I have this really bad habit…I don’t explore the city I actually live in enough. I absolutely love traveling, and I even end up being the type of traveler who tries to cram as much in as possible when I visit a different country. But for some reason, I get lazy about exploring the city and country I live in. The proof is in the fact that I lived in Korea for two and half years and visited a shamefully few amount of places there.And my gawd, I don’t know how many times my plans for visiting the DMZ are going to fail.I actually start to feel pretty angry with myself when I start thinking about how badly I failed at exploring Korea so I’m going to stop now.
I think I get into my daily routine, and I forgot I’m allowed to travel, explore and have fun even if it’s not some elaborately planned trip that I had to spend a lot of money on plane tickets for. But my goal is to change my habits and explore as much of Shanghai and China as I possibly can. China is such a beautiful country and there is so much more to see. I don’t want to leave here feeling disappointed about all of the places I didn’t go.
The other morning I walked along the Bund and checked out some great views. I’ve been here before but when you live in Shanghai, I think it’s just a nice place to go back to every once in a while. Plus, it was nearby my other destinations for the morning. So, why not?
From there, I walked to and through the Old City of Shanghai. The traditional style Chinese buildings are really beautiful.The area can become quite busy with tourists so it’s not necessarily a relaxing place, but the energized atmosphere makes it a fun place to be. Yu Yuan Market is located in this area, and there a ton of shops you can check out. I stopped at a cool one to get some postcards that I am determined to get sent off to some of my family members. Maybe by the end of this week? We’ll see. We’ll see.
At this point, all of the walking was making me hungry so I waited in line at a famous soup dumpling shop called Nanxiang Mantou Dian. They are well known for their 小笼包 （xiaolongbao）， or soup dumplings, which is a famous food of Shanghai. I quite enjoy xiaolongbao and thought these were pretty yummy. Since I just grabbed some from the takeout line, I was really happy with their small size. It made them much easier to eat while standing and taking in the views.(Xiaolongbao have to be eaten in a careful and special manner to make sure you don’t crack the outside and spill all the soup everywhere.） But, I do honestly have to say that they weren’t quite as good as I expected considering how hyped up they were. They were still enjoyable though. I just don’t think these are the best I’ve eaten in this city.
I visited City God Temple which cost 10 kuai (about 1.50). Though I visited for viewing and not for religious reasons, I enjoyed watching the people actually there to burn incense and pray. It’s nice to see that the temple is actually used for the intended purpose though I always feel a bit bad that tourists, like myself, are invading a space meant for spiritual reasons.
My last destination, the one I was most looking forward to, was Yu Garden. I kept planning to visit but always ended up having reasons for not going, so I was eager to finally see it. The entrance ticket cost 40 kuai (a little over 6 dollars). I don’t know why but every time I travel,the recommended gardens on travel lists always are one of the first places to get knocked off my list if I don’t have much time. I think gardens are pretty, but I also think, in some countries, the prices always seem a bit high to me to see some plants and flowers. Plus, they seem like something you can see in every city and don’t seem very unique. Who knows? Maybe I’ve been missing out on the best places in a city. But, I did hear nice things about this area and knew it was one of the top spots to check out in Shanghai so I gladly made a trip there.
Yu Garden is a Chinese private style garden that was believed to have been designed during the Ming Dynasty, though it has been restored throughout the years. It has some nice pavilions, walking paths, flowers and water spots. I heard another tourist comment that it was pretty boring, and though I could see where he was coming from, I actually really enjoyed the calming atmosphere while walking through the various parts of the garden. There was something really nice about it. I only wish I had more time to visit. But, I had to be a good student and get to Chinese class. ( I was still about 10 minutes late :D) So that is where my adventure for the day ended. It was the perfect place to end my morning. It was relaxing and a surprisingly peaceful place for Shanghai.