Yu Yuan Garden

On August 23, 2012, in Parks & Gardens, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

During your Trip to Shanghai you will find that the city has a lot to offer, big buildings, museums, a lot of places to go shopping and a very distinctive gastronomy, but if you want to relax the best thing you can do is go to the Yu Yuan Garden, that is a stop you […]

During your Trip to Shanghai you will find that the city has a lot to offer, big buildings, museums, a lot of places to go shopping and a very distinctive gastronomy, but if you want to relax the best thing you can do is go to the Yu Yuan Garden, that is a stop you have to do in your Shanghai Tour.

The Yu Yuan Garden is one of the most famous gardens in China. It is located in the north part of the city, near the Wall, and its situation made it perfect for the plants that live in it.

It was built during the Ming dynasty, between the 1559 and 1577, but it was not built by emperors or kings, it was built by an official, albeit it was made in similarity to the Imperial gardens and it was built for a very altruist reason.

The official’s parents were too old to travel to the capital, but they really wanted to see an Imperial Garden and that is also the reason why the gardens are called Yu Yuan (Yu means health and calm).

After the official’s death the family fell in bankrupt and the garden was forgotten, it was kept in a terrible state since 1760 when a group of buyers bought it and partially restored it, at the beginning of the XX century a part of the garden was transformed in a bazar.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the garden was completely restored (that also included a part of the neighborhood who was also built in the Ming dynasty) in 1982 the garden and the neighborhood were considered “national monument” and now is one of the most touristic places of the city.

The garden is two and a half hectares and has the principal elements of the Chinese garden building.

They search the perfect combination between buildings and nature, and they do that by combining very precisely shaped halls, artificial ponds and rivers and a very varied vegetation, placing the threes and the different kinds of flowers in the perfect position to have a very astonishing visual effect.

The Yu Yuan gardens are a must see in your Shanghai Tour and it’s very convenient to go there and spend the day because in this area there are also lots of places to go shopping and lots of restaurants where you will be able to taste the typical food of Shanghai.

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10 things to see in Shanghai.

On August 21, 2012, in Cool Places, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

Shanghai is one of the most visited cities of China and it has a lot of things to see, so if Shanghai is a stop in your China tour here there are 10 things you can’t miss in your Shanghai trip. 1)      People’s square; situated in the center of the city it is nearly 150,000 […]

Shanghai is one of the most visited cities of China and it has a lot of things to see, so if Shanghai is a stop in your China tour here there are 10 things you can’t miss in your Shanghai trip.

1)      People’s square; situated in the center of the city it is nearly 150,000 square meters and it’s surrounded by buildings, there is a “smart musical fountain” in the middle so make sure you don’t miss that.

2)      Shanghai museum; This museum has the shape of a bronze caudron and it covers more than 5,000 years in the Chinese history, there are a lot of different pieces, from calligraphy to ceramics or statues, it’s a bit difficult to cover it in one trip.

3)      Eat Din Tai Fung; as popular as Beijing Duck, the Din Tai Fung is a kind of soup that is served with dumplings (normally pork) and broth, it’s a very popular taste in the city so make sure that, at least, you try it once.

4)      Dongtai Road; if you want to buy souvenirs and you don’t know where to go its easy, Dongtai Road. This road is the best place to buy things to bring home, from teapots to statues, everything can be found there.

5)      The Bund; situated near the river is one of the places where you can see the contrast of China, as there are a lot different buildings
in a lot of different styles, you can find high skyscrapers and renaissance buildings, traditional Chinese…

6)      Huangpu river; this is the center of the city, it’s hearth, this river holds 30% of the water exportation of China, it has also a lot of buildings in the Shanghai area so you can visit it by boat.

7)      Longtangs; like the Hútòngs in Beijing the Longtang are the ancient streets of the city, you can see how the ancient inhabitants of Shanghai lived in the City and it’s a place worth visiting.

8)      Yu Yuan Garden; this garden was created in the Ming dynasty and it took more than 20 years to be built, it’s a nice place and not very crowded so if you want to relax for a while it’s the best place.

9)      Old City;  called Nanshi for the locals is a very good place to go and see temples, traditional shops and gardens, don’t miss the City Wall or the Bridge of Nine Turnings, they are a Must-see in the city.

10)   French concession; it’s a very nice place to relax, it still has the buildings from 1900 and it’s like you’ve suddenly traveled to Europe and have a hint of the life of the city one hundred years ago.

Shanghai is a very nice city to visit in your Chinese Tour, and it is worth spending some days there! Don’t miss it!

