Three of the Best Asian Cities to Rent An Apartment

June 22, 2011 by  
Filed under General Fun, Hotels

Singapore City - Photo Credit - Singapore Tourism Board

With so much to see and do in Asia, sometimes a holiday isn’t enough time, and back-packing isn’t the most comfortable way to see what some of the cities have to offer. Somewhere in-between, is staying a week or so in a luxury apartment right in the heart of all the sights and amenities, but with enough autonomy to gain a sense of what it’s like to live there.

Shanghai

Shanghai is speedily becoming one of the most desirable destinations for tourists. With a growing high-fashion reputation, and some beautiful classic gardens; Shanghai appeals to everyone. For an exclusive luxury apartment in the heart of the city, take a look City Base Apartments for the Somerset Xu Hui Apartments. With an indoor pool, a fully-equipped gym, and a children’s playground; a stay here is the perfect indulgence in the increasingly glamorous and sophisticated Chinese city.

With a 3.4-mile long premier shopping street; Nanjing Road; Shanghai has some of the best clothes shops in the world, and is a must-visit for the fashion-savvy. Take a step into another world and visit the Yuyuan Garden, an expanse of five acres filled with 400 year-old rockeries and pavilions, stunning exotic flowers, and glistening ponds.

Singapore

Whether for business or pleasure, a stay in Singapore City will leave you wanting more. Situated next to the Central Business District, the Orchard Parksuites provide a stay drenched in luxury and affluence. Fully-equipped with every modern convenience thinkable, and boasting its very own maid service; there is no other way to experience Singapore city-living than here.

A visit to Singapore City wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore flyer. This is a once in a lifetime experience which is equally as breath-taking by day as it is by night. With an array of elegant restaurants, indulgent spas, and the finest shopping malls; a trip to Singapore City is the ultimate extravagance.

Bangalore

Known as the centre of software development, Bangalore in India has a reputation as the economic and IT hub of India. However, this culturally-diverse city is also home to many parks and gardens which provide relief from the bustling city streets. The Lal Bagh is a garden located in the southern part of the city, packed with lotus ponds, fountains, glass houses, and ancient stone formations.

The Residency Road Apartments can be found in the heart of the city, and these elegantly furnished apartments are just a two-minute walk from the beautiful Cubbon Park. With plenty of traditional food stores, you can experience new flavours and a healthy way of life all whilst cooking in a luxury apartment.

Staying in an apartment offers you a luxurious, secure, and comfortable stay; all whilst enjoying your own independence. Providing you with a unique experience with which you can truly appreciate the local way of life; apartment renting offers the perfect balance between a package holiday, and traveling.

A cheap car rental opens new doors to the holiday-maker. Explore the places you want to visit and be in control of your trip. There are gorgeous spots that are off the beaten track.

Historic Duolun Road, Shanghai

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Culture, Uniquely Far East

If places like Taikang Lu and Xintiandi are a contemporary and historical melting pot of Shanghai-ness, then Duolun Road is its timeline. When 50 Moganshan was still nothing more than a textile factory, some of the most radical and freethinking writers of their time were chilling out on Duolun Rd. It started with Lu Xun, China’s most celebrated literary son, who moved in to the area in the 1930s. Others, like Guo Moruo, Mao Dun and Ding Ling followed. Before long, Duolun Rd. had blossomed into a vibrant cultural district of writers, artists and Chinese liberals.

duolun1

The entire Hongkou District, just north of the Bund, where Duolun Rd. is located, was at one time a settlement of American and British diplomats, and thus has always prevailed as an area of Shanghai where internationalism flourished. When Duolun Rd. was first built in 1911, it was called Darroch Rd. after a British missionary who had once met with the Emperor during the Qing Dynasty. The road was renamed “Duolun Lu” in 1943, after the People’s Republic of China was established. By the end of the 20th century, Duolun Rd. had been pedestrianized and much of it restored, repainted and revitalized.

