Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rex Cinema, Little India

At the stop of the city of Singapore, crossing over another land on its way to Little India, lays the 63 years old building Rex Cinema at Mackenzie Road.

Cornered by a parking lot on its left and a Hawker Center on its right, the now movie hall has reemerged once again from its ashes.

All day long, the three screens are blabbering all the Singapore official languages (English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil) with an inclination for the South Indian's, 3-hours, dance & song features.

The building has reinvented itself many times over the years, going through many transformations, from a skating rink, to a church and lately a nightclub, but went back to its original movie passion what it was designed for in the first place.

The cinema's 70s look enlights the whole area, echoing the coloring that the Little India of Singapore vibrates with so vividly.

Like a guarding tower on the side of an entrance, the building is not here to prevent you from crossing over the next land, but rather warn you about the colors you will see along the way.

Inside the experience is far away from the one at any village. People seat on chairs, eat Chinese food, and drink American pop. You have been warned to not eat betel nut and or spit leaf on the floor.

But as soon as the lights fade away, the drama movie takes you to mother land India where movie are watched outdoor with an entire village to help you laugh and cry.

It is said that Mr. Narayanasamy Muthu the owner of the local film distributor Mega Movies was helped by Mr. Murugan Suppurayan, who runs a film distributing company in Malaysia, to reopen the Rex Cinema.

Some saying that they put together more than S$1.5 million in the building in renovation.

Sure thing that it clicks and splashs in the night.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Work In Progress Shanghai

Don't go to Shanghai … at least for another six months.

The city is the biggest construction site in the world, preparing itself for the 2010 World Expo, from May 1 to Oct 31 to be precise. The "Better City, Better Life" slogan used for the expo has twisted itself into "Better Building, Better Lift". Every single block has some sort of 24/7 construction going on. The city is simply a larger-than-life muddy, watery and sandy huge construction site.

French Concession Photo-shoot

Now if you decide anyway to visit Shanghai (better put your construction hat and your security boots on!) you would contemplate before your eyes one of the most dynamic city in Asia. On par with most of the cosmopolitan cities, the place is at least as modern as, and at most more contemporary, than any top city in the world. The place is so different from any Chinese city but so vividly identical than any global cosmopolitan capital that you could easily imagine being somewhere else. Still at a tip of a corner turn, you could face a street back alley that will transport you back to pictorial Shanghai 30's. Shanghai is not China and China is not Shanghai. Never has been, and never will be.

Old Lady Playing Card in an Shikumen

With a GDP per capita of U$10,529 in 2008, Shanghai is above the World average (U$10,433), and is the number one city in mainland china when it comes to total GDP with U$ 233bn. Shanghai weight economically more than Madrid or Singapore. Some, including myself, will argues that like smelly seafood at the end of the market, numbers in Asia are easy to get but difficult to trust, these indicators try to illustrate the degree to which China (with Shanghai at the forefront and its giant lab), is transforming itself into a fast growing centralized yet capitalist economic engine in a not so distant future, some sort of "red-capitalist"

[[Bar Rouge at Night]]

The 16 millions registered people (add an extra 4 for the migrant) city proposes many different playgrounds to have fun. One might prefer the vibrant and Shinny Shanghai, with the Bund as a great place to be seen and eat. Over looking the Huangpu river, two art-déco buildings, the Nissin Building (No. 5), and the Union Building (No. 3) are housing today one of the finest culinary experience in Asia. Where can you find a staircase away from each others, gourmet experiences like Jean-George, Laris, or M on the Bund? Few yards away, Bar Rouge offers a splendid view from the Bund, of the world famous Oriental Pearl Tower and the new Pudong financial district, concurrent only to the VUE Bar atop the Hyatt on the Bund.

Financial District in Pudong

One might prefer instead the Wealthy Shanghai, with the enthusiastic new renovated Shikumen (traditional Shanghainese house) lanes in Xintiandi, now an aggregate of high-end restaurants, closing the shopping district with luxury shops only seen in Dubai (not for long anymore?) and other wealthy places in the world (Plaza 66).

Shanghai World Trade Center

One might prefer the Cozy Shanghai of the French Concession with its small housing and long alley of French Plane giving a refreshing human dimension in an ever growing city. The European-like district is turning into a trendy place to shop, eat, drink and party all night long. No need to plan where to go, follow the crowd and jump to the next party train.

