Grounding: Personal Experience and the Science Behind “Walking in the Grass”

Root Chakra imbalance. Jet lag. A panic attack. What do these experiences have in common? They each show through a lack of being grounded, unstable emotions, blurred awareness. Have you experienced any of these? If so, you are not alone. I too, have experienced these imbalances.

You may be thinking, how can someone who practices yoga and meditation, a calm person filled with positive energy experience these types of disconnects and imbalances? The season changes, career changes, relationship changes, time zone changes all bring about certain exchanges of energy. Even through the practice of prayer, meditation and mindfulness, and awareness of emotions, the strong pull of the changing energy is overwhelming. And I breakdown. It’s through these breakdowns, I become stronger, more grounded in my faith, and create more awareness in my emotional stability.

The physical practice of grounding is touching the earth and feeling that connection to the earth is called earthing. This connection allows you to be fully present with your body and recharges your electrical system. This practices allows you to recharge your energy, to calm your emotions, clear your mind, and strengthen your overall awareness.

Allow me to share three personal experiences of how “walking on the grass” has helped me re-connect and re-establish a sense of calmness, comfort, and connectedness.

ROOT CHAKRA & THE POWER OF WALKING IN THE GRASS

This past spring was a season of change…specifically with my career and relationships. During a private sound healing session, my teacher mentioned I had a disconnect in my root chakra. An imbalance in the root chakra signifies a disconnect between family and friends. I sought guidance through a Spiritual Coach who, through several therapy sessions, has guided me through affirmations and meditations. These two mentors also encouraged me to connect with nature. I was lacking connection and mental clarity. Admitting I needed help was the hardest part. I thought I was strong enough to handle it on my own. I began to take walks in the grass. It was after these walks, I felt more alive and calmer in my decision making. Walking barefoot also has added benefit of massaging acupuncture points in your feet like in reflexology.

The authors of Earthing explain:

Earthing naturally protects the body’s delicate bioelectrical circuitry against static electrical charges and interference. Most importantly, it facilitates the reception of free electrons and the stabilizing electrical signals and energy of the Earth. Earthing remedies an electrical instability and electron deficiency you never knew you had. It refills and recharges your body with something you never knew you were missing … or needed.

JET LAG & HOW I ADJUST

My second experience is jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder caused by a change/travel between time zones. Being up in the air and crossing time zones has a crazy impact on my body’s orientation. To combat my sleepiness and to re-orient my body to the present time zone, I have a routine of going to bed early, exercising, and walking around in the grass barefoot (I wish Nebraska had beaches!) . I also allow myself time to adjust by just being still in my new environment, knowing it’s normal to feel lethargic and irritable. Earthing has played a significant part in the transition process.

PANIC ATTACKS & COMING BACK TO CALMNESS

The final experience that I used grounding to help me de-stress and lower blood pressure was during a recent panic attack. At first I didn’t know what was happening (it was the most out of body experience). I began to sweat and grip the car seat, I had trouble breathing and I couldn’t think clearly. I was shaking. The events earlier in the day were just too much to handle and I felt trapped in my thoughts, I couldn’t express how the feeling began. All I knew was I needed to just sit in the grass. That’s all I could connect with that would solve the attack. My energy levels had hit rock bottom, combined with jet lag and grief. I couldn’t remain composed any longer.

Once I was able to get to the grass, I felt so silly saying that I needed to walk in the grass, but the instant calm, the grounding, the focus, the clarity that washed over me, I knew it was what I needed. Sometimes more medical attention is needed for a panic attack- but this is just my personal experience. My body knew what I needed somehow in my mental instability I was able to process that it was an energetic imbalance.

So how does “walking in the grass” help us reconnect and re-establish a grounding in our body, our mind, and spirit? According to the Chopra Center, “You have lost your electrical roots, so to speak. You’re disconnected, and this disconnection may be a seriously overlooked cause of human pain and discomfort and the steeply rising incidence of chronic illness worldwide.” Grounding or earthing can help decrease levels of pain and inflammation, reduce stress levels, and improve circulation.

How can you ground yourself to the Earth? From my personal experience, walking barefoot in the grass or on concrete barefoot for even just 15 minutes a day can significantly help create more mind-body connection and provide a sense of calm. Other ways to ground, include walking barefoot on a sandy beach, or in a forest.

