Posts Tagged ‘Shanghai’

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Guyi Garden Tour

March 19, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Chinese garden, building structure on the edge of a lake

We visited Guyi garden in February two years ago. We went again this month with a Historic Shanghai group, guided by Shelly Bryant who has researched the classic gardens of Shanghai and published a book on them.

Garden entrance with people posing in front of bamboo crane sculptures

The three main symbols in this garden are bamboo, cranes, and plum blossoms.

a pink blooming plum tree

The gardens are full of symbolism in the buildings, the walkways, and the artwork. I see something new every time. The gardens are peaceful and beautiful. They are meant to be used for music, dance, art, and poetry.

To see all the 2017 pictures – click here.
To see the 2015 pictures – click here.

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Traveling the World Within China

September 29, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

You may have heard of the “ghost towns” of Shanghai. These are suburban developments with European themes that have not necessarily been big successes. We visited Thames Town a while back and found it very interesting and charming. It was also not a “ghost town.” It was clear that there were people living there and businesses operating.

We recently visited Holland Village in northern Pudong, although it wasn’t our intention to do so. We were headed to a music festival to hear Ajinai, a Mongolian folk rock band that we love. We were running late, caught a taxi, showed him the address of where we wanted to go (in Chinese), he said “ok,” we got in and he began to drive — THEN he motions that he wants us to call someone who can tell him where to go. There isn’t anyone we can call to give him directions in Chinese. Thus began the worst taxi ride we have had. He was a terrible driver, weaving all over as if he couldn’t keep the car in the lane. I came very close to telling him to pull over so that we could get out, because I didn’t want to die in this taxi.  He also chose the worst possible route, driving through the heart of the city instead of taking the outer ring elevated road. So, the trip that should have taken 40 minutes took 1 1/2 hours. He then drove right past the destination. We got him to pull over to a bus stop so we could get out and kiss the ground. (I kid. We didn’t, but we heaved a sigh of relief at still being alive.)

During this 1 1/2 hour ride we came up with a Plan B, because it was obvious that we weren’t going to see Ajinai that day. Holland Village, one of the 8 or 9 “ghost towns” was not far away and we plan to visit as many of them as we can, so we hopped on a bus and traveled north to find Holland Village.

New Holland coat of arms on a two story restaurant building

We took a stroll down the street.

Dutch style buidings

Crossed the draw bridge to the island in the river where there is a non-functioning windmill.

a Dutch style windmill

We walked back to the restaurant and had a lovely dinner. A rather pleasant day, despite how it began. We took the bus back to the metro and the metro back home.

To see all the pictures click here.

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Tailor Made, Part Two

June 7, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

man in black linen Chinese tunic

We went back to the South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market to pick up DaddyBird’s new shirts. He looks very dapper in the black linen traditional Chinese tunic.

entrance to the mall

Across the street from the South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market is the Shanghai Zhongfu Soft-Spinning Material Mall. I was curious to see how they compare. So, in we went.

hallway lined with clothing shops but no customers

Compared to the hustle and bustle of the South Bund market, this was the opposite end of the spectrum. Very few customers. Much more pleasant to walk down the aisles without having your personal space violated constantly. The clothes of the first floor were quite formal – tuxes, gowns, suits, traditional Chinese dresses (qipao).

Chinese restaurant

Next, it was time to eat, so we just dropped in here.

menu showing "slobber beef"

The menu English translations were quite entertaining. So, we ordered some “slobber beef.” The Chinese characters are “mouth water beef meat.” We suspect that it was tongue or maybe it is just mouth wateringly good beef. (Also pictured – jellyfish in vinegar, fried jellyfish, a chicken goose, local guild roast duck, wine ??? little yellow croaker)

"cuts the mutton in vain"

“Cuts the mutton in vain”

"the palace explodes the shrimp ball"

“The palace explodes the shrimp ball”

"grandmother red-roasted pork"

“Grandmother red-roasted pork”

"the salty egg yolk stir fries before stewing the taro"

