On the second day evening, we headed to Xintiandi (新天地) for shopping and dinner. Upon arrival, we were given around an hour free time to shop and told to assemble back at a modern east-west fusion restaurant called T8 for dinner and also to meet the trio from Expedition 206.
These three guys must have everyone’s dream jobs – to travel to 206 cities where Coca-Cola is sold in 365 days and learn how the locals live their lives. How cool is that?
This is my second visit to Xintiandi. The first time I visited was back in 2005 and the area was still under construction. Now, it’s full of giant high-rise malls touting luxury brands like LV and Cartier.
Xintiandi is composed of an area of restored traditional shikumen (“stone gate”) houses on narrow alleys, some adjoining houses which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls. Most of the cafes and restaurants feature both indoor and outdoor seatings. Xintiandi has an active nightlife on weekdays as well as weekends, though romantic settings are more common than loud music and dance places. Xintiandi means “New Heaven and Earth”, and is considered one of the first lifestyle centers in China.
The area was developed by Shui On Land during the re-development of the surrounding area, when similar shikumen houses were demolished wholesale. The houses in Xintiandi were then restored, and now house an art gallery, cafes, and restaurants. The marketing of xintiandi is mainly targeted towards overseas visitors, especially visitors from Hong Kong, who seek to experience the romanticised atmosphere of old Shanghai. As a result, prices in this area are high, even by international standards. Eating or shopping in this area is seen as a status symbol by affluent local residents. Many tour groups both domestic and from abroad also visit Xintiandi as one of the main attractions in Shanghai.
I am not a fan of luxury brands as they are way out of my price range. Hence I headed for the smaller shops and malls with Walter. We were intrigued by some of the local copycat brands that seem to be established brands in their own right too in China. Otherwise, the place is much like other high end shopping belts in major cities. I bought a reversible vest for myself and an umbrella at an Uniqlo outlet.
Thereafter, Walter and I headed back to T8 where most of the other bloggers are already gathered. I had a lovely evening chatting with the many bloggers and other delegates from around the world. I only managed to speak briefly to the Expedition 206 trio as they were on a tight schedule. They were extremely friendly though, always with a ready smile to pose for photographs. I forgot to take a photo with them… you can check out the Expedition 206 website to get to know Tono, Kelly and Tony.
The food at T8 was fantastic. Particularly the beef tenderloin main course which leaves me craving for more.
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel.
As I was still relatively awake, I decided to head out to buy supper and also explore The Bund area at night.
It was interesting to note that the street vendors touting fake Haibao (海宝)(the Shanghai Expo mascot) soft toys are out in full force after dark. Every street I turn, there’s a couple of them hawking the blue creature, hidden in black trash bags.
Street food hawkers, not visible in the day were also out prowling the streets. A few wary looking pimps also approached me asking if I wanted any female companionship for the night, which I pretended not to hear with my iPod ear plugs on.
While the tourists sleep, an army of cleaners and construction workers come out to work in full force in the wee hours of the night. The clean streets and spanking new buildings sprouting up one after another in Shanghai do not miraculously appear from thin air. These people made it possible.
In the end, I bought a sweet and sour pork burger from the local McDonald. This is not available in Singapore’s McDonald restaurants which are halal. At McDonald, I saw many ragged homeless folks sitting in a corner, probably to escape the cold outside and find a place to sleep.
On my walk back, I noticed the beautiful lighting at The Bund (外滩) area are mostly switched off after midnight. That’s a good move to conserve energy.
I made myself a hot water bath when I got back to my hotel room. After a relaxing soak, I tucked myself in, looking forward to visiting the Shanghai Expo the next day. Stay tuned for my next update. 🙂
My previous posts on Shanghai with Coca-Cola:
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