Shanghai: Do you know that Qibao Old Street is related to Tin Tin comic?

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Qibao Old Street is an old town near Shanghai. It is a rather commercialised street with many shops occupying the traditional Chinese-style buildings. A lot of them sell food, souvenirs but there are also unique museums at this town.

So far, I only have been to this old street during the National Day so it was rather crowded.

There are three arched stone footbridges over the Puhui River:

  • Kangle Bridge
  • Puhui River Bridge
  • Anping Bridge

Do you know that Qibao Old Street has an association with famous comic character Tin Tin?

Tin Tin and Chang

Herge got to know Chang due to Father Gosset, a chaplain to the Chinese students at Louvain University. The latter suggested that Herge do some actual research into life in China as it really was. Zhang Chongren, a student at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels met Herge and they became great friends. Description of these Chinese cultures in the Tintin comic are due to Chang’s depiction of them.

Tintin and chang - understanding each other's culture
Tintin and Chang – understanding each other’s culture (Source: The Blue Lotus.)

tintin and chang
Tintin and Chang

👨🏻‍🎨 Chang, who appeared in The Blue Lotus and Tin Tin in Tibet, was based on Hergé’s friend, Zhang Chongren.

👨🏻‍🎨 Zhang Chongren was a sculptor and painter who lived in Qibao by Puhui river. There’s a museum built in his memory in this town.

👨🏻‍🎨 Hergé and Zhang became good friends when they met in Belgium. The former’s anti-imperialism concepts (a big contrast to the story of Tin Tin in Congo) and cultural details in the Blue Lotus were based on the latter’s relation of stories to Hergé.

👨🏻‍🎨 When they lost touch during world war 2, this probably inspired Hergé to write ‘Tin Tin in Tibet’, where the journalist saved Chang from an Yeti.

Blue Lotus in the story is actually an opium den which was problem then in China, leading to the looting of the Old Summer Palace. And nope, there isn’t a Blue Lotus themed museum or cafe in Qibao Old Town, yet!

In fact, many people didn’t know about this back story of Chang.

This old town isn’t on the foreign tourists’ radar since it is a little far from Shanghai City.

How to get to Qibao Old Street

The easiest way to get there is by via Subway. Take line 9 to drop off at Qibao Station. Take exit 2. Follow the crowd where they are walking to get to Qibao Old Street. There are also signs which tells you which direction to walk.