A Page from My Shanghai Diary: The Wandernut Trails

It’s about time I complete my series on Shanghai. And there is no more appropriate day to do this then on the final #TravelTuesday of 2010. My trip to the Paris of the Orient wouldn’t have been so enjoyable if it wasn’t for a friend of mine. Actually, she’s a friend of a friend and a friend of another friend who has up to June this year lived in Shanghai. She’s now back in KL, but we’ve still not met up before. So to thank her, I’m dedicating this post to Ms. Wandernut, whose comprehensive 11th hour guide showed me the city through her eyes. It almost felt like she was there with me. Thanks W!


Day-2: The French Concession

[Click on this link if the slide show doesn’t show on your browser]

This is the most enchanting neighbourhood in all of Shanghai. And not to mention the most pedestrian-friendly too. As I strolled through its narrow streets under the canopies of closely planted trees, I found myself taking the pace down a notch or two just to take it all in. It is possible to spend days here indulging in nothing more structured than aimlessly wandering, nosing down alleys and peering into courtyards of tidy town houses, smart apartments blocks and religious structures. All of which were built between the 1920s through 1940s in every imaginable style which modern architects could dream up.

Shanghai has also the highest concentration of art deco buildings in the world and this neighbourhood is without a doubt the art deco home of China. Between the Time Out city guide’s Deco Dawling and Wandernut’s notes, I managed to spend a whole entire day just exploring this charming four-square mile section of old Shanghai. At the end of the day I rewarded myself at Yu Massage (1-hour feet massage and 1-hour body for only RMB156).

Wandernut’s powerpoint guide pointed towards Jesse 41 for a real Shanghainese experience. A brilliant recommendation on her part. Over the years, the restaurant has also been voted by many local and international magazines as THE place to go for a sweet local meal. It’s a little on the pricey side though.

Shanghai | Jesse 41.jpg

Lunch @ Tonkatsu 176, Jiaozhou Lu (near Beijing Xi Lu)
Dinner @ Jesse 41, Tianping Lu near Huaihai Lu,
Rejuvenate @ Yu Massage, 366 Wuyuan Lu

Day-6: Tian Zi Fang

[Click on this link if the slideshow doesn’t appear on your browser]

I personally think the Tianzifang trumps redevelopment projects like Xintiandi for the fact that nobody has to be evicted to make space for more monstrous projects.

While walking down the maze of narrow lanes at Taikang Lu (‘Art Street’), cosmopolitan Shanghai was the farthest thing on my mind. At a glance, this area is a colossal mess of old and refurbished local styled brick houses known as shikumen – once an architectural symbol of old Shanghai. But upon a second look, the faces of local residents and their homes starts to surface between their commercial neighbours. The area still holds an old charm that isn’t fictitious or recreated. They live harmoniously together with the new elements. And all of which deserves a second glance and our appreciation.

At the heart of Taikang Lu are many art studios and galleries, which feature local contemporary works of design, painting and photography. This area has also been home to many artists seeking a reprieve from the threat of demolition of artist’s villages and communities by property developers in the last decade. There are also many local boutiques as well as other quirky small business mixed in with laid-back cafes and bars, which draws in the yuppies, fashionistas, designers and expatriates to this bohemian utopia. I would have gladly spend all my days here exploring every nook & cranny.

In the words of Wandernut: MUST NOT MISS THIS PLACE!!

Shanghai | New York Style Steak & Burger.jpg

Lunch: New York Style Steak & Burger, No. 22, Lane 155 Jianguo Lu,
Coffee/Hot Chocolate: Kommune, Bldg 7, 210 Taikang Lu,

Day-7: Puxi & Pudong

[click here to view the Huangpu slideshow if the video doesn’t appear on your browser]

The Bund (or Waitan to the Chinese) grandly skirting the Huangpu river, is the cities signature skyline since the days of yore. This historical 2 kilometre-long waterfront, with its magnificent line of grand buildings which housed some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, cemented Shanghai’s standing as not only Asia’s leading financial and commercial centre by the the late 1920s but also the region’s only international city then.

