Walkabout / Fangbang Xi Lu

When asked what I “like to do”, I often say that I like to walk.  Usually, the questioner assumes that I didn’t understand the question or that I am being a smarty-pants.  But, it is true: I like to walk.  It’s the best way to see a city.  

So, I have been doing lots of walking here in Shanghai.  I’ve found that like many cities, it can be easiest to understand Shanghai as a collection of streets, rather than neighbourhoods or precincts or suburbs.   Streets hold their own character and history, distinct from those around it.   

This is the western (Xi) end of Fangbang Road (Lu).  It’s one of the first streets I walked through when I arrived two years ago, and it’s very typical of Shanghai’s old city area.

It mostly consists of laneway housing, with shopfronts along the street edge punctuated by perpendicular laneways that give access to walk-up apartment buildings behind.

The architecture is distinctly Shanghainese, especially these little dormer windows on most buildings.

And, like many streets in the old city, it’s a highly active and chaotic place, with all the sights and smells and noises you could possibly want. 

With shops and restaurants spilling onto the street, the footpaths have been given over to the activities of commerce.  This is an integrated food storage/waste management/vehicle parking structure for the restaurant behind.  I guess you have to know it’s there, having practically no street frontage. 

Similarly, it takes a keen eye to spot the hairdresser’s shop here … given away by the spinning (in theory, at least) barber’s pole.

Along Fangbang Xi Lu, pedestrians are forced onto the street, to do battle with with cars and scooters and stray cats.

These chairs and tables are stored for muchof the day, and unpacked for the afternoon/evening rush.

 Hygiene freaks need not eat here.  An assortment of bowls full of cold water are used to “wash” dirty dishes as well as green vegetables. 

Produce carefully stacked upon box and bucket, constructed and deconstructed at the start and end of each day.


Within the randomness,you can usually find some sense of order or logic.

It could almost be called art.

Or not.  This is one of those kid’s rides, featuring a very popular cartoon character, Pleasant Goat.

Heading east, the street kinks, signalling the change from Xi (west) to Zhong (middle) Road.

It also marks the shift from ramshackle old-style buildings to overscaled apartment developments, and further along, the faked up tourist zone of Yuyuan Bazaar.  Those things I won’t bother showing … against the charm of the old street, they don’t impress me that much.




4 Responses to Walkabout / Fangbang Xi Lu

  1. nonoymanga says:

    Great collection of street Photography. I enjoy my time looking at the pictures. Good Day Nonoy Manga

  2. Pingback: Walkabout / Fangbang Dong Lu « That Look Crayzy!

  3. bitbot says:

    Ew, not that Pleasant!

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