So another Christmas has come and gone. Despite my feeling that “Christmas just doesn’t exist this year” I still tried to celebrate it somehow. I knew I’d be in Shanghai on Christmas Day forking over the first three months’ rent to my new landlord, so I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve with my ZUCC co-worker buddies. It was my idea to go to Banana Leaf, a relatively new addition to Hangzhou’s restaurant scene.

Banana Leaf is a chain, but it rules. I first had the pleasure of dining at this lively Thai establishment in Shanghai, and I absolutely loved the food. Banana Leaf is very much going for atmosphere, though, so they don’t stop at just good food. The place is decorated to look kind of tropical jungly, and there’s a singing dancing staff doing roving performances throughout the restaurant in Chinese, English, and even Spanish (“La Bamba” is the one that I recall most readily).

Anyway, that’s the place I chose for all my co-workers to eat on Christmas Eve. Not everyone made it, though. It was Carl, Greg, Russell, Wayne, Alf, two Chinese friends, and me. Since it was Christmas, the performing staff were all dressed up in Santa suits, and one of them even had the full beard going. Thai Santa Claus. They were amazingly enthusiastic and bubbly the whole time, singing dancing, going by in congo lines. What really kept us amused was how one of the guys kept poking Russell in a flirtacious way. Some of the other guys were making eyes at us. These are all Thai (?)* guys dressed up in Santa suits, mind you. So it was pretty damn amusing.

Everyone liked the food, even if Greg was a little disappointed that the half a roast pig never showed up. They ran out.

After that it was a bit of an adventure getting a taxi. Who’da thunk all of Hangzhou would be out for a night on the town on Christmas Eve? I guess Chinese people are getting into it. It’s a good enough excuse to go out, anyway.

Then we were off to Reggae Bar (which was inexplicably left off of Greg’s Brief Overview of Hangzhou’s Nightspots, to my dismay). Reggae Bar was all decked up Christmas-like, with a full-on Christmas tree and Christmas lights strung throughout the bar. It was also packed. Standing room only. A good mix of foreigners and Chinese, as usual.

Lenny tried to entice me with the bottle of vodka he had bought, but I stuck to beer all night. There was much dancing and merriment. I had a pretty good amount of alcohol, I think. At one point I wouldn’t let Alf stop dancing. The funny thing is it actually worked; he kept on dancing as if somehow compelled by me insisting and blocking the exit.

Surprise, surprise, I missed my 9am train the next morning. I had already bought the ticket and everything. I was awakened just after 9 by an international phone call from my good friend Paco. So I zoomed off to the bus station and caught a bus to Xu Jia Hui that was leaving in 10 minutes. It all worked out.

My new Shanghai apartment is pretty badass. It’s on Nanyang Road (南阳路), right behind the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel on West Nanjing Road. So I’ve got a Taco Popo (decent Mexican food in China!) right around the corner, as well as a pizza delivery joint, and a Starbucks, and several bars, and lotsa Chinese restaurants, including a cozy little Guilin joint that sells rice noodle dishes for 5-6 rmb! Jing An Temple is a 5 minute walk away. I’m loving it.

OK, that’s all for now. I still have lots of moving to do. Ugh.

*I think many of them may have been Filipino.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Illy!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. The reason I left it off is because it is not located on Nan Shan Lu. As you will notice, all the bars reviewed are on Nan Shan Lu with the exception of L.A. Disco which sucks so hard it had to be reviewed as a service to others. Reggae will be reviewed in the next post. And you wanted that roast pig as much as I did.

  2. Nice site. I’ll be back.

  3. John:

    Best China blog site. For a while I enjoy reading Dan’s site(the journalist turned TEFL teacher in Shanghai), but he stopped posting for a long time.
    So what is your job in Shanghai ?


  4. hey~~john
    good luck with ya new life;)


  5. hey John, we wrote a while ago, amongst others about my crazy idea to develope Chinese multimedia teaching tools. I finally decided it couldn’t be done this time around (life is long), and instead I am going biking with Leylop from Laos to Cambodia… Meeting her today in fact, for the first time.

    Would have been cool to meet up with you as well once I am here, but I guess this is not the best time for you, moving and all. Hopefully I’ll catch you some other time – and if the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing gives me the job I want, I’ll be in the country for another while.

    Happy New Year and good moving:)

  6. ooh, sounds like i’ll be benefitting from your kickass location as well! although i was kind of counting on shedding a few holiday pounds in china, and now it sounds like maybe i won’t. 😉

  7. Hey John,

    It sounds like you are enjoying the experience.
    I’ll see you as soon as I get the chance to get a jet over there.

    Take care cuz,

  8. Just came across your website. Good luck to your new life in Shanghai. Your new place is just a block away from the house I grew up. It is next to Always, and my father still lives there. I love the area. Is there any new apartment building on Nanyang Lu now? I didn’t see any when I was there two years ago.

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