Today we came across The New York Times‘ latest installment of its “Frugal Traveler” series , and this time Matt Gross writes about our fair city of Shanghai. We will preface this post by saying it is an interesting and generally well-informed guide to spending a weekend in China, with good recommendations, although not much “off the beaten path.” But, Shanghaiist wonders, does The New York Times know the meaning of the word “frugal?”
For readers unfamiliar with the series, “The Frugal Traveler” sends a reporter somewhere in the world for a weekend, with a budget of approximately US$500. Now, for the average American globetrotter, restricting oneself to US$500 over the course of a weekend might indeed be an exercise in frugality. And in that sense, the series always delivers—this place in particular comes to mind—the reader is given a roadmap for an interesting weekend at that price point. But Shanghaiist feels there is not so much frugal about Mr. Gross’ trip to Shanghai. Some highlights of his visit (last August, but published yesterday):
After grabbing a jian bing to go, he strolls the Bund while pondering the progress and development there. But uninspired by the commercial offerings he hops a cab to Taikang Road for some more “chic” window shopping. His first meal is at Yoma, a Japanese restaurant selected “partly because of Japan’s historical entanglement with Shanghai.” Huh? But let us stay on point. This affordable meal was RMB 200 per person, leaving cash to spare for dessert at the jiaopincher’s haven: Jean-Georges. Next up was a tour of Shanghai’s gay nightlife, including visits to Eddy’s and Bobo’s.
The following day he hits the ground running with a bellyful of won ton soup and sheng jian and packs in Xintiandi and the Moganshan art complex before dinner at A Future Perfect, “perfectly cheap” at RMB 232 per person. He turned down an invitation to go out that evening (Saturday), electing to stay in and save his money for Sunday shopping.
Sunday morning is a stroll and souvenir shopping in the French Concession. What better way to reward oneself than a spartan lunch at Sens & Bund, just RMB 350? A visit to the Urban Planning Museum left just enough jingle in his pocket to pick up a photography catalog. He packed up his gear at No. 9 and was on his merry way.
Matt had a great weekend in Shanghai, and anyone tracing his footsteps would likely also have an enjoyable visit. And by American standards, his selections were indeed relatively inexpensive. But does anyone else think he could have done a lot more with his money, perhaps allowing him to go out on BOTH of his nights, had he followed the spirit of frugality a bit more closely? Can Shanghaiist readers suggest some alternatives to his restaurant or accommodations selections?