I left the visit to The Bund until the very end with a good reason. I didn’t want to get high on the city’s hedonistic lifestyle before I could appreciate its lows. True enough, when strolling down the grand dame in the height of summer seemed a little too hot to handle, I quickly checked myself into the highly profiled M-on-the-Bund (my first choice Mr & Mrs Bund is only open for dinners on weekends). While the food here is fine, it wasn’t exactly as mind blowing as its excellent service and marvelous view for a weekend brunch – of which I found to be very reasonable at RMB258 for three courses. If the weather wasn’t hot, I would have loved to sit on the balcony as I raise a pinky and toast my demure porcelain cup of tea to the majestic view of modern China across the Huangpu.

Speaking of Pudong, I headed over in the late afternoon. I made my way to the Super Brand Mall ???? and went straight to the food court in the lower levels in search for some egg tarts. I had half a dozens from Lillian’s Cake Shop a few days back on Nanjing Road and I’ve been craving for more since. I was told they were widely available across the city. I took these with a cup of ice tea to the promenade area below the Oriental Pearl Towers for a front row seat to watch the sun set behind The Bund.

Finally, the day ended on high note. I went up to the observation aisle, a stomach-churning glass bottomed walkway, on the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. No doubt the view of the Shanghai’s 20-million lesser mortals from up there was priceless.

Shanghai | Lillian Cake Shop.jpg

Brunch: M on the Bund, 7/F No.5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu,
Snacks: Lillian Cake Shop (main outlet) 988, Nanjing Xi Lu

The complete Pages from My Shanghai Diary (shot in hi-contrast)
Day-1: The Dumplings of Shanghai
Day-3, 4 & 5: Food at the Shanghai World Expo 2010
Day-8: An Unexpected Breakfast Loaf and Fuxing Park
9 Responses to A Page from My Shanghai Diary: The Wandernut Trails
  1. Life for Beginners
    December 29, 2010 | 12:58 am

    Here's my hat off to them Qi Gong Grandmamas… in their silk pajamas?

    I wanna go Shanghai too lah… Maybe a resolution for 2011? :D

  2. J
    December 29, 2010 | 1:24 am

    Awesome… especially love the last collage with the tai chi ladies. :)

  3. Hsian
    December 29, 2010 | 5:56 am

    I love this post! Will be keeping in my notebook for when I go again. Last time I went to a very fab vegetarian place as well – see here http://www.shanghaidiaries.com/archives/2005/03/30/the_best_vegetarian_restaurant_in_shanghai/ – wonder if it's still there!

  4. Sean
    December 29, 2010 | 7:27 am

    gosh, i wonder which mainland chinese city would be the best to visit first. i'm assuming either beijing or shanghai. the latter does sound quite cool from your posts, blending old-world charm with contemporary pizazz! :D

  5. CUMI & CIKI
    December 29, 2010 | 10:50 am

    man, what a cool, quaint little chinese neighbourhood.. the best sort! Sad that the trip blog-posts have come to an end. Your photos make me wanna go hangout and eat at the Bund all over again:D

  6. Wandernut
    December 30, 2010 | 1:00 am

    Awwwwww… thanks :)
    Now I feel homesick for Shanghai all over again. Glad you had a great time! If you get to go there again, let me know, there are so many other good places to see and eat!

  7. HairyBerry
    December 31, 2010 | 12:45 am

    The old charm of Shanghai is something that I look forward to! Am salivating looking at that pot of pork belly. Sexy, I tell ya. Haha!

    Happy New Year, Qwazymonkey! Wishing you a bananalicious 2011! :)

  8. babe_kl
    December 31, 2010 | 3:50 am

    Wishing you and your family a splendid year ahead with good tidings coming your way. Happy New Year!

  9. PureGlutton
    January 1, 2011 | 1:28 pm

    Love this post – reminds me of my trip there last year. Ahhh… i wanna go again!
    Happy New Year, Munkey :-))