Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Day in China

We took the train back from Beijing to Shanghai in the dark--nothing to see!  We rested to be ready for one last push in Shanghai:  Bill and I booked a one-day shopping tour with the appropriately-named "Shopping Tours Shanghai."  Charlie and Jean, doubting there was much to shop for in Shanghai (no, seriously) left us on our own for this day.

I don't want to do a play-by-play of our day (you can read lots of wonderful TripAdvisor reviews), but let's just say there is a TON of shopping to do in Shanghai.  Bill and I both had cashmere winter coats made to order ($125 each), and we bought some beautiful pottery at this shop.  We had lunch at a great restaurant, dumplings on the street Shanghai-style, and lots and lots of Starbucks.  Our little group of five intrepid shoppers ended the day at the Pearl Market, where I scored some gorgeous cashmere scarves as well as actual pearls!

We also got to meet Benny Peng, who makes beautiful silk-covered objects, everything from notebooks to jewelry boxes.  His items are all handmade and sold in department stores around the world.  We got to meet him and (of course) pick up a bunch of items.  One of my favorite was a little business card holder.  In Shanghai, the world runs on business cards.  Every time we visited a restaurant or shop I saved their business card.  I put all of the cards from this trip in one business card book, and now Bill knows exactly where to go when he goes out shopping or dining in Shanghai.

Bill with Benny.  We just loved meeting him!
In a food market.  This lady makes noodles of all kinds--check out the bags of flour in the background!
Also in the food market.  Eggs as far as you can see.
One stop in particular was fascinating:  the silk factory.  We saw silkworms, the cocoons, how they are spun into thread, and finally woven.  We also saw how they make silk duvets, by wetting and stretching each individual cocoon, and then pulling it out to the size of a queen-sized bed.  One cocoon.  Amazing.  (And the duvets are also amazing, by the way.  Soft, light, warm, and hypoallergenic!)

Silkworms on mulberry leaves.
Silk cocoons in water, being unraveled and twisted into thread.
Making a duvet by stretching a couple of cocoons to the size of a queen-size mattress.
A great way to see Shanghai!  One fun part is seeing the city through the eyes of a Westerner.  Our guide, Clare, was from the U.S. but had lived in Shanghai for three years.  She was really good at giving us insight into living in Shanghai as a Westerner, what she loved, what she missed.  While it would have been better to have done this trip at the beginning of the week (our finished goods could have been delivered rather than shipped), spending some quality time shopping in Shanghai was a delight.  And yes, we did enjoy sharing with Charlie and Jean all the awesome places we had found to shop!  They were shocked.

The next morning we were up early to board the plane and return to real life.  If you can bear it, I have just one more China post coming up.

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