Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shanghai, China 01'28'2014

This is one month overdue.

I went through a lot this February, a lot. Sadly it affected my picture editing and blog writing, heck many things this month affected many aspects of my life by throwing me off my normal everyday routine. But things are going back to normal and as my vacation is coming very soon, I am expecting to be rejuvenated and renewed! Watch out!

The thing most affected I think is my planned "Holidays 2013" post which I still haven't even begun to edit. All the hundreds of (literally) photos I have of my friends through Christmas and New Year are still there, just there, and it's almost March! Sorry~


I really wasn't planning on going out this time in Shanghai, because I already had gone to the place I wanted to go to before and I really wanted to just eat at my favorite restaurant near the hotel and then get a haircut at a really good salon, also near the hotel. Clearly I wasn't planning on roaming too far from the hotel!

But again, the pull of a friend's invite is indeed very powerful. I went with a friend to the place she was planning to go. Our trip there was just a day before Chinese New Year so everything was supposed to be decorated for the festivities.

She was planning to go to the "most decorated" place which is apparently Yuyuan Garden.

A very cute dog greeted us on our way to the train station.
My friend, taking in the morning.
Inside the train. It was a very long way to the city. We had to sit down.
Going out of the train station.
The trip from our hotel to the city is very long. That is part of the reason why sometimes I really just want to stay in and around the hotel.

However I was told the place we were going to would be worth all the fuss of going to the city so I expected a lot...

A bird. Caged.
The elderly, doing Tai Chi in the morning.
Around the corner near the garden. More people doing Tai Chi.
You can see how the red just vomits off the place! haha
Out of the train station, we still had a little walking to do. So I used Google Maps on my phone to see where we'll go.

Honestly, I was desperately trying to find a place with a lot of trees, then when we turned around the corner we were walking to, we saw chinese deco. I figured we were getting near but I was still trying to find a lot of trees! Until I saw the sign that said Yuyuan Garden, I really didn't expect the "garden" to be like that.

The very first thing you'll see entering Yuyuan Garden. Shops!
So many shops.
I really did not expect to find loads of shops in a "garden" it honestly looked like a mall but the decorations made it look more like a theme park.

Further inside we really thought that we were in a chinese theme park already...

Seriously creepy looking children/babies.
Beautiful red lanterns line the main street through and through.
My friend admiring everything!
It was a very beautiful place, stunningly decorated in all the chinese symbolism, colors, and characters you could think of. But there was still one thing bugging me: Why is it called a garden when all that's inside are shops, after shops, after shops and then some restaurants.

We were hungry, but we told ourselves we would walk through the place first quickly and then choose a good restaurant to eat in. And so we did...

Cute metal elephant statue.
A very grand decoration of something I wish I could understand the chinese language for.
An epic statue of someone very epic posing in a very epic way. :D
Beautiful red lanterns cover the building.
It was a really nice place to be in. Everything was bursting with color (which most of was red) and slowly but surely through the day the people and tourists were also filling up the place.

It is a very easy place to get lost in as there are many blocks throughout a small compound of shops.

We were about to look for a restaurant until we took a very fortunate turn on a street and saw these...

Adam and Eve.
Jiuqu Bridge. Look at that deco!
Goddess of Mercy? Tie Guan Yin? Not sure.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves plus the Prince Charming.
We stumbled upon a part of the garden called Jiuqu Bridge. As you go through the bridge you'd find these styrofoam statues of different characters which has no specific coherent theme. There were some Disney stuff, some from the Bible, some from Chinese Folklore I think. But all of them had the same thing: all of them had "ENZO" signed on them.

I wondered who or what "ENZO" was and why was he/it was there but I didn't bother thinking beyond that.

I really love this chinese mushroom dish which you can find in most of China, I don't know what it's called though. 
The Lady Chef, heating one of the many dishes we ordered.
Look at all the stuff we bought! and We're only two people eating!
Welcome Neighbor Restaurant
We were very hungry and we ultimately decided on this restaurant, still inside Yuyuan Garden, called "Welcome Neighbor Restaurant"

It was a cafeteria style restaurant where you' get a tray, go on the line, and pick the dishes you want from the display.

We were feeling very hungry and very festive as we were surrounded by the spirit of the Chinese New Year so we ordered nine dishes, I actually only counted now from the picture but when we were there we were just taking stuff from the display without care whether we'll finish it or how much it'll cost! Festive indeed.

A display of this chinese dessert I really like which I don't know the name of. 
Skewered fish anyone?
My favorite mushroom with peppers and wrapped in bacon! OMG!
A WHOLE cow's head, horns and all being boiled into a soup. Damn.
After eating we looked for some souvenirs to buy, then we saw more food, pictured above. Although very interesting and delicious to look at, we didn't taste any because we were already full, we even took some of the food we ordered in the restaurant to go.

After more walking we thought we'd seen it all until I became curious enough to see why people were all heading to one particular corner of Yuyuan Garden...

Shanghai City God Temple
I'm guessing this is the Shanghai City God?
The Shanghai City God Temple. It's tucked away at the innermost part of Yuyuan Garden and if there are no people going in you'd have no way of thinking there's a temple there!

It was still early in the morning but people are already going inside to pray. Entrance fee is 10 CNY.

People praying through all the smoke.
A photograph of a photographer taking photographs of the people praying. Inception! haha
People lighting their "Smoke/Prayer Sticks" which retails for 5 or 10 CNY depending on the size
Who is this curious fellow praying so intently?
You pay an entrance fee of 10 CNY and for you to pray you need to buy these things to burn, most of which are sticks, the small bundle is 5 CNY and the big bundle is 10 CNY. It must be a very very very lucrative business.

Red lanterns.
More red lanterns.
More more red lanterns.
An insanely disturbing statue of a deity or something. You can actually feel that just by looking!
The temple, which is dedicated to the many gods of Shanghai is relatively small compared to the very big and the most populated metropolitan city complex that is Shanghai.

After the temple we still didn't have souvenirs! and so we went for a little shopping...

A HUUUGE White Rabbit candy. Immediately bought it. For someone. I don't eat candy. Only chocolates :D
Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl 
Tea Contained.
I bought a big White Rabbit candy and the tea that I have been trying to find almost every time I get the opportunity to be in a tea shop since... for a very long time: Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl tea.

I believe Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf used to sell it but I guess it's too expensive or very hard to make? So they discontinued it?

What they do is infuse whole tea leaves with freshly bloomed jasmine during spring using various methods and then hand roll each of those tea leaves into small pearls and then keep it for storage. When you brew it, the whole pearls of leaves are supposed to unravel and swim in the cup like Dragons. Hence, the name.

The tea costs 1 USD per 6 grams, at least in that shop it does. That doesn't sound like a lot but considering that the leaves are heavy and 6 grams of it is just about one small teaspoon then you'll realize how special it is.

I bought 10 USD worth and when I looked at the very very paltry amount of tea leaves I got from 10 USD I immediately said to myself that I would only try it out on a very special occation and with very special people. It's still there in the cupboard waiting.

After buying the tea we went back to the hotel and rested...

Our Hotel
The view from my room.
Overall the trip was very nice but tiring, of course. It's really amazing how much adventure you'll get by just saying yes to a friend who invites you to places. I'll remember that.

I leave you with a picture of the hotel and my literally breath-taking view from my room on the 21st floor. (I hope you get the joke haha)

Until my next trip, Zaijian!