I hate to complain but progress on my Lady Grey has been way too slow and catching a nasty cold which makes me drowsy half the time didn’t help either. I just hope the cold will go away soon. I have finished the sleeves but need to sew on the shoulder pads (I chose to use thin ones) and to finish up the bound buttonholes before sewing on the facings, collar and lining pieces. With the addition of sleeves and shoulder pads, most of the wrinkling issues on the back seem to be gone and that’s good news.
While I heal, I decided to take this opportunity to blog about Self-Stitched Shanghai, where I set out to wear at least one self made item a day while on vacation. My first made-me vacation and definitely not the last.
Day 1: Singapore-Shanghai
Flight time from Singapore to Shanghai is approximately five hours and we chose to take a day flight which wouldn’t disrupt the kids’ sleep cycles. It can get cold on the flight and definitely at the airport so I wore my self stitched black Esther coat with leopard trim, a grey knit dress, black tights and boots. This was a laid back, comfy ensemble which proved to be very suitable for the flight. My hubby snapped this photo at the flight gate while the kids were running around the play area.
We arrived in Shanghai around 3.30pm and I must say immigration services for parents traveling with kids have improved remarkably at the Pudong Airport. We were brought to a queue for families and people with special needs by the ground staff and went through immigration in no time! Shanghai traffic, however, was a different story. It took us one and a half hours to reach the hotel for an otherwise forty minute journey. We stayed at the Novotel Atlantis Shanghai and were given a corner room with panoramic views of Pudong and the Huangpu river. It was beautiful! I took the photo below from the room. The highest buildings in the photo house the Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt Shanghai and the third highest structure is the landmark of Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Day 2: Shanghai Science and Technology Museum/ South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market
One thing we have learnt after all our family trips was to plan one major event for each day with a bonus second minor event. That has worked out for us pretty well so far. We visited the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and I must say we absolutely enjoyed the visit and the kids were thrilled with the many interactive activities which truly engaged them. My prince loved the animal world, spiders, robotic world and space exhibits. My princess , being the scary cat wanted to be carried as she was afraid of the animals, thinking they were real!
My four-year old prince attempted to snap his first photo with our camera while the princess was having a tea break at the museum :) The photo below of my hubby, myself and the princess was taken by the active boy. Not bad for a first try! As you can see, I wore my Ahoy! Cape Vest over a black halter tank with corduroy jeggings and boots. I love this vest cos’ it is so unusual and yet so autumn :)
After a quick lunch at the museum, we visited the fabric market which I have blogged about here.
Day 3: Shanghai Ocean Aquarium/ Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom
My kids heart creatures of the deep and have always enjoyed visiting aquariums so it comes as no surprise that we ended up at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. It reminded me a little of the underwater world back home but is on a much grander scale. We met a saw shark for the first time and marveled at the rays, great white sharks and exotic fishes. The only things I didn’t enjoy were the noisy crowds and inconsiderate smokers visiting the aquarium but soon grew to realize these were inherent in Shanghai.
After lunch we took a slow stroll to the Insect Kingdom which was located at the other end of the Oriental Pearl Tower and off course took the opportunity to take more photos of the place. Here’s lil old me with my princess on an enormous circular pedestrian bridge in front of the tower. I was wearing my Bella Jeans, red kit top and handmade scarf that day and I must mention that the pair of jeans received quite a lot of attention as I noticed people looking at it. I guess it’s partly because few people wear high-waisted jeans in Shanghai. Actually, I didn’t meet anyone who did throughout our trip. I love my bella jeans but have started to notice the waist portion expanding with wear. Perhaps, I need to move the buttons to tighten it more. My prince has been fascinated with insects and is always asking me to show him clips on YouTube on scorpions, centipedes, Rhino Beetles and Spiders (though not technically an insect). So, he was really excited to meet the real creatures at Natural Wild Insect Kingdom. While this was not as spectacular as the aquarium, I found it to be pretty educational for lil kids. Other than insects, there were also many reptiles at this venue which kept the kids amused.
Day 4, 5 and 6: To Hangzhou and back…
My husband and Mr. C have been best friends for the past 30 years. Mr. C has been working in Shanghai for many years and is married to a local. Our families decided to hangout in Hangzhou, around two and a half hours drive from Shanghai, together for a couple of days.