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Art in the Park

On May 23, 2012, in Parks & Gardens, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

If you travel to Shanghai and you want to see a little more than just skyscrapers and the modern and fancy aspect of the city, you should check out some of Shanghai’s parks. The Jing’an Sculpture Park, stretching over an area of 30,000 square meters, is a great place where you can see that the […]

If you travel to Shanghai and you want to see a little more than just skyscrapers and the modern and fancy aspect of the city, you should check out some of Shanghai’s parks. The Jing’an Sculpture Park, stretching over an area of 30,000 square meters, is a great place where you can see that the huge city still has some comparably quiet places. It was opened in 2007 and it is one of the biggest parks of its kind in the region, located in Jing’an district which is west of the center and only a five to ten minute walk from Metro line 2, West Nanjing Road station. It is a good recommendation for the more relaxed part of your Shanghai Tours.

 

The exhibited pieces of art which are integrated into the surroundings add to the atmosphere of this park offering interesting sculptures and statues of different sizes, colors and materials from various artists from all over the world. No matter if you’re interested in art and see the sculptures from that perspective or if you just think they are nice decoration, the park offers great scenery for all visitors. Not only kids will love the huge lying bulls in the south west of the park; a group of bull sculptures is scattered over the lawn just like a herd resting in the afternoon heat. In the contrast to this stands the dynamic complex wooden structure behind it which is weaving through the treetops. The ‘Red Beacon’ is the artwork of the famous Belgian artist, sculptor and designer Arne Quinze.

 

Many sculptures in the park were introduced as part of the Jing’an International Sculpture Project about two years ago during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. This large-scale cultural and art activity was created for the public mainly in the non-core areas of the Expo. Apart from the exhibits numerous fountains throughout the park make it a wonderful place for hot summer days. They are not only great to look at; the view and the quiet sound of splashing water always have a calming effect and when it’s windy it refreshes the air a little.

 

In the mornings this park is a popular place for sports activities especially among the older generation, doing Tai chi, jogging, dancing etc. On the weekends you can see moms with their kids or whole families meeting to spend some time together. Almost every park offers visitors the opportunity to see a little bit of the locals’ life with their customs and habits. Very often you’ll see on journeys that in big cities parks offer an opportunity to get away from the busy city life for locals and visitors just the same. Walking through a park surrounded by trees and seeing the skyscrapers around it will always feel special; the contrast makes it look unnatural and exciting at the same time.

 

In June 2009 another big project started in the Sculpture Park. The Shanghai Natural History Museum will be moved to this new location in late 2012 where a new building is currently being constructed offering a much more convenient location and more modern display space. Numerous exhibits will be moved to the new location which is in many ways more convenient than the existing Natural History Museum. The Jing’an Sculpture Park itself is already worth a visit (there is not even an entrance fee) but with the museum moving there it will be a must see for families coming to Shanghai. Many Shanghai Hotels are located in this area, so if you’re staying close by, don’t miss out on this nice place on your city tours.

Beware of the Wild Insects

On May 22, 2012, in Museums, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

If you travel to Shanghai with kids you certainly don’t want to miss the most popular places the city has to offer like the Bund or Yu Gardens. But on the other hand kids might get bored of too much sightseeing after a while. For a little break in between the Wild Insect Kingdom is […]

If you travel to Shanghai with kids you certainly don’t want to miss the most popular places the city has to offer like the Bund or Yu Gardens. But on the other hand kids might get bored of too much sightseeing after a while. For a little break in between the Wild Insect Kingdom is a great place for families in particular but in general for everyone interested in nature and animals. And museums are always a great option in case the weather is not so great while you’re on your China Tours.

 

There are not only insects but also a large number of reptiles, amphibians and fish as well as other animals you actually wouldn’t expect in an insect museum. This might come as a surprise to parents but for kids it offers just more exciting things to see. The first animals you see when you walk inside are not insects either. Three ferrets and a seal in a very small tank welcome you at the entrance before you get to the ‘rainforest’. While walking across bridges you’ll pass an alligator and chameleons and you can feed the huge koi fish swimming in the water underneath. The path leads you towards an area with snakes and little monkeys before you get to the actual insects with all kinds of bugs, like walking sticks, beetles, centipedes etc.

 

There is no elevator to the basement floor, so be prepared to carry your stroller down or just leave it there for a while if you don’t really need it. The lower floor is partly decorated like a cave showing more animals in their habitat. The selection of turtles and tortoises is pretty extensive and some are really interesting to look at, not only for kids. There is even a section with goats, bunnies, Guinea pigs and other animals kids love to pet. A great place for younger kids is the little water landscape where they can just play or try to catch some fish. You might consider bringing some clothes to change in case they get themselves all wet. There is a rest area right next to the water place but apart from popcorn you can’t really get anything to eat in the museum, so you should bring enough snacks for while you’re there.

