In the Old City district of Shanghai.

Shanghai is a wonderful city, though for being the most populated city in the world, it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of tourist sites to see. Shanghai is where you go to shop!  And, if I had a whole lot of money and could shop it up Sex & The City style, this is where I would come! High end boutiques line the streets with endless amounts of cashmere, silk, and anything you want tailor-made. We stayed in a lovely area called the French Concession. Just steps outside our front door we found a food cart with the world’s best steamed buns.  They made for the perfect mid-afternoon snack and cost less than 20 cents, which was perfect for us since Shanghai is significantly more expensive than Beijing and Xi’an.


I had heard from other travelers that you could go to the fabric market, pick out your fabric and have something tailor-made for cheap, cheap, cheap.  But, there were mixed reviews regarding the quality of what you ended up with. Not one to spare my cash for poor quality, I decided to skip the tourist market and instead got the name of a reputable tailor that the locals use to have a cashmere coat made.  I had been warned ahead of time that he didn’t speak English, so I brilliantly went armed with a picture of what I wanted. He took a look and told me it would take 7 days.  I told him that I was leaving in 3 days; he took my money (actually, my credit card) and said he would have it ready for me in 2 and a half days.  Awesome!  I was so super excited to have a hand-tailored cashmere coat that would fit me perfectly, that I floated out of his little shop on clouds and didn’t care about the fact that I could have had it made for 1/2 the price at the tourist market!

I was a little disappointed when I went back the next morning for a fitting and he wasn’t there.  But, being that we don’t speak the same language, I’m sure it was just a simple mis-communication about what time my appointment was.  I went back a little later and he was there and the fabric was cut.  At the time, I didn’t give much thought to the feel of the fabric, I was more concerned that it was huge and wondering how he was going to make it fit me.  No worries though, he still had a whole 36 hours to finish it.  Plenty of time!

The next day I woke up excited to go pick up my beautiful new coat, but he had told me to come in the evening so I patiently waited the entire day.  7:00pm rolled around and I danced into the shop ready for my cashmere.  Oddly, the tailor himself wasn’t there, but 2 of his assistants were.  They brought my coat out and put it on me and……. it’s crap!  It’s wearable, so I suppose it’s not pure crap, but it’s not at all what I thought it would be so that makes it crap.  First of all, it’s still huge.  Secondly, the neck line is supposed to wrap around and button at the shoulder OR be able to stay open.  It wraps around fine, but that’s the only way it can be worn.  The fabric doesn’t lay flat for me to be able to keep it unbuttoned.  Thirdly, it needs another button because there’s too much fabric.  Fourth, I don’t even think it’s cashmere. Honestly, I really don’t.  It doesn’t feel all soft and luxurious like it should.  It’s crap that cost me a whole lot of money.  I stood there looking in the mirror not knowing what to do or say.  I was getting on a plane in 12 hours….. not much they could do between now and then to fix it.  I couldn’t ask for my money back because (1) they wouldn’t have understood a word I was saying and (2) it’s freakin’ China and not Nordstrom.  So, all I could do was walk out wearing the stupid thing feeling completely deflated.  Eric tried to cheer me up by saying the fun was in the experience of it.  I call BS on that one!  I’m not sure if the tailor totally took me for a ride and knew he was screwing me over, or if there was a huge breakdown in our attempts at communicating.  It does make me suspicious though that he wasn’t there when I went to pick up the coat.  I guess in the game of life you win some and you lose some……………………….damn!  I hate it when I lose!


In addition to window shopping up and down every street and having a crappy faux-cashmere coat made, we did also manage to pack in a few of the city’s highlights:
Here at the Buddhist temple we saw a large beautiful jade Buddha that was carved out of a single piece of jade.  No photos were allowed, so we don’t have pics, but if you are ever in Shanghai it is worth going to see the Jade Buddha.  We did see the monks perform their ritual at the temple though.

Monks chanting and banging on large wooden 'drum'

Monks in front of their altar.

We also spent Thanksgiving here in Shanghai & had a wonderful home-cooked traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

Eric suggesting Thanksgiving dinner.

So, now that we’ve been here and we know what the city is all about, we’ve decided that Shanghai isn’t a must-see destination.  If you’re in China and have extra time to spend, then make the trip to Shanghai and you can easily see the sites in 1 full day.  But, if you’re on a tight schedule and/or budget, then skip it. This is where to come if you have beaucoup bucks to spend!

Shanghai waterfront at night.

More Shanghai skyline.

Last one!