Sunday, January 15, 2012
At Yu Yuan Gardens
Les was going to Shanghai for some meetings, so I tagged along too. It was very cold, as you can see from the wool coat I almost had to have surgically removed on my return to balmy Hong Kong! Shanghai is 760 miles North East of Hong Kong,a two and a half hour flight. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, very nice indeed. As Les was at meetings each day and on one evening, I explored this massive city using taxis and walking...a lot! I visited People's Square, a huge open park with fountains, sitting areas and beautiful floral displays, even in winter. They had fabulous displays using purple and white ornamental cabbages and also a lot of small begonia type flowers in the beds.The square also houses the Shanghai museum, where I spent a fascinating three hours. Next stop, the Urban Planning building which housed a history of Shanghai housing and infrastructure, including a full size 1930's Shanghai street with little shops and bars, just where James Cagney would have found his Shanghai Lil! I had lunch in one of the tiny cafes and the coffee came in beautiful old fashioned floral china. I walked all the way back to the hotel, using a fancy office skyscraper as my marker. You know how it is when you start to walk across a field to what you thought was a nearby hill and it takes forever? Well the same is true of the urban landscape! An hour later, I was at last on the correct street... just another half hour walk to go! The last stretchwas the international stretch; H&M, Zara, Gap and good old Marks and Spencer.I was still full from lunch and so very very tired that I had a bath and was tucked up in bed with a picnic; salad,crisps and fruit from the supermarket across the road from the hotel, when Les got in at 900pm!
Next morning, I headed for Old Shanghai and was astounded at the displays for Chinese New Year; dragons, firecrackers, lions, monkeys, gold fish, made of every imagineable material. I saw silk, cotton, polyester, metal, wood and even recycled cardboard dragons! I had a wonderful day. I went to the Yu Yuan Gardens, where my camera's memory card claimed it was full, so a friendly stall holder sold me a new one and took my picture (with me sprting winter coat!) to prove it worked. The gardens were built for an emperor in the 16th century and are quite magnificent.As it was winter, there was not much colour, but the rockeries and pavilions were beautiful.
This is a city I would like to visit again if I am lucky enough to get the chance! I still didn't get to the art museums, of which there are two, not did I go to The Bund, the iconic riverside walkway with a range of architectural styles featuring Shanghai's past as an international finance centre.