This past week has been a whirlwind of jet lag, change, grief and emotion, but when these feelings start to trigger discomfort, I know that reconnecting with the earth will help soothe the pain and discomfort.

Have you tried grounding? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Namaste,

Megan

Interested in a career in health and wellness? Check out my alma mater, Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Kirana Wellness

Hey everyone! I’m Megan, founder of Kirana Wellness. Kirana Wellness is a holistic health coaching practice and space for learning yoga both online and in-person. I’ve added this page to bring you health and wellness inspiration and show you how integrating simple steps to optimize your everyday life, is easy (because healthy living shouldn’t be complicated or hard). I can’t wait to share in this journey with you!

Thinking of a Career Change?

It’s never too late to try something new. These words echoed in my mind for over a year before I signed up for a health coaching certification program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. I knew I needed to make a change. I had been abroad for over 8 years teaching English and I couldn’t bring myself to sign another contract. I was caught in routine, feeling stuck, and wanting to make a difference, but not knowing what my next step should be. So I signed up, not knowing what the next months would bring or if I would even be able to make such a big change.

Living in Shanghai was taking its toll on my mental and physical health, but how could I leave such a comfortable job, location, and city? How could I possibly rewrite my story to one that I could live completely in alignment with my values and beliefs and ultimately reaching my highest potential?

This is what I want to share with you. I did it! I left my teaching job, the conveniences and comforts of Shanghai, my routine, the life I had led for 8 years… to rewrite my story, to start fresh, to start living on purpose… for my highest purpose. And it was scary (it still is)! But, I have never felt so alive. I know that I am using my gifts to their fullest potential, that I am able to honestly share with you that you too, can embrace change, the unknown, the scariness. You are brave. You are courageous. And you deserve to live life to the absolute fullest!

Since signing up for IIN®’s health coaching certification program, I have learned so much about myself, the world around me, and how food can change everything. Not just the food I put into my mouth, but primary food: relationships, career, finances, physical exercise (just to name a few). I was amazed to learn how all this can impact my overall wellbeing.

I found this program to be real and inspiring. The modules provide observations and views about the current food trends and impacts that food has on the environment and each individual person. I would love to share this with you, how the importance of bioindividuality® can have on your food choices and what simple changes you can make today to optimize your daily life.

Bioindividuality® is the term used to set each individual apart when it comes to both primary and secondary foods. “One person’s food may be another’s poison”. This means what works for someone, may not work for another; for example, one may be able to tolerate dairy, but someone else cannot, maybe one person prefers to eat meat, others may choose to eat vegan, still others eat paleo or keto or gluten-free. What’s important to note is that each person is unique in their own ideas, ways of eating and lifestyle choices. Another key concept is understanding your body and what you eat now may be different in one month, six months, a year or five. By giving your body permission to change with the seasons, your environment, and trying different ways of eating allows your body to continue to heal itself, to remain healthy and to absorb the nutrients that it needs to optimally function.

Sometimes understanding what your body needs takes time. It’s scary to try new foods, new ways of eating, and to incorporate new habits into your daily life. I have been there in the experimenting and have learned to accept how my body has changed over the years. I know it takes time and patience to listen to what my body needs. By incorporating a holistic, more intuitive approach to eating, I have found balance both in my physical body, but also my mental and emotional states.

If you’re struggling with understanding your body’s needs or would like guidance as you make these lifestyle changes, I would love to help. As your health coach we would be able to assess your wellness goals. I would be a support as you create new habits. I would help you understand your bioindividual connection between primary and secondary foods.

If you think a career in health coaching may be for you or you want support and guidance on your current health journey, visit http://www.kiranawellness.com to learn more!

Melbourne: my “down under” adventure

Crystal clear night sky over Australia as I head back to Shanghai. Stars. Billions upon billions of sparkles glitter the night sky. Magical. Flickering boat lights below on the ocean. While the plane quiets down, I stare out the window.

What an adventure down under! Visiting a dear friend meant the world. Exploring Melbourne was so much fun. A summer-winter escape was so refreshing. It felt like a crisp Nebraska fall as temperatures ranged from about 10 to 20 degrees Celsius; nights were chilly and sometimes the wind blew and a couple evening rain showers occurred, but it was a welcomed break from the sweltering Shanghai heat. And the air. Oh how it felt good to breathe! The skies were the clearest, swirling white clouds and the bluest of blues (when it wasn’t rainy)!

