October 28/29, 2018 – Shanghai, China
Few cities in the world evoke so much history, glamour, mystique and exotic promise in the name alone. Shanghai did not disappoint. Our ship was docked right in the middle of town and the views from the ship were stunning.
We were on a tour this day and we started out to visit the Yuyuan Gardens, but on the way, we were treated to a fabulous lion dance.
A short walk and we are engulfed into the crowd of the Old Bazaar, just before the Yuyuan Gardens. There are many, many shops selling all kinds of wares and a variety of restaurants but it is a Sunday and the streets are jam packed with people.
Crossing the zig zag bridge, we finally enter the serenity of the gardens.
With its shaded alcoves, glittering pools churning with fish, pavilions and pines sprouting wistfully from rockeries, the Yùyuán Gardens is one of Shànghǎi’s premier sights. Trees include the luohan pine, bristling with thick needles, willows, gingkos, cherry trees and magnificent dawn redwoods.
The Pan family, rich Ming dynasty officials, founded these gardens, which took 18 years (1559–77) to be nurtured into existence before bombardment during the Opium War in 1842. The gardens took another trashing during French reprisals for attacks on their nearby concession during the Taiping Rebellion. Restored, they are a fine example of Ming garden design. With its ancient maze of grottoes, bridges, lotus ponds and pavilions, it’s now a peaceful oasis in the heart of bustling Shanghai and a national monument.
After a great lunch at a local restaurant, we drove to the former French Concession founded in 1849 as a result of the Treaty of Nanking. It’s a lovely mix of gorgeous tree-lined streets, old villas and European architecture where much of Shanghai’s past beauty and charm remains.
The foreign diplomatic quarter, top hotels, high end shopping and international bars and restaurants in the art deco buildings make this a stylish area and one of Shanghai’s most vibrant districts.
Back to the ship for a very quick supper as tonight we are going to a live show – Chinese Acrobats! This was an incredible display of strength, agility and flexibility. Couldn’t take a lot of pictures but here are a few…
There were so many different acts in the show, it was truly amazing! So glad we went. Back on the ship in time to see the light show in Shanghai (they turn off the lights at 22:00). Again, pictures don’t do it justice as they are changing all the time. It was spectacular!
I don’t have a lot to report on our second day in Shanghai. It was basically a shopping day. First we took the shuttle bus to an area called The Bund, which is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai. The most famous and attractive sights which are at the west side of the Bund are the 26 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.
We walked along the boardwalk for a bit and it is a lovely area but we were focused on heading to the Asia Pacific Shopping area which we were told was a mecca for good deals on just about everything. We hopped into a cab and after some negotiating and misinterpretation (no English, but a translator app), we finally arrived at this underground shopping mall. It was massive with shop after shop after shop…a bit overwhelming.
The trick is not to make eye contact with the vendors because if you do, they virtually want to drag you into their shops. If you are interested in something, be prepared to buy it if you can negotiate the price you want. We ended up paying about 20% of their starting prices (inflated of course) but you cannot be bullied into buying something. On several occasions, we walked away from a purchase only to be followed along with the price steadily going down. This is not for the light hearted and you need to be prepared for them to be upset if you don’t get your price.
This is all in good faith though. Although in one shop, I stopped to look at a belt. The shop owner literally grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go. I had to pry her hand off in order for me to leave the shop!
I quite enjoy an adventure like that although it can be stressful to have to make buying decisions rather quickly. We ended buying several things.
Back to the ship for a lovely sail away down the Huangpu River. Next stop, back to Japan to visit Naha, Okinawa! Thanks for reading along!