“The salty egg yolk stir fries before stewing the taro”

set of dishes wrapped in plastic

When we approached the restaurant I noticed that there were plastic crates of dirty dishes on the sidewalk. The dish sets come like this on the table. I assume this means that instead of washing the dishes in house, they use a service that picks up the dirty dishes and delivers clean sets all wrapped up in plastic and ready to go. We have seen this at other restaurants as well.

landscape painting of autumn forest and river

Over our table was a painting with “happy trees.”

dishes, two beer large bottles

A couple of tall beers and we are ready for the slobber beef.

plate of buns and mixed meat and vegetables

First to arrive was the “pork burgers.”

bun turned over showing the hollow underside

We are not certain how to eat this, but we decided the most likely plan of action was to fill the hollow underside of the bun with the meat and veggies. The buns are different colors due to slightly different ingredients, but the taste was not significantly different.

two dishes, one of salted egg taro and the other of beef

Then came the slobber beef and the salted egg taro. The slobber beef turned out to be wickedly spicy, so I used the rather bland taro to put out the fire on my tongue.

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Tailor Made

May 31, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Yesterday’s adventure was to go to the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market to get new shirts made for Daddybird. ( A suit was contemplated also. I checked, he isn’t running a fever.)

So we hopped on the metro and headed across town.

large red sign for the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Martket with a map

The metro exit was clearly marked and then at the top of the exit was this big red sign complete with map of how to get to the market.

pole sign topped with a sewing machine

This sign was a good clue (and cool looking), but this is actually a competing market. The one we were heading for was across the street.

Street Food

At the corner there were at least 10 food carts extending out into the intersection. Why were they not on the sidewalk?

jewelry laid out on the sidewalk

Because the sidewalk is for the jewelry vendors, it seems. Plenty of jade and other interesting things, but not exactly how I prefer to shop for jewelry.

tailor made goods on display including Christmas tree skirts

You can get just about anything custom made here, including Christmas tree skirts.

I was wearing a scarf on my head, so everywhere I went I heard “Scarf Lady!” I did eventually buy two scarves. That was an adventure in haggling. They were two single color cashmere scarves. Nothing particularly complicated or special (no embroidery, etc.). She wanted 500 yuan ($81.00) as her starting price. I said “no” to that. She came down a little, but not much. I said “no” and started to walk away. She came after me, grabbing for my arm and finally said “okay, 300.” It was still too much ($48.00), but I did want them, so I agreed. We hate negotiating SO MUCH. It is so anathema to the American psyche.

Booths selling tailor made clothes

Daddybird’s shopping mission was interesting, too. He was very specific about what he wanted – black shirt material with a design in it (black on black). He had brought his favorite shirt as an example which had a herringbone pattern to it. The shop clerks would see that and say “I have that exact thing” then pull out their fabric sample books which never had the exact thing in them. Also, Daddybird would explain that he wanted a different pattern like flowers or paisley. In three floors of shops (hundreds of shops) there was only one that actually had a fabric that matched what he was looking for.

black fabric with a pattern

Finally, something that satisfied him. So, we ordered two shirts to be made exactly like his favorite shirt, which he had to leave with them. In one week, we will see what we get for our trouble.

There were several shops with classic Chinese style shirts on display, so we asked at the shop on the main floor under the escalator for a price on having one made for him out of black linen. (I didn’t take a picture, but it is a simple shirt with a band collar, frogs* instead of buttons, and two pockets near the waistline. Not very complicated.) Her starting price was 500 yuan. (This may be a popular starting price for simple things when dealing with foreigners.) So, $81.00 USD for a simple linen shirt, not even silk or brocade. We left that stall and decided to shop around for a better price instead of having to do the negotiation thing. As a seamstress, I find it amusing when their arguments for the high price are that the frogs* or pockets require more fabric. Not 80 bucks worth.

There were three floors and we had been to all three before starting to look for the classic shirt. I had noticed that there were fewer customers on the third floor, so thought we might get a better price up there due to the lack of customers. So, up we went and sure enough we found a shop with linen classic items and their starting price for the same black linen shirt with frogs and two pockets was 350 yuan. Daddybird talked him down to 300 ($48.00), still a bit high, but it is custom made to fit.

