Shanghai - Samba Walker was here:
Techno, Electro, Dance – boom-beep-bash! These seemed to be the only musical choices in the Shanghai nightlife clubbing scene. Being a hip-hop/R&B person – and one who’d rather not open her wallet for overpriced drinks in pretentious places – finding a cheap spot to rock-it seemed impossible. I was new to Shanghai. No friends, no idea of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do there, even if I could figure out where I was. Then, I found Windows Underground. You actually had to go “underground”; there was no sign of daylight. The lights were dim, but not dark to the point of “where’s-your-face-random-person-who-stepped-on-my-shoe” kind of way. And the prices! Cheap drinks & reasonably priced food: nachos, quesadillas, chicken wings & burgers. Like your own Taco Bell!
Glance up at the letters above the door and you’ll have a hard time figuring out what they mean till you look again, tilt your head and see the letters spell English words! The large “Urban Thai” signage uses the Thai alphabet, but if a Thai person were to read them, they’d have to tilt their head till it falls off because it doesn’t spell anything in Thai. Walk past the wooden door of this Shanghai restaurant and you’ll never know how mouthwatering their authentic Thai food really is. But with over 6,000 Shanghai restaurants, you might be asking, “how do I find authentic Thai cuisine that won’t burn a whole in my stomach or my pocket?” Travelling to Thailand works, but you can’t just hop a plane every time you get the urge for papaya salad. So… step into Urban Thai!
Up 3 breath-snatching flights of stairs is a graffiti-plastered dive bar & hookah lounge – a mishmash of a joint straight out of a horror flick, with wooden benches under splotchy orange ceilings dappled with Chinese lanterns and flags – where gin, whisky & vodka comes by the bucket, beer’s on tap and eats are dirt cheap. It’s Perry’s Bar; the dive I dragged one of my friends to and the first word she uttered was “dodgy”. True. The graffiti is inescapable, not street art, but contributions of the drunk and the restless; every inch of sullied wall space festooned with a hodgepodge of exaggerated human body part sketches, random names of people, countries, dates and profanity scrawled in marker. Some might find it offensive. Others (people like me) consider it enticing.