Category Archives: Things To Do

Fengjing Ancient Water Town – Good Day Trip from Shanghai

Fengjing Ancient Water Town

China, Shanghai, FengjingFengjing ancient water town is one of the ancient water towns within a day trip from Shanghai.  The history of the town is very long – per some of the local people, the town is about 1500 years old.  Some of the references I saw on-line desrcribed it as one of the gate towns to Shanghai.  The streets in the old town criss cross old houses, restaurants and tea shops.  Probably the main attraction that we saw (at least) are the canals that create the old city – the interesting houses being built all around the canals.

Fengjing is certainly much less visited by tourists – while Qibao is much easier to access, Fengjing is significantly larger, and much less over-run by tourists.  Let's put it this way – during our visit on October 6th, we saw only one obvious foreign tourist in the area.  I am sure there were plenty of tourists overall, but all in all, it is one of the off the beaten track locations.

China, Shanghai, FengjingThe local folks sell tons of food items – it appears frog legs are a major specialty here – we did not dare try, but tons of other folks did not hesitate as far as we can see…

Folks art is a big thing in the area.  I did not care too much for it – but if you like it, there is plenty of it.

 

 

In terms of getting to and from the city – here are some instructions – hopefully useful for you to use:

 

The town is easily reachable via metro and bus.  The town is located approximately 60 kilometers southwest from downtown Shanghai (e.g. Jing'An district).  

Instructions to get to Fengjing Ancient Water Town: 

  • Travel on metro line 1 to Jinjiang Park station
  • Exit either via 1 or 2 North exit 
  • Turn left and walk to the bus terminal – the name is West Meilong Bus Station
  • You need to get to a ticket window and buy a ticket for the FengMeiXian bus line – the ticket is 12RMB and you can use your Shanghai Metro card to purchase it (or use cash)

China, Shanghai, Fengjing, Feng Mei Xian 

  • The bus takes about 55-65 minutes based on how heavy traffic is
  • Once you reach Fengjing, the bus will drop you off infront of the Ancient Town.  You can then walk to the left of where the bus drop you off or to the right and in both cases bypass the visitor center and walk into the Ancient Town

China, Shanghai, Fengjing

  • On the way back, you need to remember to walk back to the same spot and look for a city bus with a sign (unfortunately in Chinese – Jin Mei Xian – this is a local city bus which can transport you to the town main bus terminal (you pay 2RMB as you get on that bus, you can use your Shanghai metro card again) – at the main terminal you will get back on the Feng Mei Xian to travel back to Shanghai.
  • The bus will stop at the Lianhua Road Metro Line 1 stop – or you can stay on the bus all the way back to the main terminal in Shanghai and walk back to the Jinjiang park metro stop

For a photo gallery of our day in Fengjing, please follow this link to the Travel Photo Blog.   Thanks!

Jing’An Sculpture Park – a Pleasant Place in Shanghai

Jing'An Sculpture Park

If you are going to the Shanghai Natural History Museum, you will very likely stroll through the Jing'An Sculpture Park.  It is a pleasant oasis in the middle of the hussle and bustle of the busy Jing'An area of the city.

China, Shanghai, Jing'An, Sculpture ParkThe park provides a nice setting for both leisure strolls and exercise.  As you walk or run through it, you can admire the interesting sculptures in it — please see the photos in this posting

This park is located at the intersection of Beijing West Road and Shimen 2 Road.  It is also at the Natural History museum stop of the number 13 metro line.

There are tons of trees in the park as well as of course the sculptures of all sort and shapes – some of them pretty whimsical (in my opinion)

This morning, during my morning run, I took a bunch of photos.  Several of them are below in this posting.

One of the big uses of the park is for morning exercises.  Go here around 7, or 7:30am on the weekends, and you will find groups of folks doing all sort of TaiQi.   Then there are the groups of sword dancers – the old grannies are well organized and moving in unison… I come across to do my monring runs as well.

Enough said, here are some photos to give you an idea…

China, Shanghai, Jing'An Sculpture Park
More Art
 
China, Shanghai, Jing'An Sculpture Park
Lawn with Sculptures

China, Shanghai, Jing'An Sculpture Park

 

Nanxiang – Old Street and Wrap Up

Nanxiang Old Street

Visit Nanxiang and you will have quite a nice experience.  According to local history, Nanxiang is the birthplace of the famous in Shanghai and all over China, xiaolongbao.  These are the small soup dumplings made with pork or crab filling.  They are great!