With three kids in tow, we arrived in Hangzhou in the evening and enjoyed a sumptuous dinner. I tried the steamed hairy crabs for the first time as it was in season. This is really an acquired taste and I would go for pepper crabs in Singapore anytime in place of this. The steamed hairy crabs are quite the fear factor material if you ask me.
I had no time to snap a photo until we returned to the hotel room at Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The room was spectacular with a view of the very serene Westlake. I wore the Esther coat again, this time with the red knit top, jeggings and boots.
The Westlake is renowned for its beauty and was the inspiration behind many great Chinese poets. We took a long stroll along the lake to take in the sceneries and stories. The site also inspired the story of Madame White Snake. The photo below was taken on the bridge where Madame white snake was said to have met her lover and she is said to be trapped at the bottom of the Pagoda in the background of this photo, the Leifeng Pagoda.
I wore my Echino scarf that day and truly enjoyed the quietness and beauty of the Westlake.
We rode on the pagoda inspired boats which brought us to one of the island on the lake, a place called ‘Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon’.
The West Lake features a number of manmade islands, with this island being the largest. Notable for its three hollow stone pagodas which date back to the 11th century to the time of the Song dynasty, the island is said to be the best place to view the reflection of the pagodas when the moon is full or almost full, an illusion that gives the lake its name. Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon is touted as one of the ‘Ten Scenes” of the Westlake. The next day, we also rode on one of the paddled boats which I reminded me of the gondolas in Venice.
Day 7: Shanghai Yu Gardens
After our Royal Highnesses finished clowning around the hotel room, we visited the Yu Gardens in Shanghai. The garden was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was meant as a place for his parents to enjoy a happy time in their old age.
It is a lovely garden marred only by droves of tourists that packed the place. But, what is even more famous is the ‘Xiao Long Pao’ (soup dumplings) and local specialities served in the garden’s Nanxiang Restaurant. The establishment is always crowded and never disappoint.
The weather in Shanghai was surprisingly getting warmer while we were there and while I did wear my Mystery Cardigan that day, it was mostly in the evening as it was more breezy and cool. A family in green as you can see in the photo below :)
Day 8: Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road in Shanghai links the Bund to the People’s Square. It’s a long shopping street and I wore my Bella jeans with a black halter and grey knit combo.
We tried the ‘Crossing the bridge’ noodles for lunch. This is a dish from Yunnan province where we basically added all the ingredients and raw beef into a bowl of piping hot soup base. The taste is incredible!
We then took a tram ride which cost RMB$2 per person one way along the entire stretch of Nanjing Road. Something the kids enjoyed very much.
We didn’t do any shopping here as I knew of a better, cheaper place nearby with a huge variety. The Qipu Road Wholesale market! The wholesale district is made up of many buildings selling specialized items and is the place some fashion retailers purchase their stocks, at wholesale prices and then applying the necessary markup when it goes to shelf. There are so many shops here, you probably need a week or more just to browse through them. We went to a building selling kids clothes and bought corduroy boots and a woolen coat for my princess at US$5 each, Japanese inspired jeans for my prince at US$9 and a leather belt for my husband at US$4! It’s the place for a real bargain and I first found out about this market from a friend who lived in Shanghai many years back.
That night we had dinner near the oriental pearl tower so that we could also enjoy the night scene of the city. And, indeed, it was gorgeous!
Day 9: Home Sweet home
It rained on our last day in Shanghai so we basically stayed in the hotel until checkout and made our way to the airport in a world expo cab we booked directly with the driver.
We tried the food at the Cantonese restaurant at the hotel and it was good! Cantonese food is said to be the most delicious of all chinese food. I wore the Take Manhattan tunic and absolutely love not just how it looked but how comfy it was! It is definitely one of my favorite made-me vacation piece! And here’s a photo of me and my hand luggage at Pudong airport. The flight was delayed for an hour and we had to keep ourselves amused.
One thing to note about taxis-try to take those from the big five taxi companies as some privately owned cabbie might not be very honest. We heard from a couple of taxi drivers that the dark blue and maroon taxis are the likely culprits. We had one experience with a dark blue cab and indeed paid double for the fare.
I am thrilled to have done a made-me vacation not only because I got to wear self stitched garments overseas but also I don’t feel so bad boring you with vacation details since some form of sewing was involved :)
Phew! That’s a long post! I hope you are having a much better week than me and hope that I heal soon!