First things first, the weather; it was undeniably chilly given it was winter season. I traveled with my mum and we both wore a minimum of 4 layers whenever we headed outdoors: inner thermal wear, long sleeved top, one or two jackets, and finally a coat. On the coldest day it dropped to 4 degrees, and when combined with the elements of nature (i.e. wind and/or rain- especially wind), we were so cold we literally couldn't step outside.
However, climate like that is a welcome change for the island girl who's all too used to the blazing heat.
The first place we went to is 大拇指, literally translated to Big Thumb, which is basically a cluster of shopping malls and chain cafes. There is nothing touristy about the place, but there are many locals about, doing their daily shopping. If you are ever in need of any essentials, Carrefour is a big supermarket kind of like Singapore's Giant. It's a French chain (creds to Nise), and they have everything from household appliances to clothes to groceries. The place has many high end stores too, if your pocket stretches to it. No H&M or Cotton On here, but there is Sephora, Uniqlo, and Paul Frank, among others.
My restaurant of choice is 家有好面, which can be found on one of the streets of restaurants outside. Their portions are pretty big, so we got one duck ramen to share plus some veggie and eggs. For some reason I started craving noodles a lot in Shanghai, and this totally satisfied my stomach.
Plus, if you sit on the second floor, your food arrives in this portal-like contraption (the waitress doesn't even need to walk down). Well played, China, well played.
One place that's definitely worth a visit is the Shanghai Pudong Library. This was recommended to us by our driver, Mr. Zhu, so the locals definitely know what's up.
Although nearly every single title in there is in Chinese (so unless you can read Chinese literature..), the architecture is STUNNING. Forget the National libraries in Singapore, this is National Gallery level.
For starters, the building itself is huge. It houses 4 floors with an atrium-like stucture, and hanging from the ceiling are two amazing glass pods if you will that have garden bushes and seats for people to peruse their books in absolute peace. I mean, that in itself is like a contemporary art exhibition.
There are two very cool, conspicuous things about the library interior:
1) It is pin drop silent. Seriously. When I walked in I was first shocked, then embarrassed, because my shoes were so obviously squeaky everyone could hear it within a 10 metre radius. Everyone was also either deeply immersed in their study/work, or else intelligently looking for their novels of choice. So you have to take care not to disturb them because BOY do they mean business. It struck me as an excellent place to study, because literally everywhere was quiet, not like in Singapore, where there has to be special rooms for such, or you just bear with humdrum noise.
2) The lighting above the shelves are motion activated. This was an interesting discovery. The lights brighten up gently as soon as you approach the shelf, but after a while they dim again. Isn't that so cool?? I'm sure this is a saving Gaia policy and I fully support.
Another place I recommended checking out is Fuzhou Road, otherwise known as Book Street. Since I didn't bring along any book for a good holiday read, I was really itching to get my hands on an English book.
Fuzhou Road is one of Shanghai's oldest roads and has a lot of culture to it; apparently it housed a lot of brothels before. Don't worry, because now it's just a whole hodge-podge of bookshops and stationery shops. So for all you stationery nuts, this is the time to get excited!!
There's 2 particular stores which I liked amongst everything.
The first one is Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore, found at 390 Fuzhou Road. This is just one of the couple bookstores selling foreign books, but it happened to be the first one we found. It was pretty magical to step inside and finally- finally- set eyes on actual English books, and books that even I knew, bestsellers like The Kite Runner and classics.
Though the prices there aren't bargain worthy, I still think the titles are worth a browse, especially the ones on the 3rd floor. They house beautiful coffee-table books on art, fashion designers, famous people, and photographers, and if you're so inclined, the 2nd floor is dedicated to learning / teaching material for academics.
I couldn't resist The Happiness Project, a book I've been wanting to read since last year, and that cost me about 60 yuan, which works out to be $12. That's a decent price, so I'd wager that the costlier books are still slightly cheaper than other places, for what it's worth.
The second shop is just down the road from Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore. I don't know the name exactly, but let's just go with Weng Wu. Though most of it stocks Chinese books, there is a corner at the back of the shop which has some pretty recent English books, with the likes of Steig Larsson, Alexander Mccall Smith, and even Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
This store the absolute game changer. It charges by weight.
I'm pretty damn sure all the English books in there are basically reproduction, so there may be some minor technical errors here and there, but who cares when the books are dirt cheap right?
We picked up 4 titles for less than 100 yuan, which works out to be roughly $5 for each book. IS THAT CRAZY OR CRAZY?? It's like a real life carousell.
Plus, if you're lucky, you will see a little kitty roaming around inside. It just popped into the shop like it knew every nook and cranny. If you see her say hi from me!!
That's all for this post. Until next time,
L / 18 / SG / ACJC
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last updated: 5 september