(aka Yu Garden new year)
I really love Shanghai. I haven’t been to New York, but I imagine it’s what it would feel like, and that’s what other people mentioned. Very metropolitan, and it would be much cheaper than living in New York. We were staying in a hostel that was roughly about $6 USD a night! One of our roommates had been living there for 2 months. Oh and our hostel (Soho international youth hostel) was close to the metro. 2-4 yuan will get you almost anywhere you want to go within the city (less than $1 people!) we would take it frequently to peoples square and spent about 50cents.
Anyways, yu garden. CRAZYYY!!! It was sooo packed!!! It took us forever to find the actual garden. So, fyi the garden is connected to the bazaar or marketplace. This is also referred to “garden”. This was really confusing. We pushed, shoved and wandered around for almost 2 hours! We almost gave up. It didn’t help that we were calling it yu yuan garden….meaning “yu garden garden” no wonder people were confused.
But OMG. The pushing! It wasn’t anything like that the day before (this day was the first day of the new year). We were literally moshing across the bridge! I even cried out a few times. I tried taking a video of me being shoved into Kacey repeatedly. I wasn’t even sure where we were going, I was just hoping the crowd was taking me where we wanted to go. It was scary and hard trying to keep track of kacey (who is 6ft) can you imagine trying to keep track of a 4 year old? For reasons I can’t understand, people were being stupid and brought their infants and their 95 year old grandmas. ..in wheelchairs!!! I tried really hard not to be shoved into them, but I could only do so much. I felt bad for them. There were some areas where they must’ve been stuck for like half and hour (the wheelchairs). …I think they were bringing the elderly to the shrine for good luck, or longevity or something. I get that. But maybe the trip ironically shortened their life a little? (I feel like it did for me at least). Even my new keychain broke because the crowd was so intense.
But the garden itself….awesome…totally worth it once we got there. It wasn’t even crowded. Maybe people wanted to just buy things or go to shrine. Either way, it was a breath of fresh air.
Pretty scenery, architecture, and green water. It seems like a cliché image with the Chinese erhu playing the background (the Chinese violin type things) and advertising Chinese tea or tourism or something. But it is something else when you are there. I felt like I could stay forever. Unfortunately an hour would have to do, that’s how much time we had after battling the crowd. The gardens were about to close.
Oh, at the garden Kacey was somewhat of a celebrity. Lots of Asians wanted her photo. I usually helped take the photo. We joke now that we should charge them. Even I could make money if they wanted EVERYONE in their group to be in it. Seriously, every corner a new photo. People would sneak them discreetly or blatantly put a cellphone in her face. When they would ask, the girls would squeal then bring her friends, then their friends then a new group …then another 5 minutes of picture taking ensued. It’s amazing we got through the gardens at all haha. Maybe it’s good luck to a see a white person for the new year?
When we finished and on our way home, we found a little back alley market. It was seriously the wierdest place I’ve ever seen. You never knew what you were going to see SO much food. SO. MANY SMELLS!!! It was really strange. I’m fairly easy-going and up for anything, but the smells coming from that street….putrid. I tried really hard to bear with it, it looked so visually appealing. But it was the one time I felt physically limited and doubted my ability to go on. …smelled much worse than poo….like 10 farms, so many layers of smells, getting over one then hit by another…INSANE. Great for shopping though. Kacey made out with a fluffy help kitty (Ni hao Kitty) jacket for about $8! (it originially started at $16)
When we left the market place, we passed yu yuan again, this time all the lanterns were lit. Even though we were tired, we looked at each other and were like “dude, we have to go in!” …what can I say? it was so beautiful….and this sounds ridiculously cheesy but I don’t know how to say other than…magical and romantic. (you can stop laughing now)
We were soo happy we came. We joked and laughd at the Chinese people who were concerned that we were traveling during this time. They were worried that we’d “get lonely”. For Chinese people, Chinese New Year is really about emphasizing time with family. It’s like their Christmas. So, we cheerfully joked back and forth throughout the night how lonely we were as we gazed all the lights and sea of lanterns.
It took so long to get home, so many things to see, so many pictures.
Do you believe in magic?
Sorry this post took me so long, I wanted to wait till I could post photos.
Thanks for reading
wish I coould post more, but it is so dang slow.