Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CHINATOWN OF CHINA: SHANGHAI OLD TOWN

Jiu Qu Bridge
Ever wondered if there is Chinatown in China? Redundant and stupid as the question may appear but it needs to be addressed. While not openly declared and given the title "Chinatown of China", Old City of Shanghai preserved at Nanshi, Huangpu District, makes it the chinatown of China on all its facets and quadrants.

The various merchandise of who knows where was invented greeted me as soon as I entered the complex. It feels like being in Divisoria of Metro Manila only that an unfamiliar language emanates and that the chinky-eyed dominates the nook and corner of this vast walled complex.  The everything "Made in China" distributed all over the world is housed at this Old Town of Shanghai.

shops aligned flocked by varied tourists
As an old business district, the fusion of tourist attractions, entertainment and cultural exhibits is apparent.  It is said that the shops layout and architecture were designed dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and that the rich commercial background traces its roots to the fact that the earliest banks, gold shops, jeweler's shop, wine and tea house were once upon a time situated here.

featuring the interiors of the Yu Yuan Old Street
Bargaining is surely an innate skill of a Filipino.  For every shop and stall entered, the calculator would be the first object to be asked or you could bring one to be prepared at all times.  Once you've found the item to be purchased, input the amount desired as discounted price and if it gets rejected, turn around and inform the sales lady "I'll go back. It's expensive." Count one to five... then, the saleslady will immediately grab your hand and accede to your request.  This instance happened to me on at least five stalls while buying souvenirs and gifts for friends back home.  Who knows it might work for you as well.

a vendor demonstrates his wares for sale

facade of a commercial building - Song Yun Tower



The Shanghai Old Town complex houses two of the most important structures of Shanghai - a garden and a temple.

Yu or Yuyuan Garden

Pavillion of Listening to Billows
As the classical gardens of Suzhou were my constant sight for the past few days in China, the visit to Yu Garden became an ordinary one with no sense of surprise and extra excitement.  This at least holds true for me given my circumstance then but the gardens of Shanghai is still worth the visit, don't get me wrong.

at one of the pavilions of the garden

the pavilion that greets visitors
Gray tiled ridges terminated on each wall with a resemblance of a dragons head on the edges separates each area of the vast Yuan Garden.  Varied rock formations that surround the Yu complex is likewise a constant view. With an admission fee of 30 Yuan, surely the visit to Yuyuan garden is quite reasonable giving each visitor the chance to imagine how life was during the ancient Chinese civilization.

featuring the dragon's head

framed pavillion
City God Temple



The fragrance produced by the smoke of the incense filled the air as I entered the temple after paying the minimal admission fee.  The temple is surrounded by a large commercial complex, which makes it a complete contrast from the bustle of the area.


The temple apart from being an involuntary museum is a place for worship.  Wandering within the vicinity, the varied life-sized statue of Gods of the ancient Chinese civilization are displayed in the hallways, whose eyes seem to scrutinize every passer-by displaying a stern look that can order anyone who disturbs the tranquility of the place evicted.




Historically, many walled cities in ancient China contained a temple dedicated to one or more immortal Gods as the spirit or protectors of the City.  Today, the walled City houses all of those immortal Gods and does not necessarily refer to the large temple complex but the traditional district of commerce surrounding the temple.


Being alone in this trip, I don't have to worry about the itineraries and wait for my companions as they buy gifts from varied shops as I have to depend on my own and explore the complex according to my own pace.


Shanghai Old Town is indeed one of the places to buy merchandise at a bargained price like any other Chinatown in the world.  It is distinct from others nonetheless for the reason that the rich culture and heritage of the Chinese empire is incorporated on such a vast shopping center.

2 comments :

  1. Ganda ng mga kuha. Gusto ko mag-Chinatown kapag may budget for food and shopping hehe :D I'd rather go alone kung shopping.

    The cleanest Chinatown I've seen is in Yokohama, Japan. Up next po sa http://www.senyorita.net #plugging :))

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