 

The Museum is located in Shanghai’s center close to the Oriental Pearl Tower. You can get there via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to cross to the other side of Hunagpu River in case your Shanghai Hotel is located west of it. For young kids this tunnel is already an adventure comparable to an amusement park ride with sound and light effects and meanwhile a convenient way to cross from one side of the river to the other. When you get out of the underground pass you follow along the street on your left hand side and at the next street corner you’ll find a sign towards the museum. The Shanghai Aquarium is also not far, so if you want to see both places you can easily do that on the same day.

Exploring The Expo

On May 8, 2012, in Festivals, Modern Architecture, Places of Interest, by Jack Li

Akin to the National Stadium in Beijing, the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (The Expo) instills a strong sense of accomplishment and legacy even after the conclusion of a major event in the country’s history. The Expo’s location means that it is reachble by the Shanghai metro with Madang Road Station and moreover for Shanghai […]

Akin to the National Stadium in Beijing, the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (The Expo) instills a strong sense of accomplishment and legacy even after the conclusion of a major event in the country’s history. The Expo’s location means that it is reachble by the Shanghai metro with Madang Road Station and moreover for Shanghai flights, it is only a few minutes away from Pudong International airport by train. In light of the outstanding recent developments in the city, there is no doubt you will find quality accommodation from Shanghai hotels which are in close proximity to The Expo.

Interestingly, the Expo 2010 venue in Shanghai was the largest venue of its kind ever (covering over 5.28 square kilometres) which comprised of international expositions and fairs. The 2010 ‘Better City – Better Life’ theme reinforced Shanghai’s status as a world city well into the 21st century. Indeed, Expo 2010 has certainly left an impressive legacy with the site welcoming an unprecedented record of 73 million visitors by the end of Expo 2010.

On face value, you may think that the site may have gone the way of the Millennium Dome in London and lapsed straight after its major event.
However, if anything, the project has moved swiftly on by perpetually creating new exhibits and attractions. For this reason, myself and my friends were generally impressed with the site. In spite of not being able to experience the extravaganza of Expo 2010; funnily enough, there were still people selling passports with stamps from all the countries involved lingering around the Expo Park. Even a model of the Expo mascot, Haibao (with the appearance of a blue Chinese character for people) is noticeable with kids flocking to have their photo taken with him.

On our visit to Expo, we were unable to go inside the most recognisable of the buildings, namely The China Pavillion (or ‘Oriental Crown’, due to its iconic shape). There were, nevertheless, other notable buildings to enter such as the Mercades-Benz Arena. Inside, there are swanky cars on display and some smart restaurants which is a marked contrast from its spaceship-looking exterior! Once in the arena, there is platform (we had some difficulty finding the actual access point) which encircles the arena. From here, you can gaze in awe over the city and even cheekily watch what is going on below; such as the Strawberry Festival in our case.

Happening in both Beijing and Shanghai, the Strawberry Festival is a prime example of how Expo has been utilised since 2010. Considering my friends and I were budgeting at the time, we gave the festival a pass with the prices fetching 120RMB or 300RMB for a three-day pass. Having said this, these prices seem decent compared to the many festivals abroad plus it is an excellent way to polish off an awesome stay on a travel to Shanghai.

 

 

 

 

Tianzi Fang vs. 798

On May 4, 2012, in China Travel Gossip, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

After having a gander of both the 798 Art Zone, Beijing and Tianzi Fang, Shanghai; it is tempting to draw some significant comparisons. For a more rounded understanding on where I am coming from with this article, I also recommend you to read my previous blog entitled ‘The Inspirational 798’. Compared the potential taxi journey […]

After having a gander of both the 798 Art Zone, Beijing and Tianzi Fang, Shanghai; it is tempting to draw some significant comparisons. For a more rounded understanding on where I am coming from with this article, I also recommend you to read my previous blog entitled ‘The Inspirational 798’. Compared the potential taxi journey to 798; Tianzi Fang is far more accessible by being situated in a prime location, near Dapu Bridge Station, Line 9 on the subway (or ‘metro’ if you travel to Shanghai). Tianzi Fang is also a particular tourist-haven, so for some extra breathing space, best to go to in weekday mornings. The convenient location of Tianzi Fang especially means it is walking distance from many Shanghai hotels such as the Rayfont Hotel.

