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Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai, China
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China: Shanghai & Water Village Zhujiajiao
June 2007

Shanghai City Water Village Zhujiajiao The Jade Buddha Temple & Yu Yuan Gardens
China - Shanghai, the Bund


Fascinating river traffic in Shanghai, fabulous candied plums while taking part in the daily evening promenade along the Bund, and picturesque water village Zhujiajiao.

Shanghai City

Shanghai
Bund Financial Center behind historic buildings on the Bund.

We were able to choose the end point of our holiday: either Shanghai or Hong Kong. We weren't too keen on Hong Kong, its main attraction seems to be shopping which does not appeal, and we'd heard good things about the Bund so we opted for Shanghai. We were not disappointed and both really liked this city.

Shanghai
Fireworks on the Huangpu river.
Shanghai
The Bund from the Panorama Bar.

Shanghai
Buildings on the Bund, from left to right: The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the Customs House with Clock Tower and the Art Deco former Bank of Communications.

Met with the usual efficiency at the airport, the drive to the hotel revealed a city, like Beijing, with a lot of construction work going on. Whereas the architecture in Beijing is massive and blocky, here it seems much more modern. The Shanghaiese are obviously sensitive on the subject of the Olympics and keen to point out that they host the World's Fair in 2010 with the theme "Better City – Better Life"!

Our hotel is the Panorama at the north end of the Bund, close to the Huangpu River, and the view of the Bund from the bar on the 31st floor (which also does an excellent Tequila Sunrise), especially at night, is fantastic. We had a beautiful serviced apartment which was great - lots of space to spread out.

The Bund is certainly an impressive street - it gets its name from an old Anglo-Indian term bunding: the embanking of a muddy foreshore. It was the heart of old Shanghai's commercial district in the British concession, and a working harbour in its heyday.

Shanghai
On the right bank of the river, opposite the Bund.
Shanghai

I like Art Deco so we set out on our first day to track down a couple of examples: the Peace Hotel, which turns out to be closed for 18 months for renovation, and the Metropole Hotel, which is open. It's nice, and does a good cocktail, but for Art Deco go to New York, and of course London has some fine examples. We didn't see any fine decorative detail such as can be found on Art Deco buildings elsewhere.

Shanghai
Shanghai

Shanghai

Although M on the Bund comes highly acclaimed, we didn't find anything to tempt us on the menu. In the same building, albeit in the basement so without the views, is Lin Bar & Grill, which does excellent fillet beef and Spanish Suckling Pig, washed down with a more than acceptable Tuoling red.

It seems the world and his wife take a walk along the Bund in the evening. The long waterfront Promenade is popular with the locals and there are lots of food vendors, including candied plums which are fantastic - messy but fantastic!

The restaurant in the Panorama is on the 30th floor and a window table has excellent views of the river, which is a fully working river. A continuous convoy of huge barges laden with sand, gravel, coal, timber makes its way upstream. Shanghai has been a major transit point for commercial traffic for over a thousand years.

One evening we took a boat trip on the Huangpu river - a stately promenade down and up the river in front of the Bund on an illuminated boat. Followed by a very good meal at TSens on the Bund: prime rib of beef with extra chips (albeit delivered after we'd finished the meat!), California Merlot and freshly baked bread. Finished off with a drink in the Panorama with the view of the Bund that I doubt can be bettered.

After the Opium Wars the British arrived in 1842, under the terms of the Treaty of Nanking, followed by the French in 1847. Each had a "concession" - the British along the Bund and north of the city, the French to the south west.

We took the subway to the French concession to see the colonial housing areas.

Sun Yat-sen house
Tickets for Sun Yat-sen house.
Mag Lev
MagLev tickets.

 

scrap book
From the scrap book, brochure for the Rui Jin Hotel, former home of Mr Morris, on the right.

The Sun Yat-sen house seems very British in its interior and lawned garden. Dr Sun Yat-sen was the first president of post-imperialist China. He lived in this house from 1918 to 1924 and the interior holds many of his personal possessions.

