Think this is a picture from England? Think again.
This past Friday on a jaunt out of town to go and check off one more item on the bucket list, we ended up venturing out to Thames Town. This fake village, which has ended up being somewhat of a flop since it is super far away from the center of the city and doesn’t have six kuai noodle vendors on every corner, was quite an experience. With fake telephone booths, cathedrals meant to look like they could be in the center of a small city in the Mother Country, and pubs with European based sports games playing on massive TV screens hanging from the ceilings, it could almost be like a town in England. Almost. But it just feels a bit weird.
The guards that greet you at the entrance are dressed like they are outside of Buckingham Palace. Then you round the corner and you see “Twilight Bar”, the most authentic of British pubs. And the well-known jewelry store from England – Claire’s.
And to top it off, since the city is almost abandoned, it has become a film set of sorts. And Chinese couples literally flock to this place for photo shoots.
Turn a corner – photo shoot, photo shoot, photo shoot. And look at those clothes. Those are for engagement photos. I would say those outfits are pretty timeless. Something to be happy to show the grandkids one day, am I right?!
And after a day of walking around bookstores that could look like they came out of the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast and clambering on top of the Harry Potter statue, we headed to the Italian restaurant on the corner. We chatted with Roberto, the Italian head chef who is based in Thames Town. I have never seen someone so excited to hear me say three words in Italian in my life, but then when I looked around and realized I was in Shanghai, in a fake English town, in an Italian restaurant, in an abandoned fake movie set model town, it all of a sudden made sense. He probably hadn’t spoken in his mother tongue in years. After a nice conversation with Roberto that consisted mostly of me waving my hands around in the air (isn’t that how you speak in Italian?), we made our way out of Thames Town and headed home.
What an adventure. And it definitely made me excited for a trip to the real England in the near future.