Last Friday I took my Modern Chinese History students on their first field trip in Shanghai. Originally I meant to start at the Astor House Hotel just north of the Garden Bridge. Yet when we reached the Bund, I made a sudden change in plans and took them to the new Waldorf Astoria instead. We ended up going on an unplanned tour of the Waldorf Astoria, Shanghai's newest elite hotel. Guided by a young 20-year old Chinese hotel clerk, we toured the hotel, taking in the ballroom, library, several fancy restaurants, and the famous Long Bar. Sometimes the best part of these field trips is what happens outside your plans.Read More
Confucius says, "Isn't it wonderful to receive old friends from afar?" The past few days have been filled with visits from old friends and colleagues from abroad. First James Farrer, my colleague and dear friend, and my co-conspirator in the writing of our new book Shanghai Nightscapes, who teaches sociology at Sophia University, and his wife Gracia, who also teaches sociology at Waseda University, and their daughter Sage flew over here from Tokyo where they live and work.Read More
Last night a dinner engagement with an old friend fell through and my wife had her own dinner plans with former colleagues, leaving me in the city center with two hours of empty time--a precious commodity in Shanghai. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Shanghai nightscape. From Xintiandi 新天地, where my wife and I had gone to have a cup of coffee, I strolled into the darkening evening, heading Bundward.Read More
I just read a news article stating that Swatch, the Swiss watch company, is joining with the Jinjiang Hotel Group, owner of the Peace Hotel, to renovate it. This is interesting news because the Peace Hotel, from what I've heard, is rated quite poorly as a hostelry. I recall that it was renovated in 1997 by the same New York firm that renovated the Park Hotel (guoji fandian). They did a decent job with some features such as the 8th floor ballroom (though one questions whether or not all of the features in that ballroom today are genuine 1930s Deco), but apparently not so with the majority of rooms. I've also read in online travel blogs that the service is appalling. Whether or not the next round of renovations will change the software as well as the hardware of this fine historical building is another matter.
Standing on the top floor of Shanghai's Peace Hotel, an art deco palace once known as the Cathay Hotel, you can look out over the turrets and spires of the elegant Bund promenade and dream of a China long gone.Read More