No, it’s not a Gene Hackman movie. Back in the 19th century, when the Western powers entered Shanghai, the British settled in the “Bund” area of the city, and the French in what’s now the “French Concession”.
Owing to a miscommunication between me and my newly-acquired scam-artist friends, I took line 8 south instead of line 2 west, resulting in a healthy walk to the Concession. When I looked in a storefront window and saw an overpriced yet recognizable (and, ultimately, quite tasty) pastry, I knew this was the right place.
I wandered into what I thought was a random alleyway, only to discover it was Tianzifang, one of the most popular outdoor shopping venues in the city. Filled with small shops and art galleries, its maze of narrow walkways gives it the appearance of an upscale street market.
The prices are not street however. The only item that interested me was a beanie to keep my tóu (头) warm. With her trusty calculator, a shopgirl quoted me 180 rmb ($30); as I walked away, the price dropped in half. (I ended up buying the same hat, sans ‘stussy’ logo, for $3.)
On the way back to the metro I ambled through a more typical modern shopping area. I don’t know which part of the courtyard appealed to me more: the Jewish star snowflake, or the octopus sitting atop a soccer ball in the corner.
Next stop: Pudong New Area!