8,008 km so far.
My continuing obsession with shikumen houses was fed today by a visit to the hipster-tourist shopping district of Tianzifang. This is the less polished counterpart to Xintiandi.
While Xintiandi is all sterile chain stores housed in immaculate rebuilds of the old shikumen, Tianzifang squeezes its tiny boutique shops into the original shikumen structures, leaving everything a little more rough around the edges.
By the way, if you find Shanghai’s neighborhoods as confusing as we do, then check out this guide to where to stay in Shanghai which explains the city better than I ever could!
Since we can’t really fit anything else into our panniers, a visit to a shopping district is not a big draw for Stephen and me, but we found enough to hold our attention for an hour or so.
Like the charming signs along the lanes, advertising everyone’s wares…
… and the colourful decorations outside some of the shops…
…complete with heartwarming messages en français.
We even ventured inside a couple of stores. Stephen finds it hard to pass by a Tibetan shop without taking a quick peek inside.
I couldn’t not go into the goth / vampire / Buffy store. After all, we are only biting distance from Fangbang Lu.
And, of course, there was our daily Angry Birds impression.
Since about 75 people have told us to visit this district, I was expecting the adorable lanes filled with tourist shops. What surprised me, though, was the amount of real life happening in the midst of this tourist attraction.
The rooms above the shops all still seem to be inhabited, and plenty of houses still have people in them on the ground level, too.
This lady was preparing her lunch about three feet away from the luxury Cashmere pashmina shop.
I wonder how she feels about swarms of tourists milling around her front door every day. Although, if it weren’t for the shop owners and the tourists, the district would have been destroyed several years ago, so I guess you take the smooth with the crunchy.
As with almost everywhere in China, the electricity looks like it could use some updating.
The outdoor lighting has been here for a while, but it obviously still works.
Presumably that’s partly thanks to these two.
In this city of contrasts, we didn’t have to walk far from these humble shikumen before the modern Shanghai took over once again.
We are thankful every day for the modern amenities available in the city. Especially those offered by our favourite coffee shop, Sumerian Coffee.
Here, we can get the city’s best coffee (Sumerian’s own roasts), great bagels from Egghead Bagels, and real homemade cookies by Strictly Cookies, all while being entertained by the staff’s lively banter.
Of course I just go there to see Burrito’s latest outfit.
For those of you following along, this was today’s photo assignment, which I am calling Just Take Some Damn Pictures. I have been getting a little bored with my highly specific shoots, so I decided to remove all constraints today and just – yup, you guessed it – take some damn pictures. ♥