The Science of Shopping

25.04.2010

Today I rose early letting Sue have a lie in while I had breakfast then trotted across the road to the Crowne and read the newspaper, when I returned Sue was having breakfast and chatting with the other guests.  As it was a lovely warm and sunny morning we decided to catch the shuttle bus to the market and then visit the Science and Technology Museum in Pudong.

The bus was very full of locals and tourists alike and because of the many stops, the journey to the market took quite a long time. The market was huge and very, very busy. We had great fun wandering around the various outlets, negotiating for a few presents. When bargaining for anything we are interested in we employ a good guy, bad guy routine. When Sue asks for the price, I’m usually wandering around outside and when she calls me to tell me the price, I inform her that I am not paying that amount and I proceed to leave. The price then magically halves. I say no again and then Sue looking disappointed makes to leave with me,  this initiates a further reduction with oriental whimpering. You know you are paying the best price when they swear at you (always after you have given them the cash).

After fun shopping, we chose to have pizza for lunch at something called Mary’s Kitchen. Afterwards, we took a short walk to the Shanghai Museum of Technology and Science housed in a very Hi-tech and very impressive glass-structured building near Century Park. As we made our way towards the building across the huge frontal plaza we were stopped by a Chinese police officer, who insisted that I was over 70 and would get in free. He escorted us to the front of a long queue at the ticket kiosk. Again, a young Chinese girl issuing tickets enquired as to my age and pointed out that if I was over 70 I would go in for free (Sue was very amused!!!). I told her I was 57 and could still probably outrun her over 100m. She looked shocked, but ignored my protestations and gave us free tickets, refusing the cash I placed on the counter.  The policeman then took my arm and helped me up the steps to the main entrance. I resisted the temptation to hit him and decided to get my (now rather long) beard shaved. Not expecting still to be in China I had not brought my electric razor and of course, scissors are no longer allowed on aircraft. I also resolved to find some anti-ageing cream when I get home.  I had wondered why whenever I got on a bus or the Metro, old ladies would stand up and offer me their seat for me to sit on. I assumed it was because I obviously looked like a very important European diplomat or film star, but I suspect differently now. It’s just that the whole Chinese nation is incapable of judging the age of youthful Europeans.

I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. We stayed there until they threw us out at 5.30 pm. It is so large that we didn’t get to see all the exhibits, it certainly requires a full day.  If allowed to pay, the entrance fee is £5, over 70s are free!!!! Unfortunately, we were too late to catch a 4D film in the Imax cinema, we would have loved to have had the experience, it sounded brilliant. The exhibits and shows that we did see certainly made up for our disappointment.

We caught the shuttle back to the hotel at 6.20 pm. We were surprised while on the bus my mobile phone rang. It was Virgin and they asked us to go to the airport tomorrow by 6.30 am for a standby flight to London. When we arrived back in our hotel room we both confessed to being disappointed. We now wanted to stay until the 5th of May and had planned lots of exciting places to visit. A little later my mobile rang again and Virgin informed us that we now had a confirmed flight tomorrow and didn’t need to get to the airport until 7.00 am and that we were transiting via Hongkong. We were so downhearted, we couldn’t refuse a confirmed flight without giving up the right to a flight back. Moving to the hotel foyer we spent some time chatting with our fellow guests before going out for dinner in Pudong, it was a depressing meal, we were enjoying our enforced stay and didn’t want it to end.

Returning to the Ibis we again sat in the Foye and chatted. Annoyingly, a rather unpleasant Scot with his more pleasant wife came and joined us. Our only experience of the man was hearing him in the hotel constantly shouting, complaining and bullying the staff.  He informed us that he also had been offered a standby slot for tomorrow but had refused it because he didn’t want to go all the way to the airport with the possibility of not getting away and had been given a confirmed flight on the 30th.

26.04.2010

We got up early, had breakfast and despondently checked out, boarding our booked taxi we were at the airport by 6.30 am.

The airport was very busy with queues at several check-in desks. As soon as we arrived a Virgin staff member spotted us and took our details and then invited us to go and have a coffee upstairs in the restaurant and come back at 8.00 am.  We duly did as we were told, hoping that we wouldn’t be flying and could check back into the hotel. Returning to the main concourse at 7.45 am, while I guarded our cases a Chinese Virgin staff member had a word with Sue. She whispered to Sue that they had put us on priority, because (looking at me) they didn’t think I could cope with a nine-hour transfer in Hongkong.!!!! What is it with these Chinese, are they all in need of a visit to SpecSavers?

We were quickly processed, given our boarding cards and told they had given us a nice window seat together. We flew an hour later. We are now home. A bit of a disappointment.

An afterthought: It may be an advantage to the UK that the Chinese cannot gauge the age of European men accurately, I suspect it is a flaw in their thinking that may one day bring down their whole society and bid for world domination. Our government should send all our excess Senior Cit’s on freebie holidays to China, where I am sure they will be treated kindly and for free, hence saving a fortune for the British taxpayer!

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