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Spend an afternoon strolling Shanghai while taking in the bizarre and bazaars

I miss antique markets and flea markets. I suppose it is mostly a Western thing – you see them in Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles. My personal favourite being a NYer was the Chelsea Weekend Flea Market. These are the kind of places where you can find old kitschy items, vintage jewellery and clothing, mismatched china and objets d’art at bargain basement prices. Some of it is crap and some of it is cool, and that’s the fun…hunting through the crap to find that the precious needle in a haystack. These don’t really exist in Asia – except in China. Why is that? Well the market concept is alive and healthy as evidenced by the famous Chatuchak Bangkok market and others. But I have observed that most cultures in Asia simply aren’t interested in old things. In developing countries in Asia it seems they put more emphasis on the new than the old. I suppose it makes sense, but it is also a little sad. Most of the Asian art and antique dealers dealers are…gasp….Western. I went to a so called “flea market in Singapore” and it was a whole bunch of people selling new, locally designed clothing. Want to give your old clothing away to a vintage store in Thailand or Singapore? Well, you cannot because they aren’t any. But in China there is still a modicum of respect for the old and certainly an appetite for the new, and this is reflected in the vibrant market scene that abounds in Shanghai.

We started out on a brisk weekend winter morning and with a view to spend the day covering the Shanghai antique market scene. It’s completely walkable, approx 2 – 2.5km, and frankly there’s sometimes no better way to explore a city than on foot.

YuYuan Bazaar & Jiu Jiao Chang  & Fangbang Road
Only a few minutes walk from the Bund (We usually stay at the Westin Bund Center Shanghai) lies theYu Yuan Gardens and Bazaar and Jin Jiao Road area. This area called Old Town is one of the few remaining traditional old areas in Shanghai, full of dark alleys and mysterious alcoves, bustling street life and crowded lanes. Stroll down Jiu Jiao Chang Road and take it all in.

What you will find: A mix of old, new and reproductions. Curio stores. Tea shops. Tourist / souvenir shops. Be careful because some reproductions are sold as “antiques.” I bought a lovely set of reproduction calligraphy brushes and a stand at Da Zhong handicraft.

Joanna checks the conversion price on a set of brushes