Shikumen @ Xintiandi
Hub and I have a date tomorrow for lunch - at Mr and Mrs Bund again where else. That set me thinking that I haven't shown you my 2 hours spent walking in Xintiandi - the morning I last had lunch at MM Bund with Hub.
Xintiandi 新天地 means "new heavenly world". It covers this area in Puxi, a few blocks away from the famous shopping street of Huaihai Lu, that used to house thousands of Shanghainese in what were known as Shikumen 石库门 (or stone gate) houses. I read somewhere that 3600 families were relocated when they redeveloped the area to make it into the cultural, entertainment and shopping hub that it is today.
What I found interesting was the story about foreigners building those stone gate houses for Shanghainese seeking refuge in the foreign concession areas during the Taiping Uprisings in the 19th century. The compounds were built in small narrow alleys and were usually fronted by a stone gate that opened into a small enclosed courtyard - aiming to give its residents a sense of security.
During the redevelopment they selected a few of the old houses to be reconstructed based on old design drawings, and I wonder if this museum I walked past was actually one of them (reserving the visit for when family is here). The rest now houses bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, art galleries...
Old and new together
Sign says tea house but do not recall seeing one
A stall selling souvenirs
The other half of Xintiandi is made up of a few shiny new buildings that offered shopping, entertainment, leisure and luxurious living in service apartments.
The road between the 2 sections
One of the narrow alleys
And in between the old and the new sections of Xintiandi you find a street filled with beautifully restored shikumen houses - and the Museum of the First National Congress (July 1921) of the CPC. Priority to soldiers, please take note.
Museum of the 1st National Congress of the CPC
Since we do not live in Puxi it is unlikely that I'd get to enjoy Xintiandi's vibrant night scene, in any case I am too old for that. I found it a little too "new" actually, and hope to explore Tian Zi Fang which I heard is a little more "authentic". On my way to the Bund from Xintiandi, I also saw a few streets filled with dirty stalls selling all kinds of old and new stuff - and that really got me all excited. Will have to find my way back there one of these days.