Friday, July 27, 2012

About Shanghai

  There are a few things I really like about Shanghai on our recent trip. Normally work trips to Shanghai are an in-and-out affair. But this time, we combined it with a weekend since both G and I were coincidentally there the same week for work.  
So my love for Chinese calligraphy and painting combined with a dress into wearable art. Here beautiful lotuses handpainted on a charcoal grey linen dress, the cut is simple and doesn't need much more when you have art. Oh yes and that's Snowy peeking out, he is my usual travel companion because he is small, cute and compact. He's not too pleased to be seen in a dress though...

 The little individual shops in Shanghai are a delight. As I always say, a mall is a mall is a mall. No matter where you go. Hence I try to avoid malls and hit the little individual shops. This was a Chinese teahouse on an old Shanghainese street. We were slghtly doubtful that it was actually a teahouse because it did appear too funky and modernised and (especially because) it had that capitvating mural of dollies in cheongsams.

 Architecture in Shanghai is an amazing affair. Taller, higher, shinier! The modern buildings are pretty awesome but the old Shanghainese buildings are as interesting if not more. I have walked down the Bund admiring the beautiful colonial buildings, and stopped to read every plaque affixed, telling its history. But this was my first time to the French Concession area which boasts also of the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings. Lovely.

 Cool little bars and cafes on this hip little street we tried so hard to find, and were almost giving up after much "discussion". Yong Kang Road is where all the white people congregate. On that street, you can almost believe you aren't in China. This little bar, with its vintage interior and very clever use of repurposed, upcycled egg cartons for papering over the ceiling for acoustics and aethestics, vintage luggages propping up the bar, definitely won us over easily.

 A slice of local life, unpretentious, every day living is always interesting to the outsider looking in, even for a brief moment. Here, residents set up little folding tables and chairs and pass time playing a game of Chinese chess. Others sit or stand around observing, as with this man probably mulling over a move. You see sights like middle-aged men with their singlets rolled up above their bellies sitting around in easy chairs on the pavement outside their houses. I think that is their strategy for keeping cool. Isn't this fun?

Finally, we close with a dress since we started with a dress. Shanghainese tailors are renowned for their skills. The fabric market is another wonderful place to spend many hours, wandering around, fingering beautiful fabrics, flipping through design books, talking to the shopkeepers and tailors. For the price of an off-the-rack shirt or dress at home, you can get gorgeous, tailored outfits. You just need to ensure you have enough time to try, give clear instructions, check the finished outfit, wait for revisions and then you will be the best-dressed person amongst your friends when you get home.

Shanghai - we will definitely be back for another leisurely trip.

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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Stop And Look

 Often we are so busy with wok and life that we don't have the luxury of time to observe simple things around us, of what Mother Nature has created. But when we stop for a moment and actually take that time to observe, what beauty we see...

A vibrantly coloured grasshopper perched on the gate, even if it first gives you a big shock, you can't help but admire the lively coat it has. What a beaut.

You admire it for a brief moment while contemplating how to get through your own front door (because it is quite big and scary), and then the problem is solved for you because the gorgeous work of Nature flies off back into its natural surroundings.
Or you go for a walk and notice this flowering tree, all up and down its trunk, the pretty orangey-red flowers, with little green buds and fruit, interspersed between the leafy foliage.

We just need to stop a little, look a little. And then get back into our busy, frantic work and lives.

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