Despite the many social, political and aesthetic changes around Duolun Rd. throughout the last hundred years, the street still runs its same course in an L-shape, connecting at its two ends with the bustling Sichuan Bei Lu. A hodgepodge of architectural styles interlace the road, weaving together a map of the street’s age like lines on a tree trunk. Old bookshops, antiques stores and trinket stalls line the edges of the street and give visitors a chance to partake in the Bohemian feeling of what was once the greatest literary center in all of China.

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Shopping

Shopping is not why people go to Duolun Rd., but it is one of the perks of being there. That is, if you are interested in antiques, because antiques are really all you’ll find on Duolun Rd. A few dusty bookshops leave their doors open to passersby interested in historic and used books, most of them Chinese. Unnamed trinket shops sell archaic bits of jewelry – beaded bracelets, jade necklaces and old fans. And the dozens of antiques stores you’ll find there house fine examples of traditional Chinese furniture, wooden objects and historic porcelain (just be on the lookout for fakes, because they’re around, too). There is even some revolutionary paraphernalia to be found in the mix, if that’s your thing.

Shopaholics may find another spot in Shanghai to be a more entertaining option. Shanghai’s “new heaven and earth”, hip modern Xintiandi, is a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name.

duolun3

Eating

Cultural districts never have a shortage of quaint cafes, and Duolun Rd. is no exception. Several small eateries are dotted along the road in between antiques shops and historic buildings. If you’ve ventured far afield enough to find Duolun Rd. in the first place, you’ll want to step inside Old Film Café, which pays homage to Shanghai’s contributions to the silver screen with their showings of old Chinese movies. Though their menu is limited, the classic film-heavy ambiance shouldn’t be missed. The Koala Garden House and Eucalyptus Café is perhaps the best spot on the street for a quick bite and a strong Illy coffee, which can be enjoyed in the café’s cute cottage setting amid a mishmash of colorful walls and stone columns.

If it’s a truly hearty meal you’re after, a branch of the popular Japanese ramen noodle chain, Ajisen, is just around the corner on Sichuan Bei Lu. Though by far the smallest branch of Ajisen I’ve ever encountered, the food is just as tasty (and there is often a line out the door for lunch).

After a day of eating and history, head on towards The Cool Docks, your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side, and an excellent way to start out the night’s revelries.

duolun4

Odds & Ends

The tie that binds Duolun Rd. together through a century of history is the architecture, and that too is the most charming thing about a walk down the street.

The strong presence of Duolun Rd.’s artistic past can be felt immediately as you enter the street from Sichuan Bei Lu. The first thing you encounter is the Shanghai Museum of Modern Art, which in truth is not as interesting or important as much of the art you’ll find at 50 Moganshan. However, the Shanghai MOMA is the only subsidized museum of modern art in China, and for that it has an important place in the world of Chinese modern art.

Further down the road, Hong De Tang, the Great Virtue Christian Church, offers up a sublime architectural fusion, with its firmly European brick façade embellished by distinctly Chinese upturned eaves. A bit of neo-Classical French architecture is evident in the white-washed iron balconies of the Tangenbo residence just past Duolun Rd.’s L-curve; and at the end of the street, even an Islamic presence is visible in the Kongxiangxi house, a stately granite structure with rounded windows that suggest its Central Asian influences.

And in between these, along Duolun Rd.’s .8 km stretch of cobbled stones, sit dozens of examples of Lilong houses in the style typical of Old Shanghai. Narrow, dense and packed together like stacked cardboard boxes, these buildings remind the visitor that yes, this is still Shanghai after all.

If art is more your cup of tea, head on towards Shanghai’s art district, 50 Moganshan, the center of modern Chinese art in Shanghai.

Getting There

Though most listings will tell you to take a bus directly to Duolun Rd. (No. 21, 939, 231, 47, 854, 79, 18), the nicest way to go is actually by subway. If you take Metro Line 3 (yellow) and get off at Dongbaoxing Rd., it’s only a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance to Duolun Rd. at Sichuan Bei Lu, and is a pleasant way to see some of the authentic residential backstreets of Shanghai.

