We started off the day with a visit to the Shanghai Museum. Here there were rooms full of Chinese coins, calligraphy, paintings, ceramics, seals and bronze sculptures. Everything was really beautiful and the displays were really well lit. [GB: Sadly, the “Ethnic minorities of China” exhibit was closed. I compensated by buying a book to read on the boat.]
We then headed to Old Town Shanghai where we walked through the bazaar (winding alleys of stall-stores where vendors try to sell random Chinese stuff to tourists (Chinese and foreign). We walked through the Yuyuan garden, a Ming dynasty-style garden, which had large dragon sculptures on top of the walls, huge rock formations and beautiful koi ponds throughout.
After a dim sum lunch, we had some free time in the bazaar, and I was able to buy some preserves for the family. I was sent here with a wrapper from a preserve that my aunt really likes, but can’t find in Vancouver (she was given a bag as a gift). So, here we are in China, flashing this little wrapper at tour guides and people in stores hoping that they have this exact brand of preserved plums. To make it worse, there are Chinese characters on the wrapper that say ‘United States”. I think this is because the plums used are California plums, but everyone who speaks English has said, “This says ‘US’ on it. Can’t you but this over there?” So yes, I feel like a moron! Anyways, I haven’t found the exact brand, but I bought some that are similar, so the quest continues…
Our next stop was the Temple of the Jade Buddha. This is a “working” Buddhist temple, so it was kind of weird walking around on a tour while people were praying and burning incense. Anyways, we say two jade buddhas (one large one, one small one). We also got to sample to “Buddha tea” in the temple’s tea room. Here a saleswoman asked me if I was Chinese. I said that I was Chinese-Filipino from Canada. Later our tour guide said that she overheard the woman tell another saleswoman my background and that she thought my Chinese half was either Fujian (from Fujian province in China, not Fuji!) or Cantonese based on my face. I tolk her that I am half Fujian, but I never knew that there was a “Fujian look”. Apparently there is, so that was interesting. For that interaction the saleswoman got a Canadian flag pin. 🙂
Speaking of pins, if you are going overseas and want to give random people you meet during your travels something from Canada, go to your MP/MLA’s office and pick up a handful of Canadian flag pins for free! We’ve been giving them to people (usually cute kids, friendly cab drivers, etc.) and they seem to love it – especially the cab driver in Hangzhou who got out of the cab and ran after us to ask if it was an earring! But, I digress…
After a brief rest at the hotel, Greg and I took a walk down Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s high-end shopping district. This was not as fun as the walk back to the hotel on a parallel but more Chinese street. Here we saw local shops, food on the street (mostly BBQ meat skewers) and convenience stores.
After dinner we took a cruise on the Huangpu River along the Bund to see Shanghai’s ultra-modern skyline. It has the world’s second highest building (soon to be 3rd as another is going up in Dubai), the Shanghai World Financial Center, along with a lot of other really cool skyscrapers (both in terms of architecture and lighting). We were lucky to also see an impromptu fireworks show from a passing barge. The lights on these buildings is comparable to Vegas, but on extremely tall office buildings, as well as on the lower office buildings and restaurants in front of them.
[GB: important note about the skyline on the east side of the river (which is what Kat describes above) is that it wasn’t there 15 years ago. Fifteen years ago, it was suburban at best. Everything in Shanghai is new.]
Tomorrow we head to Yichang to embark on the Yangtze River cruise. Not sure what the internet situation will be like, so we may not post for the next 4 days.
[GB: I have still been posting a few pictures each day, but haven’t been mentioning it. This is just the tip of the iceberg: quickly-chosen favourites. Hundreds more will appear after we’re home.]