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  • Bund

    The Bund is an Anglo-Indian term for the embankment of a muddy waterfront. The term is apt: mud bedevils the city. Its muddy predicament aside, the Bund is symbolic. To the Europeans, it was Shanghai's Wall Street, a place of feverish trading and an unabashed playground for Western business sophisticates. It remains the city's most eloquent reminder that Shanghai is a very foreign invention.
       
    Still a grand strip of hotels, shopping streets and nightclubs, the Bund remains an intrinsic part of Shanghai's character. Constant throngs of Chinese and foreign tourists pad past the porticos of the Bund's grand edifices while the buildings themselves loom serenely; a vagabond assortment of neoclassical 1930s downtown New York styles, with a touch of monumental antiquity thrown in for good measure. The building identified by a crowning dome is the old Hongkong and Shanghai
       
    Bank, completed in 1921 with much pomp and ceremony. For many years it has housed the Shanghai People's Municipal Government. The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank has long been negotiating to get it back. Other Bund fixtures are being sold off, and will no doubt be dusted off and cleaned up.

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  • French Town     


      The core of Frenchtown, the former French Concession, is the area around Huaihai Lu and the Jinjiang Hotel and is fast becoming the place to explore - especially for foodies. Huaihai Lu is all about shopping. Huge department stores blot out the sun along a road colourfully lined with flowerboxes. The area around the hotel is littered with cafes, boutiques and the odd antique shop. Head down the side streets off Yan'an Lu for the tatty, down-at-heel fin de sicle architecture that is so evocative of yesteryear.
      The nearby Yuyuan Gardens & Bazaar offers some delicious lunchtime snacks and welcome greenery. The Pan family, rich Ming Dynasty officials, founded the gardens, which took 18 years (from 1559 to 1577) to be nurtured into existence. They were snuffed out by a bombardment during the Opium War in 1842. Today they've been restored and attract hordes of Chinese tourists. The Temple of the Town Gods is a recently restored and overrated attraction in the bazaar area. In fact, the Yuyuan Bazaar itself, a Disneyland version of historical China, is altogether more interesting. More than 100 specialty shops and restaurants jostle shoulders over narrow laneways and small squares in a mock 'olde Cathay' setting.
       

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  •  Shanghai Museum   


     
      This stunning new building is symbolic of the many changes that are afoot in China - gone are airy corridors, dry exhibits, yawning security guards and stale air - the new Shanghai museum is as impressive outside as in. Designed to recall the shape of an ancient Chinese ding vessel, as architectural statement and as home to one of the most impressive collections of art in China, the Shanghai Museum is a must-see.
       


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