Use Exit 1 and go right, following Hailun Xi Lu west to Sichuan Bei Lu, where you’ll turn left. You’ll know you’ve reached Duolun Rd., again on the left, by the large historic stone gate that marks the entrance to the street.

Unearthing Asia now offers travel packages throughout the region of Asia. Check out our promotional offers of Luxury Private Villas in Bali, perfect for Honeymooners or those looking for a little romance. We also have great offers for hotels in Singapore, resorts in Phuket and many more.

About the Author. Megan Eaves. Megan Eaves is a freelance travel writer and China junkie. She’s an English teacher in a small town in Zhejiang Province where her days are filled correcting grammatical mistakes, killing nuclear wasps and getting stared at by the locals. Megan has traveled everywhere from the Great Wall to the Gobi Desert and isn’t afraid to write about it. She’s also the author of a groovy book called “This is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics”. She, of course, has a website: http://www.meganeaveswriting.com

50 Moganshan, Shanghai’s Art District

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Culture, Uniquely Far East

Less than 10 years old, 50 Moganshan Road, or M50 as it’s often referred to, is nothing if not modern. An old warehouse district from the 1930s, the buildings at 50 Moganshan Rd. once housed factories that made silk and calico. Up until 2000, when Shanghai art legend Xue Song moved his workroom into one of the restored spaces there, 50 Moganshan was essentially dead.

moganshan1

Shanghai’s Art District

Now, looking toward its 10-year anniversary, 50 Moganshan is the hottest art district in Shanghai, rivaled only by Beijing’s 798 as the center of Chinese modern art. More than 130 artists, filmmakers, architects and graphic design firms now inundate the area, and a visit to this Chinese art mecca means checking out some of the most avant-garde paintings and artistic works going on in the Middle Kingdom today.

There is enough art at 50 Moganshan to keep you busy for an entire day. The whole place is a maze of workshops, galleries and studios in a series of numbered buildings and art centers along the Suzhou Creek. Some of the galleries are run by foreign expats, such as the celebrated ShanghART (Buildings 16 & 18), which is run by Swiss native Lorenz Helbling. It is one of the oldest art spaces in the district.

moganshan2

The pioneer gallery at 50 Moganshan is Eastlink (Building 6), which continues to play a pivotal role in the development of Shanghai’s art scene. Eastlink is run by Australian-Chinese artist Li Liang and, over the years, has housed some of the most controversial exhibitions on the scene.

Building 7 houses both the gallery and studio of elegant photographer Jin Xuanmin, as well as the main offices for BizArt, a non-profit foundation that promotes the work of young artists and supports new media and experimental installations. Art Scene Warehouse in Building 4 has a massive, white gallery space with an ultra modern feel. They present all types of events and exhibitions from both established and emerging artists and, since 2005, they have put on the Dragon Air Emerging Chinese Artist Awards to showcase rising Chinese talents.

There are far too many galleries to name in 50 Moganshan. The best way to discover them all is by exploration. A useful map in the central courtyard of the district notes the names and locations of every gallery and provides a solid jumping off point for delving into the area.

After a day of art-hunting and culture-immersion, head on towards The Cool Docks, your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side.

moganshan3

Shopping at Moganshan

Shopping is downplayed at 50 Moganshan, unless you’re intent on buying original pieces from the artists themselves. There are, however, a few shops and clothing stores, mostly owned and run by fresh young Shanghai fashion designers. Most notable are the artful designs of Shirtflag and its sister shop, Hi Panda. Shirtflag takes its inspiration from Chinese culture and history in making “revolutionary” designs that feature some of the more memorable icons from China’s history, including images of weapons, revolutionary slogans and Mao himself. Hi Panda does the same thing with China’s beloved national animal, the panda bear. Both shops produce Shanghai street wear with a focus on youth fashion that embraces jeans, t-shirts and funky accessories.

Another hidden gem at 50 Moganshan is Cinemoda, a quaint little shop tucked away near Aomen Lu. Their brightly colored dresses and sweet, feminine designs make them a favorite with Shanghai’s young female set.

