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Shanghai: A New Dawn

Compliments of Holland America Line

Mariner Magazine
IT'S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN IN China's most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. The capitalist mecca of the Far East in the 1920s and '30s, Shanghai is undergoing a renaissance, poised to become a fashion and finance center to rival London, Paris, New York and Tokyo.

The Wild West of the East.

During its heyday in the Roaring Twenties, Shanghai was known as the Queen of the Orient and the Paris of the East for its prosperity and trendsetting style. It was China's window on the West, one of the world's fastest-growing cities, home to the country's most fashionable women and tallest buildings.

But, built by the opium trade of the 19th century, the city also had a seedy underside of vice and indulgence, making it equally attractive to smugglers, gangsters, warlords and pirates.

Light and dark. Yin and yang. Exceptionally Chinese yet suffused with British, French and American colonial interests, the city has always been an enigma. And as it enters the new millennium, you can expect even more contrasts and surprises from this vibrant city.

Reborn for the 21st century.

Shanghai was chosen in the late 1980s to spearhead China's economic progress, an effort that was furthered by the establishment of the Pudong Special Economic Zone in 1990. Since then, the government has poured millions into the city to create a glass-and-steel skyline supported by a new "Shanghai Wall Street" and foreign investment.


The city now gleams with the world's fastest train, the neon glow of elevated highways, broadened streets, new green spaces and a modern subway system. Shanghai's Pudong International Airport opened in 1999, a soaring glass structure by French architect Paul Andreu, designer of the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. And the tallest building in the world is in the works - the Shanghai World Financial Centre.

A few historic areas have been spared, though, including the lovely art deco colonial buildings along the Bund and the French Concession with its mock Tudor mansions.

Thoroughly modern millions.

Shanghai's more than 16 million residents have the country's highest income and highest standard of living. As a result, they've become China's trendsetters when it comes to consumption, with sophisticated urban tastes that have helped to turn Shanghai into a thoroughly cosmopolitan city.

Hotels offer fitness centers and aromatherapy, restaurants serve international cuisine, the latest fashions hang in modern malls and the nightlife is posh and pricey. Yet Shanghai is anything but a cultural wasteland. In fact, it offers world-class architecture and is beginning to rival Beijing as a cultural capital. The Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Art Museum and Grand Theater rank among the best in Asia. And the classical cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou, as well as the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi'an, are just an hour or two from the city.

14-Day China, Japan & Korea
Hong Kong to Osaka, ms Statendam
Apr 19, 2007

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The Shanghai of tomorrow.

The reinvention of Shanghai in the last decade may be unprecedented in world history, and there's no sign of the pace slowing down. Like a time-lapse camera on fast-forward, rice paddies and pig farms are being transformed into a high-tech world of skyscrapers and wireless connections.

In the 1920s, Aldous Huxley wrote of old Shanghai, "Nothing more intensely living can be imagined." You have to wonder - was he envisioning Shanghai's past, or her future?

Visit exotic East Asia, where the dynasties of the past meet the 21st century.

Spend two days in Shanghai discovering her wonders old and new on a 14- or 64-day cruise to Asia. You'll also spend two days in Beijing - time to visit the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Ming Tombs or Xi'an's Terra Cotta Warriors and explore other fascinating East Asian destinations from South Korea to Japan. The 64-day itinerary also includes an overnight in Hong Kong, where you can sample the phenomenal energy downtown or visit the hard-working world of Aberdeen's fishing junks.

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