Two Days Near Yu Gardens on J.’s Last Weekend in Shanghai

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Last weekend was J.’s last in Shanghai before heading home for Thanksgiving and forever. Sad yes, but we were determined to strike a balance between running last minute errands and seeing the city on foot before it was too late. On Saturday, we slept in and then took a cab to a touristy area in Old Town around Yu Gardens. J. was in search of luggage from a market specializing in luggage, but we ended up getting distracted as we explored the neighborhood.

A lot full of tour busses.

Hawthorne berries on a stick, coated with hardened syrup.

The finance tower between old restaurants.

A lady making popular dumplings.

Small chair at a bike repair station.

An old woman discusses old woman things with another old woman.

Chair.

A contraption that looks like it’s used for hoisting buckets of cement.

Woman peers out from behind meat.

Construction workers on break create a colorful scene.

Tiles and grass.

Time for a Coke break.

A group of soldiers get their names made into calligraphic poems.

A weird skinny man makes plasticine caricatures.

Pigeon on a stick.

A man and a mysterious red door in a makeshift parking lot.

Fatties at the beach.

Alley bed.

Camouflaged ear muffs.

Small counter.

Homeless man sleeping on a bench.

An excessive number of posting on a building no doubt announce that it’s going to get razed.

Man sleeping on bags of flour in a noodle making business.

Woman looks thoughtfully from a food stand.

Hot, unclaimed lunch in an alley.

A casual fish market.

Bloody scale.

Basin of bloody water, the aftermath of a morning fish market.

Large fingers of ginger.

Sack of fish.

Colorful, elephant like spigot.

Man measures newspapers on a rust scale.

Birds and laundry.

Books for sale on the sidewalk.

Woman and bike mountain cotton candy machine. The colored sugar is stored in tin cans hanging from the side.

Different meats on sticks, ready for grilling.

Makeshift grease traps attached to the vent outside a kitchen.

The window of the kitchen was coated with black grease, even forming “greasicles.”

Bundles of books.

Gross looking beef with curry tinted fat.

A steaming cauldron of soup stock.

Meat and tea kettle on sidewalk.

In loving memory…

Cat sneaks out from behind window bars.

Laundry drying in front of a beautiful old brick building.

The cluttered courtyard of the same building.

Colorful patterns in a narrow alley.

Open pit in sidewalk full of water and garbage.

A drainage tube hanging from a building had a prescription bottle attached to the end for some reason.

Around noon, A. and his crazy mustache met up with us and we walked around some more. We left the area for soup dumplings at Ding Tai Fung in the clean and overpriced Xintiandi area. Afterward, we walked along Hua Hai road and killed some time with coffee before meeting people on the Line 1 subway platform.

Lunch was a variety of clean and delicious dumplings from Ding Tai Fung at Xintiandi.

A woman plays Canon in D on violin to a techno beat to entice people into a cosmetics booth.

A confused looking mass of people outside a UNI QLO store.

A. and J. went to investigate the crowd.

Antenna.

The dreary security office of an underground market.

Our destination that evening was Era, a Chinese-style circus at Epcot-looking Shanghai Circus World. We arrived around 6:30, bought five 180RMB($27) tickets and walked around before the start of the show.

Era was worth it. Sort of a mix between Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros. with plenty of Chinese motifs thrown in. There were no animals. The acrobatics were top notch: plenty feeling quite precarious and injury-defying. It was a tight, well-honed show. Not something I’d see a second time, but definitely worth it once.

Afterward, J. and I took the subway home. We left the tunnel one stop before the gang and walked home in the cold evening air.

On Sunday, we headed back to the same part of town. This time, the trip was to actually buy luggage. As J. browsed, I wandered around the area. The highlight of the day was finding jackfruit for sale. Eight pieces cost a hefty 10RMB($1.50), but they were worth it. J acquired two pieces of brown rolling luggage. We headed home for a two hour rest.

That afternoon, I reluctantly biked to an edit house for some quick tweaks to a 15 second version of a spot while J. got an hour-long massage.

For dinner, we met up with A. and D. for one last dinner together at Sichuan Citizen. I had the bright idea of trying all new items on the menu, but most of what I picked ended up not being very good. Thankfully, we finished dinner in time to have wonderful chocolate ice-cream for dessert.

See no evil.

Sunday morning near Yu Garden. Like the day before, we were assaulted by a steady stream of people asking “Watch? Bag? iPhone?”.

Looking down into various stalls while J. shopped for luggage.

Looking into a construction site.

Man holding watermelon looks with skepticism as a woman buys watermelon.

Construction worker along the Bund parkway.

Dusty road.

Two workers have the rather pointless task of keeping the construction walls clean amongst a steady cloud of dust.

Two dogs peer out from a doorway.

Man walks without safety harness on the roof of a new pavilion.

Woman eyes the merchandise.

Crowded street.

Dessert puffs.

A crowd of people outside a park.

A construction workers lounge under bamboo scaffolding.

A tea holder on a motorbike.

Rich chocolaty ice-cream for dessert at Awfully Chocolate.

The end of an era: D, J, and A together for the last time in Shanghai.

After dessert, J. rode home on the back on my rusty bike. It was one last ride together on our little Shanghai adventure. I’m happy she gets to go home to visit her family. The remaining month will be lonely but it will also quickly pass.

The cold weather has put me in a hopeful mood. I’m ready to head home into the welcoming arms of family and boring but comprehensible landscape of my past. The future is even more uncertain that the last time I left China, but I’m ready for it.

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