The reason I ended up living in my small one-bedroom flat on Kangding road, is really because of my cat. I had to leave my previous apartment in Pudong, where cats weren't allowed, and my current landlord was OK with keeping a cat. Hence, I had been living here for the last five and a half years.
There are no ‘suburbs' per se in China. You usually rent in a compound or high rise in a city. My apartment is in a compound. The street is pretty noisy and unfortunately my bedroom sits four floors above the street. Other than that, it is a pretty great neighbourhood to live to get the ‘Shanghai' experience, in addition to being quite close to Changping lu station on line 7.
Currently still in quarantine, my routine working from home is pretty well established. In the mornings I go for my coffee run and have good options to choose from: There is Coffee Groupies, which has both dark or medium-roast options. You wait for a while (longer than at Starbucks), but the coffee is really good (and affordable) and the staff friendly. The whole-wheat dark choc chip cookies are also to die for. If I feel like a slightly different tasting cappuccino, Coffee Buzz, Ichido and Starbucks are around the corner on the main road.
Kangding road is a lovely street to walk on and like many streets in Shanghai, there are trees on both sides, wonderfully cool to stroll under during the hot summer months. Before they were recently pruned and sprayed, their branches reached up to my window, a lovely sight in summer. People walking their dogs and elderly people congregating on stools outside their compounds are a common sight.
Walking east will eventually take you to some expat restaurants like German Pub Zeitgeist, as well as the ever-popular Shed. Walking westwards, the sight is almost stereotypically Chinese: small electronics shops selling everything you could imagine; clothing shops that open and then close down just as quickly, the space taken over by new shop owners with their latest business venture; the tiny, life-saving printing shop wedged in-between the electronic-scooter shop and the fruit and veg lady on the corner; the street food outlets with boiling pots of water, selling flat breads and baoze.
Eventually you reach Wuding road running north to south. Here you'll find J's Grocery Store, one of those great little import shops that sells anything form peanut butter, a variety of beers and wines, bags of real corn nachos, cheeses, meats and fresh fruits and vegetables. One of my favourite restaurants in Shanghai, Fat Cow, is also here. Largely a gourmet burger / sports pub, they have large screens and large burgers, with really original names like the ‘Cowabunga' and ‘Moombai' burger.
When it comes to local food, the local Halaal Chinese joint has some great ‘Chinese burgers' and noodles (much cheaper, but no seats available during lunchtime) and the small Japanese restaurant opposite my compound serves kick-ass tomato-beef ramen and killer sushi. After work I sometimes pop in at the local Family Mart for a Cornetto Ice-cream. As an expat living in China, I'm lucky.
Surrounded by tall blocks of flats and occupied by older style red-roofed compounds, the street shows the ever-changing face of Shanghai. Just up the road, the last of some old and very dilapidated ‘shikumens' are being bulldozed to make way for more apartment blocks. A city that is so massive and sprawling can be difficult to comprehend, take in and write about. Here on Kangding road, with the smell of stinky fried tofu, honking scooters, and loud locals, you get a snap shot.