The atypical layout of both of the places makes for an interesting first point. Tianzi Fang, for one, initially spread from narrow alleys with a distinct Shikumen architectural style (this style is a mixture of Eastern and Western influences with stone archways being at the forefront of the design). In contrast to this, 798 was a straightforward industrial conversion with wide-open spaces to roam the different exhibits. Thus, unlike Tianzi Fang, there is no need to worry in respect to crowds with the 798 Art Zone.

From the outset, these places encompass their own unique qualities, but the most important point of reference is that both places have a bohemian component. Chinese and international entrepreneurs alike have been attracted to the areas because of this factor. However, if you want a more international vibe, then Tianzi Fang is the better choice over 798. Sure, 798 does offer the odd Italian café, but all in all, Tianzi Fang provides a range of international flavours with such as Italian, Japanese, American, Thai food etc., being commonplace. To name a few western places all with their own quirky international themes, there is; Nuzi, Bohemia Café and the Kommune.

Entering 798 definitely feels more specific towards the avant-garde art theme. Tianzi Fang, on the other hand, allows you to explore an assortment of boutiques spanning art exhibits, tea shops and knick-knacks from touristy outlets. Local artists are prominent in 798 with the art zone endorsing artists such as Huang Rui who was instrumental in promoting Chinese contemporary art. Similarly, one particular highlight of the Tianzi Fang art scene is the Ren Weiyin Art Gallery. This gallery hosts the impressionism works of Ren Weiyin (1918-1994) with portrays images of 1960-70s Shanghai. The popularity of the arts is evident in both cities with the recent growth of 798 and Tianzi Fang. In sum, whether you decide to book Beijing or Shanghai flights, spare a thought for the artistic side of each city.

 

Shanghai’s Venice

On May 2, 2012, in Ancient Houses & Courtyards, Cultural Experience, Shanghai, by Jack Li

Dated over 17,000 years, the ancient town of Zhujiajiao is a must-see attraction for those who travel to Shanghai. Known as ‘Shanghai’s Venice’ due to its waterways, the town serves as a top place to experience old China. For those wishing to go to the town, you can catch a bus from Puanlu Station (close […]

Dated over 17,000 years, the ancient town of Zhujiajiao is a must-see attraction for those who travel to Shanghai. Known as ‘Shanghai’s Venice’ due to its waterways, the town serves as a top place to experience old China. For those wishing to go to the town, you can catch a bus from Puanlu Station (close to People’s Square, Shanghai) with the hour-long journey generally costing about 12RMB. Moreover, Zhujiajiao’s great location means that you can experience a large portion of the day in the town and then have the advantage of staying in Shanghai hotels.

Actual entrance to the town is free, but if you want to experience the town from the water this, of course, costs. For cruises, prices range from 80RMB for nine scenic spots; 60RMB for eight, and 30RMB for four. The motion of the boats may be off-putting to some, but viewing the town from the water enhances the authenticity of the experience. With all this in mind, it is still enjoyable to watch the boats from the town’s spectacular kilometre-long North Street. Indeed, it is absolutely memorizing to see how the oarsmen ferry people between the tightest of spaces, navigate under bridges and skilfully meander around corners.

If you decide to purchase the complete admission package, then you can expect to visit; City God Temple, Imperial Academy Stele Museum, Kezhi Garden, Qing Dynasty Post Office, Shanghai Handwork Exhibition Hall, Tongtianhe Medicine Shop, Shanghai Quanhua Art Hall, Yanyi Hall and Yuanjin Meditation Room. Hence after reading this list, you can be assured that you will not get bored in Zhujiajiao. As a piece of advice, it might be best to arrive at the town in the morning to ensure you see everything you want especially as the crowds can pick-up later
in the afternoon.

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai have ancient buildings, but many are often regenerated or render a distinct purpose (such as a temple or palace). What makes Zhujiajiao especially alluring is the fact that it is a reflection of ancient daily life. Tourism is essential to the town’s income, however we should acknowledge that this is a place where people live and it is not merely an attraction for our amusement. Therefore, it is imperative that, as visitors, we remain respectful to the residents and only take photos where appropriate, for instance. The residents of Zhujiajiao are equally very friendly and welcome tourists to buy their goods such as pungent-smelling tofu, sweet bamboo juice and countless handicrafts.

Without doubt, it is wonderful to see the old working life being preserved with the sight of fish being caught and prepared by locals. The traditional architecture of the town is pleasant on the eye with much of the town’s style deriving from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In particular, the five-storey ‘Moon View Pavilion’ in the KeZhi Garden and the Fangsheng Bridge constructed in 1571 are worth viewing. After seeing its waters glisten from a distance, it is understandable that Zhujiajiao is also fondly named the ‘Pearl Stream’ with the ancient town definately being a superb attraction on any Shanghai tours route.

