Hai Times

Shanghai Skyline

Last night I ventured down to the People’ Park in central Shanghai with spectacular views to the skyscrapers of Nanjeing Road behind. I really had the feeling that I could have been in any big, commercial, world metropolis but with the foreground of the park, and the monumental skyline behind, there was a romance and magic in the air of the city reminiscent of Manhattan nights. There was an energy, an atmosphere of hope and possibilities, a feeling of past and future that was truly invigorating. I was delighted to find it there, and for the first time, I felt that Shanghai was something more than the sum of its hot, tubed, colourful parts.

I went down there to go to the Moca – Museum of Contemporary Art, set in the atmospheric gardens of the People’s Park in central SH. I hadn’t expected it to be on a scale with Moma, NY but I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to be a poor cousin to Goma, Glasgow! It was relatively small with dodgy rubber-tiled flooring and seemingly without any sort of permanent collection. The exhibition, Pixar, 20 years of animation was the Headline, but actually turned out to be the Only thing – an entire city museum commandeered by Disney – disgraceful really, and kind of expensive for Shanghai.

Which leads me to a fantastic bar just down the garden path from the museum which goes by the name of Barbarossa Lounge. Every cloud has a silver lining, and had it not been for the sheer crapness of the museum, I would’ve missed happy hour! I’ve been in a few bars in my time, readers, and can honestly say this is probably up there in my top 100. Shanghai is a pretty bizarre place but a Morrocan palace surrounded by a moat of waterlilies was a suprising trip to another world in the middle of another world. We were upstairs in the cocktail bar, which took the form of a Bedouin tent with loads of hookhas, beautiful glass lamps and and incredible outdoor terrace. But as well as the intoxicating venue, the best was yet to come. A couple of raspberry martinis in, a barman offered me a flute of sparkle. Looking round expectantly to see which handsome prince from the other side of the bar had sent it over, I realised it was Ladies’ Night, and that the majority of the female clientele had one too. Don’t think they realised there were ladies who could put away quite as much of the stuff as myself, but I polished off at least 6 before stumbling home. Not so great for my long-suffering male chaperone, who didn’t get his hands on any of the free stuff, despite clearly batting for the other team…