Yuyuan Garden's Pearl
Market is a government mall that guarantees its goods
SHANGHAI IS full of the unexpected.
It offers the world's fastest train to ride and
opportunities to swim with sharks or beluga whales. Powerful modern
Italian sculptures recently greeted visitors to its central People's
Square and giant backlit reproductions of van Gogh paintings brighten up
an underpass. Its Science and Technology Museum looks better than
the Ontario Science Centre.
The Grand Hyatt hosts a singles' night called
Aphrodisiac Affair. A restaurant in an old Russian Church has a nude woman
in its stained glass window and at least one of its once clinical sex
shops is looking almost pornographic.
By RUTH LOR MALLOY
NEW SKYSCRAPERS and century-old
buildings line the section of the waterfront known as the Bund, left The
Westin Hotel wears the crown. Above, work by Italian sculptor
Robarama adds an international touch to People's Square
However, at the popular Xiangyang Market, where you can
also buy golf clubs and hiking boots, my $25 jacket with North Face label
Getting around to all these place is unexpectedly easy
even if you can't speak Chinese. At the international airport, major
hotels have representatives who can usually find you a room if you haven't
already booked one. They can also point to an ATM or bank.
Concierges are very helpful in international
hotels like the Four Seasons, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carleton, Westin and St. Regis.
Good English is also spoken in the four-star Holiday Inns, Novotel, and
Ramadas. And they will write the name of your destination in Chinese
for your driver. A taxi to most downtown places costs less than our
TTC. Or take the subway for about 50 cents. Concierges will also
provide free maps and tourist magazines that list addresses and
descriptions (in English and Chinese) of hospitals, restaurants, bars and
Signs are in alphabet and in some cases like People's
Square, entirely in English.
Many restaurants, even the cheaper ones, have menus in
both languages. However, staff in cheaper hotels may speak little or no
It is easy to take a group tour of major sights, but if
you want to go at your own pace, hire a guide.Still, the city is not as wild as it used to be during its
1920's decadence. It does have wonderful museums and temples, the
world's highest ferris wheel and a couple of world class spas. The
shopping is exciting and sometimes unpredictable. I bought three DVD's for
$1 each but only one, Fahrenheit 9/11 works back home.
The fabulous Shanghai Museum has electronic guides in
English. All major attractions have descriptions and maps in
English. The Old God's Temple refers you to a Web site.
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Your hotel or travel agency can provide a human
guide. If you don't want to pay for one, Shanghai has lots of
English Corners, where people gather to practice English and are delighted
to meet native English speakers. Addresses are in the tourist
I invited one of the fluent English speakers to
accompany me in exchange for a chance to practice speaking in
English. She didn't know as much as a professional guide, but I made
a lasting friend.
Ruth Lor Malloy is the author of China
GETTING THERE: Air Canada and United
Airlines fly daily from Toronto to Shanghai. Flights until the end of
November start at about $1,325 including tax, depending upon
departure. Check the Flight Centre (416-760-9335) and Tian Bao Travel
PACKAGES: Jade Travel (416-599-2828)
has a two night, four-star hotel package, twin sharing, for $400, which
includes transfers, breakfast and one day tour with lunch. Travel
agencies like Beijing's CITS HO (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shanghai's Great West (email@example.com)
and Spring International Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
also provides transfers, tours and hotel bookings.