View from the The Bund at Night

And in one year from now, one might prefer the Modern Shanghai with its World Expo heritage. The five square kilometers is of course the biggest Universal Exposition ever, and the expo expecting over 70 millions visitor in the 6 months period. The U$4.5bn. investment has already involved 20,000 migrant workers and transformed the south side of the city into an urban lab for the future [smell stinky seafood again!]. But whatever you do during your stay in Shanghai, you have to stumble into the World Expo, it's unfortunately everywhere.

Kathleen's' 5 at Night

Since Beijing had its Olympic, Shanghai had to have its World Expo. Few months apart from each other, the world is discovering China, again, but this time a very much different version of it, with a growing life and hope to a prosperous future. The contrast of the two cities is stunning yet fascinating. If Beijing is contemplating the past, Shanghai is looking to the future. If Beijing was a circle then Shanghai would be an arrow. The two cities are the two sides of the same Yen: Beijing ruling and Shanghai growing.

60 Years Anniversary

China has had a very unique story over the past 60 years. The first 30 years (1949-1979) of the Red Revolution were a great leap backward, and the following 30 years (1979-2009) were a giant internal economical growth. I am sure that the next 30 years will be even more interesting for China.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Shanghai Addresses

  • New Harbour Service Apartments
    - 88 Yongshou Road, Huangpu - Tel: 021 6355 1889
    Service apartment building, just a stone's throw away from the Dashijie subway station (line 8), 10 minutes walk from People's Square, Xintiandi and the Bund. Average service and great location, clean and convenient. Internet access & breakfasts are add-on's.

  • Laris Restaurant
    - 6/F Three on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (by Guangdong Lu), Tel: 021 6321 9922
    If there was one to choose from... this would be the one. Along the Bund on the 6th floor of one of the most trendy buildings in Shanghai, Laris is a fantastic place mixing gold and marble with live classical music as ambiance. The lunch/brunch offers 4-course delicacies with great mix of taste and comfort. From all the amazing dishes that come your way, make some room for the dessert in which Laris excels.

  • M-On-The-Bund
    - 7/F No. 5 on the Bund, 20 Guangdong Lu, by Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Tel: 021 6350 9988
    Next building to Laris exists another sweet place for lunch. This time at an outside terrace where great 3 courses come and go, competing with the great view over the Bund. A definite place to go at least once in your Shanghai trip.

  • Jean-Georges Restaurant
    - 4/F Three on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (by Guangdong Lu), Tel: 021 6321 7733
    The sister restaurant from NYC is a trendy place to be seen while eating and enjoying yourself. Same building as Laris.

  • Xin Ji Shi Restaurant
    - No 9 Xintiandi North Block, Lane 181 Tai Cang Lu (near Madang Lu), Tel: 021 6439 2656
    The Grandmother's Pork is a must-have, slowly cooked, tender, Shanghai tasty in a raised clay pot with handles.

  • South Beauty 881
    - 881 Yan’An Road, by Shaanxi Road (opposite Shanghai Exhibition Centre)
    South Beauty is a large chain of restaurants, and South Beauty 881 is in an old house setting with renovated old-style architecture. Most of the dishes are very spicy cuisine from Sichuan. The cuisine at South Beauty 881 is slightly above average, as is the service, but in trendy settings.

  • Din Tai Fung
    - Shop 11A, Building 6, Xintiandi South Block, 2/F of a large mall
    Although part of a large Taiwanese chain, Din Tai Fung Shanghai makes Shanghai’s best xiao long bao, soupy pork nuggets, wonton soup, braised bamboo shoots and sweet-smokey fried fish. Don't forget to ask for the Shanghai's signature dish, the Hairy Crab when in season (late September - November).

  • Tsui Wah Restaurant
    - No. 291 Fumin Lu (near Donghu Lu), French Concession, Tel: 021 6170 1282
    The first restaurant of the Hong Kong Tsui Wah chain to land in Shanghai has decided to settle into the French Concession. Tsui Wah is known to specialize in "Cantonese café cuisine", including dishes like fried crispy egg noodles, thick toast with condensed milk and yeung chow fried rice. Average food with average price in a trendy neighborhood.

  • Element Fresh
    - 1/F Shanghai Center, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Xikang Lu), Tel: 021 6279 8682
    Large chain in a modern food category for time-sensitive business people. Open kitchen, healthy sandwiches and salads.

