After being in Beijing for a brief four days, we were off to our next destination, Shanghai. We arrived via high-speed metro and were welcomed with a thrilling acrobatic show later that night. The next day proved to be a long one. We had five destinations on our agenda to cover.
Our morning started off at the Jade Buddha Temple before visiting Yu Yuan for lunch and then the Shanghai Global Financial Center and Walmart. Our last destination was Tian Zi Fang, a district known for its small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and winding alleys. The renovated residential area is located in the French Concession area of Shanghai and features the local Shikumen architecture, which was built in the 1930s. It only recently became a popular tourist destination after it was slated for demolition in 2006. Local business owners and residents were able to convince the local government to preserve the area for its historical significance, traditional architecture, and ambience.
As Van and I explored the charming alleyways, we kept an eye out for vegetarian shops for a quick snack. Most of the savory foods had meat so we opted for something sweet. A unique treat we found was Turkish ice cream. While it was obviously not a local food, we were fascinated by the show the vendor was putting on. The ice cream is churned regularly with long-handled paddles to keep it workable. Vendors often tease and entertain customers by serving the ice cream cone on the paddle but then taking it away by rotating it around before giving it to the customer. The ice cream has a special chewy texture and is resistant to melting, allowing it to be more “acrobatic” than most.
After a while it started raining so we ran into a small café called Cuisine du Monde. By coincidence we found our professors and tour guide enjoying some coffee and desserts. They were very kind in sharing a delicious tiramisu and cheesecake with us before we all headed back to the bus. Exploring Tian Zi Fang was definitely a treat and I hope I can go back and visit again one day.