Shanghai Reign and Shine
I was instantly in glee. Finally, I had made it to the heart of Shanghai. It was beating fast!
She stands regal and imposing, her crown of grids, at once ornament and shield. She's actually the Urban Planning museum, mapping out the vision and design of Shanghai's future. All hail the Empress! In her left pocket of neon glow is the entrance to the surrealization of 'Old Shanghai' circa 1930.
I consider it a mini-simallacra, part pictorial history, part food court, part quaint shops, all tourist photo op, for both Chinese and foreigners alike. It's got a Vegasian, yes, Vegesian blue sky with painted white clouds. Across the street from the Empress--
The tall part, I didn't catch, but its left consort is Raffles City, a Singapore-owned, non smoking (what?!), mall, with the likes of Tissot and other fine western stores. The top floors have lots of restaurants from Cantonese fancy to Korean BBQ to Benihana style sit-at-grill cooking and even a western restaurant called Swensen's. It's got 7-storeys of boister and shine.
My guides for this maiden voyage:
Eric and the here mysterious Luna, who picked me up from Pudong Airport. We won't mention that Eric was the one who didn't mention the visa situation to me, but at this point: don't matter! I'm in Shanghai, for real! Eric is from Shanghai, from the outskirts near Songjiang actually, but he knows the city inside and out, from coming here since he was a singular tot.
By the time we finished eating, the rain had stopped and it was full dusk. On our way to a fancy bookstore, we passed many a Starbucks: but lo and behold, here is my preferred coffee chain, on the bottom floor: Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I used to go to the one in Los Feliz on Hillhurst above Franklin all the time with my pal Moises. I don't really drink coffee these days; it doesn't quite fit the tastes here. But it's nice to see an old pick-me-up on the other side of the world. And I know that I do have access to my preferred franchise cup of joe, in case that jonesing should arise.
Moving on to Nanjing Rd, we walked the promenade, so festive and lively, grand and wide, particularly on Moon Festival weekend, but on weekends anyway, so Luna tells me. It's the equivalent to 5th Ave or the Champs (Elysee). Everyone is out walking the well-paved streets, filled with bright stores. Consumerism gives such as sense of pride, or of growth just being surrounded by so much stuff of so many varieties. It makes a promenader feel strong. And oh, the chance to be seen. With that stuff.
And check out he variations of grid on the ground. I'm so awed by the energy of Shanghai, I wanna photo its ground, and yes, hot pink shoes with the black bobby socks. And how to make west appealing to east? Veriticalize, for that familiar feel:
And pour into the cute icon that sells China's famous 'la mien' or literally pull noodle, cuz the noodle dough is pulled and pulled and then plunked in boiling water and cooked up fresh.
And of course the 'la mien' boy stands on the shoulders of old grandpa Sanders.
Is it just me or does he kinda look Chinese here?
And finally, in the name of icons old and new, here is Haibao, the official welcomer of the Shanghai Expo that will happen in 2010. Here he's in the subway, standing in a patch of fauna, holding a sign that says, yes, 'Shanghai welcomes you.' Pretty grand subway, eh? It has to be. There are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of folks here. And lots