I arrived in the morning and my friend and her mom picked me up and we went for breakfast at a local chain restaurant called the Coffee Club. They served a wide range of breakfast options but we opted for the Smashed Avo. (Apparently it’s all the rage here and you know how I’m all about the avocado on toast life). We rested and relaxed that afternoon as my friend needed to lesson plan and teach that night and I was exhausted from the flight. It’s still 12 hours or so from Shanghai. For dinner her mom made Nasi Lemak. One of my favorite dishes ever. Coconut rice, chicken, and toppings. It’s a Malay/Indonesian dish.

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The following day we headed into the city for a late lunch at Operator 25 then made our way out to the suburb of Brighton.

Here, we walked along the coast and took the salty air and waves. The historic Brighton bath houses line this beach, an array of bright colors and perfect photo opps. The sunset was brilliant oranges and yellows sinking into the calm water. For dinner, we ate Japanese curry. Delicious.

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We called an early night as the next day we had to be back into the city center by 7am for a driving tour along the Great Ocean Road. The GOR is an historic road built by the solidarity to create jobs after the war. It winds along rugged rocks and soft sand beaches and through quaint tourist towns that would be packed during the summer holidays, but since it was winter they were a bit sleepy. Our tour guide, Toby (Tobs), gave us tid bits of information and fun facts throughout the day.
At one of our stops at a campsite cafe we spotted a wild koala 🐨 napping in a tree. It was so fluffy and cute, but according to the locals it’s pretty much a useless mammal… they figured out that the only productive quality it offered was tourism! 😂
For lunch, we are traditional Australian grilled sausage and vegetables at one of our stops.
Points of interest and historical landmarks along the way included Cape Otway and Australia’s Most Significant Lighthouse, the 12 Apostles (a series of limestone rocks jutting out from the ocean), Port Campbell National Park, and the Gibson Steps leading down to the crashing waves and beach coastline. The scenery between  Melbourne and the ocean road reminded me of Nebraska; such stunning natural beauty… and that coastline…gorgeous.
When we got back to the city we ate at Betty’s Burgers 🍔 before heading home.

To conclude our weekend we went to Ballarat Wildlife Sanctuary to see Australian wildlife. We saw a wombat, koalas 🐨, penguins 🐧, kookaburras, and fed kangaroos. Even though it was rainy this day, it was still a nice drive in the countryside.
We lounged the rest of the day and packed our bags to head into the city for the remainder of my stay. Because my friend had to work we decided to stay in a serviced apartment so we could maximize city exploring. For dinner, we ate at Nando’s, a Portuguese chicken restaurant and for dessert we had chocolate waffles at Max Brenner chocolatier.

Monday morning! We headed into the city today by train. Since check in wasn’t until 2, we got brunch at Higher Ground. Yum! We had xx . After brunch she went to teach and I walked around the city. (And went to an English bookstore, since I’m living in China…) Another blue sky day!
Dinner was Korean chicken and rice 🍚; cheers 🍻!

Tuesday, we brunched on Degraves street, a cool side street with funky graffiti and cafes. The place was Issus: We had smashed avocado 🥑. I holed up in one of the cafes and read all afternoon with a latte. Seriously perfect. People watching, reading, sipping my latte… my kind of afternoon. When she got off work we got pancakes at Pancake Parlor for dinner.

Wednesday! My friend took the day off work so we headed back to DeGraves Street to try another brunch place called The Quarter before heading to Her Majesty’s Theater 🎭 to watch Aladdin. Wow! What a spectacular show, absolutely fantastic! The sets and scenes were detailed and the Cave of Wonders glittered in gold ornaments and jewels… the night sky of “A Whole New World 🌎” sparkled like diamonds and the even constructed a magic carpet ride… the actors and actresses did a fantastic job too and the Genie was hilarious! ! A definite must-see! After the show, we walked through China town and her Mom treated us to high tea at the Tea Salon. That evening we walked around the Queen Street Winter night market. So cozy  while we sipped hot buttered lemonade from a local vendor. 😴 time for bed after a fun filled day in the city!