Shanghai, Nanxiang, Xiaolongbao Xiaolongbao, Shanghai, Nanxiang

Then there is the Old Street.   Interesting place, of course packed with people, but nevertheless very interesting.  My family and I walked the street and encountered many kids playing and of course all the old China architecture you can absorb.   This town is certainly a good place to visit for multiple reasons

  • Easy access — via metro line 11
  • The main landmarks and places to visit are within easy walking distance from the metro station
  • Great food!  Did I say xiaolongbao?  Of course I did – the dumplings (no matter whether they originated here or not) are extremely tasty…

Here are the next set of photos from the trip here:  

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang China, Shanghai, Nanxiang China, Shanghai, Nanxiang China, Shanghai, Nanxiang China, Shanghai, Nanxiang China, Shanghai, Nanxiang

If you like some of the photos, you can find a whole lot more on the Photo Blog pages here… Enjoy!

 

Nanxiang – Yunxiang Temple

Yunxiang Temple

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang TempleYunxiang Temple is also known as Liuyun Buddhist Temple.  It is located at one of the edges of the Nanxiang Old Street.  The temple has a very long history – being originally built in the fourth year of Tianjian during the reign of the Liang of the Southern Dynasty (505). Per recorded history I saw in the temple – during the Kaicheng reign of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 -907), the land area of the temple was expanded to 12 hectares and it had more than 700 monks.

It was renamed apparently in 1700, with an inscription from Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It was destroyed in a fire, with only the Double Temple, Shijing Streamer and Shita Temple left. After the original Beihe Nanxiang Temple was burnt, a new temple was built in 2004 near the original site. The new temple, however, is still gorgeous with magnificent buildings – a very rare group of Tang-style buildings in the south of China.

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang Temple

The temple is located at 100 Renmin Road, Nanxiang Town, Jiading District.  Take Line 11 to Nanxiang Station (if you reach any of the Jiading stations you have gone too far) – then follow the map (see photo of the Google map) – the temple is a short 25-minute walk from the metro station.

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang Temple  China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang Temple  China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang Temple

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang TempleThe entrance to the temple requires a ticket – according to the ticket office on every 1st and 15th of the month, the tickets are 2RMB and during the rest of the time 8RMB but yesterday (October 3rd) the tickets were at 2RMB (for adults) as well – score…!

Overall the ticket cost is negligible given the interesting sights and views you will experience.  The temple provides an a good glimpse into how much China has changed over the years.  When I first came to Shanghai (in 1988!) for an extended period – I stayed for 2.5 years – it would have been very difficult to find a place like this temple and see people actually actively participating in various ceremonies…..

Today, this appears to be a normal act for many…. Given the number of people we say doing everything from a simple prayer to burining elaborate offerings (made out of paper of course).  

 

 

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yunxiang Temple, PrayerPrayer for Good Fortunes

It also has become the most popular site during the Spring Festival in Nanxiang as people from all over the city come to pray for a prosperous new year. 

Of course, if offering a prayer is not your purpose of visit (as we were) – the temple offers excellent way to just walk around, do some people watching, enjoy the beauty of the architecture and overall find a place to sit down and contemplate….

 

This posting is a second one in the series about the less traveled part of Shanghai – the town of Nanxiang.  The first posting introduced you to the Ancient Yi Garden..

You can see many more pictures of the Liuyun Buddhst Temple in my photo blog.   Enjoy!

 

Nanxiang – Ancient Yi Garden – Guyi Garden

Guyi Garden

Guyi Garden (古漪园) – Ancient Yi Garden is a beautiful park located in Nanxiang in North West Shanghai, just before Jiading.  The garden is one of the five classical gardens in Shanghai.  It was built during the reign period of Emperor JiaJing in the Ming Dynasty.

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yi GardenThe park is large – with an approximate area (per signs inside) of approximately nine hectares.  It is divided into six scenic sections based on very different landscapes.  Based on that there are several key halls, lakes and areas – the Hall of Interest of the Wild, the Goose Playing Pond, the Pine and Crane Garden, the Verdant Green Garden, the Mandarin Duck Lake, and the Nanxiang Wall.  The Yi Garden is also famous for its many different types of bamboo – purple bamboo, sturdy bamboo, chopstick bamboo, Japanese bamboo, and big bright bamboo. 

 

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang, Yi GardenThere are plenty of places to explore while in the Garden – more than 20 halls, pavilions, chambers and verandas.  Then there are the Mid-lake Pavilion, Lacking-one-Corner Pavilion, the Hall of Interest of the Wild, Fragrant Snow Pavilion, Plum Blossom Hall, the Stone House, and some I did not even visit and did not record.   

