The following morning, we were up super early because of the jet lag. But that was okay. We walked around some more in our neighborhood. There was a bakery where we got little baked balls of red bean and egg that was quite delicious. I am obsessed with red bean and have been since high school. I endeavoured to have as much of it as possible on this trip. And rank it!
After our morning tea and coffee, we decided to take a long walk to the Shanghai Museum. It’s one of the top museums in Shanghai; it has a very impressive collection of artifacts including bronzes, ceramics, and more. It’s free but they limit the number of visitors each day to 8000 (I think). So go early if possible to avoid disappointment. Shanghai in July is hot and sticky as we found out. But the walk was nice. We took a detour along the Bund, an area next to the riverfront called the Wall Street of Shanghai. I think it was part of the English and American concessions when Shanghai was colonized. We watched the boats in the harbor, saw the crazy buildings on the skyline.
We stopped by for a cold drink at one of the many Family Marts we saw in China. The labels on the drinks were amazing and surreal. My favorite was the one with a bird living in a teacup.
The Shanghai Museum is shaped like a Chinese cooking vessel called a ding. I really love that fact especially since they have several dings inside the museum! We got there when it opened but there was already a line. Thankfully it moved quickly and we were in the air conditioned embrace of the museum. We started from the top floor down. The first area we went to was the Exhibit of Ethnic Minorities in China. Yes, that’s what it is called. While we can talk a lot about the politics of such a place and some inclusions, there were some really amazing outfits and masks.
My favorite area of the museum remains the ceramics. I came to love ceramics later in life. As a kid I found them moderately interesting. Now, I find them endlessly fascinating. My favorite era of Chinese pottery is Tang. The sculptures are so full of character and life. I love the color scheme, full of greens, yellows and oranges. One sculpture was a woman seated on a horse.
We also had a fun moment with a guard. I happened to notice an interaction with a guard and another museum patron. This guy was holding a series of empty wicker baskets. Apparently, you can bring almost anything into the museum. He had just thrown them down on the floor to look at something and the guard, rightly so, yelled at him. Moments later as I was looking at something else, my friend grabbed me and said, “The guard impishly pointed a bowl. You should check it out.” I saw the bowl at hand and if you peeked into it, there were painted butterflies. Same guard. I love it.
We also made a turn around the Bronzes and the Sculptures, which were also wonderful. It’s a really nice collection. And yes, I saw the many dings! There’s a tea room in the museum so we had a little pit stop with tea and macarons, including a sesame one. Pretty good!
Then we decided to walk to Yuyuan Gardens. Of course, it was the hottest time of the day. The area around Yuyuan Gardens is a bit hectic, a bit unpleasant. But the gardens are a wonder. It’s like a labyrinth, little narrow walls lead you to unexpected pools and trees. It’s fun to get lost here. We spent some time gazing out on the pond filled with koi amongst some beautiful buildings. There’s a zig zagged bridge in the middle; there’s a belief that ghosts can only walk in straight lines so they can’t walk on a zig zagged bridge.
When we left the peaceful confines of the garden, we eventually found ourselves back in the hubbub around the gardens. We decided to get a snack at a dumpling place nearby. I ordered a variety of dumplings including a Hello Kitty inspired dumpling. Inside was custard. I also had a dumpling that was kinda like baklava, nutty and sweet. The red bean dumpling was okay. Alas!
We ended up meeting family for dinner near the hotel at a mega mall at a stir fry place. It’s a bit like Benihana where the chef cooks it all at the table. I had this crystal pork that was delicious (but dangerous). Dessert was a warm pancake filled with red bean paste. It was really wonderful. Can’t decide which red bean thing I liked better: the red bean egg ball in the morning or the stir fry pancake in the evening. Decisions!
After dinner, we decided to try a foot massage at a place near the hotel. I had never had a foot massage in China before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love massages as a rule so I was very curious. I sadly was not a fan. It hurt a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my feet still hurt the following day. I feel that suggests that the foot massage was not for me. Oh well. It was worth a try!
That’s all for now!