Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shanghai PRC: French Concession Walking Tour

[Sunday May 30]--   We allocated the second of our three days in Shanghai to do a bit of touring-- to see a little of the city, and a bit of shopping.  We decided to follow the Lonely Planet:  Shanghai guide book walking tour of an area called the French Concession.  This is an old part of Shanghai city not far from our hotel.  The French Concession was a district of Shanghai allocated to France by treaty from 1849 to 1943 during the imperialist expansion of western nations into China.  This was an arrangement (similar to the 99 year lease of Hong Kong and Macao to Britain) which allowed the U.S. and European nations to have trade centers and colonies within China.  The arrangement ended with the Japanese invasion of China.  The French Concession district was a stylish and affluent area of Shanghai in the 1900s through the 1920s.
With tour book in hand, and overly confident of finding our way about the city after successful travel on the subway the prior day, way headed for the train, plotted our route, and got off at our desired train stop.  We exited the train station, and were immediately lost.  Not so much lost, but unable to follow and find the path detailed in Lonely Planet.  One thing we have learned in Singapore is that it is important to know which exit from the subway station should be taken--  it is possible to get very disoriented and be a block or more off from your target destination if you do not pay attention to this detail.  Unfortunately Lonely Planet was not forthcoming in providing this very detail in their walking tout.  We ran into a Dutch couple with a guide book in hand, who were also obviously trying to find their bearings too.  After wandering around for a few blocks, we eventually synchronized our location with the walking tour in the guide book, and off we went.
The walking tour leads you to several interesting areas within the district-- a renovated area that is now a POSH restaurant and boutique area, apparently popular with expats and tourists was our first stop.  In this area there was a museum of a classic style house called the Shikuman Long-Tangs (literal translation-- "stone gate") of the district.  The tour leads to several important buildings and parks in the area, including Sun Yat-Sen's house.  (Sun Yat-Sen was the revolutionary leader who helped overthrow the Quing dynasty in 1911 and became the first president of the Nationalist government of China).  The tour also led to Zou Enlai's house, but we skipped this segment.
We had lunch at a wonderful small restaurant at the back of an old hotel grounds, overlooking a pond and garden. By the end of the tour, we were very tired and ready to be back at our hotel. It was a great tour, albeit a very small section of Shanghai.

Graffiti?   I presumed this was graffiti, but possibly not.  It is the only thing like it that I saw--  a relatively clean city, although not to the level of Singapore.  If it is graffiti, I think this displays significantly more talent than the typical tagging seen in the U.S.

A restored building in the Xintiandi boutique/restaurant shop district of the French Concession

Elaine at the entrance of Fuxing Gongyuan Park

A tribute to Westerners?   Marx and Engels of course

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church--  Built in 1936 to service the large number of Russian emigrants coming to Shanghai in the 1930s.  The church escaped demolition during the cultural revolution, and has been used as a restaurant and a washing machine factory.  It currently is closed, and a guard (looking very bored) sits in front to prevent vandalism.

Sun Yat-Sen's residence--  now a museum.

Sun Yat-Sen residence-- front entry

Sun Yat-Sen Residence-- backyard

No trumpet Playing!--  The driveway to an old estate house along the walking tour

Lion (and Lioness) at the hotel/restaurant where we had lunch

Old and the New Shanghai--  Among the 21st century Shanghai, there are still vestiges of older times.  This vendor has his store on the back of his bicycle.  The cart is overloaded with brooms, dusters, mops, etc.  The Fuller Brush Man?  The woman is apparently a local customer who came out of the nearby building to make a purchase. There are also scrap collectors that use similar manual transport, moving about the shops collecting cardboard and plastic for recycling.

Moller House-- Swedish shipping magnate Eric Moller built this house, finally completed in 1949.  It housed the Communist Youth League for a while, and is now a hotel.  Moller delayed finishing its construction, having been told by a fortune teller he would meet his demise upon its completion .  He died in a plane crash in 1954.

Jingjiang Hotel--  (ca 1931)  The Shanghai diplomatic community were held under house arrest during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in 1941.

Lobby of the Okura Garden Hotel (ca 1921)  Art Deco hotel in the French Concession

Russian Orthodox Mission Church-- (ca 1931)

Sensible Shoes-- High fashion in Shanghai.  Hot pink and overalls.

Donghu Hotel--  Not quite the Great Wall of China, but fairly imposing.  This estate, with imposing iron walls was once the home of a reputed gangster of Shanghai.  Now a hotel.

Birds are a traditional pet for the Chinese--  they often accompany their owner to tea houses when out on the town, and displayed in ornate cages (these are not the ornate cages).  These birds were just hanging around outside a shop. 

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