Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.
Every good day starts with a good breakfast. It is difficult to find a truly good American style breakfast while living abroad. Some UAE restaurants would list “American breakfast” on their menus and when it came, it included baked beans and a grilled tomato. NOT American.
Not having any eggs in the house, we got up and walked to “foreigner street” where there was supposed to be a restaurant with a good breakfast. The first good sign was that the menu was on the placemat. It is a weird, tacky thing we Americans do. The second good sign was that the menu indicated I could get refillable coffee. That’s big on my restaurant critique scale. DaddyBird ordered steak and eggs with blue berry pancakes and I ordered the breakfast combo (two eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, toast, and fruit). The blue berries were IN the pancakes instead of just poured on top. My coffee was actually refilled twice and the hashbrowns were so good that I ordered another helping. The service was as good as the food. The review DaddyBird had read that led us here indicated that the crispy bacon would actually be crispy. This was very true. Five stars to Bastiaan’s. We will definitely be return customers.
What to do next? Since this is a holiday week for me, I thought we should do something touristy. I chose Yuyuan Garden. To be honest, I thought “it will be crowded and I’ll be on my feet too much and that will be painful, but I’ll be able to say we did some exploring.”
We hopped on a bus which took us to the metro train which took us to the neighborhood of the garden. It is a bit of a walk from the train to the garden. Along the way were a few beggars. DaddyBird usually drops a few coins or small bills in their cups. This brought him to the attention of a young Chinese man walking the same direction we were. He struck up a conversation with us, one that I began to fear wasn’t going to end. It became clear that he wasn’t just being sociable, but had a shop that he wanted to take us to, not just one shop, but several. We went and it was worth it. The first shop was silk products, but the hook is that they have a “museum” which is actually just an educational display on how silk is made. It was very educational. Silk is rather amazing. After the “museum” came the shop with bedding, scarves, and clothing – all silk. DaddyBird tried on a shirt, but their largest size was just a bit too small. The same with me. I tried on a really lovely jacket, but needed a bit more room. So, they had to settle for selling me scarves which have no size constraints. THEN he wanted to take us to his family’s tea shop. We thanked him, but made our excuses and moved on.
The area around the Yuyuan Garden is a busy maze of consumerism. There are many shops full of marvelous things, as well as dumpling shops, etc.
We finally reached what appeared to the be garden.
This is what often appears on the advertisements. We both thought, if this is IT, what a disappointment.
This was not IT. We found the ticket office and the main entrance. The entrance fee is 40 yuan per person ($6.52 / 24 AED). [A bit of advice here, eat before you go in. The garden is large and will take some time to see. We left early, about 2/3 through, because we needed to eat.]
There were plenty of other people in the garden area, but it was still a pleasant and relaxing experience. There were places to sit and enjoy the fish, turtles, birds, and nature. It is an amazing little bit of serenity in the middle of a highly urban and populated city.
The garden is a large area with many buildings, gardens, and winding paths connecting them all. One building housed a few tea shops. If you know DaddyBird and his tea addiction, you know that we went in, sat down, sampled 4 or 5 teas, and bought two boxes of the best teas. Expensive, but worth the experience. Another building housed artworks for sale. They were quite amazing, but we refrained.
As I mentioned earlier, we had to exit in order to find something to eat, so it was back out to the tourist mart area, hustling and bustling.
We are used to tourist areas where the merchandise is cheap stuff (made in China) and the wares of each store are almost identical to the wares of their neighbors. This is not true of the Yuyuan Tourist Mart. The wares vary from store to store and there are quality items that you might actually want to buy. I suspect we will have little trouble finding Christmas gifts this year.
These dragons are pretty spectacular as plush toys go.
We walked a short way to Fangbang Lu (street) which is known for it’s food vendors. We walked down the length looking at what was available and then came back through to actually make our purchases. I had decided that I wanted to try stinky tofu, so we began with that with the idea that if it was terrible, we could cleanse our pallets with something else afterward.
Stinky tofu, we can attest, smells like poo. For DaddyBird’s tastebuds, it also tasted like poo. Mine, however, reacted differently and I found it pleasant and almost pedestrian. Therefore, I ate the bulk of the stink tofu. We followed this up with noodles and bok choy and discovered we were full. There were many other enticing tidbits on offer, so we will have to go back without having a big breakfast first.
I took many, many photos, so click here if you want to see them.