|The labour intensive job of unraveling the silk |
cocoon to remove the worm
|Stretching a small silk cocoon to the size of a duvet|
|Spectacular floral display, People's Square|
Before lunch we visited People's Square, central Shanghai, to admire the spectacular plantings and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the surrounding park. It is a popular spot for locals to perform Tai Chi or dance but was quiet when we were there in the middle of the day.
The square is the location of the Shanghai Museum, our destination for the afternoon. Set in a stunning building designed to look like a ding, an ancient Chinese cooking vessel, the museum, set over four levels, contains a comprehensive collection of Chinese art, ceramics, sculpture, furniture, jade, coins, calligraphy etc. I love Chinese porcelain so particularly enjoyed that gallery. I was also fascinated by the elaborate, antique furniture in the furniture gallery and the display of traditional costumes from various parts of China. It is an excellent museum, considered to be one of the best in China, and the perfect place to look at and learn about rare and precious Chinese antiquities.
Exquisite porcelain and national costumes at The Shanghai Museum
Late in the day we drove 50kms out of the city to visit Zhujiajiao, one of Shanghai's ancient water towns. The village, home to only 300 families, is 1700 years old with many of its buildings dating from the Qing and Ming periods.
"Venice of the East", Zhujiajiao
When we arrived the village was crowded but nevertheless pleasant enough to stroll beside the canals, up and down the narrow alley ways and over some of the village's 36 stone, humped back bridges. Our group was a pretty adventurous lot so managed to get off the main tourist paths at times and find quiet little corners to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the place. In order to retain its character residents may alter the interior of their homes as much as they like but cannot alter the exterior. Most of the lower floors of the two storey houses are given over to shops, food stalls and restaurants, selling everything from roasted scorpions and spiders, to more palatable, to my mind anyway, roast pork wrapped in leaves and duck. As the day turned to dusk the town emptied out until it seemed there was just our group and the villagers left. It was so peaceful beside the canals as the sun dipped below the trees and the lanterns gradually come on, their light shimmering in the water. We had dinner in the village followed by a very dreamy, step-back-in-time, canal side walk through this ancient village and back to our bus.
|Zhujiajiao by night|
What a great day, with plenty of time to reflect on what we had seen during the bus ride back to the hotel.
|Two more views of Zhujiajiao|
Here are some things of note about Shanghai:
*Shanghai is China's most populated city with 25m residents
*The streets are very clean and there is no graffiti anywhere
*Billboards and advertising hoardings are relatively rare
*All the major roads around the city are adorned with colourful baskets of
|Apartment buildings trimmed with lights|
*Spectacular floral displays around the city are constructed from hundreds of very small pot plants
*It's smoggy but not every day
*They love lights, even apartment buildings are elaborately decorated with lights
* And despite being officially an atheist country there were Christmas decorations everywhere!
I really enjoyed Shanghai and would happily return at some stage but we were off to our next destination, Xian.