth the money as there is sod all left of Frankfurt to see tbh. At least it served the purpose of killing an hour. I don’t want to start drinking at lunchtime and in such heat.

Lunch at a posh burger joint sat outside on the pavement. Bull burger or similar. I had a chicken Caesar salad (smug face icon).

Now wandered in a sweat down to the river where there is some fete action. Saw a boat race and am now sitting in the shade of the Lions Club International stall drinking mineralwasser.

Featured image is of a woman looking down at a homeless person asleep in the lunchtime heat.

It’s been a very hot 34 degrees centigrade today in the city of the Frankfurters. Now we are back in the BA lounge in T2, airconditioning blaring away and pics and vids backing up over the wifi. Shower time.

Great GCSE party

dancing in the garden

Great end of GCSEs party last night fair play. John’s pals said it was the best house party they had been to. Plenty of dancing. The garden needs a bit of clearing up this morning but John had 4 lads staying over so there is help to hand.

A sluggish start to the day today but I am now more or less packed and just chillin listening to some music on the Sonos. Leaving the house at 11.50. The weather is picking up again after yesterday’s rain.

We were very lucky with the party. The occasional spot apart, the rain kept off for the whole evening and only started to deluge once everyone had gone. Was a good excuse for us to leave the tidying until the morning and go to bed.

Today I’m off to London to stay the night before making a very early start to Frankfurt in the morning – 7.05am flight. Ultimate destination is Shanghai for a Huaweii funded trip to their conference. Quite excited really although it is a long journey. We are going a couple of days early to give the body a chance to get over the jet lag of which I am an extreme sufferer.

The dress code of the actual conference is business suit. I don’t own one so nipped out to buy a couple of pairs of tidyish trousers yesterday. Will have to do:) Also I am taking three long sleeved shirts, two notably flowery and one that could be construed as “business”. Hey…

The issue is what to wear for the flight. Frankfurt is going to be 32 degrees, Shanghai is going be 32 degrees. Shorts weather. However I’m not sure shorts will do it for a 13 hour overnight flight. Will let you know what I decide.

GCSE Results Day

party time

A good night’s kip and this morning it’s GCSE results day. Good luck to the lad. Tonight he is having a party with 50 people invited. We will be able to shift some of the burgers left over from Joefest yay.

The forecast was for it to be a wet day so we have three gazebos up. It is still drizzling at the mo (7am) but the metoffice has just told me in person that the all day rain isn’t likely to happen so good eh?

Hannah and Sarah also arrive home today yay. I also have to get my packing done – I’m off on the 12.23 tomorrow. Still not totes sure what to take in the way of work attire. I haven’t worn any for years. My work wear is either shorts and hawaiian shirt or jeans and t shirt. Will have to dig something out.

The noise of the traffic on Wragby Road is much louder when it is wet, as is the case this morning. The good commuters of Lincoln on their way.

Yesterday Joe started work at the Lincoln Taphouse and Kitchen. He had an afternoon shift to learn the ropes and was on last night until closing time which could be as late as 1am. We were in the land of nod when he got back so will have to wait for the report. It was boiling hot yesterday afternoon so not fantastic working conditions but the evening will have cooled.

Reminder to self – must buy some toothpaste for the China trip.

Time to make Anne a cup of tea.

Back from the GCSE results pickup. Did very well. I’ll leave it to John to let you know how well if he wants to tell you. That’s all 4 kids with GCSEs out of the way. Just a set of A Levels and two degrees to go, presumably.

Now back in work mode. wossthatallabout?

Featured image is of flowers after the rain in our back garden last night, as is the vid 🙂

First day back

blackberries

home at 9pm

Flight was an uneventful 25 minutes, most of which seemed to be spent manoeuvering for the landing. Liverpool is only a small airport so we were through quite quickly, the only real negative being there were no luggage carts at the baggage claim area. Amateurish really.

Anne and I shared the driving, me on the first stint. We stopped at Hartshead Moor services which is roughly half way. I demonstrated iron willpower in avoiding a KFC. it was a very warm evening and we didn’t really need much nosh anyway.

Late to bed and up this morning to pick up my laser print cartridge from the newsagents down the road- left by DPD on behalf of HP. I’d had to call them yesterday to let them know I was coming for the parcel as it had already been 7 days after which the item is normally returned to the sender.

After the newsagents it was John Hill for an extraction. Seemed to go much earlier this time than the last though I was still in some discomfort this afternoon. Okish now.

We have put up some gazebos for John’s party tomorrow and I also accompanied Anne to Liquorice Park for some blackberry picking. I sit there reading whilst she picks. Tea tonight was spag bol which felt a lot easier on the mouth than the ham baguette at lunchtime.

Have modified my trip to Madrid for the RIPE conference to go over early with Anne. Booked into the Intercontinental as a bit of a treat. Also registered and booked the hotel for Euro-IX in Krakow.

It’s been a perfect summers day here btw.

Vid is a mouse in our shed this evening.

Trip to IoM concludes on day 13

the end for now

Bit of drama this morning. My phone, my brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge just back from the insurance claim, went into the washing machine by mistake. I can now announce that it is indeed waterproof. Any other phone and I’d be looking at another insurance claim.