Thursday brunch was at the Grain Store, so filling but delicious. We had xx. Before she headed to work we walked by the Riverfront. The Yarra River runs through the city. Along the path there are eateries and it leads to Federation square which is a place where local talents can perform, there is also a museum and gathering points for speakers and shows. From Federation Square we continued walking up to Hosier Lane which is another graffiti street of Melbourne.
While my friend was at work I went back to DeGraves Street to relax and read, I also got my hair cut because in China they don’t know how to cut my hair! Later that evening we went to a Thai fusion restaurant called Chin Chin. It was so good! After eating we took a taxi to St. Kilda beach where usually at this time of year you can view penguins 🐧, however it was closed without our knowing. Looking out onto the horizon of city lights and listening to the waves lap the shore was so peaceful…

Ahh Friday! What a week it has been! I love Melbourne: good vibes, friendly people, cool side streets, delicious brunch, fabulous coffee ☕️ in funky cafes, blue skies, fresh air, and beautiful scenery. We brunched at Euro Lane. I wandered the city while she taught and afterward we walked the Riverfront and had wine at the Arbory, one of the outdoor restaurants overlooking the water. So pretty to see the city lights glimmering on the river and good wine to cheers our friendship.

Saturday was my last day, we had a chill day and had breakfast at the Conservatory with her family who picked us up from the city center. We drove back to her house and relaxed until my evening flight.

Saw the sunrise in Kuala Lumpur during my layover before flying back to Shanghai. It meant the world 🌏 to me to visit a dear friend, meet her family, and explore Melbourne. This trip was so special for me as Australia was also the first place where I started to receive international postcards; my travel experiences have come full circle now that I have traveled “down under”. How cool is it to have received postcards, then met an Aussie friend living abroad, and visited her in her hometown? I’m blessed in all of these life experiences! 💗

 

Degraves Street: cafes galore in Melbourne

A street lined with cafes, it’s hard to choose…simply walk and find. Stroll through cool graffiti walls and outdoor patios in the first section, keep going and find a plethora of nooks, each serving their own twist on breakfast, brunch, and lunch.

Definitely find a spot serving avo smash. And get a coffee or latte and read the afternoon away.

I found the perfect place, ordered a latte (or maybe I had two) and listened to country music while reading all afternoon. Perfect way to spend a wintery July day in this city!

Vietnam, your coffee is the best.

Deep Breaths. Vietnam, your humid tropical ocean air smells heavenly. Walking through a market of colors and chaos, this is what I love. No concrete, just dirt and freshness. I buy lychees and mangosteens. The lady sees my tattoos and grabs my wrist. I tell her “reir” means “to laugh” in Spanish and she takes a pen and paper and writes it down. A lady on a scooter pulls ip to the stand with two kids on the back. She gets a bag of mangos. A taxi dropped me off, but I decide to walk back to the hotel to take in the sites of people going about on a Saturday morning, and take moments to read what I don’t understand and breathe air whose scent and flavor is unexpected.

I sit in a garden cafe and think I feel more myself in a place I don’t know, eating food prepared by smiling faces and exotic accents, and drinking the best coffee of life. Vietnamese coffee, you have my heart. I ordered (My Quang) Vietnamese noodles with spices, herbs, beef, eggs, and peanuts in a mild broth with an iced coffee.

And I begin to relax and unwind, my mind clears and my words flow.

For some reason as I sit the tune from “Beauty and the Beast” enters. I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want more that I can tell. 

And I got it. In the most everyday appreciations, in places I thought I could only dream about. It’s in the street signs of accents and characters, the sign-language mime language I’ve adopted, the lush gardens and palm trees, the low roar of motorbikes and intuitions of drivers letting me cross the street, the sweet iced Vietnamese coffee and the shyness of the staff trying to use their English to help me, its the crash of the waves against the sand of a dozen different shades of blues, greens, and grays.

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery, pace, and routine… and that’s what I got during this brief getaway to Danang. Even though the hotel and beach were crowded with tourists and the weekend went too fast for adequate exploring, the escape from the concrete jungle was welcomed.

 

***After this hiatus of writing, I reflect on my notes I wrote on a hotel notepad. This trip to Danang, Vietnam was taken in May 2017 during a long weekend holiday for Dragon Boat Festival. And somehow time gets away and I’ve been in a writer’s funk, but on this sweltering summer day in Shanghai, I catch up on the past few months of travel and life.*** 

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Family in China Part 3: Exploring Beijing

Day 7: We took the bullet train from Hangzhou to Beijing. I highly recommend this journey for 3 reasons: 1. Trains are more often than not, on time. 2. There is more leg room. 3. You can see more countryside views by train.

