The best street

Taikang Lu.  I can’t make up my mind about what to say.  I couldn’t even come up with the title for the post and had to get help from my five-year old.  So yes! The credit for the title goes to mini-me.  And its payback time.  She has asked that I call her Ka henceforth coz that’s what she likes being called.  So be it!

I guess it is  futile trying to describe the place.  So, I give up.  Instead, I am just going to post a lot of pictures and cut down on the yakkity yak a bit.  What say you?  Or… how about this? I could just write this post like a travel journal.  An account of where we went, what we saw, what we did.  Yeah!  Let’s stick with that.  Not that I am very good at giving a matter-of-fact account of anything, but I don’t see any harm in trying.  So…   

We headed out on christmas morning to explore the city. After much debate about where to go, we all agreed to go to Taikang Lu.  This lu is  just like any other lu in town except for the narrow little crowded cobbled alleyways that branch off from the main street, old houses that have been renovated into studios and shops that line these narrow alleys, and charming little cafes and restaurants for when you need to give your legs a little rest.  It was in one of these restaurants that we stopped for lunch. Kommune.  Huge cups, with mouths as big as Mini-me’s face, filled with hot chocolate, stacked suitcases that held the extra cutlery and paper napkins, a fire-place with a painting of fire instead of the real thing, soothing traditional chinese music playing and good food.  A charming little place that stole our hearts away.  Even before we had ordered our food, we were planning our next trip here 🙂

The Real Entrance to the Restaurant

Now, Kommune is the kind of place where you enter through what you think is the main entrance,  realise that  you have actually come in through the back door which has often been mistaken for the main entrance by many people (because it’s bigger and wider than the other for one), are then taken on a cross-countryish cross-restaurant hike squeezing between tables (another reason for me to shed those extra pounds…err…well…in China I would be shedding kilos, not pounds) and trying hard not to knock things (and/or people) down.  In such scenarios, I have found it very useful to walk with my hands stretched up high above my head.  You know…use the vertical space and keep your elbows from damaging other people’s lungs and kidneys and liver.  Anyway, walking through the crowd, you  glance around and realise that there are no tables available. So then where exactly are we going? Why aren’t we waiting for a table to clear up?  That’s when you realise that you are being led OUT of the restaurant through what you now come to know as the main entrance.  Cute little board with the name of the restaurant in a cute little font and all.  And at that moment, you say  to yourself, “you should have learnt Chinese before you came here!!”.  Right when you start rehearsing your lines (or maybe the steps actually, coz in China asking for anything in any shop in any language other than chinese is more like a dance than a verbal conversation. Now, how do you act out ‘table’?), it will dawn upon you that the restaurant is split in two parts, the busy bustling part and the quite peaceful part.  You will now be led across the alley through another door that looks very very much like a back door but is actually the only door to the quiet and peaceful part of the restaurant.  A lucky few make it this far (and we did! Yay!!).  Now you can treat yourself to milkshakes and hot chocolate and all the yummy food. Go ahead. You’ll burn all those calories when you trace your steps back out of the restaurant 😉                                                                                          

'Pot' of Yummy Hot Chocolate
And this is how you drink it!
With tummies full of yummy food and all our strength restored, we walked around to the many many art studios and browsed around for tiny trinkets, found quite a few, reminisced (not so fondly) about the 42 garbage bags full of stuff we discarded when we left Redmond, and as a result, decided against buying any of the pretty trinkets we saw.  Window-shopping is the best(est) way to shop!  And who needs souvenirs when one has a camera, right?  So, here are a few pictures from Esy Dragon on Lane 210 – the cutest and the most colourful shop on lane 210…
The 'Everything Shelf'
'Mulan' Pens

Basket of Pigs

We basically wandered around aimlessly the entire day, going in and out of art studios, book shops, and a myriad different shops, making a occassional purchase in moments of weakness; a wooden comb that smells good, a tiny pouch that looks like a fish, a little piggy dressed like chairman Mao, a scarf , a this, a that.  Then when we counted the number of tiny bags we were carrying (so much for not wanting souvenirs, huh?), we knew it was time for us to turn into the first alleyway we saw and find our way out of this amazing maze.  And that’s just what we did.  So long Taikang Lu.  See you soon…
So much for a matter-of-fact account of the day.  I guess some people just aren’t capable of it and I, as it turns out, am definitely one of them.   There again, I learnt something new about myself and that’s always exciting ain’t it?

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