From Page 1 wedding photos shot, in a variety of costumes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s a Chinese custom, Doddington tells me, that wedding photography be done in advance so the album of pictures of the happy couple can be shown to guests during the nuptials.
While food and drink options are seemingly endless in this bohemian district, Doddington spirits me away after much browsing of shops to a regular haunt of his, the inauspiciously named Legend, on a street just behind the Bund. ‘‘ This is the place where people who work nearby come for a cheap lunch,’’ Doddington says, as our waitress hands out laminated menus with photos of each dish and, mercifully, English translations. Doddington does the ordering from the Sichuanstyle menu and the meal we embark on proves one of the highlights of my Shanghai stay.
At the table arrives enough food to keep us going for days: bean noodles with chilli sauce, Sichuan braised pork in soy sauce, stewed wild mushroom with loofah soup, griddle-cooked tea tree mushrooms, siu mai and Sichuan-style jiaozi dumplings, an excellent Shanghainese salad and more. The bill comes to a ridiculous $30. Doddington half jokingly tells me not to mention the place in print, lest his favourite dining spot be overrun by eager tourists. Not on your nelly. This place lives up to its name; definitely a Legend in its own lunchtime.
We stroll back down the Bund, past the luxury goods stores and the Peace Hotel, which is covered in scaffolding, and look across to the other side of the city where the famous Pudong financial centre dominates. Along the impressive skyline, Doddington points out the World Financial Centre, which looks rather like a bottle opener with its rectangular opening at the top of the building revealing the blue sky.
‘‘ The rectangle was going to be a circle but they changed it because they felt it looked too much like the Japanese flag,’’ he says. The dispute apparently held up the building for eight years and knocked the feng shui, which requires the use of circles to balance the harsher male square and rectangular shapes, right off kilter. The building opened late last year and houses the world’s highest hotel, Park Hyatt Shanghai, as well as office and retail space.
That occupancy rates for both office space and hotels here and across the world have slumped as a result of the economic downturn hasn’t deterred the myriad hotels and international hospitality outlets soon to come on stream here.
A Peninsula, a Waldorf Astoria and many more highend hotels are planned; in Xin Tian Di district, an outpost of the achingly chic Costes Paris, a bar and restaurant designed by Jacques Garcia, has already arrived. There seems to be no end to the rush to capitalise on this latest, and greatest, metamorphosis of China’s most vibrant city.
Interestingly, the theme of next year’s Expo is Better City, Better Life. If moves to boost the city’s green space and make the environment cleaner and more livable for the millions who reside here are successful, then the