In one week, we will see just how well our choices worked out.

food cart serving egg and cheese wrap

Back out on the street, we stopped for some of that street food. At this cart, we got a flat bread, with fried egg, a slice of cheese and a leaf of lettuce. The price was outrageous – 15 yuan ($2.42). We did not buy a second. It was delicious, but not 15 yuan worth of delicious.

flat bread wrap with egg, cheese, and lettuce

So, we went elsewhere to get dinner. The food cart prices outside a popular market/tourist attraction are too high.

*In case you do not know what a “frog” is, it is a fastener made out of corded fabric with a loop and a knot.

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Historical Walking Tours, Shanghai

April 12, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Statue of Christ above the door of the church

The last two Saturdays we have gone on walking tours with Historic Shanghai. The first included the Jesuit buildings of the Xujiahui area.

Background information: Father Matteo Ricci came to China in 1582. He learned Mandarin Chinese and formed a strong friendship with Xu Guangqi, a scholar and political figure. The Xu family donated land to the Jesuits who built a cathedral and many related buildings.

We began in the Virgin Mary Convent which is now a restaurant. It is very close to the original condition because it was a convent until the 1990’s, so remodeling has been minimal.

five story white building

We began with a lunch composed of traditional Shanghai dishes. All yummy, well, except for the spicy peanuts.

The tour included the convent, the College of St. Ignatius, the biblioteca (library), the cathedral, the observatory, and the orphanage. There were many more Jesuit buildings in this area, but these are all that remain.

To see all the pictures, click here. (113 photos)

The second walking tour was of the Bund. This is on the bank of the Huangpu River. This was the center of the Western business trade. There are several generations of buildings, beginning with late 1800’s to the present day.

We began at the former British Consulate and walked south to Bund #1 the Asiatic Petroleum Company building which is currently vacant. I have included pictures taken before and after the tour while walking from and back to the metro station.

To see all the pictures, click here.  (275 photos)

arial view of the Bund from the 7th floor of a building

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Thames Town, P.R.C.

February 28, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

neighborhood sign

We hopped on the bus, the train, and the bus to get to Thames Town. What is Thames Town, you might ask. It is one of the nine towns of the One City, Nine Towns project. It is a housing project finished in 2006 designed to draw people out to the suburbs. The entire community is patterned after classic British market town styles. It has been referred to as a “ghost town,” but we saw plenty of people and many parked cars, so not so ghosty after all.

 buildings of different styles

The experience turned out to be more interesting than we expected. The town is actually very well designed and built. It does not look like a cheap knock off. They did a good job of mixing the architectural styles, much like the real London.

nineteenth century style English church

They even included this church modeled after Christ Church in Bristol. Unfortunately, it was locked up tight, so we could not see inside. We are very curious to see what is inside.

statue of James Bond as portrayed by  Pierce Brosnan

There are statues all over town. Some easily recognizable, like James Bond, Winston Churchill, and Princess Diana, but others are harder to pin down. Mostly writers of different eras.

British red phone booth

There were red phone booths, but no blue police boxes.

It is a really lovely place. Too bad it is about 19 miles away from where I work. To see all the pictures, click here.

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Guyi Garden

February 26, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

oriental garden and lake

We spent the afternoon in Guyi Garden. It was a long taxi ride (76 yuan – $12 USD – 45 AED). The admission is 12 yuan per person ($2 USD – 7 AED), so getting there is the expensive part. There is a metro station, but it is a bit of a walk. We took the metro home, but it was easier to find the place by taking a taxi.

The garden dates to the Ming Dynasty, as does Yuyuan Garden. It has been renovated multiple times since then.

mosaic of lotus blossoms

There is art everywhere – in the stone walkways, in the ceilings of every structure, and in the stone structures. The beauty of nature is not overwhelmed by the human art. They really knew how to balance and co-exist with nature.

rock sculpture

Spring is beginning. Trees are beginning to bloom.

white and dark pink flowering trees

To see all the pictures – click here.