A new (Chinese) year, a new hobby

A new (Chinese) year, a new hobby

Sadly, brunch is not a hobby, but thankfully many other options abound in Shanghai. Pick up a new pastime for the Year of the Rabbit

Shut down the laptop, stash away the DVDs and treat yourself to some old-fashioned R&R. You might be surprised by how much you’ve missed it.

Shanghai hobbies -- puzzel

1. Mental fix: Renoir Puzzle

When you’re keen to piece together something besides yet another tedious presentation, leave it to the true puzzle professionals to put those neurons to good use.

Stocking brands from around the world ranging from mini to massive, this Taiwan-based chain has something to challenge even the pickiest of puzzle geeks including 3D and glow-in-the-dark options.

Super-keen puzzlers can go for the 10,000 piece bestseller, and those really cruisin’ for some brain time can feast on the biggest one in stock: all 24,000 pieces of it.

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“Renoir Shanghai currently has four outlets in all corners of the city to meet the needs of puzzle lovers of all ages," says Ellen Huang, the Shanghai marketing manager. "We also hold special puzzle contests throughout the year and invite all local puzzle enthusiasts to take part.”

Renoir Puzzle, multiple locations, Shop 69-70, 6/F, Super Brand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xi Lu 陆家嘴西路168号正大广场6楼69-70商铺近陆家嘴环路, +86 21 5047 1891, newweb.renoirpuzzle.com.tw


Shanghai hobbies -- pottery

2. Play in the mud: The Pottery Workshop

So much more than muddied fingers and Patrick Swayze moves, this more sociable pursuit is the perfect creative outlet for those who don’t mind getting their hands a bit dirty.

Pottery Workshop has recently moved into a larger space and now include a sales shop, gallery and educational studio offering both English and Chinese classes for adults, teens and the little ones including a children’s summer pottery camp.

Educational director and ceramic art specialist Ben Carter and staff teach a variety of styles and techniques from around the world.

“Here we encourage students to share our passion for the ceramic arts," says Carter. "Since 2002, we have held fast to our mission to bring high quality ceramic education to Shanghai."

The Pottery Workshop Shanghai, Lane 180, No. 1a, Shaanxi Nan Lu 陕西南路180弄1a号, infosh@potteryworkshop.com.cn, potteryworkshop.org/shanghai


Shanghai hobbies -- stamps

3. Philatelic fix: Shanghai Philatelic Corporation

Closeted philatelists, take note, it’s time to come out of hiding because you are truly among friends in China. Boasting millions of proud stamp lovers nationwide, your philatelic hobby fix is guaranteed to be met.

True novices can start out small at the larger China Posts and various philately shops around town (be sure to also ask a friend to get the inside scoop on local stamp networks).

Those up for an official experience should visit the city’s certified collection locale -- the Shanghai Philatelic Corporation. Although far from flashy, it still delivers something for all ages, budgets and themes (including holidays, the Olympics and ubiquitous Haibao).

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Prices range from simple RMB 5 sets to the highest priced Expo Commemorative Set at RMB 13,900.

Shanghai Philatelic Corporation, 18 Sichuan Bei Lu, near Tiantong Lu 四川北路18号近天潼路, +86 21 6356 2528, www.cpi.com.cn, limited English


Shanghai hobbies -- models

4. If you build it, they will come: Shanghai Waigo Hobby Shop

Sure you can find loads of random, cheap models at the local toy store, but serious model enthusiasts know better.

Originally based in Hong Kong and first opening its doors in 1976, Waigo Hobby fills just about every fantasy transport fix from helicopters to airplanes, race cars and boats including a handy, spare part service.

The knowledgeable staff can help you navigate their huge inventory from simple ready-to-fly beginner kits under RMB 500 to state-of-the-art competition models costing over RMB 10,000.

“You can find all the top brand names like Futaba, Tamiya, Hirobo, and Yokomo products in our store," says manager Alan Chan. "We also carry other more economical alternatives from local Chinese brands."

