A walk around Shanghai Dongtai road antique market and Wanshang Huaniao Market.

For two years, we rode pass Dongtai street market but never have a chance to visit it properly. With a bit of time, good weather and some energy left (believe me you need both strong mental and physical energy to be walking in SH once you living here, those in Shanghai will understand me), we decided to hit the market.


The market is a series of small stalls selling ‘antique’ knick knacks, ornaments and furnitures. The stuffs are interesting but not unique. You can find this in other shops across the city but it is perfect for visitor who does not have the luxury of time to hunt them around town. It’s a little pricier than the average so you will see more of the tourists than the local.


You can get your own name carved out in stone stamp. They will first convert your name to Chinese character. Even though there are four tones in Chinese pronunciation but there are not many variety of sounds. So you will end up with something that vaguely resemble you name. Take David, for example, is Da Wei in Chinese (大卫: Dà wèi). John is 约翰:Yuēhàn which is basically taken from the native name of Johan.

Sometimes, they can also use translation in combination with the phonetic substitution for instant Starbucks is Xīng bā kè. Xing means Star in chinese.


These objects look great in Western context or if you are living in a refurbished colonial lane houses. They look hideous in Chinese house though. Most of the Chinese people also don’t like to have Chinese style interior. They rather prefer to have a neo-classical style interior- you know french renaissance and Roman column.




So then, this market is too expensive and not popular for the chinese and the tourist can’t carry large stuffs home. We are left with a small chunk of market – the expat. But the expat who lives here for sometime can tell you, we are chinese adapted. That means we don’t want to pay more than other places. So we haggle for 10% of the price. If that isn’t successful, we are willing to go across town, paying 50yuan for a taxi ride to get the same thing 35yuan cheaper. Chinese logic to you all.


To find something a bit more local, you just need to walk down a street to XiZhang nan lu. There is a plant and bird market which is more affordable.


You can buy pet crickets, grasshoppers of all sort of sizes. They come with their own container which you can carry and listen to while on the move. It’s a traditional iPhone with the sound of nature before the animal right era.
I went to buy 10 of them last year and set them free in the compound’s garden. I hope they survive the winter.



They also sell songbirds here. With the bird flu endemic, people here don’t seem to be worried. They are more expensive to set free though. Walking the pet bird is one of the most favourite pastime in China dated back to Qing Dynasty. Old people tend to carry the cage to meet up with their fellow birdmen, often at a local park, early in the morning. The birds and the men both get to go out and socialise.


Bird on a leash.




This was one of the rare occasions when the sky was quite clear.  The sun was setting and it looked like it was going to be a nice evening so we decided to explore the old Yuyuan neighbourhood.




Yuyuan is a old fabric of Shanghai lined with small alley ways and lane houses or Shikumen. It’s where you can actually see Shanghai lives. It is our favourite place but the government probably see this as an embarrassment, backward side of the society. They try very much to demolish and change it to high-end apartment complex. Luckily there are strong opposition from the people who is living here demanding high compensation as they will get moved outside of the city.




Before I leave Shanghai, I will definitely come here again for a proper shoot. It is an exciting place and I suspect the local opposition will not remain for long after this generation. So I am recording key historical image here.



More to come