Oregon Magazine

Shanghai Two:
Oregon Mag Editor's Shanghai
Experiences Continued...

          By Fred Delkin

     "Better City, Better Life" is the current motto for Shanghai and is seen everywhere throughout this astounding city.  Architecture, dining, urban transport, designer clothing, the state of the art of each is here...plus cultural enrichment.  We experienced the latter in attending the multimedia extravaganza "Era" presented in theater-in-the-round at Shanghai Circus 
World auditorium. 

Think "Cirque du Soleil" and then some, an acrobatic tour de force performed to original music with elaborate costumes, lighting and sound effects.  It dramatizes Shanghai as "the intersection of time" while blending the centuries-old Chinese tradition of acrobatics with modern technology.  A French Canadian production team, director Eric Villeneuve and composer Michel Cusson, created this theatrical symbol of globalization with a cast of Chinese performers.

No visitor to Shanghai should miss this!

The Goodyear blimp flies
Chinese skies

Dining in this city is a world tour...my consumption included Thai, regional Chinese, Peruvian, German, French, Vietnamese, Japanese and Italian cuisines...served with style.  A global array of wines (see Decanting column)  is found on restaurant lists and every alcoholic potable known to man graces bar inventories.  When my host son met me at Pudong airport, he asked what refreshment need crossed my flight-bruised mind.  I  cheekily replied, "a Guiness," knowing such a beverage would not be  available.  Hah! We were led to not one, but two, genuine Irish pubs in downtown. 

Later during our sojourn, we visited China's first microbrew pub that opened just weeks before our arrival...Oktober, serving Pilsener & Dunkelbier house brews in a rustic Bavarian-styled dark wood interior and on a garden patio. Most unusual dining experience...a visit to a 2nd floor Japanese establishment which served but two dishes...Bluefin Tuna carved into Sushi, Sashimi and in slices to dip into a steaming pot of flavored broth, plus Alaska King Crab in the shell for cracking, extracting and enjoying.

View from writer's 35th floor hotel room

Our hostelry, the Shanghai Hilton, serves a spectacular breakfast buffet that includes Oriental sauces and steamed buns, European pastries in profusion, a custom order grill for eggs any style, smoked meats and fish and potatoes.  Yes, pancakes and waffles with a choiuce of syrups or fruit toppings are offered, as are chafing dishes loaded with pork & veal susages and sauteed mushrooms...and a choice of beverages that include citrus juices, teas and, of course, coffee...all this in a skylit atrium space studded with classic Chinese statuary and lush tropical plants. 

Ancient estates amaze

Another amazing meal was a Thai feast with a group of expatriates in the penthouse suite of the "Face" estate mansion in a former French concession walled estate complex.  These former European estate properties are dotted throughout downtown Shanghai, their gardens preserved and hiding beneath the contemporary architectural masturbations of the many-towered skyline.  And each estate reminds that this city was the world's first sweeping statement of global commercialism as the 20th century dawned. 

Our dining adventures were rationalized by visits to our hotel's 4th floor health club facilities that include a spa with hot & cold bubbles, sauna and steam rooms, a vast swimming pool and an exercise gym replete with every type of exercise machine...plus Leo, a muscular Tibetan trainer that has whipped our 'kids' into fighting trim.

New Puxing Park Dolphin rider with Marx, Engels statues in BG

It beggars a visitor's belief that only since 1992 has this stunning urban metropolis morphed into perhaps the world's most impressive symbol of capitalism.  We were reminded of the sorry adventure Chairman Mao Zedong foisted on China when we visited the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center, where hundreds of colorful wall posters reflect the 30 sorry years of Mao's culture revolution.  The communist nightmare has been thoroughly erased by "a China back on the right track towards prosperity," as stated on a placard at the entrance to this museum. 

Still, the construction cranes are vsible throughout this sprawling city, signaling the rise of even more skyscrapers.  We trod a tourist trip up the hundreds of stairs climbing to the viewing platform atop the new Lupu bridge spanning the Huangpu river.  From this vantage point, the ever-moving parade of ships serving China's largest port astounds...and it continues on a 24-hour basis.  After dark, huge vessels ply this water with an obvious disregard for navigational lights and right-of-way rules. 

Fred and son, Jeff, above the Huangpu

Expat commercial heaven

Our son & his wife operate their own burgeoning bambu, Inc. firm from downtown Shanghai offices only a short stroll from their apartment complex that houses other commercial adventurers proving that being an expatriate in these inspiring surroundings is no rarity.  The 'kids' have proven that cyberspace feeds capitalism, with their computer base reaching retailers carrying their products across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.  (Omed: a link to that story "Oregon Couple Goes Global With Bamboo" ) Shanghai's status as as world commerce center is bolstered by an expat creative community of photo and videographers, designers and state-of-the-art printing facilities.

Pigeon eyes Huangpu docks

(More on how capitalism conquers in our final travel odyssey installment) 

© 2008 Oregon Magazine