Then there are the water lilies – there are tons of them in different colors and sizes.  You will really enjoy them.   Additionally, there are great shrubs and trees everywhere – and of course wonderful scenic spots all across the park.

I think the place is an oasis in the city of Shanghai – you can come here and enjoy some time to reflect and enjoy the beautiful scenery.   

How do you get here?   Well, really simple – get on line 11 and look for Nanxiang Station. Once there you can just use Google Maps or Baidu Maps and get to the Gu Yi Garden.   Included below are some more photos – but there is an album you can enjoy at my photo blog – check it out.

China, Shanghai, Nanxiang
Vendor just outside Yi Garden
 China, Shanghai, Nanxiang

 

China National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival

China Holiday

Happy National Day China!  Today, October 1st, is China's National Day… I am sure you can find tons of info on that on-line.  But here are the fundamentals as it relates to your potential travel (this year or in the future)

China National DayThe legal holiday for Chinese National Day is currently 3 days in mainland China, 2 days in Macau and 1 day in Hong Kong. In mainland China, these 3 days are connected with the weekends on both ends creating a 7-day period from October 1st to 7th known as “Golden Week”.

Microsoft is on with the program – Bing.com is appropriately decked out…

Where your travel plans are concerned you need to keep in mind that besides the Chinese New Year (usually in late January / early February), this is the longest public holiday in the country.   The weather is very nice during this time which makes for very nice travel conditions, however, that is what everyone knows and enjoys – therefore creating a very busy travel conditions everywhere in China.  

Here is the schedule for everyone in China:

Oct. 1
(Sun)
Oct. 2
(Mon)
 Oct. 3
(Tue)
Oct. 4
(Wed)
Oct. 5
(Thu)
Oct. 6
(Fri)
Oct. 7
(Sat)
Oct. 8
(Sun)
3 day legal holiday

Mid-Autumn Festival

Enjoy your Mooncakes

Holiday week bookend Completing the Golden Week period

Now some pictures from downtown Shanghai – Nanjing Road of course – with the throngs of people strolling on the National Day… (note to everyone – Gone are the National Day Parade from this area …)

China, Shanghai, National Da
Shanghai
China National Daygallery

You can check out the initial installment of a Moving to China guide….Shameless advertisement indeed…!

Mid-Autumn Festival 

Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the 'Harvest Moon Festival' or 'Mooncake Festival,' is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated both in China as well as in Chinese communities across the world.  It is usually held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. The name for it in Chinese is Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节).  This year, the festival was on October 4th.  The origins of the celebration go back many centuries – all the way to 10th century B.C.  It is associated with celebrations of the Fall harvest – the most critical one in the farming economy.  

 

 

 

The festival is associated with Mooncakes and plenty of other pastries that have gradually entered into the celebration.   The traditional mooncakes are everywhere.  They are sold in supermarkets, hotels, …The flling of the mooncake has also taken many shapes and forms over the years.   Historically, the filling is red bean paste or lotus seed paste and in both cases egg yolks in the middle of the cake.   Another very traditional filling is the 5-seed filling:  5 types of nuts and seeds (walnuts, pumpkin, watermellon, peanuts, sesame or almonds) plus added candied winter mellon, jinhua ham, sugar and some flavorings that may differ in different parts of China.  Now they are all sort of other new fillings – some of them pretty good, some weird…

As I mentioned, these days some new forms of cakes are showing up – why?  Just because of experimenting with new forms of flavors, and pastry — all very interesting.  So enjoy!   Here are some photos for reference.

China, Shanghai, Mooncake
Traditional Mooncake
China, Shanghai, Mooncake
Even Metro sells Mooncakes
China, Shanghai, Mooncake
New Cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Shanghai Views: Pudong Liujiazui at Night

Liujiazui

Everyone (at least in Shanghai) knows Liujiazui as the financial district of the city (and may be of the country).  It is an impressive area of this fascinating city.

It is also somewhat of a symbolic aspect of the new, highly developed and powerful Shanghai.  Why is that?  Well, because of its location – Liujiazui is located directly across the river from the Old financial district of Shanghai – the Bund (Waitan) – which is where the famous Paris of the Orient was headquartered back in the day….

I like the area though for its innovative and aggressive architecture.   Most people coming to see Shanghai see it from a distance – from the Puxi area – as they go for the "mandatory" tour of fhe Bund.

