Qibao, China – Urban Water Town

Shanghai is a city of ever expanding high rise buildings and rapidly growing modernization.   The new and emerging cityscape continues to swallow up the charming, but dated, old homes and Chinese historical blocks.  Even though the landscape is changing, there are still some areas that the government has preserved as historical districts. One of these places is Qibao, a small watertown in Shanghai, that can be reached via the Shanghai Metro, off of Line 9.

It is a wonderful little town to visit if you are only in Shanghai for a short time. This small scale watertown has an abundance of crowds, food, and small alleys to meander through.  It is a place highly concentrated with all types of goodies…

Qibao Temple
At one end of the street are all types of Chinese specialty foods, and on the other, some shoe repair men, homes, stray dogs and even a temple. Walking through the area you experience a mixture of smells, sounds and interesting sites that, within all of the chaos, take you back in time.  Your brain will literally be on sensory overload.  However, dip back into some of the smaller alleys and you will be within the quiet of the old city fabric where you can see a family sitting together, having tea with their friends, playing mahjong,  or hanging their fish or meat out to dry from their windows.

The people in this area live very local. They live simple and and in some cases, in shantytown like spaces. However, there is a strong sense of pride that they are still part of the tradition of old China. As you walk past some of the stalls or homes you will see many elder Chinese whom have spent their entire lives in this small area.  Most of them still sell their food, trinkets, and services as they have done throughout generations past…

For me, Qibao offers a raw glimpse into China’s past.  It’s a glimpse into one of the many remote areas outside of the city center that thrive upon their own accord.  It is a great place to emerse yourself in local Chinese culture and traditional life for a day. You can ride on the Chinese river boat, try some local street food and walk into some small museums of the famous families that once lived in the area. When you are all done with that, go down to the pagoda, listen to the Chinese monks chanting in the temple, smell the lit incense…and lose yourself in time…

Qibao Wall Portraits
Qibao Sweet Dumpling
Shoe Repair
Red Shoes

Qibao Quail Eggs

Qibao Bridge Dog

Qibao Water Town

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