About a week ago, some friends phoned me, inviting me along to check out the Pudong Antique Market. In my mind I envisioned the typical Shanghai market somewhere in the city, with stall after stall of near identical “antiques” and wares, probably produced and replicated in a factory nearby. But it turned out to be quite the opposite, and quite an epic journey. The day began by rendezvousing at a friends, and then setting off a short time later, 6 people in tow on a variety of bikes. We wound our way through the French Concession, Old Town, and then made a pit stop at the Cool Docks, one of the newer, hip developments along the Huangpu River. We then paid about 2 yuan each for a token enabling us to walk our bikes onto a ferry which shuttled us across. Once on the other side, we meandered through Pudong, making our way south. Along the way we passed by the now desolate and decaying Expo Site, and made a pit-stop for 2-for-1 beer and food at the Paulaner Brewery. We then continued for what seemed like an infinite time along a bike lane through the furthest outskirts of the city. Eventually, while passing by a very run down and industrial looking neighborhood, my friend leading the way made a sudden turn into an alley of what looked like abandoned warehouses.
But lo-and-behold, after nearly reaching the end, and passing by such wonders as vicious Pomeranian puppies and a truck re-imagined as a dragon, I realized we had arrived at our destination! Inside what could be taken for an abandoned storage facility was the famed “market”. To envision this place, think back to your childhood and imagine your grandparents attic or basement, piled floor to ceiling with dust covered junk. And then imagine room after room after endless room, of anything and everything your could ever think of. With aisles barely wide enough to walk through, every square inch of this place contained piles of old toys, piles of chairs and stools, piles of old suitcases, piles of Buddha statues, piles and piles of well, stuff.
Everything was covered in so much dust and grime that the tenants even had gloves they could provide for your browsing pleasure. To me, the place was fascinating, and saw so much potential in anything and everything I saw, such as how I could use piles of old suitcases to make a coffee table, or how I’d love to paint that old stool bright pink. It was all so interesting because although it was still just junk, it was all very different than anything you would find back home. It was all very, well, Chinese. Yet it was all still just junk, and it seemed that there were not many other Chinese people there just browsing. Most of the “shoppers” were all young, hip laowai looking for that diamond in the rough.
When it was all said and done, I came away with a small Buddha statue which I bargained down to 90 rmb (about 14 bucks). I would definitely go back again, but only if I had a specific purchase or project in mind. And next time I think I would just take the metro….we ended up biking over 25 km round-trip that day but Line 8 will get you there much quicker for those feeling a bit lazy. Get off at the Lingzhao Xincun stop, and the address is 1788 Ji Yang Lu, near Shangpu Lu (1788济阳路). It was quite the adventure, and I now feel obligated to check out the other antique markets in Shanghai to see how they compare. Stay tuned!