Friday, November 19, 2010

Yuyuan Gardens

Yu Gardens is one of Shanghai's top tourist attractions.Situated next to a huge bazaar area heaving with specialty and souvenir shops and restaurants together with crowds of locals and hordes of tourist groups,it can get overpowering and claustrophobic by mid morning.Best to follow the guidebooks recommendations and get there early.Avoid holidays and weekends if you want to keep your cool and have the chance to linger.This shot shows a wall and door within the gardens.Different shaped doors are used throughout the gardens.

The gardens date from the Ming dynasty and according to the pamphlet I read took 18 years to be constructed(1559-1577).The gardens have been restored and consist of numerous small alcoves or garden rooms containing rockeries,pools full of carp and various small buildings and pavilions for summer use.

There are some large trees within the confines of the gardens which provide shade and some greenery in contrast to the concrete grey rockeries and the rather murky pools.I spotted some gingkos and pine trees as well as the common willows draping themselves in the pools.Some small cherry trees and magnolias that must brighten up the area in spring were also dotted about the various gardens.As you can see from the above photo there are many photo opportunities if one is patient enough.

A close up of one of the 'windows' in the walls that break up the gardens.The vertical bars have been decorated as bamboo canes.Other bars have been similarly decorated with small insects and dragonflies adorning them.

This shot shows one of the small buildings within the gardens.This particular building overlooks a waterfall and rock pool.
The Gardens are open from 8:30am.From memory the nearest metro station is Nanjing Dong Lu.After that follow the signs or the masses.Adult entrance to the Gardens was 40rmb.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taikang Lu

Taikang Lu also known as Tian Zi Fang is a rabbit warren of small,narrow alleys and lanes or longtang consisting of traditional shikumen houses.These typically two or three story houses (shikumen) were a cross between English style terrace housing (think Coronation Street type homes) and traditional Chinese interior courtyard buildings.To the front of the building was usually found a stone gate frame supporting two wooden doors.
Due to redevelopment and demolition many of these buildings and lanes have been replaced by high rise apartment blocks and more modern,bland buildings.

Within the alleys many of the shikumen have been converted in shops,art galleries,bars,cafes and restaurants.There are still families and people living in some of the houses.You can see laundry strung out along some lanes which gives the place a lived in,community feel.It seems a more friendly and humane environment than the huge towering buildings that loom outside the area.

Its best to visit the area like most tourist spots in Shanghai early in the day.Before the rush and crush of unruly tourist groups make it difficult to negotiate the lanes with your good humor intact.Before the touts try your patience and ask for the umpteenth time whether you want a watch.Before you get badgered by an insistent waiter who clutches your arm and tries to frog march you into their restaurant.

The final two shots show more of the lanes that crisscross the area.Its an area worth a morning or afternoon visit with lots of cafes and restaurants to provide refreshments or morning tea and lunch.There are also some interesting shops selling postcards, jewellery and other arty boutiques to browse through.
The nearest subway stop is Dapuqiao on Line 9 of the subway.