Mao and I met today and we wanted to go to Starbucks and chat. The large Starbucks store at Metro City was full of people, and there were no seats. We went to another coffee shop inside Metro City and there are only two seats at the door. We didn’t like it because many people passed by the table and it seemed we were drinking coffee at the platform of Metro Station. We went to Chatea in Metro City, a Taiwanese tea house. It was fully packed of people. Anyway, we finally settled down. People are competing with each other to get a seat in cafe shop. When we left, more than 10 persons were lining up to wait for those inside to finish their tea or dinner quicker so they can get in.
Outside the Metro City, at the exit 10 o Metro Xujiahui Station, Mao couldn’t find a taxi. It is impossible to hire a taxi during the two rush hours in Shanghai. Empty taxis are rarer when it rains, like today. Finally, Mao has to take bus although he well affords taxi expense.
I called Wendy to have dinner with Jin and Peng. Wendy asked me to go to the restaurant one stop away to occupy a table for them first. I argued that there are thousands of restaurants in Shanghai and why I need to go to this specific restaurant. “Just because we can book there?”. Wendy confirmed my guess. She told me it had been the first restaurant that offered four seats when she booked. She had failed on other five. It turned out Wendy was right again. I happened to step into the wrong restaurant on the opposite of the Hua Shan Road, and they said “Sorry. We are full tonight.” to me. Well, well. No matter good or bad, expensive or cheap, as long as it offers something to eat, it is full on Friday night.
On Friday night, Shanghai seems to be a city with too much demands and too few resources.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is my limited observation in Xujiahui area – the most crowded regions in Shanghai. I hope I didn’t mislead you and help you form an impression that everywhere in Shanghai is the same; or every city in China is the same or it is more wrong to claim it is the general life in China. I have to put a disclaimer anywhere when I can think of. Otherwise, I may be challenged to describe only a small part of life in China. It is true, that I am only one person and I can only experience a very small sample of the world at a time.
P.S. Claire, one of the most-frequent-travellers I know, arrived in Saigon. BTW, where is Saigon? In which country? I know I can easily find out the answer by typing it Google, or even select it and right click and choose Google Search (after I installed the Google Toolbar), I want to record my first impression here. How poor is my geographic knowledge? And how about you?
There are not enough coffee shops and decent restaurants because all of Shanghai’s resources are going towards opening new 美容美发 (hair salons), and real estate agencies. Like Hemlock said a few days ago in his weblog,
“[Shanghai]’s only authentic feature is the lack of original thinking.”
 http://www.geocities.com/hkhemlock/diary-22jan05.html (use your favorite proxy)
Saigon is the capital of vietnam. Because Chinese translation did not proper translate the capital city based on the pronounciation, it is hard for Chinese to understand in Englsih. That’s something always intrigues me, becasue some Chinese translations for the foreign city were based on the pronounciation, but some not. In order for ppl to have a better grasp of english name, a standard translation format(the closest pronouciation) needs to be establish in order to void confusions.
If “Saigon is the capital of vietnam.”, Then, What is Hanoi?
Saigon’s current name is Ho Chi Minh City.
Who is Ho Chi Minh? Ask y… …!
limin is right, Saigon was the capital city of South Vietnam prior to 1975.
Speaking of city names in translation… Did you hear that the city of Seoul, Korea has changed its official Chinese name from 汉城* to 首尔** and has asked the Chinese government to adopt the new usage? As mentioned in a People’s Daily article, the Chinese version of the official tourist website for Seoul has already been republished using the new name.
* han cheng, “Chinese City”
** shou er, phonetically similar to the English pronunciation of “Seoul”
My wife is from shanghai and she recommends in this kind of situation, you should try some restaurants which are more expensive than averge (so it will be much fewer people there) or some restaurants which food are just okay.
What did Limin say? “Saigon is ….” Or “Saigon was ….”
Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) is now at the same stage as China was 15-20 years ago. Communist rule, corruption, no faith for the average people.
But maybe still a happy people ?
A question for the blog readers in Europe :
We have a lot of vietnamese in Europe you know, but noone of them says that they
believe in the present communism of Vietnam ???
Really, who won that war ? Not the people, I guess.
Anyhow, to see Vietnam before it’s completely spoiled, do anyone knows where I can get a tourist visa for Vietnam in Shanghai ?
For most of the Vietnamese immigrant to Canada or the States during the war years, they still regard Saigon as their homeland. I have travelled extensively in North America, I found the areas where most of the Vietnamese work and live are always call “little Saigon”, never see a “little Uncle Ho”.
For ILH, sorry my comment carries political under-lining which confused you.
So does anyone know where to get a Vietnamese visa in shanghai?