Once we arrived to Beijing we took the metro to our hotel, The Great Wall Marriott. I also highly recommend staying here for excellent customer service, comfort, and convenience.

Then we took a walking tour courtesy of TimeOut Beijing through hutongs and side streets to Tian’amen Square to view the flag lowering ceremony (check here for times). The Dashilan area has excellent local cuisine and we ordered lots of veggies, noodles, and rice dishes for super cheap.

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beijing

Crashed out early tonight for our super early drive to the Great Wall.

Day 8: We hired a driver (through multiple connections on my wechat app I hired him and have used his service on both drives to the Great Wall. if you have wechat I can connect you with him!) to take us to the Great Wall, it’s definitely easier this way. I originally scheduled our trip to the section called Simatai, which ended up being this fake water town tourist trap and you must buy tickets in advance. Our driver was awesome and led us to the area about 15 minutes up the road called Gubeikou or Panlongshan. If you want an “off the beaten path” experience, go here. It’s absolutely beautiful, with less crowds, in fact, we were the only ones on the trail. It’s a bit of a hike, but it’s an easy path. Just as we saw the Wall, took some awesome photos, and stunned in the grandeur of just how Great the Wall was, hiked down and got in the car it down poured. Great luck.

 

beijing

For dinner we ate Peking Duck. Just as your hotel’s staff for recommendations. There are plenty of choices. Peking Duck is a must eat Beijing specialty. Delicious.

We went back to the hotel for drinks and sleep.

Day 9: Before leaving Beijing we did one last walk to the Temple of Heaven, the entrance fee is reasonable, but make sure to get all the add-ons for the ultimate experience. We just bought the regular pass and wandered through the gardens before making our way to the train station to go back to Shanghai.

beijing

I took my parents to my Shanghai street noodle lady, I think she was thrilled that I had company with me. Dad and I ordered fried noodles and Mom ordered fried rice. They pretty much mastered their chopsticks skills on this trip.

Family in China Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou

On Day 5 the family and I boarded a bullet train for Hangzhou, a city about 45 minutes from Shanghai.

When we arrived, we checked in to our AirBnb, then took a brief walk to West Lake and ate at a local restaurant. The real walk would be tomorrow so we called it an early night.

hangzhou.2

Day 6: Well we walked the Lake, climbed the magically “moderate tourist density” Leifang Pagoda, and ate “big mac” sized mango smoothies and ate at another local restaurant called Green Tea (this was really good).

See below for photos of the “beautiful Chinese West Lake” and other Hangzhou spots.

Hangzhou.1

 

On Day 7 we parted ways and my parents and I headed by train, 5 hours to Beijing. See Family in China Part 3: Exploring Beijing.

Family in China Part 1: Exploring Shanghai

There’s something about showing people I love a piece of my life abroad. Today I dropped my parents off at the airport after an amazing 10 days in China. Having them here meant the world- We did a lot in ten days so let me break it down:

Part 1: Exploring Shanghai (note: Days 1-5, 10)

Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou (note: Days: 5-7) 

Part 3: Exploring Beijing (note: Days 7-9)

Let’s begin!

Day 1: They arrived (yay!) We took a taxi to my area of town and ate Chinese halal dumplings called “jiao-zi”

Aren’t they cool? 🙂

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Day 2: Yay they are here and rested. We ate a Western style breakfast at Warehouse Cafe. We walked around YuYuan Garden for the majority of the afternoon.

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Go into the garden for a peaceful escape from the busy city, expect several traditional buildings with old furnishings and newly painted palace-esque structures, but in all reality, its pretty and green and the walk ways aren’t too crowded. Eat xiaolongbao, a famous Shanghai specialty and definitely get a giant mango smoothie in this touristy area.

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Take the metro Line 10 Yuyuan Garden to Shanghai Railway Station. Walk (I used Apple Maps) from Shanghai Railway Station to the M50 Art District. This is a super cool graffiti’d area with cool cafes with ample AC. Walk out of the Art District towards Changhua Road. Urban Grill is just a few blocks down at the intersection of Anyuan Road.

