While we were in Shanghai we went to visit Tian Zi Fang, an art district located in the French Concession. The stone houses date from the 1930s and the area just feels like “Old Shanghai”, whatever that means…I wasn’t in Shanghai in the 30s, but it seems like it would be an exciting time to experience. It would be fun to “Midnight in Paris” it.
There are lots of shops selling trinkets and tourist kitsch, but there are also some great shops specializing in photography, art, designer fashion, and traditional handicrafts. We picked up several Chinese papercuts, a traditional Chinese art, to the tune of 3 for 100RMB (about $16 USD). The intricate designs are hand cut onto tissue-thin paper. Of course, the cynic in me says that they could easily have been factory-cut and who would know the difference, but I choose to believe that they are really hand-cut (hee hee).
When we got home, I removed the papercuts from their packaging and used a tiny dab with a glue stick to glue them onto a watercolor paper backing, which is a higher-quality paper than what they were packaged in. Then I framed them using IKEA FJALLSTA frames. They look great! Much better than how they were displayed in the store (grayish cheap paper backing, plastic frames). They really look like art on their own right now.
The red one above with the goldfish is going to be a Christmas gift for Chris’ grandmother. It’s pretty, unique, and frugal. My favorite kind of gift =).
Despite our many misgivings beforehand (What were we thinking? We are insane.), we successfully toted our tot to China and back. Now that we’re finally over the jet lag, I can talk about it. Just kidding. Traveling to China with a baby actually wasn’t that bad.
I have to give credit to my angelic baby. Baby Brownie was amazing on the trip. Seriously, we heard so many horror stories about kids on the plane, we were prepared for 14 + 11 hours of absolute hell. But Baby Brownie surprised us by playing happily on our laps, smiling at all the people around her, and sleeping for 6 hours and 5 hours respectively on each leg of the round-trip flight.
The hard part was adjusting to the new time zone once we got there (and back). Our sleep schedules didn’t match up, so there were several nights where the baby was up in the middle of the night wanting to play. Fortunately, my parents met us in HK, so they were able to baby sit while we caught up on sleep.
The most helpful things we brought with?
1) The Ergo Baby Carrier — Baby Brownie pretty much lived in this thing for our whole trip. Hong Kong and Shanghai are not particularly stroller-friendly, so the carrier made things a lot easier when we were pushing through crowds on the subway or climbing flights of stairs. The baby could still see what was going on, but when she was tired she could put her head on Chris’ chest and nap. Perfect.
2) The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib — Not knowing what crib options would be available at hotels and friends’ apartments, I had much more peace of mind bringing the Baby Bjorn crib with us since I knew that the baby could sleep in it and that it was safe. Yes it took up half a suitcase, but it was light, and it was a consistent place to lay her down (on a trip full of inconsistencies).
3) Food — We also brought ALL of the formula and baby food she would need. While Hong Kong and Shanghai both have a wide variety of organic baby food, I didn’t want to waste time searching for it, nor did I want to pay inflated prices for imported food. We brought plenty of baby food pouches as well as oat cereal and Baby Brownie did great.
She had just started crawling before we left on the trip, so I was a little nervous that she would be ALL OVER THE PLACE on the plane, but she actually did really well in a small space. I think that it would be a lot harder to take her on such a long flight when she gets a little older and is more mobile.
We had a great time with friends and relatives who finally got to meet the baby for the first time! It was a perfect pre-Christmas trip! Now that we’ve done this, flying to Canada to visit my parents sounds like a piece of cake!