Finding Serenity?

(recap of the morning of Friday the 19th)

After a 3:30 feeding of peanut butter bagels and ABC/123s for the kids, with a little more sleep afterward, we quickly shoved everything back into the suitcases, ate breakfast, and headed out to squeeze in a bit more of Shanghai before our noon departure.  With so much left to see, it was difficult to decide how to best spend our time.  Ian and I both really wanted to visit the Shanghai Museum (reputed to be one of the top three museums in China), but we figured that the kids wouldn't get much out of it and besides, they didn't get to stretch their legs much for the past three days.  So we opted for Yuyuan Garden instead.  While it is noted to be a popular place for domestic tourists, it promised to have many alcoves and corners to find a bit of serenity even during the high tourist season.  (Note to self ~ there is "high tourist season," and then there is "CNY tourist season")

So we hailed a taxi and headed out.  The surrounding block was "decked out" for Chinese New Year and we found ourselves amid a happy crowd of folks admiring all the decorations.  I wasn't the only one stopping to take pictures of many of the buildings.

Caleb was enthralled by the dragon and the phoenix on this building.

We began to make our way toward the gardens when we noticed that a lot of "domestic tourists" were stopping to have their kids picture at this storefront statue, so I decided to join in the fun.  Caleb had a blast pretending that the dragon was biting his hand.

So much fun in fact that he had some other folks laughing and then they started yelling to get his attention so that they could take his picture too.  Can't blame strangers, they are pretty darn cute...  As we made our way through the shopping streets toward the garden we were again caught up in the beauty of the decorations.

Finally we came to (were swept up in the crowd) part of the garden and stopped (when we could wedge our way in between the hoards) to admire the floats in the reflecting pool.  The floats really were cool.  There were different ones to represent the major holidays in China

including the lantern festival, the moon festival, the spring festival (CNY), and the dragon boat festival.

Kylie's favorite was the Expo mascot in the dragon boat.
And if you're wondering why I said we were swept up in the crowd, well, these two pictures say more than I ever could with words!


Never in my life have I been in such a crowd.  Needless to say we did not find the serene part of the gardens on Friday morning...  We think that there was a part with an entrance fee that we passed (were pushed past) in the crowd, but once we finally got through the bridge area neither one of us had any interest in trying to retrace our steps to see.  We'll give it another shot sometime during the lesser crowds of high tourist season!

We did press on to a shopping street and got expo dolls for Kylie and Caleb and let them pick a lovey to give to their sister when we met her.  It too was crowded, but not nearly like the garden.  Needless to say we had a "death grip" on both of the kids the entire time!

Just love all the red lanterns!

Then we just wandered a few streets aimlessly as we were going to hail a taxi back to our hotel.  Kylie got a big kick out of the lions standing guard of a building with the red bows around their necks!

And Caleb was himself, forgetting that there is a language barrier and trying to make friends over an ice cream cone!


It was nearing lunch time as we left, and I found this little back alley "al fresco" restaurant intriguing.

One quick taxi ride later and we were back to the hotel to check out and move on to our next "home away from home," Darcy's city of Hangzhou! 

**Our driver was quite chatty and we got some interesting insight about culture here.  All sorts of things that I'll write about once we get home.**


Cindy M said...

Looks like a cool place, sans the crowd! The floats are exactly like the ones we saw in Hong Kong for the CNY parade held there! I thought they were so cool!

You must have had a busy morning to get up, get ready, pack, sight-see, and get back to the hotel by noon! I'm impressed...

Nancy said...

Wow, incredible photos!

Grandma Shultz said...

What crowds. Surely was an interesting time to be there with all of the decorations. Caleb, you surely were brave to put your hand in that big dragons mouth!

Lisa said...

I love that you are getting to share/record all of this! I can't imagine the crowds. The only thing I can't think of is downtown Disney after the evening fireworks.

The decorations are sooooo pretty. It's so cool that you are getting to experience the holiday there!

Gotta love Caleb and the dragon!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I would go crazy in those crowds! Glad you got out of the hotel room though!
Love ya
Aunt Cici

Glenda said...

I love Caleb's personality coming through with the kids!

C.C. said...

So enjoying following your trip! The decorations are amazing!!

Larry and Carol said...

Loved seeing all the hoopla of CNY. We are following your blog each day and love seeing Darcy - she is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

First, there is a comment under this post you may want to delete. If there is someone handling that for you. It's about gambling?

Second, the garden you passed was through a round gate (ie. hole in the wall) and was very pretty but with those crowds you would never have felt the designer's intended sense of serenity. I remember thinking the dragons on the roof were cool but you've already seen that elsewhere. So congratulations on navigating CNY crowds without getting lost! And those back allyways are the best. But like Kylie, I'm lovin' the bow around the lion.