Shanghai ‘11

Christine & David Cullen

Christine & David Cullen

The 2011 Shanghai Expat Alumni Reunion was attended by 34 Alumni who travelled from the USA, Australia, Germany and France! We were blessed by good weather in Shanghai for the majority of the  7 days  of the reunion which gave everyone the opportunity to explore their old favorite neighborhoods and to catch up with old Shanghai friends!

All were amazed at the structural changes to Shanghai both on the Puxi and Pudong sides of the Huangpu River but could still find areas of "old Shanghai" hidden amidst the new skyscrapers!

As the reunion was held during the October National Holiday week the traffic and pollution levels were much lower than is usual which made getting around the city much easier for us all!

Alumni who were keen Rugby World Cup devotees were also very pleased that matches could be viewed from their former favorite Shanghai Bars... with  “The Blarney Stone” now lamenting that the Riedy’s  and Gudorf's have once again left Shanghai!

The JW Marriott Tomorrow Square Hotel overlooking Peoples Park was very centrally located as the base for our Alumni Reunion and the fantastic views from all rooms was matched with great service from all of the hotel staff !

The all-inclusive  sumptuous buffet breakfasts became a must-attend daily ritual and the bread and butter pudding was much sought after... as  were the dumplings and smoked salmon!

The Alumni cocktail party on the 2nd October was held in the library on the 60th floor of the JW Marriott and it gave the Alumni the opportunity to catch up whilst enjoying drinks and food ( including dumplings and Beijing duck ) along with  the amazing views from the outdoor open balcony!

The Alumni grand- dinner on the 3rd October was held in the magnificently restored Roosevelt’s Restaurant building on the corner of Zhongshan Lu ( the Bund) and Beijing Lu!  Pre- dinner drinks were sipped on the top floor open-air sky- lounge which gave us great opportunities to photograph the brightly illuminated buildings of the Bund and the Pudong area!  Our dinner was held on an open terrace and the chill of the nighttime air was kept at bay by drinking many glasses of constantly replenished wine ... and by sitting near outdoor heaters!

Tuesday, October 4th was our day for our bus tour of Shanghai!

 A 9am climb of the Lupo bridge gave us all the opportunity to "walk-off" our breakfast and from the top of the bridge we could view the Shanghai World Expo site and marvel at the extent of the beautification that has taken place along the Huangpu River!

Our next adventure was to go inside the iconic China Expo Pavilion ! Guanxi connections ( I could write a book on all of my negotiations with the ticket staff! ) meant that we did not have to queue for admission and were given a VIP welcome to this towering red structure!  Gasps of admiration were to be heard from all of our group as we went from one magnificent display to another.

An hours drive gave some the time to nap before we reached the farmers village in Nanhui ( the far east of Shanghai near Dishui Lake and the coast ) and enjoyed a wonderful Chinese lunch, sitting in a covered pavilion overlooking a fishing pond and being entertained by local singers!

Next, we drove to the boardwalk overlooking the China Sea ... And as one Alumni noted... “This was a first for him as in the old-days you could not gain access to the coastal areas” ( this was probably in the same category as not being allowed to take photographs of bridges!)

The drive across the 35 kilometer Donghai to the new deep water port amazed everyone... And people lost count of how many unloading cranes we could see at the many container terminals!

We were all a little weary by the time we returned to Shanghai .. But fortifying drinks and food ( a great demonstration as to how staff in Shanghai restaurants can still mess-up! ) at the Marlin Bay Yacht Club soon revived us all!  Yes indeed.... Shanghai's Huangpu River is now the base for Yacht  Clubs... And from the estimated value of the launches in the pens we could all understand that Shanghai now has some very very wealthy locals!

Wednesday was a “free-day”  and most took the opportunity to do one of the open double-decker bus tours ( yes just like you can do in major cities around the world! ) and to shop!!  Old skills at bargaining were rekindled and the fabric market did a good trade!

Thursday evening we had dinner in a Uyghur Xinjiang restaurant...and all were delighted when a whole roast lamb was brought to our table! The floor show was fantastic and many of us were dragged onstage to dance... Much to the delight of those who held fast to their seats!

Our final dinner was at the famous Beijing duck restaurant in HuaiHai Lu! The food, as usual, was great and this was our last opportunity to all be together in Shanghai!

Some Alumni continued to other detonations in China and South East Asia after the reunion, whilst others stayed a few more days in Shanghai.  And others headed back too their home countries... But all agreed that Shanghai had lived up to their expectations!

It was my great pleasure to organize the reunion and to host it With husband David!  We loved having you back in Shanghai and are very grateful for the many words of thanks given to us by the attending alumni!

I have passed on our collective Thank-yous to the JW Marriott for their great service and to all restaurants that ensured that we never went hungry!

Linda Nalepa took lots of photographs during the  reunion and she is entrusted to forward the better ones to Sandra for uploading to our website!

Luzie and Emile Schlumpf could not attend the Shanghai reunion... But did send their best wishes .... and their confirmation that they will be hosting the 2012 reunion in Montreal!

I hope that we see all from this years reunion plus others who could not make it this the 2012 reunion!  Our Alumni is a very special group and our yearly reunions the best way to keep in touch with old friends...And to make new ones!

Zaijian,   Christine