theolynn

Father’s Day in Shanghai, a day of rest? – Day Seven of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai

In DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Enterprise Ireland, Father's Day, Huaihai Road, Ireland, Jade on 36, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, Shangri la Pudong, Shopping, The Westin, Travel, Yongkang Lu on July 29, 2010 at 11:56 am
Dr. Theo Lynn (DCU Business School) with monkey at Father's Day brunch in the Westin on the Bund, Shanghai.

Dr. Theo Lynn (DCU Business School) with monkey at Father's Day brunch in the Westin on the Bund, Shanghai.

It’s Father’s Day and I am nearly 6,000 miles from the kids….not a good start to my first Sunday in Shanghai. Unlike Ireland, today is not a day of rest for our group. We kicked off with an informal briefing from Enterprise Ireland‘s Alan Buckley (Director), Kevin Sherry (Director, International Sales and Partnering) and Renee Wu (Manager – East China). Alan and Renee are based in China, in Beijing and Shanghai respectively and Alan is over for World Expo but also the Enterprise Ireland regional meeting. It was a relaxed start to the day and we held the session over coffee in the lobby of the hotel. Alan gave us an overview of Enterprise Ireland‘s activities in the region and the challenges. We all agreed educating the Chinese about Ireland was a crucial first step. Again, the sheer scale of the opportunity was hit home but also that EI‘s activities, while successful, were severely constrained by funding. Alan also stressed the importance of relationships and guanxi but also having a presence in China. Enterprise Ireland are not immune from this either and their presence in the Irish Consulate greatly assists their efforts. I was quite impressed by Kevin as he was very interested in the group’s thoughts and listening to their first impressions.

Jade on 36, Shangri La Pudong, Shanghai

Jade on 36, Shangri La Pudong, Shanghai

We had booked brunch at the Shangri La Hotel in Pudong. Initially this was going to be my personal treat however soon 16 of us had booked in….or so we thought. On arrival, we found that although we had made a reservation through their website, this had not been communicated to the Jade on 36 restaurant…. While we were offered the option of a Japanese brunch, unfortunately this didn’t really suit our palate. In fairness to Clement Jacquel, the Service Manager, and his the staff at the Shangri La, they immediately rang the Westin on the Bund, paid for transport and booked us in to a private room there for brunch.

The Westin on the Bund, Shanghai

The Westin on the Bund, Shanghai

Serendipity struck again! The Westin was great. Brunch was served over two floors from 7-10 serving stations, something for everyone – Italian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, English, even a caviar bar, candy floss and pick-n-mix sweet trolley! We were on the second floor and we could look down and see the different entertainment the Westin had laid on – a 16-piece orchestra, child acrobats/gymnasts, magicians, clowns and singers – it was like a circus-themed restaurant.

A view of the lobby dining area for brunch in the Westin on the Bund with orchestra on steps in background.

A view of the lobby dining area for brunch in the Westin on the Bund with orchestra on steps in background.

After some champagne, the group attacked the food and two hours later after several desserts, we lazed around in our guilt. I rang my kids which only exacerbated this feeling but its amazing what a good chocolate brownie will cure!

DCU Business School group in our private room for brunch at the Westin on the Bund, Shanghai

DCU Business School group in our private room for brunch at the Westin on the Bund, Shanghai

Just before we were leaving, we ran in to some of the Irish diaspora from Cork working for EMC Research in Shanghai. It says a lot about the Irish that within 15 minutes of meeting us, the offer to visit EMC Research was made. Unfortunately there was no more time in our schedule but the offer was much appreciated. Maybe the “Ireland of a thousand welcomes” may be lost in Ireland but the diaspora certainly make up for it! We all agreed the Westin Brunch is a must for any visit to Shanghai, especially one with kids, even the older ones!

Dr. Theo Lynn, Ciara Dolan and Rosemary Clancy at brunch at The Westin on the Bund, Shanghai. Sean Donnelly auditions as a server.

Dr. Theo Lynn, Ciara Dolan and Rosemary Clancy at brunch at The Westin on the Bund, Shanghai. Sean Donnelly auditions as a server.

While some of the group decided to hit the markets again, Andrew, Martin, Laureen and I decided on some culture. Alan Bradley had recommended the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum and so we jumped in a taxi and made our way back to People’s Square. It says a lot about the Chinese and their sense of scale that they have a museum just about urban planning in Shanghai, Dublin urban planning seems an oxymoron! The museum is huge and has exhibits over several floors which explores different aspects of the evolution of Shanghai through pictures, film and other exhibits. It is not everyone’s cup of tea however the giant model of Shanghai is worth the reasonable admission fee. It takes up an entire floor and you can walk around and view it from an attached gantry. The detail is impressive – Andrew even found the Maltese pavilion in World Expo in the model!

A view from above. The model of Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum.

A view from above. The model of Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum.

