Monday, April 18, 2011: Still All About Shanghai
Time to digest. After such a welcoming meal, it was time to walk it off. We split off with plans to meet for dinner (Oh boy… more food). My family and I, plus Qing Qing and Xiao Chen, went on a shopping spree with Yi Ma. We first visited her other fancy apartment in Shanghai; it was modern, comfortable, and ornate. She had a glass display with traditional bowls and dishes, crystal artifacts, decorative plates and pots, and plenty of other miscellaneous gems and jewels. The dinner table was a nice red-wine, polished mahogany with matching chairs. The living room appeared fashionable and homely. The carpeting was suitable for a heavenly king, fauteuils with pretty cushions and pillows strewn on both sides, and a clean balcony overlooking Shanghai, perfect for some morning air.
Next stop: the shopping district of Shanghai. We passed by superb and modern architecture, where the hippest shopping malls await. I am talking about malls housing multiple floors, with all the latest fashion and trends and designer brands of Asia. We ventured in the Pacific (太平洋) department store. Boy were my eyes shining in awe and excitement. I was certainly facing temptation. If I could, I would by the whole store of shoes and clothing. BUT I have to learn resistance. But again, my dear Auntie made that rather difficult. Walking through the shoes section, I was looking and admiring, not planning to get any of it. They were expensive and I did not want to be overly desirous. My Aunt noticed my interest nevertheless, as we shop-o-holics communicate by telepathy, and kept asking me I liked whatever I was eyeing. I was mainly looking at business casual shoes for dress-up-to-be-a-doctor days, whether they were stylish flats or fancy clickety heels. I was admiring unique styles to Asia, and almost the entire store suited my Asian taste. I came across this pretty pair of purple flats with a smooth silk finish over the top of my foot. Before I could even object after trying it on, my Aunt bagged and paid for it. I objected to no avail, speaking the shoes were designer-brand expensive. It didn’t end there though. She ended up buying more shoes for my sister and mom, then clothing for my sister and me. She was just too kind! I believe she was making up for all the lost years, to her two nieces and her own Jie Jie.
As if the shopping were so tiring, we settled on more food. Yes, more food. We all met up with Yi Fu and proceeded to a café upstairs. My Yi Fu insisted we eat more, and ordered plenty of sweet desserts. My sister and I knew what to do: eat to our hearts content and make our Uncle happy. So that’s what we, the ‘kids’ of the family, did. We had a beautiful selection of specialty desserts: coconut-vanilla iced slush, gelatinous flan over custard, and a sensational display consisting of a scoop of ice cream, fruits, wafers and cookies, all over more creamy custard and whipped cream. Absolutely satisfying! While I was enjoying these luxurious desserts with my sister, my dad was chatting up complicated finance and economics with Qing Qing, while my mom was catching up with her sister and Yi Fu. This was a good time for them to catch up on life, as them two sisters have not seen each other in almost 10 years. They seem as close as any pair of sisters, just like Kelly and me. And what was she chatting up? She tried to give back the load of money our Aunt and Uncle gifted us, another way they tried to make up for lost time. They bought us tickets to Beijing, gifted us plenty of yuan money, presented Kelly and I each a red envelope, gave us precious Chinese red & gold bracelets, went on a wild shopping spree with us, and paid (and will pay for more) for food outings. Seriously, they have been too benevolent to us! The Yu family has never been treated so kindly to this degree. Is there such thing as too much love in a family?!
After a hearty gathering at the café, I thought we were going for another stroll through the mall, as a way to digest and feel better physically. How wrong I was… We walked to another mall next door, through more shoe and clothing departments, only to take the elevator to yet another restaurant. Seriously? More food? We had just chowed down how many giant cups of desserts?! Well, I couldn’t complain, I chose to stuff myself and make my Yi Fu proud. I also couldn’t complain about their generosity and good intentions and all the good food to come.
Golden Jaguar Restaurant, Golden Jaguar Plaza
We met up with my cousin Sun Po and his wife at the restaurant. We all sat down and proceeded to serve ourselves plenty of gourmet food. This was a very nice gourmet buffet of international foods and seafood, everything from bootleg Italian pizza to Japanese sushi/sashimi to Cantonese dim sum. Fried, deep-fried, steamed, boiled, or stir-fry – everything and anything Asian. I was not very hungry at all unfortunately and I only dabbled with some rice, peppers, and small foods. Sun Po’s wife, who I call 表姊 ‘Biao Jie,’ looked at me confused, “You ate so little!” and she insisted I eat some Chinese BBQ pork. And so I did. I did not want to disappoint anyone, so I practically forced myself to make room and eat like a hungry hippo.
I liked how we had complimentary musical performances. According to my dad, it is a Taiwanese influence to have a live musical performance of popular songs in the restaurant on an average evening. There was a guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist. Some of the popular songs I recognized and enjoyed included “今天妳要嫁給我 Marry Me Today” by 陶喆 David Tao & 蔡依林 Jolin Tsai and “執迷不悔 No Regrets” by 王菲 Faye Wong, and . Now I really know how Asian I am to walk into China and recognize the songs played in restaurants, malls, and shops…
The adults were chatting up a storm at the two tables flanking my sides. My sister and I were catching up with Sun Po and his young wife. They asked about American life, and I asked about their happy Chinese life. Boy has Sun Po changed last time I met him; he has become a mature man now compared to the school boy I used to know. In our house, there’s a picture of my mother’s maternal family, and there sits my cousin Sun Po as a young lad in elementary school. Now I look at him, and he’s in a sweater, professional attire, and dark-rimmed glasses that frames his squarish face rather well. He drives a sleek black car that was a gift from his in-laws. He speaks with an admirable air of self-confidence and assertiveness. He sits in his chair with confidence, toothpick at hand, like he can be the boss of the table. Or the whole restaurant. Or even an underground mafia…
The night came to an end. We parted ways on the city streets. A suspicious man lurked about, constantly turning around to look at us, or rather, our hefty shopping bags. Anyway, we parted ways and prepared for our night train ride to Beijing. Off to Beijing!