Shanghai Heritage: the Bund Defined

Shanghai’s iconic waterfront boulevard with those imposing stone edifices housing banks, corporate headquarters, and a handful of municipal offices, is called the Bund.

I was never quite sure how to pronounce the word bund.

Was that “u” a long “u” as in “rude” or a short “u” as in “bus”? As it turns out, it is a short “u”, meaning that it should be pronounced as bundle, dropping the “le” at the end – thus, “bund”.

My next question was what, exactly, does “bund” mean? It’s not a word that can be found in most dictionaries – at least most English language dictionaries.

A Hindi dictionary, perhaps?

Thanks to Jenny Liang-Peach, director of Heritage Programmes at the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, which reopened last year following a three year restoration project, that question that has stymied me for decades has been set to rest.

An example of linguistics following trade, bund is a Hindi words meaning muddy river bank.

It was applied to the waterfront along the Whampoa River by British traders at the height of Empire.

Just one of the many fascinating facts I learned during a tour of the historic Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai that was conducted by Ms Liang-Peach for visiting journalists from Hong Kong this morning.

The Fairmont Peace Hotel, orginally known as the Cathay Hotel, was built in 1929. It is situated at the heart of the Bund, affording spectacular view across the Whampoa River to the Pudong new development zone. It has been totally restored, reopening last summer.

Copyright: Michael Taylor Pictured: The Bund, Shanghai, circa 1934

Photo Courtesy of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.


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