Our plan was to get a quick coffee and visit the Shanghai Museum located behind the Urban Planning museum. We popped in to Starbucks for a quick coffee (and to buy a Shanghai city mug) and sat in the drizzle of the People’s Park. It was quite amusing. Clearly Sunday is Date Day for young Shanghai couples and we felt slightly guilty that we were disturbing them. After a few minutes, we couldn’t take it any longer and left Chinese couples to what couples all over the world get up to… And off we went heading towards what we thought was the Shanghai Museum. As we walked through the Park, we couldn’t help but notice the large number of older Chinese people congregated under canopies over the paths with pieces of A4 paper attached like notices to fences and trees. What could they be? We eventually discovered that these were marriage notifications – now we really felt for those couples we had disturbed earlier, little did they know what their parents were up to!

My attempt to negotiate marriage contracts for Andrew Bonello, Laureen Morrissette and Martin Hennig at the People's Park in Shanghai were unsuccessful.

My attempt to negotiate marriage contracts for Andrew Bonello, Laureen Morrissette and Martin Hennig at the People's Park in Shanghai were unsuccessful.

Eventually we got to the Shanghai Museum. I say eventually because we inadvertently walked the entire circumference of Renmin Square. And what did we find? It had closed 5 minutes earlier. So readers, no we didn’t get to see the 120,000+ collection of Chinese artifacts. So much for culture.

Martin Hennig, Laureen Morrissette, Dr. Theo Lynn (with Monkey) and Andrew Bonello outside a closed Shanghai Museum.

Martin Hennig, Laureen Morrissette, Dr. Theo Lynn (with Monkey) and Andrew Bonello outside a closed Shanghai Museum.

We then decided to visit some of the shopping streets – unfortunately I have no idea where we were but it seemed to be more Chinese than western! Before you suggest, no, it wasn’t Monganshan Lu – the famous modern art district – I think Yongkang Lu. Anyhow it was full of little alleys with all sorts of bits and pieces to buy and lots of photo galleries and art shops.

Laureen Morrissette looks for gifts in Yongkang Lu...maybe.

Laureen Morrissette looks for gifts in Yongkang Lu...maybe.

For those interested in modern art or pop culture with an Asian bent, this area is manna from heaven. Imagine an Asian Urban Outfitter-themed diagonal alley (from Harry Potter) and that’s the general impression – a bit like the Laines in Brighton.

One of lanes in Yongkang Lu, Shanghai - I think.

One of lanes in Yongkang Lu, Shanghai - I think.

It also had a couple of fresh food markets which were quite interesting to visit in a voyeuristic way. They looked initially like Irish farmer’s markets but in some ways were like some alternate reality – totally different vegetables, many of which were unknown to us and meats that in Ireland would not be offered for sale – offal, chicken feet etc. I felt for one hapless employee whose job seemed to be cutting the nails of the chicken feet….

Martin Hennig tries to find out where we are from other equally lost tourists!

Martin Hennig tries to find out where we are from other equally lost tourists!

After attempting to and giving up on working out where we were, we hailed a cab to the Huaihai Road, Shanghai’s main medium-to-high end shopping street. As usual, the Chinese cabby wouldn’t let us put on our seatbelts and off we went literally on the Chinese version of a rollercoaster ride. The Huaihai Road is six-kilometre street blending modern department stores with branded stores from most of the Western fashionable and luxury marques. If you are looking for bargains, I am not sure they are here. We popped in to the Apple store which is like its contemporaries in London and elsewhere including the price which was the same as London, if not higher. Authentic luxury and fashionable products are still valued and cost no matter where.

Welcome to Shanghai! The famous sign on the Huaihai Road, a six kilometre Shanghai shopping extravaganza!

Welcome to Shanghai! The famous sign on the Huaihai Road, a six kilometre Shanghai shopping extravaganza!

To some extent, you could be in any major city worldwide but the differences are there in the shops, the culture and the people. Maybe only in China are there signs indicating management is honest (and presumably if you don’t have the sign, you are dishonest?) or food quality is good (and presumably if you don’t have the sign, you will be tethered to the toilet?). It is worthwhile visiting those stores that the Chinese authorities consider good – we went to some impressive specialist tea and jade shops where the difference in quality between their tea sets and the ones in the market were perceptible both to the eye and wallet!

Honest management but food not so great!

Honest management but food not so great!

Middle Huaihai Road seemed to have best selection of designer and luxury shops, a good and varied selection of eateries, and some good views from the walkbridges. The dedicated shopper could spend days here however Andrew and I gave up and let Martin and Laureen continue their explorations.

Dr. Theo Lynn shares a joke with Laureen Morrissette and Andrew Bonello on the walkbridge over Huailai Road, Shanghai.

Dr. Theo Lynn shares a joke with Laureen Morrissette and Andrew Bonello on the walkbridge over Huailai Road, Shanghai.

Day Seven ended with another late night in the “Man Club” chewing the fat with the rest of the group and having a bucket of ice split all over me – it’s a long story and not for this blog!

More photos on flickr. Day Eight to follow….
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