On our third full day, we decided to check out some markets in Shanghai. We had read about an antique market. There was also a Flower, Fish, Bird and Insect market near the antique market so we were especially keen to go. When we got there, we found the Flower market first. It was surprisingly loud. Several vendors sold crickets in little wooden cages; the sound was the 100s of crickets singing(?). THe market was true to its word. There were lots of birds, including parrots and even house sparrows. There were various fish and amphibians. It was pretty neat. THe market was a pet market for people of Shanghai. Cute fuzzy scaly winged creatures!
Then we decided to find the antique market. We wandered around a construction site; there were bulldozers everywhere. Then we realized looking at the directions in the guidebook; we were where the market used to be. All the bulldozers were taking out the remains of the neighborhood. This we knew was pretty typical. Things changed quickly in Shanghai. One local told us how he saw a store open in the morning to bulldozed a few hours later with no warning. I should also mention that my guidebook was from 2013…so not exactly up to date. (The subway in the map was our guide but had several lines missing!). So we skirted the place and found two holdouts.
After our adventure with the antique market, we decided to head back to the French Concession for some exploration and shopping. We ended up in the very posh area called Xintiandi. It has lots of very upscale stores and restaurants; it’s meant to mirror the other area of the French Concession, Tianzifang. It has echoes of historical architecture but it’s like a reinterpretation. On the way from this fancy area back to Tianzifang, we found a vegetarian place where we had incredibly fresh food including skinned cucumbers, vegetable dumplings, and a salad of bananas and dragonfruit.
We wandered around Tianzifang again, taking it all a bit more. We got another dumpling from the dumpling shop with all the characters. This time it was shaped like a penguin with custard inside. It was prettier than it tasted. It was fun but that was the last time we got a dumpling from the place.During our time there, I accidently ended up trying a $3,000 embroidered shirt and then a $500 shawl. Eep!
After trying on such expensive outfits, we decided to check out the Shanghai Liuli Art Museum. It was opened by Chang Yi and Loretta Yang and features art glass all over the world. They had a special exhibition of Toot Zynsky. She pioneered this fiber optic glass form and made these vibrant vases. Very cool. My friend described them best: “It’s like the glass version of Georgia O’Keefe.” In their permanent collection, Loretta Yang displays her ethereal pieces influenced by Buddhism. The outside of the building is this beautiful LED light flower that fades from color to color.
Then a downpour came upon us. We ended up hiding under the awning of a local hospital. So it was naturally more museum time! We found a cab that took us to our next destination (and a personal favorite): the Shanghai Propaganda Museum. I had been there before on our first trip because propaganda. It’s a lovely gem of a museum. It is housed in the basement of an apartment complex but worth going. It has a collection of posters starting with the Shanghai girl posters to the present day. You’ll see how the styles and ideology changed. And some of the images are truly spectacular. Lots of space babies, babies riding wheat, even a poster on Einstein!
Afterwards we walked a bit around this residential area of the French Concession. We stopped at a cafe channeling retro France with old school refrigerator and 1960/70s movie posters. We had a snack of pickles including pickled apples. Very refreshing! I had a red bean tea latte that was tasty. IT had red beans in the bottom!
For dinner, we had dinner at a Yunnan restaurant that was amazing. I’ve never had minced meat that was so delicious before! Everything was amazing. We ended the night hanging out in a Carrefour because grocery stores in foreign countries are a lot of fun. We bought lots of haw snacks, a sweet red plant based candy, that we devoured quickly.
A great day!