  • T8 Restaurant & Bar
    - No. 8 Xintiandi North Block, Lane 181 Tai Cang Lu (near Madang Lu), Tel: 021 6355 8999
    Contemporary dishes with Asian twists at Western prices, only if you have money to spare.

  • The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo
    - 2967 Bin Jiang Da Dao (near Fenghe Lu) on the Pudong riverfront, Tel: 021 5054 1265
    Celebrity chef's Italian food by the river in Pudong, beneath the Pearl Tower.

  • Bali Laguna
    - 189 Huashan Lu, inside Jing'an Park (near Yanan Lu), Tel:
    021 6248 6970
    Indonesian food inside a neighborhood park
  • Paul
    - 6 Dongping Lu (near Hengshan Lu), French Concession, Tel: 021 5465 9131
    The French boulangerie, now a global chain, has seven Shanghai shops at the time of this web-print. A French croissant in the French Concession could only be a good morning start.

  • Mesa & Manifesto
    - 748 Julu Lu (near Fumin Lu), French Concession, Tel: 021 6289 9108
    Listed as one of Shanghai’s finest restaurants, native Australian executive chef Steve Baker proposes a Western Island in an Asian Ocean. Nice deck for when it's sunny.

  • Stellas' Cafe
    - N 17, 248 Lane, Taikang Lu, Luwan
    Artsy brunch in an Artsy location for late Sunday.

  • Room 28 (Roomtwentyeight)
    - URBN Hotel, 183 Jiao Zhou Lu (near Beijing Lu)
    Roomtwentyeight is a restaurant located in the lobby level of URBN hotel, serving international cuisine with an emphasis on "home-style" favorites.
  • Kathleen's 5
    - inside People's Square
    Wonderful setting in a colonial clock tower building overlooking People's Square and Nanjing Lu.

  • Barbarossa
    - inside People's Square
    Great middle eastern ambiance in a close and quiet place in Shanghai People's Square busy center. A nice place to rest before or after a new step in crazy Shanghai.

  • No 88 Bar
    - 701 Yongjia Lu, French Concession
    The place to go right now and better to go before midnight, otherwise you will stay outside... because it's packed especially during the weekend.

  • Bar Rouge
    - 7/F Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
    The place to see the skyscrapers of Pudong across the river at night, directly across the river from the Pearl Tower.

  • 3.Top
    - 47 Xinle Lu (near Xiangyang Lu), French Concession
    This small, low-lit rectangular bar is one of the well-kept secrets of the city for a cosy lunch

  • "Cloud 9", Grand Hyatt Shanghai
    - 86/F Jin Mao Tower, 88 Century Boulevard (a.k.a. Shi Ji Da Dao), Pudong
    Highest view over the city. Expensive watered down cocktail for an expensive view of Pudong and the city.

  • Vue Bar, Hyatt on the Bund Shanghai
    - 32-33/F Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu Lu
    Located on the 32nd and 33rd floors of the hotel’s West Tower, Vue Bar has the best view of the city (both Pudong skyscrapers and the Bund), with day beds, comfy tables and a jacuzzi on the terrace. If you don't have a bathing suit, you can always buy one from the menu.
  • Source
    - 158 Xin Le Lu, French Concession
    One of the hundreds of design shop in the French Concession to spend some time in on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

  • Shanghai Tang
    - 15 Xintiandi North Block
    A flashy, colorful Chinese clothing and accessories retail, with retro and modern cuts. The Shanghai from the 40's movies can be seen. Must spend some time to be inspired from it all, even if you can't afford it.
  • The Bund
  • Shanghai Urbanism Museum
  • Yu Yuan Garden
  • French Concession
  • Shanghai World Trade Center
  • Pearl Tower
  • Tai Kang Lu
  • Shikumen Alleys
  • Maglev Fast Train to/from Pudong Airport
  • Nanjing Shopping Street
  • Xintiandi Night Dinner/Drinks
  • People's Square
[[Web References]]
[[Web Hotel References]]
[[Recommended Hotels]]
  • The Metropole
    - No.180 Jiangxi Middle Road, Huangpu District

  • The Phoenix in Shanghai
    - 17 Yunnan (South) road, Shanghai

  • Mingtown Etour International Youth Hostel
    - No.55, Jiangyin Road, Huangpu District, 200003, Shanghai
[[Boutique Hotels]]
[[Heritage Hotels]]
[[Chinese Hotels]]