Though it wasn’t originally set up as a shopping district, Yuyuan Bazaar has become exactly that. A restored part of the old town, adjoining Yuyuan Gardens and the tea-house, this bazaar is busy at all times, serving the needs of the new tourist industry. All souvenirs can be found here, along with some alleged antiques and some interesting shops specialising in things like fans, scissors and walking sticks. Others carve chops, paint calligraphy and cut onlookers profiles from thin sheets of paper. Pearls from Jiangsu’s lake are sold everywhere and can be a good buby if you have a good eye! The adjacent Old Street is lined with tourist shops selling everything from folk paintings and woodcuts, to old money and buddhas. There are even shops selling temple gods and other accessories that will come in handy when worshipping your ancestors.
The Yu Yuan (Yu Gardens) were founded by the Pan family, rich Ming dynasty officials. The gardens took 18 years (1559 – 1577) to be nurtured into existence, only to be ransacked during the Opium War in 1842, when British Soldiers were barracked here for a few days, and again during the Taiping rebellion , by the French in reprisal for attacks on their nearby concession. Today the gardens have been restored and are worth visiting to see a fine example of Ming garden design. They are also an amazing respite from the hectic life in Shanghai, providing an oasis of calm and peace…. Whilst tourist take their photos, and some locals sit and read books, others find a nice piece of shade, curl up and sleep!
Next to the entrance to the Yuyuan gardens is the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, once part of the gardens and now one of the most famous teahouses in China, visited by Queen Elizabeth II of England, and Bill Clinton of America, and me!! The zig-zag causeway shown is there to thwart evil spirits, who can only travel in straight lines.
So, there you have it, a lovely day out, and just a bus-ride away from my apartment; a little taste of China, and a much more interesting report to start with than the inside of my apartment - which, incidentally, is about to change! Originals of all reports are on my website, www.mrhughes.net (presently blocked in China – so I can’t access it!).