Sunday, January 16, 2011

OUR FIRST STOP IS THE YU GARDEN.....

March 13, 2007 SHANGHAI

Slept the night and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel before meeting with Hanna for our morning tour at 9 am. The weather is cold and overcast but no rain. Our first stop is the Yu Garden. A Garden in China is always associated with a home and the public ones generally belonged to a wealthy family and are now owned by the State. The State owns all of the land in China. Individuals own their home and have a seventy year lease on the land. The State also own most of the shops, etc. It’s a very governmentally controlled country. It’s also an aging population as they have mandated that couples may only have one child. They are heavily fined for any additional children....according to our tour guide!

The Yu Gardens was built by the Pan family in 1557 and consists of three main sections: traditional Chinese teahouses, sparkling goldfish ponds and beautifully manicured pavilions. Afterwards we had half an hour to shop before boarding the bus for a trip to a “village” within the city where we visited a community center for senior citizens. They had paintings and carvings made by the seniors and their teachers for sale; we purchased a small jade dragon for our china hutch. Then we drove by bus to join a private family in their home for a traditional Chinese meal. The food was all freshly prepared by the wife in her tiny kitchen; there were seventeen different dishes. Seemed like way to much food for the five of us; three of our group had plane problems and won’t arrive until tomorrow. But, we all ate more than we should have even with struggling to use our chopsticks. Some gave up and resorted to the forks that were also provided. Private condos are very common for homes and they are generally about a thousand square feet divided into two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and a small sitting room.

After lunch we were off to the financial district: The Bund. It is located near our hotel and runs along the western bank of the river. Old hotels and private homes have been restored and converted to banks in this area. One very old hotel remains operational and is called the Peace Hotel and was built by an Opium Dealer. Prior to 1990’s the eastern bank of the river was farmlands but has become the “new” Shanghai; towering skyscrapers majestically fill the sky; the TV tower is the third tallest in the world. We decided to walk back to the river promenade after dinner so that we could take night photos of the skyline. They are working day and night to recreate the city for the coming World Exposition in 2010. Shanghai is known for its very unusual architecture; especially the unique tops of the skyscrapers. Shanghai will also be one of four venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Arrived back at the hotel by 3 pm and Jim walked over to the Shanghai Museum for two hours of private time to preview the exhibits at a leisurely pace. We will all be going on Friday. We all met again at 6 pm in a private conference room in the hotel for another Chinese dinner. Again, we practiced with our chopsticks and still managed to eat way too much food. But, we did walk lots of it off after dinner when we walked back to the river for the night photos.

2 comments:

Nancy Leigh Harless said...

And OH how wonderful the foof was, wasn't it?12 Waaaaay better than any 'American' version of their cuisine at least from what I experienced on the part of the trip I shared with you.

hugs,

Nancy

Mary said...

Martha... enjoyed your post. And the pictures show was great. Good selections. Hugs, Mary