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Shanghai

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Shànghäi Museum

    "In Shanghai, on the first evening, we had a tour of the 16th century Yu Garden, located in what is left of the classically Chinese old city, followed by an evening off, where we had a chance to catch up on sleep. The next morning, we went to the impressive new Fine Arts Museum, where some of the items are several thousand years old. Most of the collections are stone, bronze, and porcelain (which they invented). Unfortunately, the Chinese painted on silk, so that few old paintings survive."     -     George Ruff

    "The museum's collections contain fine displays of furniture and folk art, as well as the items mentioned by George Ruff. A striking example from the folk art realm is this pair of canoe-like boats, built by the Yami, an aboriginal people, who inhabit Lan Yu or Orchid Island, located SE of Taiwan. The brilliance of their decorations is stunning, with the red/white coloring and patterns typical of these people."     -     Lance Nevard
Stunning Yami Canoes on display at the Shanghai Museum     
photo © Lance Nevard

 

豫 园

Yù Gardens (1559-1577)

    Nantao was the walled city of Shanghai. The walls (were) torn down long ago, but the Nine-Twists Bridge over the pond and the pavilion made famous by the blue-and-white willow pattern of English dinner services remain(s). Nantao (is) now a marketplace with narrow winding lanes and hundreds of small shops and stalls selling a great variety of commodities, from wigs to live frogs for medicinal purposes. It used to be said that one could get everything one wanted in Nantao except a coffin. There (are) also numerous restaurants offering special food unobtainable elsewhere. In the middle of the marketplace, near the pond, was a Ming dynasty garden, Yu Yuan, with ornate artificial rockeries and many courtyards surrounded by pavilions and studios. The Red Guards (of the Cultural Revolution) did not destroy Yu Yuan because an anti-imperialist revolutionary organization of 1853, the Little Sword Society, had used the place as its secret headquarters. - Nien Cheng; Life and Death in Shanghai Our local guide in Shanghai, Qiu Shua     
photo © L Nevard

The quiet beauty of Yu Gardens     
photo © L Nevard
Ornate rooflines within the Yu Gardens     
photo © L Nevard
So much of Shanghai is so very recent, that one has to know where to look to find any signs of the "Old" China. Our first afternoon in China was spent touring these 400 year old, Ming Dynasty, gardens.

 
Red lacquered mirror wall     
photo © L Nevard
Covered Walkway of Brick Rubble - Yu Gardens     
photo © L Nevard

Leaving Yu Gardens, our group joined the crowds wandering past the booths and stores of the bazaar. Leaving the street, via an anonymous doorway, we climbed an antique circular stairway, to an upstairs restaurant, for a delicious, first real dinner in China, Shanghai-style. This meal also was our 1st real opportunity to spend quality time getting to know other members of our group. - LN
 
Restaurant Stairway in the Yu Gardens Bazaar - Shanghai     
photo © L Nevard

Restaurant at teh Top of the Stairway - Yu Gardens Bazaar - Shanghai     
photo © Jean Ruff

    We visited the Long Hua Temple, then had a vegetarian lunch, which was quite good. After lunch, we had a stroll on the Bund, the waterfront on the Huangpu River, which is part of the Yangtze basin. After the Opium Wars, the UK and other western powers demanded various concessions. The result is that one side of the river is 19th and early 20th century European. Another concession was that the Chinese change their word for foreigner, which meant “barbarian,” and stop claiming that their emperor was ruler of the whole world, so that any representative to the Chinese court had to kow-tow. Queen Victoria`s emissaries were not used to kow-towing. Although the Chinese invented gunpowder, they had never developed cannon like those on the British ships, which went up the Yangtze and other rivers with relative impunity. The other side of the river is now 21st century international. Although I went back to the hotel, to send some e-mails, Jean stayed on the bus to go to a silk factory. They demonstrated how silk is extracted from cocoons, then how rugs are woven by hand. A fine example is now on our living room floor. Jean will tell you how she bargained for it (and I can tell you how I got it home, in my carry-on bag.) After dinner, we went to a new performing arts center and saw an astonishing performance by the Shanghai acrobatics troupe, considered the best in the world. Boys and girls begin their training at age six. If I could describe what they did, you wouldn`t believe it but, to give you an idea, it began with two young men standing on the stage. Two other young men came out, did somersaults, and ended up standing of the shoulders of the first two men. Then two girls appeared, did somersaults and landed standing on the shoulders of the second pair of men. Very impressive, but then the two girls did somersaults and exchanged places, each now standing on top of the shoulders on the other second man. It went on from there. As we returned on the bus, reaching the hotel about 10 p,m., the guide announced that luggage had to be outside the rooms by 4:30 and we would have wake-up calls at five, to go to the airport for the flight to Guilin.      - George Ruff

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