Shanghai’s “new heaven and earth”, hip modern Xintiandi, is a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name.

moganshan4

Restaurants and Cafes

A few cafes and teahouses are scattered around M50, although it is neither the quaint outdoor café district of Taikang Lu nor the culinary hotbed of Xintiandi. Really, people come here for the art. That said, if you are hankering for a sit down or just need a nice bite, there are a couple of good options (after all, the artists have to eat, don’t they?).

Bandu Music Café is a great place to grab a cup of coffee and explore the world of Chinese folk music. They have an extensive selection of CDs by local and national artists, and usually host live performances on weekend evenings. Located in M50’s Building 11, during the day Bandu is a quiet and cozy spot.

Another enjoyable option is the ambient Traveled Coffee & Tea, located in Building 1. This chic coffeeshop uses a modern Asian design element, with interesting basket light fixtures and photographs by local artists decorating the dark wooden walls. Pebbled floors, an interior gazebo and a floor-to-ceiling glass wall give the whole place a very airy feel.

Getting There

50 Moganshan is not an easy place to reach. There is no direct subway service to the area, so you have to rely on buses, taxis or your feet. Use Line 1 to Shanghai Railway Station and take Exit 5. Walk out of the station and down to Tianmu Xi Rd., go right (west), cross the bridge and go right again onto Xisuzhou Rd., which intersects with Moganshan Lu. The whole affair will probably take close to an hour, so a taxi from Shanghai Railway Station might be a better idea. Otherwise, buses 76/105 to Changhua Road or 19/68/112 to Jiangning Road will get you in the near vicinity.


If you are planning a visit to Asia, don’t forget to check out Unearthing Asia, the best Asia travel portal focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of must-try things in Hokkaido.

About the Author. Megan Eaves. Megan Eaves is a freelance travel writer and China junkie. She’s an English teacher in a small town in Zhejiang Province where her days are filled correcting grammatical mistakes, killing nuclear wasps and getting stared at by the locals. Megan has traveled everywhere from the Great Wall to the Gobi Desert and isn’t afraid to write about it. She’s also the author of a groovy book called “This is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics”. She, of course, has a website: http://www.meganeaveswriting.com

A Tale of Four Cities

March 13, 2010 by  
Filed under magazine, News

For our Issue 02 of the magazine, we share with you travel tales from four cities all over Asia – Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Seoul – and much more!

Download PDF     Browse Online     Subscribe Now!     Past Issues

In this issue
+ Shanghai Hip
+ Singapore’s Dempsey
+ The Heart of Seoul
+ Sydney’s Culture Capital
+ Tasty Taiwan
+ The Art of Humanity
+ Asia’s Little Dragon
+ Wellness for the Soul
+ Chic Melbourne
+ Jakarta Capital Treats
+ Bali, Romance in Paradise

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Shanghai’s Hip Hotspots – Xintiandi

December 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Uniquely Far East

Just north of Shanghai’s oldest neighborhood lies its newest modern quarter, Xintiandi. This nightlife and fashion district, which is nestled inside a series of restored tenement stone houses known as shikumen, is a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name, which means “new heaven and earth”.

Photo credits - yngwiemanux

Photo credits - yngwiemanux

Unlike some of Shanghai’s other urban districts, Xintiandi is compact and navigable. Narrow cobbled laneways meander among shined-up grey stone buildings that nod to the city’s ancient past, while the local businesses, which include international coffee shops, upscale bars and restaurants and ritzy boutiques, remind visitors that this is, indeed, the Shanghai of the future.

It’s entirely possible to spend the whole day in Xintiandi, though don’t expect to spend on the cheap – shopping and dining here gives the prices in London and New York a run for their money (literally). Ironically, the shikumen in Xindiandi that were once meeting houses for Mao Zedong and the founding leaders of China’s Communist Party have now become a beacon of capitalist prosperity, attracting international visitors with upscale commerce.

If you’re looking for something more edgy and artsy, head on towards Moganshan 50, Shanghai’s very own Art District for a creative mix of tradition and contemporary arts and design.

