In part, I’ve learned to like Shanghai for its contradictions. On the one hand you can witness the hyper elite business obsessed masses like in any other metropolis, but on the other hand, an untamed counterculture of art types and transients plague the scene. You can easily see huge concrete structures at every turn, and in progress, right next to old land houses, surely due to be plowed somewhere in the near future. In the chaos of the big city, I’ve found a sanctuary in the small boutique shops of the French concession that equally embody this contradiction. Scaled down to size, the confusing yet intriguing inherent paradoxes seem more manageable when applied to play (and in the day). Around line 1’s Shaanxi Nan Lu stop, you can hop off and just waste a Saturday window-shopping, imagining, and clearing your mind of the hectic week. Anything from an extremely indiscernible knock-off Hervé Leger dress (at a steep price of 980RMB no less), probably only suitable for a playboy mansion party, to quirky one-of-a-kind finds, you can discover here. Prices range from the oober cheap, to the out-of-anyone’s-price-point. Playing dress-up can be a relaxing and fun way to get away, without having to leave the city in this hip cool area. Pieces vary from something Madonna might have worn in the 80’s, to the recently trending massive metallic bangles and necklaces. An afternoon in Shanghai’s French concession can also serve to practice your Chinese speaking and listening skills, or feed your ego by way of shopkeepers complementing your looks or language level. Ah yes, boutique window shopping here will be sure to get you out of your lonesome Shanghai funk, and put a little more pep in your step for the new week to come. And who knows? You may just find something you actually want to take home!
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