Having been impressed by the XiaoMi Note I bought earlier, I am again impressed by the quality of the Hua Wei series of mobile phone at a recent telecommunication exhibtion.
Incidentally, it has been reported recently in a report that Hua Wei has become the third biggest seller of mobile phones in the world. The other close competitorS from China remains Lenovo and XiaoMi.
Though still a copy cat (they are built exactly like a iPhone or a Samsung), the quality remains solid and comfortable in the hand:
This is what they call a 轿子 or in English terms, sedan chair.
In historical times, this is their version of the "limo", powered entirely by 2 men or more carrying the "passenger/s". Of course, the more people carrying this sedan, the more "powerful" the engine is.
The red variant is traditionally used to carry the bride to be to her new place of residence or to the wedding ceremony.
In some parts of China, and perhaps also to add in an element of fun, this tradition still carries on.
You can see a mix of the East and West in this photo contributed by Jennifer. Bride to be in a Western styled gown sitting in a traditional Chinese red sedan chair.
FF was especially nice and brought me hiking, cycling, lunch and exploring the new Eslite World in Taipei Creative Park.
Incidentally, an ex colleague who is based in Sydney returned to her home country for a short trip, found out on Facebook that I was in Taiwan and we arranged to meet. I had been working with her for more than 5 years but never met in person so it was certainly interesting to see her in person.
What's more? On my last day of the trip, just before I headed to the airport, I even had the chance to meet Ailsa, a friend I met on the internet about 7 years ago. We met in Hsinchu train station at the MOS burger outlet for a quick lunch.
As we draw to a close for the year 2014, is there anything particular that you is especially memorable for you?
Perhaps, a special vacation, a new job or a new beginning?
I had quite a few high points this year. Let me share with you one of them.
Being an avid runner, I made it a point to do an overseas race out of where I am based. I had this in mind in Jan 2014 and decided that I would sign up of the next international race (without hestitation) I came across.
I received a mailer from the Taiwan Running Association on one such event. Almost immediately, I signed up for it as a birthday present for myself.
The race is the Asics 21km run in Nantou, about an one hour's drive from Taichung, in high altitude.
As I drew nearer to race day, I took leave from work and booked an air ticket to Taipei and the accomodations in Taipei and Taichung as I needed to collect my race pack in Taipei and to meet up with some ex colleagues.
After collecting my race pack in Taipei, I headed to Taichung where I have booked for myself a nice hotel to some serioulsy good rest before and after the race.
On race day, I was awake early despite having just a few hours' worth of sleep. Also, I did not want to miss the transportation to the race venue. No way I am missing this after travelling all the way here!
I took a quick breakfast, got geared up and hailed a cab to the pick up point.
The mini bus was still there when I arrived. Throughout the bus trip there to the race venue, I was very awake and did not even take a nap. I was running on adrenaline (pun intended).
When I arrived, I was blessed with a cool temperature of 20 degree Celsius, a sunny day and a rustic, natural scenery. All the ingredients of an enjoyable race were in place.
It took me a while to get used to the terrain as it was a place I had never ran before (It was constant up and downhill ! I didnt know I signed up for that!) The dynamics of the race crowd were also vastly different from those I am familiar with.
The race was very well organised with plenty of hydration stations, well stocked with pre-broken biscuits, bananas and drinks along the way.
Along the way, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Many runners like myself stopped to take photos of the little town we went by.
The villagers were also very warm and friendly. They came out of their homes to cheer us on.
Crossing the fininishing line was aboslute elation. I collected my finisher's medal with thanksgiving. Lunch was even provided in the form of a bento set.
Though it has been several years since then, my list of “classics”, though still remains largely relevant, are meant for an audience with a bit more time on their hands whilst they are in Shanghai.
Now, just before we end 2014, I shall attempt to answer another variant of the question on what can one do in Shanghai, albeit using a more abridged itinerary.
I would share with you my ideal weekend getaway in Shanghai. I hope, through my own interpretation of this “ideal” weekend, readers who have very little time in Shanghai, be it for a layover or an extended business trip can use this as a useful reference, for an off the beaten path experience to the experience the best of Shanghai in a relaxing and affordable way.
Here is what you can do on a Shanghai weekend :
The humble Xiao Long Bao is perhaps the food most representative of Shanghai.
Small in size, it packs a flavourful punch in your mouth.
No experience or trip in Shanghai is complete without trying this.
Though perhaps no longer the best around, the Xiao Long Bao at Nanxiang is still a must go and worth visiting especially for first timers.
I would suggest for you to start your day in this metropolis and have your Xiao Long Bao fix there.
