I found my new happy place, and it's just up the street. The year 3 group leader told me about the flower market off Jinhui Lu (just up the street) last week, and after a couple of failed attempts I finally made it tonight. It's at the side of one of the canals, down a picturesque little walk that is deceptive if you don't know what you're looking for. Fortunately, I DID know what I was looking for.
For more than a week now I've been mourning the fact that if Shanghai has the equivalent of Seoul's Express Bus Terminal, I haven't heard about it. Well, now I don't miss it nearly as much. The flower market is pretty big, and has lots of everything...plants, of both the potted and cut variety, ceramics, pillows, handicrafts, and animals - for pets, not to eat. I was looking forward to the animals, because I wanted to get some goldfish (actually, I didn't get them tonight because I bought a huge bowl to put them in after buying a pot of jasmine, and there was just no more room in my bike basket...hell, there wasn't enough room for the two things I'd already bought), but at least a few of the stalls had other animals. One of them even had THE quintessential Asian pet...crickets! Yes, you heard me right, crickets...some of them in woven grass cages, others in the more fancy cricket cages. And they were chirping for all they were worth! And these were big fat crickets, not the little guys we are used to seeing in America. Kinda crazy.
So what is the point of all this shopping? I have, for the first time in my life, a window seat. It's posh. I want to dress it up. I bought some candles when we went to Ikea last Sunday, and am going to go back for some pillows. How cool will it be to have a cozy nook to cuddle up in and watch the snow when winter hits?
The other market I've been missing from Seoul is, of course, Dongdaemun's fabric market. Not for the fabric (however great) but for the beads and findings on the fifth floor. Well, I don't think Hongqiao Pearl City will ever replace Dongdaemun in my heart (not least because I haven't been there with Azhaar and Jill), but it DID have some pretty cool beads, a string of which I snatched up to go on the new belly dance cossie I'm working on. I need to do a more thorough investigation of it one of these days, but at least I'm starting to figure out where I can get the things I'm going to use. Starting to feel a little more competent in Shanghai. And - I've got to admit it's still strange, because I've never been much of one for lots of different groups of friends, but rather than a few very close ones - but I've got all these friends from all these different schools, and I've gotta say, I'm really grateful for them.
One more day til school officially starts. I'm SO not ready.