Tianzifang 田子坊 or Taikang Lu 210 has become my new favourite shopping area. It contains shikumen and other old Shanghai houses like Xintiandi, but is not as massively restored/renovated and therefore retains a more authentic look, a less touristic feel. In addition to that, more than half of its old residents actually still live there. The place has a mix of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and residents going about their business like before.
A few lanes in Tianzifang
Read an interesting article about the man behind it. Liked the fact that a few more old houses have been saved from the bulldozer. Fancy Shanghai looking just like Singapore or Sydney soon and I feel sorry for us all. I am all for clean toilets (a must) and modern amenities, but at least try to keep some of the old shells for the future - lest we look, eat, buy the same no matter where we are.
Big panty small shoes
Having said that, I just bought a few dresses from Promod and Zara at jacked-up prices - but I had no choice since I couldn't fit into the small Chinese sizes sold in the local shops. Waiting for the Chinese to fatten up like the rest of us so that I can start buying local designs - not just western stuff made-in-China.
This is the back of a boutique so it's clean and bright
Opposite Tianzifang is a new shopping mall that I have yet to explore (remember that I haven't had much time since my arrival in the city), but I've walked through the few lanes in Tianzifang rather quickly and look forward to re-discovering them at a more leisurely pace soon.
Chat with your neighbours as you wash up
There seemed to be quite a number of Thai restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, fashion boutiques, a café claiming to serve the best cheesecake in Shanghai, art galleries, a nice little creperie...and here and there you'll find dirty, dark old doorways with an old lady sitting outside chatting with her neighbour(s). As the boutiques etc are usually clean, well-renovated affairs, the old houses in more or less their original states provided a sharp contrast - very interesting, actually.
How many families live in this house?
I found the paintings I've bought in Dongtai Lu selling for "fixed" prices over there in Tianzifang, though I suppose one could always try to bargain if so inclined. At 20 euros each for a small one they were pricey - but if you can't afford a real Warhol of Mao, they'll have to do.