Pasta, Ferraris and Gucci: Oh My!

While most countries are using the 2010 Shanghai Expo as a launching pad to show the world’s most populous nation what they have to offer, Italy has taken a different route. It seems the culturally-rich European country did its homework on China and and discovered the importance placed on a  “harmonious society” in the Middle Kingdom. Instead of just taking the easy route and straight promoting their historically impressive civilization, Italy built a structure designed to jive with the locals, including: exhibits featuring dams inspired by ancient water technology developed in China, ad nauseam references to Orient explorer Marco Polo and excessive parallels between Suzhou and Venice.

Even the base concept for the building architecture has its roots in China -- the pavilion is split up into a game of “pick-up sticks”, which in Italian is called the “Shanghai game”. Despite their pandering to the Expo's host country, Italy has maintained strong ties to their impressive and historic culture, and their efforts to relate to the Chinese haven’t gone unnoticed -- Italy has one of the most popular pavilions in Expo Village with weekend waits of upwards of three hours being the norm.

Luckily, Italy also boasts the largest country pavilion other than China, so instead of the typical wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am visits that typify some of the smaller pavilions, placard-perusing visitors can easily spend the better part of the afternoon strolling through the exhibits and dropping into one of the three on-site eateries that serve up some of the most authentic Italian in the city (they imported their chefs and their ingredients).

There’s a lot to take in at this pavilion, but make sure you don’t miss these highlights (especially if you braved the three-hour line to get in!):

  • Great Gate of Marco Polo -- located outside, so you don’t even have to wait to check out the largest sculpture in Expo park
  • “Italy of Cities” multimedia experience
  • The world’s first “Green” Ferrari
  • Main atrium with full symphony orchestra and haute couture from Italy’s top designers
  • Miniature Pantheon constructed from the same material as the original structure
  • An olive tree surrounded by wines and pasta. Yum.
  • Artisans at work. It's like a cage at the zoo -- just replace the animals with hand-crafting Italians!


Nine West's Global Media Tour

Military is back with a bang at the final stop on Fred Allard’s World Tour. Hosted at the ShanghART Gallery in the French Concession, the media preview of Nine West’s Fall/Winter collection was well attended by many prominent fashion and media figures, including celebrity guests, Chun Xiao and Liu Dan.

Allard himself introduced the new line - including a selection of shoes, accessories and a clothing line - and explained the inspiration and creative process behind his designs. The collection covers the entire spectrum of the fashion scene, offering just about every shape, colour or texture imaginable. Safari, military and equestrian looks were all jazzed up with sequins and details or softened with feminine touches like suede and ruching. Allard noted that the new shoe line focuses on the details of the heel, a deliberate departure from the industry norm of excessive design on the toe in an effort to freshen up fashionable footwear. While some of his pieces were subtle and classic, many offered more outlandish designs, including a particularly scandalous thigh-high lace-up boot.

Nine West have toured the world, kicking off in New York then moving on to London and Hong Kong, in an attempt to incorporate a global feel to the pieces and create international buzz about the new line. The Shanghai event employed two local models, Jiang Yinyan and Vickie, to showcase the collection for guests.

Street Talk

Arguably the best way to see a city, and really get a feel for its atmosphere, is by walking its streets. Newman Tours’ French Concession Tour is a perfect way to explore one of Shanghai’s most aesthetically pleasing areas, without having to tackle the rather daunting task of navigating the winding streets on your own. Commencing at South Shanxi Metro Station, tour guide and founder Daniel Newman entertains and educates his guests with anecdotes of the old district’s vibrant and rich history. From the Opium Wars and eccentric mobsters to tales of influential women in Shanghai, this two-hour excursion packs a concise history lesson into a relatively short time, ensuring you get your money’s worth!

For a relatively young company, Newman Tours have certainly done their homework. Its tour guides are not only highly knowledgeable about the city and its past, but have the charisma to bring the incredible stories of the area to life. The Concession Tour begins under the imposing front of the Cathay Theatre with a blitz on the Chinese film industry and its tales of dramatic heroines. From there it continues on to focus on the ‘wealthy at leisure’ in the Cercle Sportif Français, as well as a number of Shanghai’s most interesting and luxurious hotels. Historical events including the signing of the US-China communiqué and the birth of the Chinese feminist movement are made all the more impressive by the architectural grandeur of the buildings in which they took place. The walk doesn’t stop there as you continue on to explore Shanghai’s involvement in the opium trade and Taiping Rebellion, as well as delve into Shanghai’s darker past and the origins of the French Concession itself. With simultaneously amusing and informative commentary, the tour makes for a perfect morning or afternoon in which to immerse one’s self in the city’s past.

