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China is full of quirky charm and Shanghai is no different. Keeping a visitor busy for days is no problem with the number of unusual museums, unique eats and of course, impressive landmark attractions. But in the midst of rushing from one place to the next, it can be easy to forget to stop and smell the stinky tofu. So while you're on the go, keep your eyes open for a few of these fun — and a little peculiar — Shanghai happenings.
On the weekends, People's Park becomes a maze of personal advertisements. Sheets of paper stating physical features, salary, education and car/property ownership, cover the bushes and dangle from clothes lines spread between trees. Most of the advertised individuals are nowhere in sight, but parents and grandparents peruse the listings, chatting up other passers-by in hopes of finding a match for their unmarried offspring.
Salons are as easy to come by as coffee shops in this city, but not everyone ventures indoors for a new 'do. In fact, it's not terribly unusual to find a barber chair taking up real estate in the middle of a sidewalk, facing a mirror hung from a nearby wall. While you can't expect a wash, blow-dry or curl, if you're looking for a quick trim on a dime, get in line. (Some of these snip-snap gentlemen even do double duty, cleaning out your ears or pulling teeth as well!)
Need a clip? You can usually spot a few sidewalk barbers lined up along Jiashan Lu in the French Concession.
As dusk descends, Shanghai's parks come alive with tinny music from gigantic speakers. As if by magic, rows of women appear, swaying in time with the music, pivoting to the beat. Working through a playlist well-known to most, the group can easily fill the space they occupy. But a few new recruits or curious first-timers can be found around the perimeter, mimicking the steps or practicing in the shadows before they make their debut in the group. If line dancing isn't your style, stroll a little bit more and you're sure to come across some ballroom dancers twirling around to their own tunes.
Want to step, turn and swirl? Head to any of Shanghai's many parks and duck in as the sun sets.
You'll want to keep an eye out for these little hole-in-the-wall eateries, not just for the food but for the making of their signature dish as well. Often times, you'll hear the "thwack" of noodles hitting the counter before you see them; these little soup joints whip out hand-pulled noodles faster than you can say "Ni hao". If you pop in for a bite, ask for the lamian (拉面 /laa-myen/) and watch them throw your noodles in front of you. Tip: you'll often spot them by their massive stainless steal soup pots steaming away out front.
For all the fun, but without a meal, check out the Noodle Pulling Experience Center, where you can see noodle masters in action and loop your fingers through some dough as well. Want a more hands-on tutorial for pulling noodles? We'd be happy to help arrange a cooking class, where you'll be throwing with the best of them.
Interested in other quirky Shanghai experiences? Check out these eight unusual museums.
Our speciality is tailor-made tours, so if you don't want to miss the everyday happenings that brighten up the streets (and parks) of Shanghai, let us know and we'll make sure your Shanghai tour has a slice of the quirky, fun, and unusual tucked in with the many attractions the city has to offer.