As with all my work trips, I try to incorporate some element of exploration. That’s what keeps me going in this job really, the opportunity to enjoy travelling while working. The first time here we explored the usual touristy stuff – The Bund, the Financial Tower, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Pedestrian Walking Street. The 2nd time here, I checked out the 水乡 which I should have gone this year instead, the weather today was so much better. So this year, I decided to go on the walking tour of the French Concession area.
It was largely following this route I found online. Very detailed instructions though I almost missed some turns along the way, I attribute that to my own lousy sense of direction.
Followed the route starting at Huangpi South station (Line 1, Exit 1), just 1 station away from my hotel.
First stop: Xintiandi
The last time we did drop by for a bit, but it was a weekday evening and it didn’t seem to exciting, or rather it was (still is) more like a chill out bar area, great for those who enjoy pubs and drinking sessions. This will be where Cocktails & Calories will be held if Mensa Singapore had it here. I didn’t spend too much time here, cause it’s mainly eateries and very much international fare.
From here I walked on, skipping the Communist Party Museum, not my kind of thing, and headed towards the Park. Along the way, at junction of Huangpi South road and Huaihai Road, I found a Chinese version of the Shibuya crossing
It is here that I found a nice shopping mall with clean toilets haha. Good pee break point before moving on, heading down a few streets before passing thru this Pedestrian Bridge that was mentioned in the blog route
And trying out the hole-in-wall establishment that was recommended in the same post
Its slightly on the right of the street after you cross the Bridge. The post initially mentioned Radish Cake and I was imagining the Dim Sum style of pan fried Carrot cake but it turned out to be like a fried spring roll filled with radish only. It’s not too bad, just RMB3 for a piece and if you’ve walked this far, just drop by and get one.
But what really caught my attention was this bakery right beside it. In fact the whole time I was there it’s all I smell! The smell of fresh Danish cookies, though it’s some Harbin brand haha. Unfortunately they didn’t look like they would sell by piece, everyone else was buying in big bags and there were sadly no testers so I left disappointed. But later in the night I found them at another place in Nanjing East Rd (see below)
Walking along Yandang Road into Fixing Park
It was lovely day to go walking in the park actually, watching the locals go along their routines, dancing and singing in open spaces, surrounded by beautiful fresh flowers. The roses in the Rose Garden were in full bloom and huge!
They even have a mini Children’s theme park within the area for the little ones
Exiting from Gaolan exit/entrance, heading towards Sinan road, I went into the longest section of the day
Was supposed to check this out along the way but turns out they now charged for entry so I decided to give it a miss and move along to Tianzifang, which I ended up spending most of my time today, spending time browsing thru shops instead of just walking along the street
It’s a cramped maze filled with little craft shops, souvenirs, onsite caricature, customised doll figurines etc and food places selling anything and everything including imported stuff like Hongkong’s egg roll pancakes, Korean food and even Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice and this Taiwanese ice cream that I fell victim to
Instagram-worthy but not exactly calorie-worthy, but I probably walked enough to indulge a little.
Having not had lunch, I kind of snacked thru it with stuff like these. Was first attracted by the cute buns on display but eventually got what they recommended as most popular. The Lo Mai Kai was a tad disappointing but the one in the crab shell was yummy!
One can easily spend an hour or more here; me being alone, spent just over an hour here. By then I was tired and decided to skip the rest of the route and just go along the street till I hit the next metro station to head back.
This used to be the site of the Former French Concession Courthouse and now transformed into a Police station. Am I the only one who thinks this looks like a scene from one of those Jacky Chan police story movies? That’s why I took the picture haha.
Along Ruijin Road 2, I headed into the mall for toilet break before heading back for a short nap till the stomach growls.
Went to check out Raffles City Mall which is a short walk away from my hotel. Seems like it’s mostly the luxury brands here so not much shopping to be done but the food section in the basement has quite some local fav like Awfully Chocolate but also international fare like Carl’s Junior and Secret Recipe.
Didn’t find anything exciting so in the end I went back to Pedestrian Walking Street for dinner.
This is just right at the junction from the hotel going into Pedestrian Walking Street. You order at Level 2, pay and the food will be delivered. Looked so promising on the ground floor but so disappointing. Service is bad and the dumpling skin is too thick and soup not flavourful at all. Chenghuang Miao Nanxiang, just across the street in the Food Hall is so much better!
Being unsatisfied I went around looking for other things to eat. Went into the Food Hall and smelt the same bakery smell I experienced this morning
The cookies are sold by weight but they do allow single pieces too! So I just bought 3 to try which cost RMB3.80 in all. I can only say it smells better than it tastes haha. The sesame one is not bad but the other 2 are abit disappointing.
Went up to 3rd floor seeking alternatives and found this Old school Shanghai Shaomai stall, new one as I didn’t remember seeing it last year but unfortunately they were sold out (that was like just 810pm?!)
So in the end I went back along Guangxi Bei Lu to see if any eateries had anything not too heavy but interesting that called out to me. And I eventually settled for this
I’ve actually tried this 2 yrs back but at another area and it was more fluffy. This one here is thinner but also more crisp. The stall owner was nice enough to offer me a photo of the inside as she heated it up for me. The tub is made of wood but on the inside powered by charcoal.
With that, the weather started turning chilly so I decided to call it a day and rest early for a long day tomorrow.
End of a really mini holiday weekend and start of the real work.