[Ughh sorry for the negligence, guys! So much has been going on lately. Updates later.]
We started our last full day in China by waking up bright and early. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but when left to my own devices, my sleep schedule is pretty much the opposite of healthy. However, one of the major benefits of being on a crammed tour schedule is that you’re pretty much obligated to get up on time, and you’re usually so tired by the end of the day that you just kind of pass out.
Our first stop for the day was the Jade Buddha Temple. A peaceful spot on the western side of the otherwise bustling Shanghai, it’s home to two very famous jade sculptures of Buddha, hence the name.
Being in such an old and revered spot in Shanghai is surreal, especially since you can hear constant construction and see the massive industrial buildings in the background. For me, this felt truly representative of Shanghai’s juxtaposition between old and new, and reminded me of my time in Korea in that sense.
While wandering around, we happened across this friendly temple cat! Shortly afterwards, it started to drizzle, and I caught a picture of the droplets on these leaves.
After a relaxing morning in the temple, we hopped back onto our trusty tour bus with our guides and headed out to Nanjing Road for lunch and shopping.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the dumpling shop we wound up having our lunch at, but the soup dumplings were amazing. I still have dreams about them. [We also dipped into a Häagen Daz, and I got a cone with green tea and cherry blossom flavoured scoops! I’ll honestly eat anything flower-flavoured.]
Then, after all of this, it was back onto the bus and to China Town. This was probably one of the most crowded places I experienced in China, which is saying a lot, but it was also incredibly interesting. We stayed in small groups and walked around, haggling and shopping for those last-minute souvenirs in small, somewhat seedy booths and sleek, modern mega-stores alike.
Some of the random things my friends and I saw included:
–A set of playing cards with the Shanghai skyline printed across them and a misprint that labelled them with ‘The New Tity.’
-A store dedicated entirely to panda-themed products.
-Millions upon millions of small statues and figurines.
Within China Town itself is a place that is even more special, and ended up being one of my favourite stops on the trip: the Yuyuan Garden. It’s a beautifully detailed garden that was built in the 16th century and endures today as a Chinese national monument and a part of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, which makes it a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.
Despite there being a decent amount of people exploring the garden, there was a general sense of tranquility to the area that made it easy to forget the presence of others.
The balance of the plants, water, and traditional architectural structures
I took the bulk of my photographs from today here, and there are so many that I’ll have to go and make a separate and more detailed post about the garden later! I’m really looking forward to sharing those photos.
After spending some time in the garden, we milled back into China Town and kept shopping for a bit, giving us one last chance to grab souvenirs and knicknacks to commemorate the trip. One thing I’ll say is that the tour definitely encouraged lots of spending, and while I didn’t necessarily hate that, my wallet definitely did!
Anyway, since it was our last night, we were in for something quite special – a night cruise of the Huangpu River! I’ll be completely honest – I think I slept through about half of it. However, before I konked out, I got some really blurry photographs of Shanghai at night. It was one of the many times on the trip I regretted not making the commitment to bring my DSLR, but there’s a sort of charming, vintage-y look to the pictures that I love.
And with that, our trip was almost over.
I’m always looking for new members for my travel blogging group, so if you’re a travel blogger, or want to get started and need some advice, check out the info here!
Also, I now have an official email subscription list! If you subscribe, you’ll be updated every time I make a new post, and you’ll have access to fun things like virtual postcards, random weird stories, and ‘secret’ photography! Subscribe here!