Monday, July 12, 2010

Qibao Ancient Town & Xinyuan Tea House


七宝古镇 (Qībǎo gǔ zhèn), or Qibao Ancient Town.

From the silk centre, our adventure continued by paying a visit to a quaint little thousand-year-old town, Qibao Ancient Town (七宝古镇 Qībǎo gǔ zhèn), about two-square kilometers in size, located approximately 20 kilometers from the Shanghai city centre.  This old town is not only popular among foreign tourists, as the Shanghai folks usually pay this place a visit during the weekends as well.

Although we had just spent less than twenty-four hours since we touched down in Shanghai, we have had enough of the traffic jam, hazy atmosphere, noises from vehicles and the local folks that made it seemed as if they were using loud-speaker every time they open their mouth, which literally plague every single corner of the city. Paying a visit to this spiritual sanctuary at least gave us some breathing space from all those disturbance.


Globalisation has brought this convenience store all the way from Japan to this little ancient town.


Qibao Old Street was the location we were heading to.


We were busy snapping pictures while walking, leaving the poor tour guide so far ahead of us haha!

As the only ancient town forming part of greater Shanghai, this town was built in the Five Dynasties Period around one thousand years ago, where the town had witnessed great development in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126), and flourished in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911).

"Qibao" (七宝) in Chinese means seven treasures, and there are two popular theories about its derivation. The more reliable source says that the name originates from the Qibao Temple, famed for its good reputation. It was this that contributed to the growth of business and culture of the previously unknown town.


This old town can be crossed by two canals, and tourists can experience riding on the traditional wooden boats along the canal.


Around the canals, a large number of well-preserved traditional houses, gardens, temples, shops and restaurants can be spotted.

The other theory seems more popular among the local people who tell folk tales about seven treasures found around the area - a Gold Lotus Sutra Scripture written by an imperial concubine of the 10th century, a Chinese Catalpa Magic Tree, dating back to one thousand years ago, a Big Bronze Bell Floated from Afar, dating from the Ming Dynasty, an iron Buddha Flown over from Afar, a Gold Cockerel, a pair of Jade Chopsticks, and a Jade Axe.

But according to history, only four of them - the Gold Lotus Sutra Scripture, the Big Bronze Bell, the Chinese Catalpa Magic Tree, and the Golden Cockerel actually once existed, while two of the four (the Scripture and the Bell) have survived till today.


Stall selling gem stones by the canal.

Errr, sorry to bore you with my short History class about this ancient town.

Just like our very own historical town of Malacca, this little ancient town has been given an uplift recently to further boast its tourism potential. As the old street in the heart of this tiny town is the epitome of old Shanghai, the streets has been restored to its original look,  which is consisted of two sections - southern and western lesser streets.


七宝老街 (Qibao Old Street).


Stalls selling the local snacks and delicacies on both sides of the narrow street.

The southern part filled with traditional restaurants serving various tasty snacks is a paradise for gourmets. The great variety of snacks will definitely attract anyone's eye and tempt our palette when we are walking the streets of the old town. Colourful and appetizing, it would be such a waste if we resist the temptation to try them. After all, one main part of traveling to a new place is to try on the local delicacies, isn't it?

Old shops selling art crafts, antiques and calligraphy works occupy the western part. In this part, visitors will find the Qibao Pharmaceutical stores, a-thousand-year-old shop, some fine tea houses, and Shadow Play Opera theaters.

The old, time-worn stone roads and narrow lanes left by the Song Dynasty, while the temples, gardens, pavilions, houses has been well preserved from Ming and Qing Dynasty, which features black-bricked walls, elegantly decorated tiles.


Chinese version of lemang, called taiguo-xiangjiao-zhu (泰国香蕉竹), which literally translate to "Thailand's banana bamboo" haha!


Tiger's claw. Maybe Malacca can copy this idea and sell some kueh which looks like a kancil's (mouse-deer) ear too.  


Sea coconuts and jack fruits, which were in abundance along this street.


Young roasted chicken and other exotic food. I will never consume these, even if I'm paid to eat them. It's just too heartless to do that to those baby chicks.


Home-made bak zhang or zong zhi (粽子). 


It looks different from the tetrahedral shape we usually see, which is common in southern China. These cylindrical zong zhi are usually found in northern China.


The taste was not bad, but I still prefer the ones in Malaysia hehe!

One annoying thing that I notice about the local people, especially the guys is their tendency to flip up their shirt in public. I know it is summer and it is super hot now, but don't-lah do free shows in public. If you got a nice body, then that's a different story altogether.

It is like a culture for them to do it, regardless of age and place. Some went even further by unbuttoning their shirts and left their shirt open while walking happily along the streets. The worst case of all is that I saw some ah pek who just couldn't be bothered about what people might think about them; they just walked freely on the street half-naked haha wtf!


Pak cik separuh bogel lol!

We ignored the naked uncles and headed to another stall to have the famous smelly tofu. I know, it sounds weird to be paying for something which smells like fart, but just for the sake of experience, we decided to give it a try. There were two stalls right next to each other, but the ones on the left enjoy much better business than the one on the right. No idea why is that so, but this reminds me to the couple of cendol stalls in Penang Road.

It was during this time when I faced another uncivilised attitude of the local people. When they were buying the tofu, they would just stick their body from behind, without bothering to queue-up properly. If they are not given the tofu after they made their payment, their impatient nature would make them shouting away, demanding for their tofu, which makes you feel as if you are at a fish market haha wtf!


