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Yuyuan Gardens, City God Temple, and Barbeque Squid, Oh my!

Trying to be more Chinese

In search of a Chinese breakfast

I don't know what the Chinese eat

And I still don't. My research suggests buns or rice gruel, which didn't sound appetizing. It seems most things I came across were more western, anyways. Well, I walked the wrong way on my street on accident and found a stand where this family was selling what looked like fried bread. It looked breakfasty and there were several people buying them which is a good sign. It cost about 30cents and was kind of bland, but with some powdered sugar it would have been delicious. They had some sauces that looked on the savory side, but I didn't know how to order them and had no idea what they were. I supplemented that with a fresh mango from a street vendor. yum!

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Yuyuan Bazaar

Then I walked around a bit more and finally decided to go to the Yuyuan Gardens and bazaar. I snatched a taxi for a few bucks and was on my way. The Yuyuan bazaar was overwhelming. The buildings fit what I imagine Chinese architecture looking like and there were dozens of streets and alleyways lined with stores selling lots of jewelry, silk, and overpriced junk. And of course tons of people. I saw a pizza hut and decided I would try it to see what it was like here, got ushered in to the entryway which was very nice and then down some steps to one of the nicest looking restaurants I've been in; marble floors and tons of tables, all with wine glasses and silverware. I was confused. When I was brought the menu, the cheapest meal was $20 so I just got up and left.

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I was a little hungry but not much, so I grabbed a big slice of watermelon that was on a skewer like a kabob for about 30cents.

I walked around a bit more because it was hard to find the gardens... no signage and the bazaar was disorienting, but I found some bamboo garden instead which I first thought might be the garden. It was pretty but not impressive enough for my travel book to suggest. I did find a cool building in the middle of the bamboo garden though!

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Yuyuan Garden

After about an hour of being there, I finally heard some English speaking people and asked them for directions. It's a lot harder to find these enormous gardens than I expected because the outside is lined with normal-looking buildings. The garden cost 30Y (about $4) to enter and was well worth it; one of my favorite things so far. Lots of beautiful buildings, architecture, and scenes. I finally got up the courage to ask (in Mandarin) a Chinese person to take my picture and she understood me on the first try, so I might be doing that more often. I also took a picture of myself.

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Lunch

On my way to find the temple I passed a small shop selling different meats on skewers roasting over a grill. I had seen these a few times and knew they are part of experiencing China, but thus far I have avoided eating meat (I think). Well they had what looked like pork or chicken (it had barbeque so I couldn't tell) and squid with its tentacles. I decided the hell with it, I am not going to avoid experiencing something so interesting even if it is against my vegetarian inclination. I got the squid for about $1.50; the other meat was half the price. The squid was roasted some, then lathered in barbeque sauce, then dusted with some seasoning that smelled like cumin or curry, and then had a red chile powder sprinkled on one side, which was enough.

I walked with it for a minute just looking at it and turned the corner into the entrance for the Temple of the City God but didn't know if I could bring my squid stick in, so I hunched down (like the Chinese, they squat a lot just when waiting or relaxing) and bit into one of the tentacles. I probably shouldn't have started with the least appetizing part, but it was the easiest to get to. It tasted pretty good, probably would have a lot better if I didn't feel bad eating it and thinking about it swimming around in the ocean. Okay it did taste good. It was spicy and savory and smoky. The texture wasn't chewy like I was afraid, but it was a little tough, though not awful. I enjoyed the experience overall and was excited to take the last picture in a classic Chinese pose with the peace sign!

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The Temple of the City God

Entrance

After paying (about $1.50) to get in, the first chamber/courtyard was full of incensed smoke. After watching for a minute I figured out that you can buy some gold paper with red characters on them and burn the paper in this stove-like place; a lot of people were standing around it throwing them in and chanting. Or you could buy incense sticks wrapped in colorful paper and burn them kind of like a sparkler (they didn't sparkle at the top, just the way people held them and what they looked like reminded me of a sparkler). People with the incense sticks were repeatedly bowing with them and it was obvious that the two acts were a type of prayer or reverence to the city god. It set the mood for the inside.

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Inside

When first entering there is a hallway with glass cases on both sides holding different scary-looking statues and the banisters lined with red flags. The flags all had a few characters on them each which looked like names to me and my best guess was that you purchased a flag with your family name and hung it there so the guards could watch over your family. Then in the main room of the temple is a huge gold statue of presumably the city god. Surrounding it were different rooms with different types of statues. At each place people were repeatedly making prayer hand gestures and then kneeling and prostrating. I kind of got people in some of pics but I didn't want to take too many pictures, it felt rude. The aura of the whole place was really spiritual and it felt important and special, even though I didn't know what anyone was praying, to whom, or even what religion it belongs to.

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temple city god 2

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Later

I came back and napped... I was a tired boy. Then I got up and decided to search for dinner. After walking around my usual street area I really couldn't find anything. All of the signs are in complete Mandarin (Duh, I know) and I don't know enough to be able to tell what they say. I think it will be easier after I learn more Mandarin but for right now, I need to operate off of pictures or stands where I can see and point to the food. Anyways I got frustrated and went on, but passed my massage place yesterday, so I headed in again. I remembered seeing a sign for accupuncture and thought that would be a good experience, but about 30 minutes into my full body massage I figured there was a misunderstanding. On my way out I looked again, it said accuPRESSURE. Oh well, the massage was great anyways.

I was pretty hungry by now, realizing I really didn't eat much during the day and feeling really tired (a mix of adventures, massage, and no food I guess) so I went to a pastry shop (safe bet) and got some "butterfly crackers". They are delicious buttery flaky pastries. Then I headed back to the hostel for fries and a coke, to write this blog, plan tomorrow, and get some sleep! I think my roommates might hate me bc I'm always sleeping when they come in... oh well.
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Posted by TrevorCook 04:54 Archived in China Tagged shanghai massage yuyuan_gardens

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Comments

I am so glad you made it okay. It looks like you are having a lot of fun and so many new experiences! I can't wait to read more :) Love you Trev.

by Stephanie

It looks so pretty. You're kind of making me want to go to China (thats something I never thought I would say). Be careful with that street food so you don't get the poops. hehe.
have funnnnnn xoxo

by Dandelz

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