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August 10, 2009

At Home in Shanghai

The old and the neon blend together in Shanghai.
Photo: Stuck in Customs on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Dinda Elliott

My friends--both foreign and Chinese--who live here in Shanghai say it beats Hong Kong as a place to live. A Chinese venture capitalist who used to reside in HK says her friends down in the former British colony, all bankers and lawyers, spend weekends either around the pool at the local country clubs or going out on each other's boats. "It's very boring," she says. "In Shanghai, we have friends from many different worlds--from wine and tech entrepreneurs to sports coaches to journalists."

Shanghai is booming, despite the economic crisis; you feel that any young person with talent is either here already or ought to be. What makes the city so incredibly hot: the dissonance of old and new. Turn-of-the-century European villas and Deco apartment buildings lend the city's denizens a sense of worldliness and history, while sparkling new shopping malls and office towers are shooting up. The restaurants and clubs are the hippest I've seen anywhere. The new nightclub M1NT has the requisite throbbing music, black furniture, and black-clad staff, plus a 40-foot shark tank--way cool. Just down the road, you can still find tree-lined lanes with tattered laundry hanging from bamboo poles sticking out the windows.

Even golf, the businessman's favorite pastime, is more convenient in Shanghai. Hong Kong's golfers generally have to go across the border to Shenzhen, more than an hour away, to hit the links. Shanghai has a dozen or so golf clubs within half an hour of the city. They cost some $150,000 to join, not including monthly dues and greens fees. But in this booming economic environment--despite the global crisis--that seems to be no deterrent.

Further reading:
* CNT explored the neighborhoods behind the skyscrapers in "Secret Shanghai"  (Oct. 2008)
* The U.S. economy may still be in a slump, but Hong Kong is partying.
* Is Hong Kong turning Communist? Or are the Communists turning capitalist?
* Dinda's Dispatches from Malaysia: "Sexual Politics, Malaysia Style," Penang's Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Obama-mania, bargaining at markets, and an interview with Anwar Ibrahim.
* Dispatches: On the road


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