Let us begin today with bundles and bundles of fresh vegetables. On a bright and sunny day, our Home Exchange hostess took us to the market where her Ayi shops for the ingredients with which she cooks the delicious family meals we enjoyed so much during our stay in Shanghai.
Among the multiple stands in the market hall offering fruits and vegetables and dry goods, as well as meat, poultry, and fish was a large table with innumerable types of tofu the likes of which I had never seen before – the whole experience was amazing!
On another day, we found ourselves in a rather popular neighborhood with a decidedly Disneyesque flavor surrounding an equally crowded Ming-style garden. I shall endeavor to explain with the help of an introductory cluster of images.
What you see above is part of a marketplace in and around Yuyua Old Street that has been active since the early 1900s in this old-style neighborhood in Puxi district, adjacent to the international concessions. These days, with the influx of western retailers and cheap production lines, it has turned into something overly garish and loud, if only in my opinion. The buildings, however, still maintain their traditional architecture and offer quite an array of roofing details.
The marketplace encircles a traditional Ming Dynasty Garden, called Yu or Yuyuan Garden, or in Shanghainese simply Yuyu, Garden of Happiness. It was conceived in the mid-1500 by a young man as a retirement garden for his father. Owing to administrative difficulties, the installation of the garden wasn’t finished till 1577. Over time, it became quite costly to maintain such an elaborate park which pretty much ruined the original owners. The Garden of Happiness changed hands a few times, ultimately falling into disarray. Conflicts and warfare didn’t do much good either when opposing factions used the garden’s structures for their nefarious purposes. Only some forty years ago, the Chinese government took possession and restored the beautiful garden, subsequently opening it to citizens and tourists.
Before entering the garden proper, we had refreshments at an upstairs tea house, overlooking a corner of the walled Yuyu Garden.
I’m trying to avoid the crowds by sticking with the rooftop architecture theme …
… until all eyes inadvertently moved back closer to the ground, because the free-form doorways and the carved, thrown, or welded window covers were deservedly too mesmerizing to ignore.
Nor was the woodwork of the pavilions!!
Sometimes simple paving stones can be delightful, especially for the shorter crowd.
In addition to pavilions, plants, ponds, and rockeries are essential components of Ming dynasty garden design.
The surrounding steel and glass skyscrapers of contemporary Shanghai created a stark contrast to the whispering softness of the garden with its oscillating shadows.
Time to leave and let the lions sleep.
In our last segment of this post, we’re looking at the Shanghai skyline from the perspective of the Huangpu River. We’re going cruisin’! In a tourist guide, I read about 3-hour cruises sailing down the Huangpu to the mouth of the Yangtze River as it flows into the East China Sea. That’s the kind of cruise we wanted to take, a quick roundtrip to the Yangtze, just to have felt it once. Our vexation mounted, however, when we hit every single tourism office and every ticket booth and street vendor for river cruise tickets up and down the length of the Bund and nobody would own up to such a cruise. One hour sight sighting cruises, yes, no problem. Three hours cruises – never heard of such a thing. And wouldn’t you think that at least one single person in a state-run, official tourist agency might understand English? ¡Nada! Eventually, we gave up and bought tickets for the one-hour cruise.
Being completely fed up by then, we stopped in a bar for a cool drink and encountered such a sweet young lady that we soon forgot our frustration. She was a waitress in the “German Restaurant & Bar”. Who’da thunk it? In Shanghai, China?
After drinking a cool draught, one has to visit the powder room, right? Which is sometimes located right next to the operating room 😱
Suitably refreshed we headed over to the cruise pier and followed the signage to the rather elaborate and highly polished if nearly deserted underground boarding area.
Finally aboard, we had to make a choice. Either stand for the duration on the top deck or take a seat on the lounge deck with an obligatory purchase of food and drink. We chose to sit. We also chose not to consume the so-called snack. Although the lounge was spacious and the chairs comfortable, it was fully enclosed, inevitably leading to slightly opaque images with a reflective glare. Sorry about that!
As we moved slowly downriver, the dense cluster of skyscrapers in the Pudong district shifted and changed. And I finally got off my duff and moved first to the aft deck, and then I climbed onto the top deck to gain a better view of the river banks.
When the grouping of buildings below first came into view on the Pudong side, it presented an intriguing sight because it was impossible to tell if it was under construction or being demolished.
In fast-growing Shanghai, that is often a simultaneous process! But in this case, I simply liked the grey-on-grey geometry.
On the other hand, the new construction with the pointed purple hats below remained a puzzle. Parking garage? Fairy castle?
Soon we saw the Yangpu Bridge, another landmark of contemporary Shanghai.
From here it’s only about 25 Km to the confluence of the Huangpu with the Yangtze. What a shame we couldn’t find a way to make it all the way to the East China Sea!
As if to make up for the disappointment, an old familiar view came into view on the right bank. The business development near the future Cruise Harbor we discovered days ago. The dragon pods! My Dune sandworm eggs, the funky Anime Lego creatures.
And speaking of Lego, I especially liked the line-up of miniature fire trucks.
As a size reference, can you see the tiny human walking along the pier?
Lastly today, especially for my German readers, a lucky snapshot of the very successful and highly rated Shanghai Käfer Restaurant just as an “ä” barge passed by.