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Tim Boxer



[ Shanghai ] [ Travel Guides: National Geographic Traveler: China, Greece, Paris; Lonely Planet Shanghai ]

People of Shanghai

Sports Stadium

Pedestrian Mall

Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Tea House

Yu Tuan Market

KFC at shopping center

Portman Ritz-Carlton

Night on Nanjing

View From The Ritz-Carlton
Bedecked In Pearls By Amy

HE most magnificent hotels in the booming megalopolis of Shanghai are the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Westin and Ritz-Carlton. We stayed at the world class Portman Ritz-Carlton, 45 stories of 578 rooms, 4 restaurants, a bar and a top quality gym. It’s located at the Shanghai Center which also includes a medical clinic, supermarket and, of course, Starbucks.

Friendliness and courtesy abound t this fabulously opulent hotel for high powered business travelers. I was even surprised that each time I went out or came back the plainclothes security man, whom I never met before, smiled and greeted me by name. (Portman Ritz-Carlton, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu. Tel. +86-21 6279-8888. www.ritzcarlton.com.)

Outside this elegant 5-star hotel, nightlife was teeming along the busy Nanjing Road. Attractive boutiques and luxury shops, such as Louis Vuitton, illuminated this commercial artery. Young people filled all available outdoor tables at Starbucks, creating their own electricity in this corner of the boulevard.

Shanghai being the Pearl of the Orient, we made our way crosstown to Pearls by Amy where everyone spoke fluent English. This place, often frequented by celebrities and VIPs, is where I bought Nina a magnificent pearl necklace at one-tenth the cost in New York. There are two stores: 1445 Gu Bei Lu and 77 Xiang Yang South Road. Tel. 86-21 6275-3954. Email: pearlsbyamy2000@yahoo.com.cn. www.amy-pearl.com.

At 13 million, Shanghai is the most populated in China. It is besieged by roaring bulldozers. Gaze at the horizon in any direction, and you’ll see a hyperactive cranes reaching for the sky. According to China Today, Shanghai has become the site of the largest number of skyscrapers in the country.

Although Shanghai attracts its share of visitors, it is being further developed more as a business magnet rather than a tourist destination. Buick is represented here, turning out Chinese models. The most common symbol in this car culture is Volkswagen.

Explore the picturesque area called the Bund, a sweeping waterfront with colonial architecture and graceful riverbank promenade. Across the Huangpu River looms the impressive Pudong, the city’s eastern district. Here is Lujiazui, is the pulsating financial heart of this part of China, although it is trying very hard to surpass the reputation of Hong Kong and Beijing to become the country’s paramount money magnet.

Pudong, sparkling with its modern architecture, is also the site of the eye-catching Oriental Pearl Tower. Beneath the tower lies the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, well worth a visit.

We wandered around the Yu Tuan Market, the old city market that’s a block long. The landmark Tea House is definitely worth a visit. Originally built in 1848, the bottom of the building is square, like the earth. Top of the building has eaves, holding up the sky. It is designed to make you feel immortal.

Just don’t forget to take along a camera, or two.

Travel Guides

National Geographic Traveler has published new editions of its superb series of travel guides. China (400 pages, $27.95 Amazon.com Price: $18.45) is a fabulous introduction to modern urban attractions and ancient exotic must-see places. This is absolutely one of the best guides to China I have studied.

National Geographic Traveler Greece (400 pages, $27.95 Amazon.com Price: $18.45) is a gorgeous little book packed with exquisite photos of all the worthwhile places to visit. Study these pages, rich with the history and culture of the country and you’ll enjoy your visit that much more. Chapters include walking tours, boat trips, driving tips through such destinations as Peloponnese, central Greece, Macedonia and Thrace, the Aegean Islands, Corfu and Ionian Islands, Crete and, of course, Athens.

National Geographic Traveler Paris (272 pages, $22.95 Amazon.com Price: $15.61) is the one travel guide you must have before landing in the City of Lights. You can’t get lost with its array of maps, including excursion maps, walking tours and area maps. Special sections guide you around the two islands on the Seine, the Latin Quarter, Champs-Elysees, Montmartre, the 16th arrondissement and all the other wonderful parts of this grand center of civilization and culture.

Lonely Planet Shanghai (290 pages, $19.99 Amazon.com Price: $13.59) offers an in-depth guide around China’s most exciting metropolis. Essays on city culture, city life, architecture and environmental issues add value to the vast information that follows. Descriptions of neighborhoods are enhanced with fascinating anecdotes of eras gone by. Outside the tourist areas you’ll have to resort to Mandarin. That’s when this guidebook’s language section comes in handy. It gives you not only common phrases but how to pronounce them using the Roman alphabet. Take this book with you when you go to Shanghai.

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