The variety of sightseeing opportunities that Newman Tours offer are designed to provide tourists and locals alike with a fresh perspective on the city in a unique way. As an added touch, the international tour guides are accompanied by a local to make sure the true buzz of the city is well-represented. In addition to the tour itself, revellers have the option of a Shanghainese lunch and calligraphy lesson on the French Concession Tour or an interactive Buddhist dinner on the Ghost Tour. You can even tailor your own tour in or around Shanghai to suit your interests or schedule.

Please visit for more information.

The bamboo trail through the Expo

 During a three day congress at the Westin Bund Center hotel in Shanghai, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and its Expo pavilion partners highlighted how bamboo and rattan or being used at the Shanghai World Expo and how both products  are a perfect solution for enhancing urban living, protecting the environment and reducing rural poverty. This  makes them fit perfectly in the Expo's theme 'Better city, better life'.

Bamboo, one of the fastest growing plants and one of oldest building materials in the world, has been incorporated in the design and construction of 9 Expo pavilions, including the ones from Germany, Spain, Indonesia, India, Norway, Vietnam, Peru, Madrid and the German-Chinese house. Rattan are spiny climbing palms. The 8000 square meter exterior of the national pavilion of Spain is built completely out of rattan.


 The Indian 'city of harmony' pavilion has the largest bamboo dome in the world and is inspired by an ancient buddhist monument.

In the Indonesian pavilion, bamboo is used as a symbol of integration of traditional Indonesian and modern lifestyle.


The Spanish pavilion is the largest construction made out of rattan in history. The pavilion is built with 8,524 brown, beige and black rattan and willow-based panels, handmade by craftsmen in China's Shandong province. The interior is decorated with bamboo-based flooring and walls.





Anonymous's picture

Green Pavilions

 Wow, can't wait to visit these pavilions. I love how all the pavilions used green materials and tried to spread environmental awareness. :)

Cotton's Plans to Expand F&B Empire with Hunan Restaurant

Cotton Ding, owner of the city's favourite watering holes Cotton's, is getting back to her roots with plans to open a yet-to-be-named Hunan restaurant at the booming Yongfu Lu, Fuxing Lu intersection. Expect homestyle food served up in a location with the laidback atmosphere of her eponymous bars.

The exact location and opening date are still under wraps, but spice lovers can expect to tantalize their tastebuds with the eye-watering, sweat-inducing cuisine come mid-August. Don't expect Cotton to tame her hometown Hunan flavours for the wimpy expat palate; she doesn't pull any punches when it comes to spice -- just ask anyone who has sampled the fiery fried rice at her restaurants.

Stamping Your Expo Passport: Czech Republic and Portugal

On May 18, one day after the Czech Republic's national day at the Expo, Shanghaiist leaked an internal email highlighting some serious logistical difficulties at their pavilion.

The leaked email was written on May 7 by the Pavilion's Commissioner General, Pavil Antonin Stehlik. He warned that unless issues were resolved the Pavilion would have to close in May. Thankfully, they were, and, at least from what we saw of it, the national day seemed to go smoothly.

Tieing in with the theme "Pearls of Civilisation" , the Oriental Pearl Tower was lit up with Czech lights. Former Miss World Taťána Kuchařová provided the eye candy, wearing a dress made with Vamberk lace, one of the 25 "pearls" the Czech Republic has contributed to the world.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kahout (above right) also visited Shanghai, giving a press conference where he placed the Czech Republic at "the crossroads of Europe" and said that negotiaions were taking place to keep the Czech pavilion onsite after the expo. Our favourite part, though, was the Czech translator, who was concentrating so hard as he put together sentences in Mandarin that he rocked from side to side, like a boxer before a big fight. The Chinese journalists laughed at some of his efforts, but he rolled with it beautifully, poking out his tongue and feigning exhaustion.

Still in Europe, June 6 is the Portuguese Pavilion's national day. The star of the show will be Mariza (right), who sings in the Fado style, which sounds like it falls somewhere between a funeral dirge and a sea shanty. There will be a parade with oversized carnival dolls, not unlike this one of Ronaldo, that remind us a bit of one scene from Sascha Baron Cohen's Borat.

Windows Scoreboard: Redux

After a four-month absence, Windows Scoreboard recently reopened a block east of its old location on Huaihai Lu. Perched on the 11th floor of the old Isetan Building, the new venue is nearly twice as big as its former locale, boasting seating for 250 and standing room for another 150. The bar offers both smoking and non-smoking sections, an enclosed terrace, and awfully good views of the French Concession and People’s Square area.

