Wednesday, June 04, 2008

China Adventures - Old Town & Yuyuan Gardens

So on Day two of our China trip I'm pretty sure that our main mission was to make it across the river and visit the Yuyuan Gardens. Which wasn't as difficult as I actually thought it would be. Old town seemed to be more like the China I imagined in my head - there were a lot more people around and there seemed to be less of a Western influence.

When we arrived in the old town we read about a monastry that we would like to see, but we couldn't find it - we then spotted a sign for a nunnery - which was in fact the monastry the Lonely Planet had talked about. It was all very confusing! But the nunnery itself was pretty amazing. Here's a view taken from the "tower" which wasn't particulary high but it gives you a view of the courtyard of the nunnery.
The next task whilst in old town was lunch - we tried and failed to go to the "oldest vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai" but instead settled for a Japanese restuarant with some vegetarian options. I have to say it's pretty ironic the number of times we ate Japanese food in China!

After lunch it was finally time to visit the famouse Yuyuan gardens - firstly we checked out the front on the gardens which had a wee pond with MILLIONS of carp in it and a beautiful bridge over it, and even though it was a week day the whole area was packed.

I have to say the inside of the gardens wasn't quite as packed as the outside and it did feel like an oasis of calm from the craziness of Shanghai (even if it was much business than your average kiwi gardens).

After exploring the gardens for some time it was time for a rest - and what better way to rest than by visiting a Chinese Tea House! Just outside the gardens was a wee teahouse that we visited. The building was beautiful and the tea, whilst fairly pricey, was amazing - plus it started out as a wee bulb and turned into a pretty flower once submerged in water! We also got a variety of snacks, including some of the best tofu I have even eaten. Tasty.

Plus the view from the tea house was pretty darn cool and feeding the fish both before and after the tea was also pretty awesome!

Next it was time for my first experience of "market madness" outside the Yuyuan Gardens and also my first experience of bartering for things. I have to admit bartering is fun at first but after a week of it I was seriously over it - I prefer someone to give me a price and if I really want something I will pay it!

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