I think the tofu of the stall on the right is too smelly that nobody dares to buy from there haha!


2 RMB (RM 1) for four pieces of smelly tofu.


It's usually eaten with chilly sauce and brown sweet sauce.


Another prove that Chinaman loves to strip in public =.=


That guy in purple t-shirt die die also wanna be inside this picture haha wtf!


Do you know what is this? Make a random guess if you don't read Chinese.

On our way out from the old town and waiting to board the bus, Kai Cung showed me something by the street. At first, I didn't know what it was; I thought it was a door bell or something, since it was placed on a wall in front of the entrance of an apartment. I didn't believe him when he told me what it was, until I took a closer look at it. I wonder who would dare to use something that is bought from such poorly kept vending machine. Confirm mission fail one haha!

We were just halfway through the day, but before we headed to the next destination, we went to recharge our stomach first. Lunch was local Sichuan cuisine in some hotel at the city centre. The funny thing happened during the lunch was the guessing game that the Japanese had on every single dish served. They stared and smelled on them for a good few seconds, before putting the food into their mouth haha! There's this dish, pickled Chinese cabbage or mui choy, and after tasting it, they told their friends that it's a kind of leaf lol!

Looking at them guessing on every dishes is already interesting enough haha!


Four of Kai Cung's six god-mothers, who shared the same table with us. They damn love to talk to Kai Cung every time they're together lol!


Some of the dished served for our lunch.


Tofu with black fungus and peanuts. This one was not bad.


Xiao long bao (小籠包), a popular dish in Shanghai, which was also only average.


Posing in front of the mini bus, which took us around the places during our trip.


Right after our dinner, a heavy downpour suddenly hit Shanghai and our plans to visit several more places were in doubt.


Local folks taking shelter underneath the pedestrian bridge. Again, some guys lifted their shirts up.


This one is even worse; crossing the roads half-naked haha wtf!

Our next stop was Xinyuan Tea House.

We were a bit worried that we will get wet once we got down from the bus while walking to that tea house, since the rain was still quite heavy outside. Our tour guide however, assured us that nobody will get wet, since the walk takes less than fifteen seconds upon getting down from the bus. We counted and his word was true, it took us only twelve seconds to reach the main door of the tea house haha!

Nothing much interesting during our visit here, besides being shown the demonstration of the preparation of tea by some Chinese girls clad in bright red cheongsam.


Various kinds of teas on the shelves.


The girl, who was assigned to our table to show us the process of preparing tea.


Taking out some tea leaves.


Pour in some hot water.


Then, pour them into the little tea cups.


We wanted to take these cups of tea to drink, only to be told by that girl that we don't drink the tea prepared in the first round.


This is the second round tea, and this time, we got to taste it.


Many kinds of tea on offer.

We were earlier told that there is one stall in the town that sells the most delicious xiao long bao in Shanghai. The bad news however, is that that stall is always filled with long-queues of people wanting to get a taste of the tasty xiao long bao. So, we won't have free time to get them by ourselves, as our itinerary was already packed.

Fortunately, the kind assistant of our guide went to queue-up for us while we were touring the ancient town earlier that afternoon, and she managed to buy a couple of boxes of xiao long bao from that stall for all of us.


The famous Shanghai xiao long bao.

As she didn't do a head count on the number of people in our group, there were a few extra xiao long bao left. When she came to our table with one final piece of xiao long bao, the two young guys, who was travelling with us, quickly raised their hands and said that they haven't eaten any yet. The truth is, both of them have eaten one pieces each haha!

Since there was only one piece remaining, the uncle who sat next to them gave his xiao long bao to one of them. Without feeling paiseh or what, one of the guy immediately took it from that uncle haha wtf!


Curled-shaped tea leaves.


Cylindrical tea leaves.


A frog, which apparently can bring luck to its owner.

We bought three boxes of tea and after finding out that we can speak Mandarin, one of the lady started to talk to us, asking about how we ended up studying in Japan, and some little bits about Malaysia. Just before we leave the place, she secretly gave us two extra packets of tea-leaves, free-of-charge, to the envy of the two guys who looked at us lol!

We wandered around the tea house for a while, and that was when one of the girl in cheongsam approached me from nowhere. She asked how tall I was, and her friend immediately told me that she likes me lol wtf! At the same time, that girl who first approached me felt so shy that she quickly ran away to one corner to hide haha!


Kae Vin said... Chinese girls like u? Should ask for her hp number or facebook! ops forgot facebook was blocked in China! XD

and you should also flip open your shirt, show them whatcha got!

and i know what that machine is. hehehe. you should have probably bought one and use it since there was girl liking u already! XD

mg said...

ooooh someone's got a crush on u...

Zzzyun said...

uh oh... MG's reading :P

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
you should say that i should've asked her for her qq lol!

the weather in shanghai was really hot, that i actually thought about flipping my shirt up too, but not in front of the girls, of course @.@

i should have bought one and give you as a souvenir, isn't it? xD

calvin said...

@ mg:
she was just fascinated by my height, nothing more than that >.<

calvin said...

@ zzzyun:
i'd say "stalking", rather than "reading" xD

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Tom said...

Great post! Check out our post on Qi Bao Old Town 七宝老街 and let us know what you think!

Happy Travels Everyone!