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Shanghai city guide

There’s a boom-town exuberance to Shanghai with its outlandish skyscrapers, designer shops, hip bars and world-class restaurants. Joanne O’Connor reports

The two sides of Shanghai face each other across the sluggish grey Huangpu River in a standoff between the past and the future. On the west bank is the Bund, a sweeping esplanade of po-faced, grey buildings, the former headquarters of foreign banks and institutions which sprang up during Shanghai’s 1920s heyday.

On the east side of the river is the brash face of the new Shanghai – Pudong, with its outlandish skyline of skyscrapers topped with spires, baubles, pyramids and pineapple flourishes. As you marvel at the rocket-shaped Oriental Pearl TV Tower (which seems to have been designed by a five-year-old boy with ADD) and the elegant 88-storey Jin Mao Building, the tallest in mainland China, it’s hard to believe that just 15 years ago, there was nothing here but fishermen’s huts.

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