Thursday, October 4, 2012

The sights of Shanghai

For my folks first week in Shanghai we saw much of the city.  We took a hop on hop off bus tour of Puxi and saw the Jing'an Temple which was moved to its current location in the 13th century but burned to ruins in 1972 and was reconstructed in the 80's.  We also saw the Jade Buddha Temple which has a sitting and reclining Buddha made entirely of white jade.  Both temples were beautiful and made sitting in traffic on a bus worthwhile. 

One of the other places that my Dad was excited to see was the Yu Garden and Bazaar.  I've never been to either so I was happy to go, I had no idea it was so big!  The bazaar is a huge maze of shops and restaurants in traditional Chinese style buildings.  Attached to the bazaar is a beautiful garden, which we actually didn't have the time to see since it was getting dark.  We did manage to find the Nanjing Steamed Buns, which my Dad had seen on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.  They have two levels, the ground level sells the steamed dumplings out a window and upstairs is a nice sit down restaurant.  They are famous for their large soup filled dumplings that are served with a straw for drinking the soup. Dad was thrilled to get his steamed bun and said it was excellent. 

The bus tour included a cruise along the Hangpu river, so after picking Lily up from school we headed across the river once again to Puxi.  The one hour cruise took us along the Bund and downtown Pudong, and because it was a 5:00 cruise the city lights all came on as we headed back to the dock.  It was a great way to see both sides of the river.  I think Lucas and I may try one of the dinner cruises that they advertised. 

Friday we took the train to Hangzhou for a couple of days and to avoid dealing with taxi drivers we hired a car and driver for our time there.   Our first stop was the Leifeng Pagoda which was recently rebuilt and someone had the brilliant idea to put in an escalator and elevator that takes you to the top of the pagoda and gives you an amazing view of West Lake.  After the pagoda we headed to King Qian's Memorial but instead of seeing the memorial which was closed we took a boat to one of the islands on the lake.  The island has a scenic walk and several shops where you could by the typical Chinese souvenir's.  Mom and Lily got matching bamboo umbrellas and Charlie and I had our picture taken with a cockatoo.  On Saturday we went to the Lingyin Temple which is one of the largest and wealthiest in China and has numerous pagodas and temples.  After taking in the beauty of the Buddha we headed to Qinghefeng pedestrian street for some shopping.  Lucas and I got a Chinese paper cuttings of a famous Hangzhou attraction and a lace umbrella.  After our retail therapy we decided to get in some more culture and went to the Tea Museum.  We learned a bit about the history of tea and got to try four different teas, Oolong, Jasmin, Black, and a local blend.  We also were given directions on how each type of tea should be brewed.  By the time we left we were pretty much done in and we decided to head to the train station a bit early.  With limited food options at the train station we decided to play it safe and had an early dinner at the Burger King, and yes, it tastes exactly the same as it does in the US.  It was a wonderful weekend and I'm so glad that we were able to spend some time in Hangzhou!

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