Friday, November 12, 2010

Taikang Lu

Taikang Lu also known as Tian Zi Fang is a rabbit warren of small,narrow alleys and lanes or longtang consisting of traditional shikumen houses.These typically two or three story houses (shikumen) were a cross between English style terrace housing (think Coronation Street type homes) and traditional Chinese interior courtyard buildings.To the front of the building was usually found a stone gate frame supporting two wooden doors.
Due to redevelopment and demolition many of these buildings and lanes have been replaced by high rise apartment blocks and more modern,bland buildings.

Within the alleys many of the shikumen have been converted in shops,art galleries,bars,cafes and restaurants.There are still families and people living in some of the houses.You can see laundry strung out along some lanes which gives the place a lived in,community feel.It seems a more friendly and humane environment than the huge towering buildings that loom outside the area.

Its best to visit the area like most tourist spots in Shanghai early in the day.Before the rush and crush of unruly tourist groups make it difficult to negotiate the lanes with your good humor intact.Before the touts try your patience and ask for the umpteenth time whether you want a watch.Before you get badgered by an insistent waiter who clutches your arm and tries to frog march you into their restaurant.

The final two shots show more of the lanes that crisscross the area.Its an area worth a morning or afternoon visit with lots of cafes and restaurants to provide refreshments or morning tea and lunch.There are also some interesting shops selling postcards, jewellery and other arty boutiques to browse through.
The nearest subway stop is Dapuqiao on Line 9 of the subway.

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