Thursday 8th October 2015, 11:40am
We were back to classes today after a one week break for China’s national holiday.
For reasons unknown to me, they decided that we will have class on Saturday too; they can’t declare a public holiday and then punish us for it too!
In any case, given my present lack of passport, I couldn’t easily go on any overnight trips, but instead I feel like I walked the whole of Shanghai, starting with Xintiandi on Friday, where I visited a vegetarian’s heaven – a restaurant called Sproutworks – and enjoyed a really good wholesome lunch.
Xintiandi is a more affluent area of Shanghai, and noticeably so; one really gets the feeling of being in an uber-modern city, unlike much of the rest of Shanghai. The surrounding shops, restaurants, cafes and malls could easily fool you into thinking you were not in Shanghai at all… at least from my experience of Shanghai being largely not like Xintiandi.
We ventured into one of the local malls, which for no obvious reason, seemed to be cow-themed, with cow print escalators, mini cows on fake grass in between the escalators, and even….live cows. The strangest thing.
There was some good artwork though:
We then walked up to the Bund, and I think it was actually my first time, because I don’t think we did both sides of the river when I visited Shanghai back in 2012. The weather was good: a hot day and clear skies; and everyone was out enjoying it.
The weekend involved a LOT of walking. Saturday started with going to a friend’s place off-campus for a yummy home-cooked brunch, and the day descended into at least a 15km walk around the city. On the walk to Tianzifang, we stumbled across the ‘Socialist Youth League of China’ museum, a pitiful little 2-room exhibition down a narrow alleyway.
Tianzifang held many interesting things though: Ooo, pretty umbrellas, restaurants with odd names and dishes to match, questionable pharmaceutical products, drinks for supernaturals, and we lost ourselves in the maze of alleyways that is Tianzifang for a couple of hours.
When we emerged, we made our way to the fake market on West Nanjing Road, which turned out to be inside a surprisingly nice building, contrary to expectations, looking very real.
The floors, though probably only numbering 5 or 6, seemed never-ending, probably because each floor is a maze in itself and about 3 floors of shops all sell the same goods. I do like the Oba-Mao tee.
As in Beijing’s fake markets, the protocol seemed to be ‘don’t touch anything you’re not going to buy’ (which makes little sense…) but at least they didn’t seem as aggressive as in Beijing. After spending probably a couple of hours browsing, and contemplating leaving, we both realised we did actually need to buy something: a raincoat. We had fun bargaining for ‘North Face’ raincoats (I came up with a new line: My dad will be angry if I tell him I spent this much on a raincoat!) and finally left to go in search of some dinner. That was another adventure in itself, but we ended up back near where we started in a standard Lanzhou Lamian place, for some standard Lanzhou Lamian 🙂