Dong Tai Lu Market
It is so hot now nobody wants to play outside or go anywhere. It is fortunate that I managed to squeeze in a spot of shopping at the Dong Tai Lu "Antiques" Market in Puxi in May before the rains came or the sun decided to shine non-stop and make us want to hide in air-conditioned comfort.
You find porcelain, little Mao books, old posters, jewellery, figurines, tea...
Dongtai Lu is just a few blocks away from Xintiandi and contains an outdoor (with bits indoor) market spread over a few streets. The few times I was there it was pretty quiet, with a few tourists hanging around and a stream of bikes or scooters going up or down the narrow lanes.
The vendors themselves were pretty laid back, none touted his wares too actively, only coming out to talk when you expressed interest or asked a question about something in their stall. You will need to look hard as there probably were gems in all the rubbish you see displayed out there, but most of them would be replicas or just plain old stuff nobody wanted anymore. And bargain hard, very hard - easier said than done. When I see something I like, it usually means I would like to have it. Unlike new stuff, it's difficult to place a price on something used and usually not easily found anymore.
Even the roof was full
There were a few shops that were dark, dirty, smokey and smelly and they were subdivided indoors into smaller shops selling anything from old pictures to furniture. Others claimed to do antiques but you have to like the style, usually pretty dark and heavy.
Nice wooden balcony
I am into old stuff lately and was there trying to find leftover Chinese cloth - something pretty rare and expensive today. I don't sew but thought it would make a nice gift for artistic friends who may know what to do with it. I also bought touristy stuff like embroidered squares and replica paintings with Chinese themes (pretty kitsch and expensive but will look really nice if properly displayed) that I hope to bring home as gifts for my friends. I ended up having some difficulty parting with the stuff as I rather liked them for myself.
Goods everywhere including inside the dark alleys
I am definitely no expert in bargaining, in fact I almost never bargained - not having any idea how much anything is really worth. And if I faced an old man or a heavily-pregnant woman - I would feel bad and would just accept whatever they asked me to pay. Hub said that I have paid too much for a country like China, but I think he didn't realise how expensive Shanghai is generally. Wish there were blogs that would advise about how much to pay for shopping in Shanghai.