“Some of [our customers] gather on weekends to fly their helicopters or drive their R/C cars together," continues Chan.

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"So, newcomers shouldn’t worry too much, they should be able to find other R/C drivers or pilots. However, unlike overseas where there are many local model clubs with R/C airfield where R/C pilots can fly their heli or airplane, in Shanghai, people need to find their own places to fly.”

Shanghai Waigo Hobby (上海伟高模型) 105, 107, 112 Hongkou Football Stadium, 444 Dong Jiang Wan Lu 东江湾路444号虹口足球场四区105, 107, 112, +86 21 5666 2466, closed on Tuesdays, shanghai.waigohobby.com


Shanghai hobbies -- model trains

5. All aboard: Bachmann Model Train Store

Nothing against those other model folks, but ask any railway hobbyist and they’d be sure to set themselves away from the pack. Train lovers keen to sniff out other locomotive buddies needn’t look any further than the local Bachmann store.

Currently the biggest seller of model trains in the world, Bachmann is hardly a newbie in the train biz, tracing its origins back to the United States in 1833.

With a sole specialty in model trains and accessories in China, these guys know their stuff and are ready to help you either begin or build your current collection.

Their Wuding Lu showroom (more like a playroom for Bachmann customers) is definitely worth a visit, train enthusiast or not.

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"A model train collection is a collection of one’s national character," says Rick Li, general manager. "As the U.S. collectors love collecting U.S. trains and German collectors love collecting German trains, for Chinese collectors the most important collection is the Chinese train."

Bachmann China, Rm. 1208, 595 Wuding Lu, near Xikang Lu 武定路595号1208室, 近西康路, +86 21 6256 7701, www.bachmannchina.com.cn


Shanghai hobbies -- cooking

6. Wok and roll: Chinese Cooking Workshop (CCW)

Thanks to ayi and the city’s endless restaurant choices, cooking in Shanghai can indeed be a hobbyist’s pursuit, and the Chinese Cooking Workshop (CCW) folks are busy keeping those wok fires burning.

The school hosts daily Chinese cooking classes, as well as private classes by appointment if the classroom setting’s not your thing. 

Those keen for the full cultural experience can sign up for a wet market tour plus wok session combo class.

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“We hope more people learn about us and take part in our workshop," says Celian Shen, marketing manager. "It's a good way to maintain and spread Chinese food culture. People can have so much fun cooking.”

China Cooking Workshop, multiple kitchen locations, 696 Weihai Lu, Rm. 307, near Maoming Bei Lu 威海路696号307室, 近茂名北路, +86 134 8277 1529, www.chinesecookingworkshop.com


Shanghai hobbies -- scrap book

7. Get scrappy: Scrapbook Studio

Think of this less as a hobby, and more like a classier and more creative way to preserve Shanghai memories, sans an eternally blocked Facebook.

The Scrapbook Studio, Shanghai’s only scrapbooking supply store, is all about keeping those memories intact, creative and colorful.

Importing all products from the United States, the store has just about everything you need to start this new hobby -- and if they don't, they can order it for you.

It's a bit of a haul to get to their studio but if you don't have time to trek out to Qingpu, you can order your materials online delivered to your door.

"When I first started scrap-booking in China years ago, it was impossible to find supplies," says Scrapbook Studio owner Laura Li. "So I started importing what I needed for my own projects. When I realized that there is a huge circle of scrapbooking fans living right here in Shanghai, it just seemed the logical choice to bring them this service."

Scrapbook Studio, Rm. 805 Clubhouse, Jiushi Xijiao Garden, 168 Laohuqingping Lu, near the French and German School 久事西郊花园, 老沪青平公路168弄, 近诸光路, closed Sundays, scrapbookstudio1@yahoo.cn, scrapbookstudio1.com


Stephanie Thomas is a freelance writer of all trades based in Shanghai.
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