Other than location and size, little else of Scorby’s tried-and-tested formula has changed. Free pool, foosball, and darts are still available, as well as 10 big screen TVs playing sports. Beers start at RMB 15 for Tiger, Qingdao, and Coors Light, and run up to RMB 35-40 for premium imports; standard cocktails are all RMB 15 and shots RMB 10, bottles RMB 300 – 400. Additionally, the kitchen still prepares quick, cheap food in the RMB 10 – 25 price range.

For those on a budget or simply looking for a cheap place to start the night, Scoreboard’s return to the bar scene is a very welcome event. The World Cup should be a very busy time for the venue. According to general manager Matt Robinson, more TVs will be added and nightly bottle-giveaways should bring in droves of supporters. Also, a free trip to Hainan for two will be raffled off at the conclusion of the tournament.

11/F, 527 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Chengdu Lu. Tel: 5382 7757. 

Tex-Mex Finally Arrives in Pudong

With the recent opening of Pistolera in the heart of Jinqiao, proper Tex-Mex has finally arrived in Pudong. Pistolera, a Big Bamboo spin-off, takes over the latter’s previous location on Biyun Lu. The bursting menu offers a mouthwatering assortment of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili, and other Tex-Mex favourites; the venue is also one of the few restaurants in the city to offer barbacoa.

The man behind this veritable feast is none other than Tabasco, the winner of last year’s Fourth Annual Bubba’s Chili Cook-Off. Tabasco, a native of Sonora in northwest Mexico, is a stickler for authenticity and his culinary creations make even a trip across (or under) the Huangpu worthwhile.

Rumors swirl that Puxi-based fans of Tex-Mex won’t need to need to wait too long before a Pistolera location opens more close to home. Food and drink prices are similar to Big Bamboo. Don’t forget to try the Jalapeño Poppers!

777 Biyun Lu, near Lan'an Lu. Tel: 5030 4228.

Bubble Mood’s Summer Fashions

In the effortlessly cool setting of Urban Bar, home of the ‘Xperience’ Bartending School, fashion label, Bubble Mood, introduced their latest collection covering three conceptual lines: ‘blow it’, ‘hunt it’ and ‘bike it’.

The soft florals and femininity of the ‘blow it’ collection makes great day-to-night wear with jumpsuits, dresses and skirts that can be dressed down with flats and a cardigan or up with heels and a jacket.

The ‘hunt it’ range focuses on a safari theme, a hot look for this summer, with khaki tones and tougher designs than the ‘blow it’ range. By using soft silks and satins instead of the traditional materials associated with this trend, the designers have created a romantic feel to these pieces, making them easy to wear and giving them a feminine edge. The same is to be said of the ‘bike it’ collection, which takes biker jackets and leather shorts and softens them up, using unexpected colours and details to make them irresistibly versatile.

These collections are ideal for those who aren’t quite ready to throw ourselves into fully-fledged leathers and the safari prints of the runway but are looking for a way to make the trends their own. Right down to their jewellery line, which boasts entirely handmade one-of-a-kind pieces to ensure uniqueness, the Bubble Mood brand caters to aspiring fashionistas looking for a fresh outlook on summer fashion.

Bubble Mood will be hosting their 5th concept sale this weekend (15 & 16 May) at Enoteca 2 (58 Taicang Lu, near Jinan Lu). For a chance to revitalise your summer wardrobe or just have a look at the collection, the sale will run from noon on both days.


'Change We Can Believe In' Sets an Opening Date

After their soft opening late last month, the Official Grand Opening at the Big O finally drops on June 2. Yes, you read that correctly, that is a Wednesday.

The night will feature über-DJ God, Sasha, marking his return to these shores for the first time this year. Currently Sasha sits in the number 13 spot on DJ Mag’s Top 100 list. It’s a safe bet to expect his usual mix of epically-tinged progressive house while the city’s beautiful people throw shapes on the club’s gargantuan dance floor. Entrance is free prior to 10pm, RMB 100 from then on.

In case you can’t wait and need your Obama fix before June, on May 21 the club will play host to the House of Gaga Experience, an Australian tribute show to the American pop-phenom. The show promises to mirror the look, feel and sound of Lady Gaga’s own outlandish performances. Entry is free for all and the venue is offering a very special ‘10 drinks for RMB 100’ promotion for all thirsty lao wai in attendance – things kick off at 10pm.

2088 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Xianxia Lu,


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