Photo credits - tajc

Photo credits - tajc

Shopping for the Fashionably Chic

Xintiandi is a truly charming place to stroll and, while it would be entirely possible to waste a day here (especially if you’ve got burning pockets), I like to start out by casually browsing the boutiques, many of which mix traditional Chinese designs with modern motifs to form a totally cutting edge, uniquely Shanghai style. The most famous of these is the venerable Shanghai Tang, one of China’s first luxury brand. Shanghai Tang’s clothing is a modern nod to ancient Chinese fashion, consisting mostly of tailored silk patterns and new takes on old Chinese clothing styles.

Just around the corner in the South Block, PH 7 is a local jewelry shop that specializes in unique bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The pieces are delicate silver decorated with traditional patterns. Chinese fashion designer Coco Ma is also cashing in on the avant-garde trends with Elements, an eco-friendly ladies clothing shop that carries women’s wear made from all-natural fabrics.

Photo credits - yngwiemanux

Photo credits - yngwiemanux


As a pedestrian-only walkway, Xintiandi is one of the few places in Shanghai that boasts no cars and, subsequently, a refreshing lack of exhaust fumes. Split into two, the North Block houses mostly traditional buildings, while in the South Block, the shikumen architecture is less obvious and has made way for a large shopping center. Inside, visitors can find gobs of Western delights, from the uber-British fashion giant United Colors of Benetton to Europe’s French Connection and Giordano, among many others. Though not light on your wallet, it’s hard to find anyplace more fashion friendly and chic in Shanghai. And that’s saying something.
Photo credits - chinogypsie

Photo credits - chinogypsie

Gourmet Fare – Fancy Fusion to Traditional Chinese

Xintiandi isn’t a difficult place to grab a bite. It is chock-a-block full of gourmet restaurants, bistros and eateries, everything from fancy fusion to traditional Chinese or straight-up Western food. Many of the restaurants offer outdoor seating, especially along the North Block, where the shikumen gates and tiled roofs create the ambiance of years gone by, and it is the ultimate place to people-watch, with a constant stream of Western tourists, rich Chinese, local gawkers and night crawlers passing through. Everyone is in a good mood in Xintiandi, simply enjoying Shanghai’s mix of old and new.

On my most recent meander through the district, my boyfriend and I, weary from a long day of Shanghai walking, plonked down onto one of the large wooden outdoor tables at Paulaner Bräuhaus for some reviving steins of fresh German lager. Paulaner Bräuhaus is actually a Chinese subsidy of the German Paulaner brand, and the Shanghai flagship restaurant is a not-too-kitschy Bavarian themed beer hall and microbrewery – a rare thing in China.

If you aren’t into brats and beer, Xintiandi has just about every type of tasty cuisine you can imagine. Munchies offers straight up American dishes like Cincinnati chili served by staff wearing tie dye, while Aniseed serves some of the best Vietnamese ph? in town. Several restaurants in Xintiandi are on the front lines of fusion, such as TMSK, which calls itself “new wave Shanghaiese cuisine”, with interesting combinations of French, Chinese and Italian cuisines, and new takes on old dishes. How very Shanghai.

bitslice

bitslice

Odds & Ends

If you’re not hungry or don’t feel like shopping, there are plenty of other nooks and crannies in Xintiandi to check out, including several art galleries, a good few cafes and the UME International Cineplex in the South Block. Try the creamy chai at the Japanese-inspired Afternoon Tea, get a free haircut from the student stylists at the Vidal Sasoon salon in the North Block or discover what life was like in 1920’s Shanghai at Wulixiang Shikumen Museum on Taikang Lu.

You should also take an hour to deepen your understanding of Xintiandi’s history by visiting the Site of the 1st National Congress of the CCP, a museum that traces the who, what and when of China’s Communist Party roots.

After a day of shopping and culture-immersion, head on towards The Cool Docks, your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side.

Getting There

Xintiandi couldn’t be easier to reach, and I’m sure the American architect who designed the district (Benjamin Wood) planned it that way. Just take the Metro Red Line 1 to South Huangpi Road Station and walk due south for about two block until Xintiandi’s charming atmosphere and quaint brick alleys unfold before you!

