14 Nov Shanghai Shenanigans

No one is ever bored in Shanghai, a city with an intoxicating mix of old-world glamour and skyscraping, breakneck modernity. Here is a list to get you started on the city’s most popular attractions. Visit The Bund Start your Shanghai explorations in the Bund, a collection of opulent, colonial-era buildings curving along the western bank of the Huángp? River. Wander the upmarket restaurants, bars, shops and hotels, enjoying views across the neon-striped river. From here, pulsating East Nanjing Rd heads away from the waterfront to the skyscraper-lined People’s Square. Cruise the Huangpu River From the Bund, you can take in the Huangpu River from one of 30 tourist boats. Channel old Shanghai in a Shikumen craft, join a pirate boat or deluxe cruiser, or step onto a dragon boat evoking the Ming and Qing dynasty. On the east side of the river you’ll see the steel and glass towers, such as the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, that characterize the city’s financial and commercial center. On the west bank is The Bund, Monument to the People's Heroes, Waibaidu Bridge and Huangpu Park, Shanghai oldest park. Hit the shops Shanghai is a teeming, late-night shopper’s delight, and subway Line 1 conveniently links the city’s three main shopping areas of Nanjing Road, Huanhai Road and Xujiahui. Wander west along Nanjing East Road to the brightly-lit shops and bustling tea houses and bars of Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street. Hang out in tea houses Experience the unique culture of Shanghai’s 24-hour tea houses,...

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06 Oct Rubbing Buddha’s belly for a long life in the trees

[caption id="attachment_2277" align="alignnone" width="660"] So happy! So enlightened![/caption] Every few months, while growing up, my family and I would make a pilgrimage after 11 a.m. church service to Shanghai Gardens. It was a local Chinese restaurant in front of the parking lot of a grocery store—or rather in the parking lot, the building an oasis surrounded by cement. Sunday lunches at Shanghai Gardens became something to look forward to. I daydreamed of my impending plate of cashews, chicken and broccoli during church. What I daydreamed about most, however, was rubbing Buddha’s belly. An eight-foot bronze statue of a cross-legged naked, large Chinese man sat in front of the goldfish pond in the lobby of the restaurant. My younger sister and I would run up to Buddha, rubbing his belly for good luck. “Don’t take all his good blessing, kids,” my dad would say. “You have a fortune cookie to enjoy after your meal.” What I failed to grasp but realize now was just how important Buddha is in Chinese culture. Coming in a close second are temples and trees associated with the portly fellow. Enter TanZhe Temple outside Beijing and you hardly know it is a 1700 year-old building. You can’t order a plate of sesame chicken nor receive a fortune cookie, but you immediately sense calm and peace. And that’s what Chinese temples were built for. Buddha, a real man born in 580 B.C., was a soul-searching youth full of pain, suffering and self-loathing....

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