Off to Shoprite with dad via the bottle bank. Got a few bits in for our last lunch for now on the Isle of Man. Taxi coming at 15.15 for a 16.50 flight. I have just enough Manx cash left to pay for it.
We leave behind us the guitar purchased for the purpose of playing when I come back next time. I bring with me a number of books including a 1819 Manks Bible. It’s been on sale in the second hand bookshop in Peel for years. Started at £200 or so and I got it for £80. I figured that was a reasonable sum to pay considering it is a rare almost 200 year old book.

Last walk around Peel done, last ice cream.

Catch ya later…

The Port Jack Chippy Story

record breaking run

Monday morning. It’s wet again in Peel and dad and I are off to Douglas to look at mobility scooters. It’s also our last full day so we will be trying to cram in a few things. Onchan park for one. Maybe even chips for lunch from the Port Jack chippy. Supposed to not be raining for the rest of the day so the boating lake might be ok.

Anne is going to cook a paella (pie ella) using chicken we have in the fridge and fresh prawns and mussels from Devereaux fish shop on the quay.

Had a continental brekkie this morning. Croissant, smoked salmon and parma ham. V nice. Glass of milk too.

Had a good time over in the Isle of Man. It’s been full on food and drink though and could do with a bit of a quiet time when I get back. Not going to happen. Tooth out Wednesday, John’s GCSE results and celebration party/bbq Thursday, Hilton Paddington Friday then heading to China with Huaweii. Back from China a week on Tuesday and then head to UKNOF in Glasgow on the Wednesday. Urgh.

I note one (another) good thing that happened during the Olympics. It took the focus of the news away from war, politics and violence in general.

Quick stint into the shopmobility charity shop in Douglas to look at mobility scooters. Dad is toying with the idea. They cost £2500 from Lloyds Pharmacy. At least the all singing all dancing one does. From Shopmobility they are £95 a month. He could try one out before deciding. Dad only really needs a scooter to bring his shopping back. Going to put off the decision as long as possible as it could lead to getting less exercise.

Stopped off at B&Q on way home to buy a mirror for the shower room. This is now in place   (with a 1m strip of velcro) ready for the first shave. Job well done.

Onchan Park to play crazy golf. Noticed they had replaced the noisy, smelly, old wooden boats on the boating lake with new colourful and quiet electric jobbies. Not sure I approve:)

Sit down lunch at Port Jack Chippy. I sometimes used to get my lunch from the Port Jack Chippy when I was working on the Electric Trams. One day we were coming back from Laxey on Number 1 and decided that if we put our metaphoric foot down we would be able to stop the tram outside the chippy and nip in for the chips whilst the passengers stayed onboard. We got there 15 minutes ahead of schedule (which was normally a 30 minute ride).

Today tram Number 2 happened to stop there to let passengers off just we we were coming out after our food.

Caught a mackerel off the breakwater and then last pint outside the Creek and a couple in the Whitehouse. Now back home for some paella. I can hear something being dished up. Ciao…

interim vid below. more later…


IoM Day 11 – Water Slide and Soap Box Derby

go Pat go

It’s a calm Sunday morning. We are having brunch today as Tom is off back to London on the 14.50 out of Ronaldsway International. I am planning to get him a taxi for 13.20 as there is a soap box derby on in Peel at 14.00 and I don’t really want to miss that if I can help it. Tried a couple of taxi firms first thing but no response – perhaps not a surprise. This is Peel and it is Sunday. If it comes to the crunch I can still take him.

Anne and I are up but nobody else by the sound of it. Some of them may have stayed up late to watch Mo Farrar win the Olympic 5k. Well done Mo. Proud of ya:)

Magnificent brunch even though I say so myself. Now we are working on a roast pork joint for dinner tonight. Crackling.

Taxi booked for Tom. Terry’s Taxis. Now have to nip out and get him some cash to pay for it:)

The weather has picked up this morning after a couple of wet days. If you take a look at some of the videos of this trip you will see a huge contrast between Peel in the wet and in the sun.

Magners 1935 cider purchased for the gravy. Clutching at straws now mentioning this kind of detail for the diary. Maybe not. The cider will go in the meat pan with the juices and the onion cooked under the meat and a peeled and chopped small apple. Stick a bit of stock with flour, reduce for a little and hey presto you have a rich gravy to go with the perfect meat and crackling.

Watching the Mo Farah race for the third time. Lots of repeats on the Beeb. Fair enough.

Been a good day. Tom left us at 13.20 and we then strolled down to watch the prom action. Joe had a go on the water slide (ten  quid for charity) and we watched some of the practices of the Soap Box Derby. Not much going on there so we strolled around to the breakwater for a cuppa – saw a v good T2. John then went up Peel Hill whilst we went home to stick the pork on.

Eventually we ended up in the Whitehouse for a couple and home for a roast pork dinner. I have to say the gravy was fantastic and the dinner went down very well. Still not getting on with the damn fan oven though. Pork was a little dry. Didn’t detract from the overall experience.

Joe and I played a bit of music after dinner. I need to up my game really. They are now watching robot wars whilst I tap away in the dining room.

Been a good couple of weeks at home. Just one more night to go after tonight. We are off home on Tuesday.

Featured image courtesy of Joe Davies – worth clicking on it to see more.