Today, we again had lunch at our favourite 台湾卤肉饭 before heading out to check out Qibao Ancient Town, 七宝古镇 (qī bǎo gǔ zhèn) and then do some souvenir purchase at Pedestrian Street on Nanjing Rd, 南京路步行街 (nán jīng lù bù xíng jiē), where we were on our second day in Shanghai.
D and Darien both had pepper-salt chicken thigh with meatballs, 椒盐大鸡腿加狮子头 (jiāo yán dà jī tuǐ jiā shī zi tóu):
They really like the meatball!
J had her usual/favourite pepper-salt pork chop rice, 椒盐猪排饭 (jiāo yán zhū pái fàn):
After lunch, we took Metro Line 9 to ‘Qibao’ station; take exit 2 to get to Qibao Ancient Town, 七宝古镇 (qī bǎo gǔ zhèn), as directed by the sign in the station:
We did worry about not finding our way but were pleased to be guided by so many signs along the way! (Spot the brown signs and just follow them to get to Qibao Ancient Town, 七宝古镇 (qī bǎo gǔ zhèn) 😉 ):
Walk east on Caobao Rd, 漕宝路 (cáo bǎo lù).
Turn right and walk south on Minzhu Rd, 民主路 (mín zhǔ lù):
Turn left and walk east on Qingnian Rd, 青年路 (qīng nián lù):
Keep walking along Qingnian Rd, 青年路 (qīng nián lù) and you will soon get to Qibao Ancient Town, 七宝古镇 (qī bǎo gǔ zhèn):
Walk through the archway and you will see this Bell Tower:
“After the temple was completed, it rained heavily one day. The lightning illuminated the sky and thunder roared like devil. It rained cats and dogs; hurricane persister on and the river water swelled up for seven days. Suddenly, an object was seen floating on the Xiang’hua River (a brook surrounding the temple) and this magical object was accompanied with a huge sound. On the next day, the rain stopped and the sky became fine; and people went to the river to behold it. They saw a huge bell floating on the water which had already reached the foot of the temple. With great awe and reverence in their mind, the town folks placed the bell inside the temple and the locals began to call it “氽来钟” (tǔn lái zhōng), “The Big Bell that Floated from Afar”.”
It costs RMB 5 to view the bell:
This is the way to the bell:
We simply followed the crowd and walked on:
Although it was drizzling, it was still quite crowded!
Walking along North Street, 北大街 (běi dà jiē), this caught our attention:
Those are quail eggs baked in a salt igloo/dome.
Their signage marketed those quail eggs to be “the most nutritious snack and that they’re so tasty there’s no stopping. Quail Eggs are like ginseng of the animal kingdom and are good for the kidneys. They are supplements to the brain functions. Its many nutritions can strengthen bones and tendons as well as the blood. Quail eggs are beneficial to people with anaemia, mental disorder, insomnia, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, stomach ulcers. They are also good for women to encourage radiant, supple skin.”
(Honestly, we didn’t know that quail eggs were all that awesome and after a “verification” of the above on Google, yes, true! 😉 )
As we walked on along North Street, we came by a ‘Cotton Textile Mill’ Exhibition:
“The Qibao Town was subordinated to prefecture of Songjiang and was known as the nation’s distribution centre for clothing in Ming & Qing Dynasty. The exhibition displays Qibao’s once glorious cotton spinning and weaving industry in an all-round way with the growing, harvesting, spinning, weaving and dyeing as the main stages. More than that, a typical ‘Wedding Chamber’ is also set up to representthe local wedding ceremony of ancient Qibao.”
It costs RMB 30 to visit the ‘Old Trades and Crafts House of Qibao’, ‘Qibao Shadowgraph Museum’, ‘The Cricket Museum(?)’, ‘Cotton Textile Mill’, ‘Qibao Zhou’s Miniature Museum’, ‘Pawnshop’ and ‘Bell Tower’.
If visiting all the museums at one go would bore you, just go for the RMB 5 ticket which is to individual sites.
We didn’t go for any of those, because our agenda to Qibao Ancient Town was just to check the water town out and have some good snacks, as we had seen from Travel CNN!
We continued walking on North Street and reached a bridge, the Puhui River Bridge, 浦汇塘桥 (pǔ huì táng qiáo):
That’s the Anping Bridge, 安平桥 (ān píng qiáo):
That’s the Kangle Bridge, 康乐桥 (kāng lè qiáo):
Guess this is the most “water town-ish” part of the Qibao Ancient Town!
Cross the bridge and ta-dah, more people!
Finally, a map of Qibao Old Street:
One must-eat snack as seen on Travel CNN is Bao Feng baked rice cakes, 宝丰海棠糕 (bǎo fēng hǎi táng gāo):
Located at No. 1 South Street, 南大街 (nán dà jiē) You’ll see this shop once you walk down from the Puhui River Bridge to walk towards South Street.
These baked rice cakes (RMB 2.5) are really delicious, with a generous red bean filling, a slight crackle from molten caramel on the crust and a soft, pancake-like texture.
Check out the awards they won:
J is not fan of bananas but also gave it a try, not only because of the recommendation by Travel CNN but also because of the long queue/huge crowd around the shop!
The bamboo tube (RMB 5 per tube) is carefully peeled open using a butcher’s knife:
A thin tube of bamboo-“skin” remains:
The bright-yellow banana rice is then pushed out of the tube for consumption:
Despite its bright colour, the glutinous rice was not too sweet and the taste of banana wasn’t too strong (hence J took a few more bites!); also, it was really nice eating it in winter because it’s so very hot (but not hot enough to scald)!
At No. 5 South Street 南大街 (nán dà jiē), the spice from chilli powder catches our eye:
At RMB 5 per bowl, this piping hot bowl of pan-fried beancurd is absolutely yummy!