In this posting I will give you a view and taste of it as you walk among the huge skyscrapers and see it also at night.

China, Shanghai, Pudong, Liujiazui
View of night Liujiazui
China, Shanghai, Pudong, Liujiazui
View of the Shanghai Tower as you approach the Liujiazui area
gallery

Enjoy the show – for more images from this fascinating place, check out the gallery published Travel Photo Blog – here is a link to the Liujiazui At Night gallery.


Suzhou Weekend Night Out

Suzhou Weekend

Suzhou Weekend is something you need to do once every so often….Suzhou is a nice city – not large enough (by Chinese standards) to be overcrowded and not polluted as many of the big cities in China tend up to get due to cars and other stuff.  If you live in Shanghai or Nanjing, and even in Beijing, I recommend a weekend in Suzhou – here is a pictorial view of why I say so….

Let’s start with a map of the area near the Crown Plaza Suzhou.

Suzhou-Crown-Plaza-Hotel-Area

Then we continue with a dinner and walk around the lake after your arrival in the city.  One of the nice areas for dinner – in traditional Suzhou style – the area is Li Gong Di.  I had dinner in Da Yue restaurant – where I had some nice local dishes – small baize, eggplant…

Suzhou-Li-Gong-Di-Area

Following the dinner, a stroll around the lake is a very good next step – both for the sake of exercise as well as to see some nice sights and people (you may even end up chatting with someone)

Suzhou-Li-Gong-Di

See some nice views…

China-Suzhou-Night

China-Suzhou-Night

and get well prepared for the next:  Coffee or Drinks

Suzhou-Li-Gong-Di-Starbucks of course what will be a city these days without a Starbucks?  Can you say “Globalization…”

Suzhou-Nightscape

China-Suzhou-Wealthand what is the display of wealth mean without a PINK FERRARI in full view….Yes, crazy!

And finally, finish the night with European Cup Soccer and Great Beer…

Suzhou-European-Cup-Beer

Shanghai – More in Pictures

I went to Shanghai as a student in 1988…This was so very long ago…!  1988 Shanghai and the city today are (as you can imagine) completely different.  In previous postings in this blog I had provided images from the 1980s and 1990s Shanghai – I left the city the first time after spending two and a half years – departing in December 1990….I like to cross reference the photos as they tell so much about life styles – then and now..!

This time around I felt it is time to post some updates from daylight and night time Shanghai (Pudong and Puxi)…as I have said many times – nothing better than images to tell a story…

China-Shanghai-Puxi-Pudong

China-Shanghai-Pudong China-Shanghai

China-Shanghai China-Pudong

And then we even see the old JingAn Temple that adds a nice touch of history and culture to the rest of the modern metropolis…..

China-Shanghai China-Shanghai-Old China-Shanghai China-Shanghai

Conde Nast Traveler: Strange Article on Visiting the Great Wall in China

Over the years I have read the Conde Nast Traveler magazine on a relatively regular basis.  Until recently, I also thought their articles are thought provoking and of good value to the experienced traveler.  All that until now – I just came across an article that proclaimed a good way to have a visit to the Great Wall and avoid crowds.  Why, do I say the article was strange (and barely useful)?  Because of its key points – if you want to visit the Great Wall in a way that avoids the crowds you need to:

  • Go to Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Simatai…
  • You will avoid bus groups
  • avoid souvenir hawkers

Here is the excerpt that made me laugh:

It’s more than a fantasy: We recently took a guided and chauffeured tour organized by the Opposite House, an ultramodern hotel in Beijing’s energetic Sanlitun district. With the help of a registered guide, fluent in both English and Mandarin, and a chauffeured Audi A6, we were able to bypass the popular, overrun Badaling section of the Wall to explore less-touristed stretches—Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Simatai, or Jinshanling—free from bus groups and souvenir hawkers.

Really????

No one knows about Mutianyu or Simatai…??? Hardly!!!

No crowds and no souvenir hawkers….??? Hardly!!!

Just take a look at the photos below and you will see the evidence of the opposite

Mutianyu Market     Mutianyu-Great-Wall-May

Now, can you enjoy the Great Wall in relative crowd free manner?  Yes, it is possible – just need to make sure you select the time of your visit carefully.  Pick a work day of the week, plan to visit one of the sections like Mutianyu and preferably do that in the months closer to the Winter…. E.g. March

Here are some views of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which actually reflect a day when there were hardly any people at the site.  Enjoy!

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(Side note: here is the link to theConde Nast Traveler article...)