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Unearthing Asia now offers travel packages throughout the region of Asia. Check out our promotional offers of Luxury Private Villas in Bali, perfect for Honeymooners or those looking for a little romance. We also have great offers for hotels in Singapore, resorts in Phuket and many more.

About the Author. Megan Eaves.Megan Eaves is a freelance travel writer and China junkie. She’s an English teacher in a small town in Zhejiang Province where her days are filled correcting grammatical mistakes, killing nuclear wasps and getting stared at by the locals. Megan has traveled everywhere from the Great Wall to the Gobi Desert and isn’t afraid to write about it. She’s also the author of a groovy book called “This is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics”. She, of course, has a website: http://www.meganeaveswriting.com

Unearthing Small-town China

June 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Uniquely Far East

It’s 2 pm. The April sun is beating down on my face hotter than it should be this time of year and little beads of sweat are starting to form on my back. Dust is kicking up from a nearby construction site as my friend and I wander aimlessly down a side street in Hengdian, a tiny town in Zhejiang Province that is supposed to be the ‘Hollywood of China’.

It turns out that no, this isn’t the Hollywood of China, but rather a bunch of massive movie sets scattered to the ends of the town, impossible to reach on foot. My friend and I just ate pizza covered in sweet corn and peas for lunch, we’re down one passport and we’ve got nowhere to sleep for the night.

It’s 9:25 pm. The Yiwu taxi driver has just dropped us in front of a bar he assures us is an “England bar”. That would be fine except the writing on the sign is in Cyrillic. We’re still down one passport, we’re 200 km from home and the left passport means we won’t be getting a hotel at all tonight.

There’s a city park showing a movie on the big screen for free. Too bad it’s all in Chinese. And really too bad about the naked hobo we just passed. “There’s a bar,” says my friend. Beers for the next three hours.

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Some of my best, most memorable adventures have come from exploring small towns in China. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had got a story or two from rafting in Utah and driving the back roads of New Zealand with my dad, but China is just so… weird. And small-town China is even weirder!

It’s not that you can’t have amazing, life-changing experiences in places like Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai – what I like to call the Golden Triangle of Chinese travel – but traveling in small-town China is simply on a different level of weird, all on its own!

smalltownchina

I like to think that there are a three different major routes of travel in China. The first and most obvious is the Golden Triangle. Two types of travelers embark upon this most basic route, baby boomers on pre-booked tours and backpackers without much time. Another route includes some of the major provincial cities like Hangzhou (which Marco Polo called ‘heaven on earth’), Qingdao (because everyone loves beer) and Guangzhou (for that ever popular Cantonese delight, dim sum). It also incorporates some of China’s more well-known sights, such as Yellow Mountain and the Three Gorges River Cruise.

Small, unheard of cities and tiny villages comprises the final route. Most people never get to travel this route because they don’t have the time or are limited by their mindsets – because, let’s face it, getting around China is no piece of cake, even if you do speak some Mandarin. This is unfortunate, because small-town China ultimately offers some of the most rewarding travel one can do in China.

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My small-town China adventures have taken me across the Inner Mongolian plains on horseback, into the western wine country where I dined under grape trellises, afield into the camps and forts of the Maoist revolution and aboard a night ship in the East China Sea. Most importantly, these adventures have taught me how vast and diverse this seemingly mono-cultural nation really is, and how beautiful it is to journey for the sake of the trip.

It’s 3 am. We’re on the slow train to Hangzhou, but we couldn’t get seats at this time of night, so we squeezed onto a bench and pretended to sleep. Since we’re foreign, the 320 other people in this car aren’t grumbling too much about our seat-stealing ploy. “Just close your eyes and maybe this night will end.” I’m carting a fake fifty bill that the taxi driver slipped me as change. It was too dark to see that it was counterfeit.

It’s 6:30 am. Dawn is breaking over Hangzhou’s high rises. The first bus back to the tiny city we call home leaves from the north bus station in thirty minutes. Just enough time to get a cab across town from this internet café where we’ve been holed up for the last hour. I’ll probably sleep all day.