To wrap up their first day in Shanghai we ate delicious Mediterranean food at Urban Grill and waited out a brief rain shower.

Day 3. Being the fabulous tour guide and active daughter I am, I dragged the fam to my yoga class. In the Shanghai heat it was more like hot yoga.

shanghai

Before the class we chatted in a local cafe called Paradox, after the class we bought fruit from a fruit stand and reenergized with coconut water (from actual coconuts).

That afternoon we toured the Bund, ate Yang’s dumplings, and had Coco bubble milk tea before walking to Mayita’s rooftop for dinner and a view.

Dad and I walked home (thank you Apple Maps) and went to dive bars along the way. Nothing like father-daughter bonding, walking in the rain, and drinking beer!

Day 4: Not gonna lie TimeOut Shanghai provided the best walking tours for this trip. Today I took the fam on a walking tour of the French Concession.

Follow these steps to take your tour! Courtesy of TimeOut Shanghai

Walking time: 1.5 hours Starting point: Shanghai Library metro station, Line 10

1. Secret garden

From Shanghai Library metro station, head north up Hunan Lu. At number 11, you’ll find the 1984 bookstore (this was closed when we went, but there is another cafe nearby) Question: What shape is the window outside the cafe?

2. Secluded cocktails

Double-back and turn immediately left, heading north on Yongfu Lu. At number 200 is Yongfoo Elite (open 11am-10pm daily), which was recently renovated in May 2016. A cool quiet garden area. Great photo op here. Question: At the entrance is a sign featuring a man and a woman wearing a scarf. What colour is it?

3. Inside the lanes 

Continue up Yongfu Lu, passing the Shanghai Film Group headquarters on your left. At Wuyuan Lu turn left, and continue until you hit Wukang Lu at the end of the street. Here, take a right and head north. Near the top, close to Anfu Lu, head into Lane 40 on your left. Turn right in the lane and have a look at building number one, with a large green door below a stone arch. Question: To the left of the door is a row of post boxes. How many are there?

4. Hidden propaganda

Keep going up Wukang Lu until you hit Huashan Lu. You’re right opposite number 868, a non-descript block of flats. If you go around the back to building 4, you’ll find the excellent Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre (open 10am-5pm daily, entry 25RMB) in the basement, with no signs telling you where it is. You can, however, get directions from the security staff who will give you a name card with directions.

I highly recommend this museum, so fascinating!

Otherwise, turn left and go west down Huashan Lu to lane 1100.

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Question: Look at the building to your right as you head into Lane 1100 (the sign reads Fuyuan Yakun). Which animal is depicted by the statuettes at the entrance? 

5. Off the track knick-knacks

From here, cross the road and head south on leafy Xingguo Lu, which takes you down into the residential areas of the western French Concession where the Party cadres live. At Taian Lu turn right and walk until you see the stone-carved archway announcing number 120. Pop inside, and turn left down the lane to find building number 15, which houses the charming shop Aroom (open midday-8.30pm Tue-Sun), decorated with plenty of knick knacks. This is a fabulous place to rest in the AC and grab a latte or mango smoothie!

Question: In the wrought iron gates at the entrance of 120 Taian Lu there are two animals. What are they?

6. A secret language (French)

Double back along Taian Lu, and continue south along Xingguo Lu until you hit the Huaihai Zhong Lu/Wukang Lu apex, by the red-bricked Normandie Building, designed by László Hudec. Cross Huaihai Lu and head south down Tianping Lu, where you will pass by Old Jesse restaurant on your left, turning right where it meets Kangping Lu. A few metres west you’ll find the pretty, curio-filled Le Petit Jardin at number 220 (open 11am-11pm Mon-Thur, 11am-midnight Fri-Sun), complete with sunny conservatory, slightly-overpriced coffee, wi-fi and snoozing cats.Question: How many nutcracker statues are there in Le Petit Jardin’s window?

Getting home: From here continue west until you hit Huashan Lu, where you’ll see signs for Line 10’s Jiaotong University metro station, not far up the road to your right.

We used Apple maps and headed to Shanghai Community Fellowship for an evening of worship! Afterwards we continued our French themed day and dined at La Cabane for some lovely French food and wine with one of my Shanghai friends from Iowa (yay for the Midwest).