Chongming Yangtze Bridge

On August 18, 2011, in Modern Architecture, Shanghai, Yangtze River, by Jack Li

Invested in ten billion, Chongming Yangtze Bridge will be used more than 100 years according to the estimation.  Up to now, the great construction has created a lot of records in the world and China.  To satisfy the need of navigation, the bridge’s main span has a diameter of 730m, surpassing all the bridges built […]

Invested in ten billion, Chongming Yangtze Bridge will be used more than 100 years according to the estimation.  Up to now, the great construction has created a lot of records in the world and China.  To satisfy the need of navigation, the bridge’s main span has a diameter of 730m, surpassing all the bridges built in Shanghai before.  Moreover, it is ranked as NO.5 largest span in the world.   Judging from correlative introduction, the span can meet two huge freighters to opposite directions voyaging across the bridge at the same time.  The 16.5m long bridge is designed as a cable stayed bridge.  Different from the Yangpu Bridge and Xupu Bridge, the shape of Chongming Yangtze Bridge resembles a Chinese word ——people.  Striding over the river’s loin, the bridge is called as the NO.1 Bridge of Yangtze Portal.  It is also developed as an attraction depending on its picturesque scenery.  The whole project was completed in October 31st, 2009.  Seen from distant place, the Bridge looks like a coloured ribbon on the lake surface, connecting Chongming Island and Changxing Island.

Chongming Island

Dongping National Forest Park

On August 17, 2011, in Nature Scenery, Parks & Gardens, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

Dongping National Forest Park is situated in the mid-northern part of the Chongming Island. It is 12 kilometers far from the county (Nanmen Harbor). Its total area is 5400 acres. It is the largest man-made plateau forest. The park used to be the Dongping tree farm. The national leaders like Jiang Zheming, Zhu Rongji, Wen […]

Dongping National Forest Park is situated in the mid-northern part of the Chongming Island. It is 12 kilometers far from the county (Nanmen Harbor). Its total area is 5400 acres. It is the largest man-made plateau forest. The park used to be the Dongping tree farm. The national leaders like Jiang Zheming, Zhu Rongji, Wen Jiabao, Wu Bangguo and Huang Jv had visited this place. There is lush forest, beautiful lake, singing birds in the park. You could experience a lot of fun. The features of the park are ‘serene, quiet, beautiful and wild’. This attraction brings you back to nature. It is a forest, conference centre, as well as recreation and holiday spot. The main tour service facilities are the multi-function recreation center which resembles crab house, Water Park over 500 square meters large, Chongming forest restaurant provides Chongming local dishes, tents and hammocks for camping, natural swimming pool over 20,000 square meters, and camp base for teenagers. In the park, you will never feel bored. There are many activities, e.g. grass skiing, rock climbing, golf, tennis, beach volleyball, strop, paintball, riding horses, driving karts, BBQ, and sunbathing. The park cottages will make you feel at home. And you might have a chance to meet football stars, as Xu Gengbao Football Training Base is here. You could watch the daily training of the upcoming football players. Besides, there are many flower gardens in the park. When spring comes, all flowers bloom, you may feel like that you are entering a fairyland. The Dongping National Forest Park is looking forward to welcoming everyone who loves the nature.

Chongming Island

Mingzhu Lake

On August 17, 2011, in Lakes, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

Mingzhu Lake is a place with crystal clear water, elegant environment and picturesque scenery.  Its environment was classified as first class, according to the government’s tests. Its water quality reaches the second—class in China.  With a length of 3500m length, width of 500-700m and depth of -7 to 8m, the lake can compare with the […]

Mingzhu Lake is a place with crystal clear water, elegant environment and picturesque scenery.  Its environment was classified as first class, according to the government’s tests. Its water quality reaches the second—class in China.  With a length of 3500m length, width of 500-700m and depth of -7 to 8m, the lake can compare with the grand West Lake in Hangzhou.  Covering an area of 10 thousand sq m, the lake’s beauty is enhanced by the orange orchard, located on the west side of the lake.  The limpid water provides a good breeding place for various large and wild fish such as top—mouth fish, seven—star weever and more.  The most famous species of the lake is Elopichthys bambusa; it is said that one Elopichthys bambusa can eat a whole duck.  Moreover, a forest, covering an area of 2500sqm surrounds the lake.   On the fertile land cinnamomum camphora, Magnolia grandiflora and other treasure plants grow. Over 70 species of birds are attracted by the dense drainage networks, luxuriant forest and wild plants, including herring gulls, herons and more.   Walking along the seemingly endless paths, listening to birds’ singing, enjoying the smell of sea, travelling on the island is an amazing experience of nature.

Chongming Island

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