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June 12, 2007

China Part I - Shanghai

As all of you know, we like to travel.  North America is wonderful, but there are many, many other places to experience.  About a year and a half ago we became interested in travelling to China.  In conversations with various friends, we decided that if we were going that far, we should also see some other countries while we were away.  Even though we were away 31 days, it is impossible to really see these countries in that limited time, but we do believe that we got a very good taste of them.   Hopefully, in the next number of journals, (at this point I don’t know how many there will be) we can impart some of our experiences and the flavour of their cultures.

Cambridge Travel organized the tour and there were 7 of us travelling together, including Judy, their representative.  We were met by  local guides who remained with us while we were in each location.  In China, all our hotels, meals and tours were included and prearranged.  We didn’t rough it – we stayed in 4 & 5 star hotels.  We ate too much – wonderful buffet breakfasts at the hotels and then full meals for both lunch and dinner at various locations.  Because there were only 7 in the group, we were able to all sit at one table for meals, take mini vans for tours and travel (instead of big buses) and generally keep track of each other.  Mind you, Irma & Judy liked to haggle with the street vendors who were everywhere, so we sometimes had to drag them away from their negotiations.

Sunday, May 6th at 11:35 PM, we left Toronto and 19 1/2 hours after leaving we arrived in Hong Kong where, after a 2 hour wait, we continued so that we arrived in Shanghai on May 8th, 24 hours after leaving Toronto.  (We crossed the International Date Line, so May 7th for us was only a few hours)  At this time of year there is a 12 hour (ahead) time difference between China and Toronto.

IMG_4708_editedI’m not sure what we were expecting, but it wasn’t this extremely modern city with excellent landscaped road systems, unique colourful high rise buildings, modern facilities and clean, very clean. 

Before we even checked into our hotel we were taken to the “Bund”, the historic waterfront area once known as Shanghai’s Wall Street.  This view is looking across the Huangpu River to the new commercial district in Pudong.  The construction in Pudong only started in earnest in the mid 1990s.



I turned around and then took this next picture.  It shows the old financial area of the city.  This was the “International Sector” during the late 19th and early 20th century when England and other European countries had a major presence in Shanghai.


The next morning we visited the first of many temples, this one the Jade Buddha Temple.  Built in 1882 in honour of two jade Buddhas from Myanmar (Burma).  The sitting jade Buddha (no picture) is 1.9 metres tall and this one, the sleeping Buddha is .96 metres in length – each carved out of a single piece of jade.



We completed our visit to the temple with a special tea ceremony, where we were served teas grown and cured by the monks.  To them, tea is more than a drink – it is used as medicine and has been for hundreds of years.

IMG_4743_editedThe following morning, we wandered our way through Yuyuan Gardens.  This 450 year old landscape is considered to be the finest example of the classical garden style used in Shanghai.  It is a paradise overflowing with traditional pavilions, halls , rockeries and ponds that are ingeniously separated by lattice walls and windows and winding corridors.  The rocks were brought from the mountains miles away.

One famous rock, the Exquisite Jade Rock, is about 10.8 feet high and has 72 holes.  If you burn a joss stick just below the rock, the smoke will float out from all of the holes.  If you pour water into the rock from top, the water will flow out each hole.


IMG_4757_editedJust outside the Gardens (which is in the heart of Shanghai) is the Yu Garden Market where you can find more than 100 different shops and restaurants.

  After an early dinner, we attended an amazing acrobatic show.  The finale was the performers on stacked chairs  –  don’t try this at home!!


A typical shopping street – right outside the Yu Garden market area.

The next morning we headed out in a small bus to Suzhou (pronounced Soo chow), the Venice of the Orient.  The next journal will tell of our visit there.


Posted by Bernice at June 12, 2007 02:39 PM


What a fantastic trip the two of you enjoyed! As always, thanks for the wonderful way you have of sharing, both verbally and visually. I look forward to learning about the rest of your trip in future journals. See you on the 7th.


Posted by: Margaret Pearson at July 2, 2007 10:28 AM

Thanks for the cultural update (surprise).


Posted by: Rick Russell at July 2, 2007 07:09 PM

What a wonderful way to share the orient with us.Yu Garden looks like China Town in Toronto, amazing. I just can't imagine a 10.8 jade rock being preserved for all to see. Hope you have a picture of that. The lady Budda jade is something to behold. Keep up the news it is just a reminder of how large the world really is.
Thanks to you both for your travel logs.

Posted by: Louise Fell at July 9, 2007 12:09 PM

I enjoyed traveling with you.

Posted by: Bobbi at July 18, 2007 12:11 AM

What else is there to say? Your journals are so well done and give your viewers and readers such a wonderful picture of where you are! Have only had a chance to view the first one as we returned on the 7th of July and I turned around and left again in a week. Will write you about our trip before long. Thanks for everything you send!
Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at July 20, 2007 05:00 PM