Day 5: We got up early, ate a street food breakfast and took the bullet train to Hangzhou! See Family in China Part 2: Exploring Hangzhou.

Day 10: When we returned from Beijing we had a last full day ahead.

We started the day by having breakfast and coffee with another friend of mine from New Zealand. What started as a supposed “meet in Tianzifang at this restaurant that opens early” ended as let’s go to this chain cafe because the other one was closed. But we ordered really expensive “poop” coffee and had a lovely chat. Let me just explain about the poop. It was really good shit let me tell you and probably one of the best cups of coffee in Shanghai, mostly because it’s from Bali and “it has been produced from the coffee beans which have been digested by a certain Indonesian cat-like animal called then palm civet or also civet cat. This is the reason kopi luwak is also called cat poop coffee or civet cat coffee. The feces of this cat will be collected, finished and sold as kopi luwak.” So there you have it. Cat poop coffee is the most-expensive coffee in the world. Done and done. Insert coffee emoji and facepalm here.

Tianzifang is a lovely back alleyway of quaint shops and souvenirs and old-time Shanghai feels. Go here for a stroll and meander through the winding paths before continuing on walking tour number 1 for the day. Thanks again TimeOut Shanghai~

shanghai tianzifang

Note: we got slightly turned-around and there was a some construction going on.so we walked through the lanes and toured the temple then ended back at Laoximen metro to head to the starting point of walking tour number 2.  It was a cool part of town that I had never been before!

Old City Wall Walking Tour

1. Begin at Laoximen metro station (exit 7) – as per the name, this was once the western gate of the old city.

2. Head to Confucius Temple (215 Wenmiao Lu, 15RMB).

(Really neat to see a temple in the middle of a city)
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3. Lunch around the corner at Zhejiang restaurant Kong Yi Ji (36 Xuegong Lu). Most notably, they make their own huangjiu and sell it in plastic bottles out of a take-away window. (We did not have lunch here).
4. At the far east end of Wenmiao Lu is a great chance to dive into some of Shanghai’s narrowest residential lanes. Jump into any and explore.
This is about where we got turned around and wanted to venture other places. The following directions are taken from the “Walled City Adventure Walking Tour” from Timeout Shanghai.
5. The intersection of Penglai Lu and Ninghe Lu sees the start of the Ninghe Lu market, an open wet market that’s always full of action, packed with locals and a great place to pick up some traditional snacks.
6. Pass by the former residence of Ming Dynasty scholar-bureaucrat and important Shanghai figure Xu Guangqi, a humble house marked with by a plaque at 234 Qiaojia Lu.
7. A grand gateway at 113 Qiaojia Lu marks the entrance to Catalpa Garden, once the finest residence in this part of town. Head into the lane to see a European-style villa (not open to the public) where, in 1922, artist Wang Yiting lived and hosted a dinner for Albert Einstein.

8. The walk finishes at Xiaonanmen metro station. A concrete-clad structure sits opposite exit 2 on Zhonghua Lu. Built in the early 20th century and said to have been inspired by the Eiffel Tower, this was an observation tower for fire prevention. Other similar structures existed in Shanghai, but only this one remains.

 

Walking Tour Number 2: Eileen Chang’s Shanghai (this is one of my favorites!)

Born in Shanghai in 1920 as Zhang Ying (her mother later renamed her Zhang Ailing), Eileen Chang went on to become one of China’s best known writers. In addition to spells in Tianjin and Hong Kong, the author of Lust, Caution and Love in a Fallen City spent many of her formative years in Shanghai, penning some of her most famous works here.
There are numerous sites associated with Chang dotted around the city, though unfortunately only a handful have received protective cultural heritage status. Her former school for example, the St Maria Girls’ School from which she graduated in 1937, now stands in ruin in the middle of a construction site next to Zhongshan Park metro station after it was nearly demolished several years ago. This walk takes in some of her old haunts in Jingan and the former French Concession.
Starting point Nanjing Xi Lu metro station, line 2
Walking time 1.5 hours

1. Head out of exit one onto Nanjing Xi Lu itself and turn left, crossing the junction with Maoming Bei Lu and going past the entrance of Jingan Villas to number 1081. Inside the gates, you’ll find a grand red brick building housing a Chinese restaurant surrounded by smaller, more modest white-washed houses. The simpler buildings make up Zhonghua New Estate, where Chang lived with her aunt for a short time after they vacated the Changde Apartment complex, where this walk will end.