Even J, someone who is not a fan of spicy food, loves it.
We failed to get a front view of the baked quail egg salt igloo/dome just now, so here’s another shop we walked by:
Walking along South Street, we walked by another very crowded shop (the entire town is pretty crowded to begin with but to have a shop look like everyone who’s at Qibao is in there means something altogether!):
Qibao Old Street Glutinous Rice Ball Shop, 七宝老街汤团店 (qī bǎo lǎo jiē tāng tuán diàn), at No. 14 South Street 南大街 (nán dà jiē).
Look at how crowded it was in there!
So many glutinous rice ball!! 😀
The glutinous rice balls are freshly made:
We saw that people do take away the uncooked ones for cooking at home.
Our order is placed with the lady in green while the man in grey is in-charge of cooking the glutinous rice balls:
Apparently a great variety of glutinous rice balls are cooked in this pot and then picked hauled upon collection:
The glutinous rice balls are also placed in at different timings – pretty amazing how they recognise one flavour from another and the duration they’re cooked!
This is their menu:
Most of them (sesame, pork, red bean, red date, vegetable, peanut) cost RMB 2.50 each with some special flavours (fermented, Ning Bo, green mustard) costing RMB 10 per bowl.
D didn’t realise that the rice balls are paid individually and so he ordered 5 of each:
That’s gonna be 5 for each of us!
This is the pork glutinous rice ball; haven’t eaten a pork-filling glutinous rice ball before, so this is going to be interesting!
We had to use an extra spoon to contain the soup because it was just too hot and was spilling from the glutinous rice ball:
Each glutinous rice ball is pretty large, sitting quite well on 2 spoons when bit open:
Besides the pork and sesame glutinous rice balls, we also tried peanuts and red date ones – all of us loved the sesame one the most (quite a surprise because J usually likes peanut glutinous rice balls!) and we thought the red date ones tasted odd (maybe we just weren’t used to it?).
We walked along South Street and walked by the Cricket Museum:
“Qibao Cricket made itself famous all over Shanghai and ‘Iron Sand’ was the most noted kind in South China. The Cricket Museum has a whole collection of cricket specimen and equipment reflecting the fun of cricket culture.”
We made a right turn on to Beigu Lane, 北固弄 (běi gù nòng), where we saw the ‘Qibao Shadowgraph Museum’, 七宝袖珍人影戏馆 (qī bǎo xiù zhēn rén yǐng xì guǎn):
Walking on, an absolutely pungent smell engulfed our olfactory senses:
Darien very excitedly bought a tray of it for RMB 5:
J is no fan of fermented bean curd, 臭豆腐 (chòu dòu fu) and so doesn’t understand the long queue for it (it took a while for the crowd to disperse before she could take this photo):
This fermented bean curd tasted absolutely terrible and left a ‘vomit’-taste on J’s palate – it was so bad that although she popped a whole piece into her mouth, she spat it out after chewing it once; it’s definitely worst than what she tried at Yuyuan Garden Tourist Mart yesterday! (If you’re a great fan of fermented bean curd, then we’re sure you’ll love this…)
There was still a nauseating after-taste on J’s tongue and so she bought an ice-cream:
RMB 10 per cone of chocolate, chocolate-vanilla or vanilla ice-cream:
We decided to walk west along the river on Nanxi Street, 南西街 (nán xi jiē), where it’s much quieter than North/South Street:
Momi (which means ‘Cat’ in Mandarin) Café seemed cosy and artsy with all those cards, so we ducked in to take a look:
Located on No. 32A Nanxi Street, apparently Momi Café serves the best latte in Qibao Ancient Town!
Now we know why those postcards were at the entrance to the café:
This entire wall is filled with postcards people wrote to the future – patrons simply write a postcard, affix a stamp and then drop it into the slot with the date they’d like it mailed and the café would mail it!
Quite brilliant ey? 😉
As we prepared to leave Qibao Ancient Town, we walked by this 小笼包 shop, 龙袍蟹粉小笼馆 (lóng páo xiè fěn xiǎo lóng guǎn) that is another must-eat by Travel CNN:
It is located at No. 15 North Street, 北大街 (běi dà jiē), right before crossing the Puhui River Bridge, 浦汇塘桥 (pǔ huì táng qiáo) to the South side:
You may either choose to take away:
Or eat in the tiny shop:
It’s really packed in there (see photo above), so we decided to take away:
Because it’s piping hot, it was absolutely nice to eat in winter!
After we were done snacking and while we made our way out of Qibao Ancient Town, we saw a shop selling traditional Chinese clothes:
J has been wanting to purchase a cheongsum to wear for the upcoming CNY but has failed to thus far, yet again.
Walking on, this lady bent over and hard at work caught our attention:
The yellow board below reads, “Dragon Beard Candy used to be a snack eaten by the Emperor and has been around for 2000 years. It was discovered by Emperor Zhengde when he travelled into the city and it was originally named ‘Silver Thread Candy’. When the Emperor first tried it, he found its taste unique and loved it, hence had it brought back into the palace and named it ‘Dragon Beard Candy’. From then on, it continued being a snack loved by many folks.”
Located at No. 73 North Street, 北大街 (běi dà jiē), is this shop that sells freshly made dragon beard candy.
The peanut-sesame mixture is mixed on the spot and then twirled into the finely-pulled candy:
Check out this gif of her hands in action:
Her hands were moving so quickly we could barely snap a decent shot!
Freshly hand-made using a traditional, secret recipe, and packed, this dragon beard candy, which only costs RMB 15, is absolutely delicious and hence a must-try! 😉
It’s been a fruitful and full-filling day at Qibao Ancient Town. Despite the rain and crowd, we enjoyed ourselves snacking and simply immersing in the Shanghai-culture! 😀