|A courtyard area in Tianzifang with cafes as well as boutiques|
|A sign at the entrance giving the rules of the neighbourhood|
Inside is a warren-like place, and everywhere you turn are small alleys filled with tiny boutiques that in turn lead to other ones. You can walk right through one into another that leads to yet another path. And so it's a great place to wander and see all kinds of things for sale from kitsch China souvenirs to gorgeous clothing.
The even more interesting thing about this place is that it is an actual residence -- people are living in the area, so it will be interesting hear about what they feel about so many people invading their living spaces, though it is bringing money into the neighbourhood. However I did hear the government wanted to clear the residents out so that the place could be further developed; but this would only cause the place to lose its local flavour.
|Inside Song Exquisite on its opening day|
When I touched the fabric I was very impressed -- the cashmere jackets were extremely soft, and they also had beautiful Chinese embroidery on them, while the dresses were made of silk also with flowers and birds embroidered on them. She explained the cashmere came from Italy, while the embroidery was done in Suzhou. Some of the designs were very modern and I tried a few on. In the end I settled for a black bias-cut poncho with a floral design embroidered on the right shoulder. The owner was so excited that I was her first customer -- today was her opening day -- that she gave me a small discount.
|Gorgeous embroidery on a silk dress|
I also found one of my favourite shops in Beijing called Woo here, which sells cashmere and silk scarves. But this time we were bowled over by the expensive prices and we didn't see anything in particular we liked. One shop girl modeled a silk scarf with Chinese buttons that could be transformed into some 20 different ways, thus making it look like you were wearing something new everyday. The price tag was over 2,000RMB, which seemed a bit extreme for what was a versatile piece of silk, but we weren't too keen on the different ways of wearing it.
|Shanghai residents live in this burgeoning area|