Page 5 of 5
airfare (Orlando to Pudong, Shanghai) starting at $1,809 (quote via expedia.com)
Despite a lifelong fascination with China, mostly fueled by movies like Chungking Express, Raise the Red Lantern and Lust, Caution, I’ve never been there. And between the state of my savings account and the current geopolitical climate, it seems unlikely that I will be anytime soon. But that doesn’t stop me from reading about it, nor can it stop me from creating my own Shanghai staycation. In the days of the treaty concessions, British, French and American settlers gave it an international flavor, but the ancient walled city remained; then the ’90s brought a global-trade-fueled building boom. I imagine Shanghai to still have a whiff of 1930s opium chic and swaths of century-old tenements mixed in among the neon high-rise jungle. Until I get there, I’ll have to make do with a Shanghai of the mind.
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba
We don’t have anything that can compare to a stroll down the Bund; we don’t have a bar on the 87th floor of a glass skyscraper; we don’t have a traditional Chinese opera company. We do, however, have some of the world’s best acrobats here in Orlando, and some of them are even Chinese.
Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
I was intrigued to read recently that Shanghai is in the midst of a craft beer boom. That’s definitely easy to re-create here, and Redlight Redlight, with its pointed exclusion of TV screens, is my local choice if I can't be at Shanghai’s Boxing Cat or Master Gao microbreweries.
6700 Conroy Road, 407-522-8688, magicwokonline.com
Since Chuan Lu Yuan stopped serving their Lanzhou beef noodle soup with hand-pulled noodles, we all have to go farther afield for traditional Shanghainese specialties. But Magic Wok’s stinky tofu and pork belly with fermented greens please even Chinese-born diners – or so I hear. Be sure to ask for the Shanghainese menu or you’ll be faced with basic American-Cantonese.
Empire of the Sun, by J.G. Ballard; Five Star Billionaire, by Tash Aw; The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
Three books set in Shanghai past, present and future. Ballard’s memoir is worth reading even if you’ve seen the sappy movie – there’s much more hard information about pre-World War II Shanghai (as well as the prison camps and death marches), and much less sap. Five Star Billionaire careens from factory girl to washed-up pop idol to hard-bitten businesswoman to shady real estate magnate, mirroring the city’s meteoric rise. Stephenson’s futuristic fable posits an alternate universe in which the Victorian British retained their concession and their ruling status into the 21st century.