Once this is off your list, I can confidently say 50% of your Shanghai experience has been achieved.
If you are a photography buff, there are no lack of photography themes to shoot there.
Address: Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou, 85 Yuyuan Lao Road, near Fuyou Road
If you have never tried Xiao Long Bao, here’s a tip:
Pick up the Xiao Long Bao gently with your chop ticks. (I mean really gently! The skin is very thin and if you are too rough on the edges, you break the skin which holds the delicious soup inside).
Dip it in the vinegar / ginger sauce provided, pinch off a bit of the skin with your mouth, suck out the soup, before nibbling it off the rest of it bit by bit.
After breakfast, hail a cab and proceed to Monganshan Road. This place is converted from an old industrial area and is home to the works of hundreds of contemporary artists and their studios. Most of the studios are open to the public.
You can perhaps pick a nice and cheap piece of artwork there as well as seeing the creativity of the artists based in Shanghai.
Even a non art lover like myself enjoyed touring the premises. As I went around, I saw many photographers using the location as venue for portrait shoots.
Saturday Tea Break
Rest your feet at my favourite café in Shanghai.
The Cottage is small, quaint, cosy and comfortable. This is an ideal place to get away from the city crowd drink some coffee and catch up a bit of email on your iPad.
Address: 25A Taojiang Road, near Hengshan Road, Xuhui district
Late Saturday Afternoon
Get measured up, tailored and fitted at a fraction of the prices outside China.
With a rich tailoring heritage, Shanghai is one of the best places around for custom wear.
The best price to go for tailored wear in Shanghai is the Shanghai Fabric Market at Lu Jia Bang Road.
Prices start from:
Suit -700 RMB
Shirts -120 RMB
Trousers - 350 RMB above
Cashmere overcoats 700 RMB and above.
My personal favorite stall is :
Da Shanghai MJ Dress (大上海服饰)
399 Lu Jia Bang Road
Disclaimer: I have not tried other stalls before. I have no comparison to make.
Remember to haggle !
If it is in the season, do try the hairy crabs, most “decent” Shanghaiese restaurants serve them. Eating them is another art and technique itself.
Its absolutely decadent but it is well worth the cholesterol (and price) !
For after dinner drinks, cross the HuangPu River and drop by the roof top bar at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Pudong.
Look at the view! Nuff said
Drinks for two are reasonably priced. My bill for two was about 250RMB and seats are readily available.
I never sleep early in Shanghai on a weekend.
Go for a foot massage. You would sleep better. This is especially welcoming in winter.
Plenty of options around in Shanghai.
Sleep in on Sunday morning. After a late night out, you deserve it!
Take it easy.
Have Brunch at Bao Luo (Paul's) for a taste of authentic Shanghai cuisine in an informal and bustling setting. There are many star dishes in this restaurant but my favorite is the gigantic pan-fried buns. This is also the spot for supper after a long day of work or after some late night partying.
Rumoured to be started by an ex taxi driver who started the establishment as a small eatery, he hasn’t look big since. Even with it commodious settings, this place attracts long queues most time of the day.
Address: 271 Fu Ming Road,near Chang Le Road.
After brunch, make a side trip to Zhu Jia Jiao.
ZhuJiaJiao is an ancient water town located about 30 km from Hongqiao with a history of more than 1000 years. It is a good place for a trip for those wanting to get away from the city for just one day.
To get there, you can take a bus from Shanghai Stadium. Just ask at the ticketing booth and a variety of packages are available for your picking. The bus journey is slightly more than 1 hour.
This is what you can expect to see:
Visit Tian Zi Fang at Tai Kang Road (Art Street). Tian Zhi Fang, which is at the heart of Tai Kang Road, consists of many art studios and galleries embedded in a mixture of old brick houses (shikumen) and old Shanghai alleys. These studios feature many works of design, painting and photography.
A great way to experience a slice of Old Shanghai amid an artistic setting.
So there you go. An ideal quiet, low energy but action packed weekend tour of Shanghai.
Have you heard of the Xiao Mi brand of mobile phone ?
While there have been many other brands of China made mobile phones like Hua Wei, Lenovo and Meizhu which are surprisngly of very good quality, the one that has taken China by storm is this brand.
They even managed to poached former Google executive, Hugo Barra onto their payroll not too long ago.
Literally meant "small rice" , their products are priced at unbelievable value, (check out the prices on their Singapore page). I bought a XiaoMi Note online for about US$140. I also bought the Xiao Mi 10400 mAh powerbank for just slightly more than US10.
Surprising, they dont feel cheap and surpassed my expectations.