The Old City
This was my first visit to Shanghai and I had limited time, I had noticed all the tourist buses, the hop on hop off variety and thought they would be the easiest and fastest way to seeing some sites.As I was staying close by The Bund, I was closeby the tourist information office. I wanted to see the Yu Gardens and The former French Concession as both had been recommended to me. The girl at the Tourist office said the "Big Red Bus" would be the one to take, it was 100RMB for the 24 hours (not a lot about $25AUD) and she showed me the stops I needed to get off for those places. The Big Red Bus stop was close by, waited a few minutes and off I went.
The bus has commentary so listened to it while we went down The Bund to the ferry terminal and then to the Yu Gardens stop. Got off and my first sight was the gate of the main road (that most people were walking down, follow the tourists!)
A few metres further down the road I got my first surprise, I was looking for a large garden and instead stumbled across the most beautifully restored old Chinese buildings.
I've since done some research (nothing like seeing things in real life to get you interested in finding out about them!) The area I was in is called 'Nanshi', the old city but more accurately 'The Southern City'. (Acquiring more Chinese words as I travel, 'nan' I learnt was 'south' thanks to having to catch the train from the Beijing South station. 'Shi' I knew as it's also used in Japanese for city)
This area had originally been a walled city, with the arrival of Europeans they were given their concessions, areas where they could live and do business. The British Concession was north of this area so was known as the "Northern City", thus the original Chinese area was the 'Southern City'.
It's a gorgeous area to walk around in, although main square is packed with tourists!
This building was in the main square, I tried not to get the multitude of people in the photo!
There are small lanes and roads (all pedestrian) which contain a variety of shops for people wanting some Chinese items as souvenirs. Silks, pictures, teasets, decorated chopsticks, the higher quality souvenirs not plasticky and cheap.
The main square also had this canal (?), the building in the centre is a restaurant. This was a very popular photo spot!!
This large building houses a jewellery store at street level, I really liked their windows displays.
Those red balls are Christmas baubles that you put on a Christmas tree. What made this sight unusual for me was that I took this photo in April, nowhere near Christmas. It was something I noticed about China, since it's a country that doesn't have a Christmas tradition as such, what we consider Christmas decorations are used just as decorations throughout the year. (I also saw varieties of Christmas wreaths and other baubles)
Finally, this just made me laugh, here I was surrounded by the most traditional Chinese buildings I had ever seen and i turned around and there was this huge Starbucks sign!! This was in the main square so totally catering for the tourists, I was surprised that the sign could be so prominent. In Europe, historic areas that had chains (Starbucks, McDonalds) have to have small discrete signage so not to clash with the streetscape.
The Yu Gardens are in this area so I did manage to visit them as well. Seeing such a beautiful old part of China was a terrific bonus. There's a lot to be said for not over researching a place before you visit, the surprises are so much nicer!