The newspaper magnate Mr Morris's Tudor-style house is a peaceful oasis and now a fine hotel.

In the parks we wandered through, kite-flying is very popular.

When we left we travelled to the airport on the Mag Lev train - only 7 minutes to travel 30 km, with a top speed of 431km/hr,there's a display of its speed on the train.

 

Water Village Zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao water village

Zhujiajiao water village

Zhujiajiao water village
Zhujiajiao water village
Yuanjin
City God Temple tickets.
Zhujiajiao water village

 

We visited the water village at Zhujiajiao with dire warnings of not to eat anything as the river water, none too hygienic, is used for washing fruit and vegetables.

The town grew rich from the Ming dynasty trade in grain, silk and pottery as it lies on the large Jinghang Canal connecting Suzhou and Shanghai.

We visited the City God Taoist Temple where red ribbons covered with prayers for good health etc. are tied to trees. We were subjected to a very persistent "priest" who pestered us to make a donation or buy something.

Taoism is different to Buddhism, though many Taoists will also follow Buddhism. Taoism has many deities and believes in the oneness of nature.

This is a true water village with the buildings surrounded by canals and built right on the water. All of the homes seem to have a landing stage and the main mode of transport in the past must have been via the waterways.

 

Zhujiajiao water village
City God Taoist Temple
Zhujiajiao water village
Great dragon/fish detail on the temple roof.


Zhujiajiao water village

 

Zhujiajiao water village

It's a very picturesque place, and we had time to wander on our own, visiting a small museum which had a lovely little exhibit on the development of the plough from a simple stick used to dig a hole, adding a cross-bar to stand on (i.e. a primitive spade), to a curved stick for digging a furrow. We discovered that what we thought was ploughing on the rice terraces was probably ploughing in manure to enrich the soil. The pharmacy is very interesting too, with a wall of drawers and lovely blue and white pottery.

On to the silk factory for lunch, though we declined a visit to the factory itself where we could see ranks of looms spinning thread from cocoons. Chinese food was beginning to pall a bit by this stage.

 

Jade Buddha Temple & Yu Yuan Gardens

Shanghai
Jade Buddha Temple
Shanghai
Shanghai
Jade Buddha Temple
Shanghai
Golden Buddhas in the Jade Buddha Temple.

 

The Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai is a lovely building, its corridors and courtyards hung with red lanterns. Statues of fierce gods glower and in the courtyards trees are festooned with red prayer ribbons.

There are, in fact, two Buddhas here, one sitting and one reclining, botj are carved from a single piece of white jade and came from Burma (Myanmar).

The reclining white jade Buddha is truly lovely (no photography of the allowed, sadly).

 

Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai
Sunlit courtyard in the Jade Buddha Temple.
Shanghai
In the Jade Buddha Temple.
Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai
In Yu Yuan Gardens.
Shanghai

On to the Yu Yuan Gardens, a classic Chinese garden with pools, bridges and rocks; Ming Dynasty architecture, with circular Moon entrances, typical of the south, and the usual annoying Rolex sellers - the only brand in the whole of China it seems!

Shanghai
Moon Gate, Yu Yuan Gardens.
Reminded me of hobbit homes!

 

We ate lunch here in a tea house but it was not as good as other Chinese food we have had.

On the way back to the hotel we visited the Confucius Temple, where we prayed with incense sticks and were prayed for by the monk with three strikes of the bell - it was very moving.

 

 

Shanghai
Shanghai

On our own in the afternoon we crossed the Bund and made our way to the Beijing East Road. This is full of shops which, as we have seen throughout our travels, line the street, completely open, and are closed at night by an iron shutter. Here all kinds of hardware is on sale: nuts, bolts, cable, string, tubing, car radiators, gaskets, electronic components, bicycle tyres being repaired and the usual mass of humanity hurrying along.

Shanghai