The Year of the Rabbit
02.02.2011 - 06.02.2011 9 °C
I spent most of January anticipating my trip to Shanghai. To begin the New Years festivities we had a great celebration with the kids at school. It was a great way to learn the details about Lunar New Years and its importance. All of the kids wore their hanboks and they looked so adorable. We learned how to bow properly and how to play their traditional game yut.
This was the first Lunar New Years I have ever celebrated and spending it in Shanghai "The Whore of the Orient" was the best way it could have been spent. I wasn't sure what to expect when heading to China, I thought that it would be relatively similar to Korea. While their were some similarities between Korea and China, China reminded me a lot more of home then Korea ever has. Shanghai is extremely western which surprised me. They have many stores that we have in Canada, and there are westerners everywhere.
When we first arrived in China, it was New Years Eve and it felt and sounded like we were in the middle of a war zone. Fire crackers were being set off everywhere on the sidewalks and the streets, While in the Bund you could spin in a full circle and see fire works coming from every which way. Clearly the rules regarding firework safety are a little different on this end of the world. We spent our first night touring the Bund which made me feel like I was on vacation in Europe!
We felt that we should start the New Year just like the Chinese. This meant waking up early to head to Longhua Temple, the biggest temple in Shanghai. While at the temple, it was the first time since arriving in Shanghai that I felt that I was in what one would think of as stereotypical China. To say people were everywhere would be an understatement. I eventually gave up trying to walk and I simply let the crowd push me. Personal space was not an option at any point during our visit. Also everyone in the temple was praying with burning incense in their hand, so while being pushed around it was important to look through the smoke to be sure that your arms and your hair remained unscathed. Crowds aside the temple was amazing. It was so beautiful and it was great to partake in such an important Chinese tradition, especially since this is my year, the year of the rabbit.
After the Longhua Temple, we continued being tourists by heading over to the Yuyuan Garden. It was not easy to find the gardens, while I have slowly built up my abilities to speak basic Korean, my Chinese is limited to ne-how (hello) and she-she (thank you). This language barrier got us dropped off in the middle of a busy street to figure things out on our own. With half of our group missing we went on the hunt for both our friends and the garden. While searching we were able to see all the festivities going on to celebrate the year of the rabbit. We also got to try the greatest mandu (dumplings) I have ever had in my life, I can't even explain their deliciousness... I tried to find them again after the fact with no luck. Here are some pictures taken while walking around.
We finally found the garden and it was absolutely beautiful! It was crazy to think that this beautiful peaceful place existed in the centre of all the madness outside. This garden was built in 1559 by Pan Yunduan as a private garden for his parents to enjoy in their old age. We spent a lot of the day walking around enjoying the tranquility of the garden.
Our nights were as packed and crazy as our touristy filled days. Some of the night time highlights were our boat tour and the Shanghai Circus. Shanghai has to be the most beautiful place I have ever seen at night, especially from the Bund. Since we all fell in love with the night scene along the Huangpu River we decided that a boat tour on the beautiful dragon ship that we deemed the asian titanic was a must!
This only describes a fraction of what we did and saw in Shanghai, but since Korean life has become more crazy than ever, I figured I would keep it short and sweet. Shanghai was definitely an incredible city, and I had such a great time. It is so amazing to be able to add more countries and cities to my list of places been on a monthly basis.
Miss you all,