It was such a relief to stay in Shanghai for the day rather than taking another day trip. Because my arrival in Shanghai was delayed a day and I was departing for Beijing the next afternoon, this was my only full day in Shanghai. And full it was, a complete tour of central Shanghai.
I started the day in People’s Park, directly across from the hotel. People’s Park and adjacent People’s Square, where I wandered looking for my hotel late on Night 1, were built on the former site of a British racecourse for horse racing. Such an establishment was way to Western and decadent for the Communists, so it was demolished after they seized power in 1949.
Walking around People’s Park, I was approached by 3 attractive young ladies with umbrellas. They asked me to take their picture and then asked if I wanted them to take my picture. I wasn’t handing my camera over to anyone, and I know what I look like. They were exceedingly friendly and very curious to know about me, where I was from, what I was doing in Shanghai. Their charms were lost on me. I smelled a scam coming on. I started to leave. “Why are you in a hurry?” they asked me. “Where are you going?” I was getting the hell away from them.
Jade Buddha Temple
When I was done with my visit to People’s Park, it was time to take a bus to my next destination. No bus adventures this time like the last 3 days. Actually, my bus adventure in Nanjing was the last bus adventure I had on my trip. All bus rides went smoothly after that. This bus ride went according to schedule. I kept a close eye on streets signs (which were in Chinese and English) so I was sure when to get off. My next destination was Jade Buddha Temple, one of central Shanghai’s 3 fabulous temples. The temple was built to house two jade Buddhas imported from Burma in the late 19th century.
No photographs are allowed of the Jade Buddha Temple’s stunning 6-foot-tall white jade seated Buddha. You can see a picture of it here.
Having sufficiently investigated Jade Buddha Temple, I traveled on foot and by subway to central Shanghai’s second fabulous temple, Jing’an Temple (Temple of Peace and Tranquility). The original Jing’an Temple was built in 247 in a different part of Shanghai. It was relocated to its current site in 1216 and rebuilt in the 19th century. It suffered the indignity of being converted into a plastics factory during the Cultural Revolution. It was severely damaged by fire in the ’70s and rebuilt in the ’80s.
When I got to Jing’an Temple, I was feeling tired and really questioning if I could keep up this extreme sightseeing at my advanced age of 52. I thought maybe I’d go back to the hotel for the afternoon after visiting this temple. But I got caught up in the excitement of Shanghai, spent the rest of the day wandering all over the city, and never had that malaise again the rest of my trip.
The French Concession
After the two temples, I explored the French Concession, the area of Shanghai that was controlled by the French for about a century prior to WWII.
I really liked the French Concession It drove home the point of what a fantastic, diverse city Shanghai is. I was completely energized by this point. Which was a good thing because I still had a lot of walking to do. I headed east to the Old City. The Old City, formerly surrounded by walls, was home to the Chinese of Shanghai while most of the rest of the city was occupied by foreigners. You can get an understanding of this by watching “Empire of the Sun”, which I re-watched prior to my trip. It shows how the Chinese were restricted in somewhat of a ghetto while the foreign powers were living large in grand estates.
The Old City
City God Temple is surrounded by Yu Garden Bazaar–a tourist district so enormous, it puts Nanjing’s Fuzimiao to shame. It looks authentic, but the buildings are reconstructions of traditional architecture.
East Nanjing Road
Well, I hope now you get a sense of just how great a city Shanghai is.
Grand finale to a grand day
Oh, I almost forgot. At the end of the day, I went to see an incredible acrobatics show. I rarely go to any performances when I’m on my trips, but a Chinese acrobatics show sounded like a must-see. It didn’t disappoint. I kept saying to myself, “How is that even possible?” And that was before the show’s finale of 8 motorcycles racing around inside a giant globe. There’s were lots of warnings not to take pictures, warnings which were ignored by many in the audience. But I was well behaved and didn’t take any pictures. You can watch a video about the show here.
[If the video below doesn’t work, you can watch it by clicking here.]
[Factual information is primarily gathered from Wikipedia, so you know it must be true.]