What is the worst thing about living in Shanghai? The air polution. The two best face masks I find are these two. I like the adult mask that has the air valve. It reduces the moisture build up inside. The smaller ones fit our 8 and 9 years old very well. We just buy them in bulk from Amazon US and bring them over.
I have a wonderful Hong Kong tailor. I was not in a rush to check out the Shanghai custom tailor scene. Finally, the weekend before Chinese New Year I decided to head over to the South Bund Fabric Market (南外滩轻纺面料市场) for the first time. I know it will be less crowded. Many of the stores have closed already for the coming new year.
I was right. A arrived at noon time and the market was not too crowded. The main fabric market has three floors of, totally maybe 100 or more shops. Which one to pick? I looked for one that is:
- neat and organized
- has good reasonable styled clothing on display
- not too flashy
- displaying men's clothing only
- already has a Chinese customer inside
- not have a pushy sales person
- not run by someone too old or too flashy
I found a shop on the second floor. The sales person was friendly but efficient. Once I told her I wanted to try to make a single pair of pants, she helped me picked the materials and style. Turned out she speaks very good English, but we mostly conversed in Chinese. Except I have no idea the Chinese terms are for pleats (褶 Zhe3), button down, etc. I ordered a pair of khakis for 200 CNY and a button down shirt for 130 CNY. Dress pants will be 250 CNY. Prices are obviously very good compare to off the rack in the US, and about half of what it cost in HK tailored. But until I actually get them I would not know the quality.
I went across the street to the smaller market. I bought a cashmere sweater for 560 CNY because I actually needed one. They will tailored one for about 640 CNY. I also found a interesting hand made shoes store ! The lady said her father is the master cobbler and have been doing it since he was six years old. I told her this will be a lost art and hope that her family keeps it up. She said she can do the upper part of the shoe but a girl is not strong enough to do the sole, but she will keep the family business going. A pair of custom leather shoes will cost around 1800 CNY she said. Some day I will try them out.
Stay tune for the second post for updates once I received the cloths.
How to get to the South Bund Fabric Market
The address is:
South Bund Fabric Market
399 Lujiabang Lu
Nán wàitān (South Bund)
qīng fǎng miàn liào (light fabric)
shì chǎng (market)
Music is important. Moving to Shanghai, living in a apartment in a highrise means no more home theatre and media room. I do not think the neighbors will be please with loud music and strong base going through the floors and walls. What equipment would be a good for apartment living?
A sound system needs the following pieces:
- a music source — these days this can be an iPod or a iPhone or a computer
- an amplifier or a receiver — to turn the tiny sound into something louder
- a pair of loudspeakers — to actually create the sound for a room
For small apartments, one does not need a lot of power, or a large set of speakers. So a good compromise is to use amplified speakers. This will combined items 2 and 3 into one thing. Simpler and cheaper (sometimes).
When in China, it is best to but a local brand. Otherwise, like most thing foreign, costs a lot more in China then elsewhere. A well respected, if not very well known outside of China, is the brand Swans or HiVi (惠威). Their speakers actually have received very good reviews. For example this one.
I was going to order these from TMall. But I found them at a local BuyNow 百脑汇, ended up just buying them and have them delivered quickly. The prices are a tiny bit more then online even after getting a small discount from the shop. But immediate gratification was worth it.
I ended up buying two different pairs of speakers. The MK200MKIII is an amplified speaker, not to confused with the MKII. It was about 1800 Yuan. If you can live with the slightly less powerful MKII, it will be about 800 Yuan cheaper. This pair now sits in the living room. I plug my laptop or my iPad into it and play music from my iTunes library, or stream music from Rdio.
I also bought the M100MKII which is a smaller pair of amplified speakers that have bluetooth built in. It costs about 1000 Yuan. That means you do not have to plug your iPhone/iPod into the speakers at all. You can just stream music wirelessly to it. Perfect for the bedroom or office. I have this in the bedroom so that I can listen to music and podcast streamed from my iPhone.
Both set of speakers sound good, and are affordable. Highly recommended for Shanghai apartment living.
I wanted to pick up something from Kiehls and I remember walking passed one of their stores in one of the malls near my office. So I went online to make sure I know where it is before heading out. Pretty simple task?
No -- On the English khiels.com site, they have a global store locator. Wonderful? I looked up their stores in Shanghai using the store locator page and it showed two stores only. I know that is not true because I have seen a lot of them in different shopping malls.
I went onto the China Khiels site, and there they are -- 5 stores total in shanghai including the one that I was looking for in 正大广场 , Super Brand mall.
Lesson? I global company cannot keep their websites sync'ed up? There is no a single global database of the stores, pushing data to each country sites? The US Kiehls site is powered by demanware, a very large provider of e-commerce sites. The Chinese site is powered by something else. That is part of the issue, but where is the global management that should keep problems like this from happening?
I am a big fan of Uniqlo. They are a great place for simple, reasonable quality basics and casual wear, at least for a not too fashion conscious guy. So when I find out that Uniqlo opened it's largest store in the world in Shanghai Xin Tian Di area, I have to go check it out.
It is a nice store. Right off the exit of the South Huangpi road (黃陂南路) line 1 subway. Normally their stores are tight in layout. This one is more spacious, with separate floors for men, women etc. The top floor has a special fashion section.
Having mostly shopped in the Hong Kong uniqlo stores, I realized that the prices are the same. I.e. the pieces cost the same for Chinese dollars as Hong Kong dollars. Since Chinese dollars are worth a bit more then Hong Kong dollars, items are more expensive here. Currently the exchange rates to USD is 6.1 vs 7.7, so items are about 20% more expensive. Yikes!
Still, having Uniqlo (and Muji and IKEA) here in Shanghai makes my global living slightly easier. Their cloths are functional, comes in all colors, what else would I need? Fleece tops? checked. Socks and T shirts in every colors? checked. Functional casual coat for winter? Checked. The only thing I cannot buy there are work clothes since work here is formal dressed, and why wouldn't you tailored all your shirts and suits when you are a short flight from Hong Kong? That's another post.