My favorite place to hang out is the former French Concession. I mention in my previous post that I’m staying at Ms. Polly’s apartment via AirBnB at Luwan District. The apartment is close to Shanghai Metro line 9, Dapuqiao station through the short cut on the back and near Tianzifang.
From the apartment, I walk along to Shaanxi S Rd. to admire the architecture. The former French Concession streets have the most gorgeous view with all the trees. Less pollution and not as crowded, although better watch out for the bicycle powered with electricity battery. They have no sound! And just woosh beside you without as much as a chime.
The style Shikumen (Chinese: t 石庫門, s 石库门, p shíkùmén, Shanghainese: zakumen) or Stone Warehouse Gate is Shanghai olden’ day architecture from the 1860’s, a touch of Western and Eastern elements for townhouse with lane or several lanes/alleys. Tianzifang and Xintiandi are some of the examples for Shikumen architecture, although it’s heavily commercialize as cafe and stores.
Some residential Shikumen still exist though, like the Cite Bourgogne at No. 287, South Shaanxi Rd., and No. 170, West Jianguo Rd., Shanghai. The complex was built in 1930. Bugaoli means Burgundy I think. The Western flare influenced by the new Chinese Architectural Renaissance of the 20’s with stone gates and reinforced concrete structure, two-or-three-storey townhouses. There are less Shikumen now since the locals prefer high rise apartments.
From Shaanxi Rd. turn to Shaoxing Rd. to enjoy more architecture. There are some cafes worth visiting for. Unfortunately my mobile phone was stolen and I lost the photos. But yes there are several cafes here, The Petite Cafe with gorgeous 2nd floor, the Vienna Cafe for authentic Viennese coffee and desserts and Old China Hand Reading Room.
Old China Hand Reading Room is really lovely. The inside is like a library, with rows of books and comfortable seating. They are owned by Ms. Tess Johnson and Mr. Deke Erh. They published books of European and Art-deco heritage in Shanghai and are available for viewing inside.
Speaking of art-deco building. This heritage building was built in 1935 in brick and concrete structure. The decoration is art deco style with a Chinese twist. Formerly the HQ for the Shanghai Kunqu (Chinese: 崑曲) troupe established in 1978 and was no longer there. The building is no longer open.
Forward to Ruijin 2nd Rd. turn to Yongjia Rd. and to Maoming S Rd.
I took a picture of the Shanghai Culture Square (and didn’t take the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin hotel). Both are a contrast of new and old. The Shanghai Culture Square is the state of the art musical theatre for west and east stage plays. InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin hotel in the other hand is a formerly guesthouse for the Shanghai dignitaries and foreign diplomats, including our first President of Indonesia, I.R Soekarno. Now Ruijin Mansion is a hotel with beautiful garden and still retain the architecture of West (British) meet East (Chinese) design of the 20’s. Check our their photographs in the official website for more. I’ll check it out next time. Staying there though might cost an arm and a leg. The location is wonderful. There are boutiques, cafes and restaurants in a nice neighborhood.
Speaking of toilet:
The public toilet is surprisingly clean btw. But just incase, wet wipes.
Moving on from Maoming S Rd and hit the Fuxing Middle Rd. I took a little detour to Gaolan Rd. to see the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.
It was a church before but closed in 1949 because of the world war, China civil war and Culture revolution. Then it was made into restaurants, and currently a coffee shop. When I pass by, it is not open yet. Although the building is protected monument, it’s not well kept. It was built in 1932 by white Russians refugees in Shanghai, honoring St. Nicholas, patron saint of the former Russian Emperor Nicholas II.
Beautiful arches in Russian architecture.
Walking straight and enter Fuxing Park (复兴公园) from the side entrance. The park was known with its French influence garden and was built by the French in 1909. I go here twice, once during this walking tour, and before I go back to Indonesia. In the morning, there are many activities; from the old men playing cards or tai chi masters doing their exercise. It’s also interesting that there are dancers from middle ages and old men and women dance with Shanghai jazz or music from the old days.
I love this French flower garden
Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
I love love love~~ sitting here.
From Fuxing park, going along Sinan Rd. and turn a little to No. 7 Xiangshan Rd. to Shanghai Museum of Sun Yat Sen’s Former Residence in Shanghai.
Dr Sun Yat Sen and his wife, Soon Ching Ling live here from 1918 to 1924. The founder of Kuomintang party (KMT) is a key figure in 1911 revolution to topple the Qing Dynasty (The Last Emperor) with the People’s 3 principles; Nationalism, Democracy and the People’s Livelihood.
The Father of the Nation of the democratic revolution entertains guests from students, the people, dignitaries and foreign ambassadors here. I can’t take photos inside, but it’s an interesting Chinese concrete house, even though it’s a little bit opulent museum. The two-storey building residential home have a sitting room, where he held the conference reiterating the Declaration of Going North, a study (gorgeous gorgeous desk that I would love to have) and bed room. The wooden furnitures arrange in 20’s and 30’s Shanghai Style according to Mrs. Soon’s collections. The accents in some of the halls are gorgeous as well!
The Museum is in the three-storey building designed in European style. It exhibits relics, materials, technological items in Western inclination like electronic sand table is interesting to see and the books of Dr Sun Yat Sen’s Doctrine of Development of China.
The lawn where Dr Sun Yat Sen invited 53 representative of the Nationalist Party from various provinces at September 1922. Among them also present from the members of Communists Party of China (CPC).
Walking along Sinan Rd, there are Sinan Mansions. They are built in the 20’s and have the Western style, art deco garden houses and modern buildings. Mostly I skip this because it’s another cafe/restaurants/modern apartments/fashion stores block and looks empty. But if you have time, the large block area are nice to hang out in out door cafes.
Further down Sinan Rd, the former CPC delegation office was also the former residence of Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China from October 1949 — January 1976.
The French 1920’s style, three-storey building is his house duding 1946 and the Shanghai Office of the Delegates of the CPC in 1946 — 1947.
Again, I can’t take photograph inside. Entering, visitors have to take off their shoes and wrapped their feet with plastic. I guess it’s to keep the area clean and preserve the beautiful residence. Much of the first floor is information and history of the Communist Party of China (CPC), photographs of Zhou Enlai and other political members, telegrams and reports. A lot of spy works, mob and secret police. There’s also a garage with Zhou Enlai’s favorite car, the black Buick, reminiscent of those Chinese gangsters days. The second floor is the reception room for the guests and dignitaries, political and otherwise; minimalist green sofas and limited decor. There’s also a low wooden Chinese tea table with simple 4 wooden stools around it. It might symbolize something, but I don’t know what.
Honestly, I love, love a house like this, with green vines bottom to top, concrete and wood blend together. The residence is rather sparse in decoration, but in the minimalist, there’s a kind of simplicity and calmness in bare necessity. My favorite rooms are on the 2nd and 3rd floor. The 2nd floor has some kind of sun room, sweet floor to ceiling windows to look at the back yard. The 3rd floor have reading room, office and bed rooms, also decorated only necessary furnitures. The beds are thin wooden things with very thin comforter and pillow.
The back yard with the Leader’s statue.
Speaking of spy work, Zhou Enlai was watched by the KMT just slightly across the street a bit down the road. Still visible but not noticeable.
The next option is either go to Xintiandi or Tianzifang. Each will be in separate post.