Question: Dragons adorn the entrance to the Meilongzhen Jiujia restaurant. How many green dragon heads are there in total?

2. Retrace your steps back out through the gates and towards Jingan Villas. Use the pleasant old Shanghai longtang as a cut through to Weihai Lu.

At Weihai Lu, turn left toward the junction with Maoming Bei Lu. Just beyond the bakery on the left used to stand the house of Cao Qiqiao, the main character in Chang’s The Golden Cangue, purportedly based upon an aunt of the author. The original building was demolished some time ago. Head south on Maoming Lu and turn right when you get to the junction with Yanan Zhong Lu, just past KIN. At number 740 Yanan Zhong Lu, just past a VW showroom, is the entrance to the leafy Kangle Estate, mentioned in Chang’s short story A Flower in a Sea of Sins.

Question: Below the lamp on the right of the entranceway to the Kangle Estate there is a plaque of what?

3. Once you’ve taken in the plesantly peaceful longtang, continue heading west along Yanan Zhong Lu and use the pedestrian bridge over the junction with Shaanxi Nan Lu to cross underneath the Yanan raised road to the southwest corner, beside the Hengshan Moller Villa. The fairytale gothic-style Villa, today a fairly exclusive hotel, was built by British merchant Eric Moller for his youngest daughter and completed in 1936 after a decade-long construction period.

shanghai

Keep going along the southern edge of Yanan Zhong Lu until you reach number 877, opposite the Russian classical-style Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Beside the entranceway at 877 is a small plaque commemorating the former residence of Mao Guangsheng, an accomplished Ming dynasty scholar.

Question: Next door to the entranceway is an old Concession-era house, now home to a branch of which restaurant chain?

4. Head in through the gateway at 877, travelling south until you can go no further. At this point, turn right, squeeze through a small gateway and continue on until the complex, Siming Estate, opens up into one of its main passageways. Chang lived for a short time here before 1945 with her first husband Hu Lancheng, himself a renowned writer and editor. Other important Chinese literary figures such as poet Xu Zhimo also resided here and the area is one of the best preserved longtang in the city. Head south from here and you’ll emerge on Julu Lu. This is an area with with cafes and restaurants always changing!

Question: Turn and look back to the first building inside the estate. How many stories are there above the archway?

5. Turn right on Julu Lu and head west to the junction with Fumin Lu. Here, take a right heading north under the raised Yanan Lu, past the site of the new Shangri-La hotel and Kerry Centre, and across Nanjing Xi Lu. On the western side of Changde Lu at number 195 is the beautiful Art Deco structure of the Changde Apartment. Chang lived here for two stints and penned novels Love in a Fallen City and The Golden Cangue during her time in the complex.

Question: According to a heritage plaque on the wall, Chang’s second stay in these apartments lasted until what date?

Along the way we stopped for beers at World of Beer. BrewDog brewery out of Scotland had a “12 tap takeover”. Nothing like an ice cold beer on a hot day out walking the city.

6. The ground floor of Changde Apartment is now occupied by a small coffee shop (it’s delightful!) supposedly dedicated to the author. In practice, this means that there are a few posters displaying Chang’s face, Chinese editions of her books and, if you’re lucky, the odd copy in English. Nonetheless, a small courtyard hidden out the back makes for a pleasant place to rest your feet after walking this far, with coffee, tea, bottled beers and glasses of wine all for 50RMB each. According to the menu, this is where Chang ‘found her favorite cream cake’. Question: What is the name of this cafe?

Note: Getting home From Changde Apartment, Jing’an Temple metro station is just a minute’s walk away. Follow the signs for lines 2 and 7.

 

This is my hood so we walked back to my place and along the way stopped for wonton’s across from Paradox cafe on Wuding Lu. My wonton lady serves the best! What a day celebrating Dad’s birthday in Shanghai too! We called it an early night since my parents would be flying out the next day.

It’s been a whirlwind of a trip; lots of walking (10-15 miles a day), site-seeing, funny t-shirt reading, exploring local sides to the cities, and spending quality time with family. I am so blessed and thankful for my family! Cheers~

Read more about Family Adventures here:

Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou (note: Days: 5-7) 

Part 3: Exploring Beijing (note: Days 7-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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