About the Author. Megan Eaves.Megan Eaves is a freelance travel writer and China junkie. She’s an English teacher in a small town in Zhejiang Province where her days are filled correcting grammatical mistakes, killing nuclear wasps and getting stared at by the locals. Megan has traveled everywhere from the Great Wall to the Gobi Desert and isn’t afraid to write about it. She’s also the author of a groovy book called “This is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics”. She, of course, has a website: http://www.meganeaveswriting.com

The Cool Docks, Shanghai

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Uniquely Far East

Despite the fact that most of the world is tightening its financial belt, young expat Shanghai, feeling insulated from the crisis “back home”, continues the hunt for new hangouts where the cocktails are sweet and pricey and the music hot and loud. Eager to join the fray, I headed to where I hoped the trendy throngs would be gathered – The Cool Docks.

Ladies, if you are waiting for the perfect occasion to unveil your little black dress and killer heels: a visit to The Cool Docks might just be it. With its sleek bars and haute cuisine restaurants, it is easy to mistake this chic sliver of eastern China with the Upper East Side of New York or the West End of London.

A view of the Cool Docks. Photo credit - dixsonlv

A view of the Cool Docks. Photo credit - dixsonlv

Exploring The Cool Docks, Shanghai
We went on a Thursday night and, while the place was surprisingly empty, we were grateful for the opportunity to do that very rare thing in Shanghai: stroll. Without the usual heaving mass of jostling crowds around to dictate our pace, my companion and I were able to amble around the docks (they aren’t really docks, that’s just the name) and take in the crisp, wintry air at a leisurely pace.

Stylish new constructions throughout the Cool Docks. Photo credit - Dennis Deng

Stylish new constructions throughout the Cool Docks. Photo credit - Dennis Deng

The Cool Docks, just a few months old, are gorgeous, sparkly, cool, spacious, classy, elegant – just a few choice words my companion came up with as I prodded for details of her first impression.

Continental Influences
As you walk around the red brick courtyard, taking in the brightly lit fountains, the opera music blaring out of invisible speakers and the glittering shop fronts with fanciful names like Pure (Wine Bar), Spring Sunrise (Sports Bar), Banni (desserts), Mythos (Mediterranean restaurant) and Caffein (café), you are struck by how very un-Chinese it all seems.

We started off in Spring Sunrise, a sports-themed bar where you can catch live action from the various wide-screens as you enjoy a hearty western meal and a jug of beer. As we made our way out to move on to the next establishment, the smiling waitress came and thrust a few fliers into our hands. Open bar for ladies on Christmas day. As we found out throughout the evening, friendly staff and mouthwatering promotions are par for the course at The Cool Docks as it tries to lure revelers from the more established entertainment hubs of Xintiandi and the Bund.

The view of river Bund, Shanghai. Photo credit - china guccio

The view of river Bund, Shanghai. Photo credit - china guccio

Our next stop was Pure, my newly crowned “Favorite Wine Bar”. The prices are as fantastic as is the décor. Plush leather sofas, polished antique furniture, an authentic-looking gramophone and gleaming crystal cases packed with 500RMB Cigars. Pure’s host, Jackson, was keen to assure me that, in six months, The Cool Docks would be the thriving entertainment hub that their location deserved.

The Cool Docks can be found at 505 Zhongshan Nan Lu, a stone throw from Shanghai’s world-renowned Bund with its idyllic views of the moonlit Huangpu River and sleepily drifting boats. It may be quiet around these parts now but that won’t remain the case for long. Make this your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side.

Another spot to check out is Shanghai’s “new heaven and earth”, hip modern Xintiandi, a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name.

Iris Jumbe. A roving writer, devoted blogger and ardent cake lover, Iris lives in China and splits her work time between feeding her blog and working as a freelance copywriter/editor. In Shanghai for just over 3 years, her playtime is spent exploring the schizophrenic city. She has a tempestuous love-hate relationship with China but usually only writes about it when they’re firmly in love. Which is often. Phew.

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