Year Abroad: Laid Back Streets

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A retreat from the city –  in the city.

A walk through the Antique and Pet Markets of Shanghai one is the most peaceful afternoons I’ve had since I’ve arrived in China.

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ANTIQUES MARKET

Metro Stop: Laoximen Station
Dongtai Lu, enter from Xizang Lu into Liuhe Lu
东台路, 西藏路和浏河路路口

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Dong Tai Lu Antiques Market Shanghai

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Perhaps it’s because I’m a literature student, and spend most of my time lost in the world of books published well before my Grandma was even born, but I feel like these open alleys of antiques is somewhere I was just meant to be.

The wide streets on Dong Tai Lu are besieged on both sides by clutter that pours out from small shop fronts and stalls that line the streets, manned by keen eyed old Chinese on their rickety fold out chairs, critically appraising your knowledge of antiques and eye for a bargain (or lack thereof…).

But it’s quiet, which is an absolute blessing if you’ve been to any of the tourist sites in Shanghai – that seem to come with a mandatory “Watch-Bag, Watch-Bag” man peddling his fake wares. Although the authenticity of the actual antiques in the Antiques Market is mostly questionable, it’s certainly a great place to pick up mementos of a trip to China, delve into the deceptively deep alley shopps, or relax with a 10RMB pot of flower tea and feel very hipster.

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Typewriter Antiques Market Shanghai

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As my friends and I left to head back towards Laoximen metro station, we cross the road and pop our heads into the closing Pet’s Market for a quick scoot around the closing stalls, thankfully devoid of fellow tourists, as the sun set over Shanghai. If you’ve got time to make the visit, I definitely recommend – but keep in mind shops tend to shut in the Market from around 430PM onwards.

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PET MARKET

Metro: Laoximen Station
405 Xizang Nan Lu, near Fangbang Zhong Lu
西藏南路405号, 万商花鸟鱼虫交易市场,近方浜中路

It’s dark, heavy with the smell of animals and even though most of people have left, there’s loud chatter and bustle as the shop and stall keepers pack up their chirruping, barking and snuffling wares for the night. As we make our way round the packed alleyways, it’s with exclamations and croonings – the cages have everything from packed little kittens and multi-coloured birds, to terrapins and turtles and exotic fish in tiny tubs.

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Pots of Tropical Fish, Shanghai

Boxed Bugs Shanghai

Tropical Birds

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As far as animal rights go, I will say that some points did make me a little uneasy, with several kittens and rabbits together in cages slightly too small, and dogs that slept in spaces I’d like to be a but bigger, but it is an honest picture of the attitude towards pets; in the market at least, they’re well kept, but their living standards for the most part, can’t match up to a gardened house in Britain.

It’s a window into the traditional culture surrounding pets in China, and the older generation does make up the majority of the wandering crowds; they take great interest in the crickets – as well as the occasional games of Chinese Chess being played between the narrow stalls.

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All in all though, an excellent de-stress from the bustling city.
Without ever leaving it at all

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Charlotte xx

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