We started off our second full day in Shanghai visiting Yu Garden, a nature complex from the 19th century. Enclosed by bamboo chutes and stone walls, Yu Garden is home to a number of classic Chinese landscape features, including ponds with giant koi fish, cherry blossom trees, and animal sculptures.
Yu Garden exits right into Shanghai's Old City Market, which is a bustling (read: insanely crazy) area full of stores that sell anything and everything: food, tourist collectibles, gadgets and gizmos galore. The Old City Market also includes some welcomed global brands like Starbucks, Dairy Queen, and McDonald's. It's funny because we've learned as a group that the best meeting spots are the places we recognize, which is why we keep assembling at Starbucks.
Before lunch, we also stopped by Shanghai's City Planning Museum. It boasts a lot of cool technology, with virtual simulations that take you on a tour of different parts of the city and experience what it will be like to ride future subway and train systems in Shanghai. The museum also has a historic preservation area with pictures and models of Shanghai from the past. This exhibit was mirrored by a section that detailed what urban planners anticipate Shanghai will look like by 2040. The highlight of the museum was definitely the giant model of the heart of Shanghai, which encompasses almost the entirety of one museum floor.
After we spent some quality time with lazy Susan, the group split up into two subgroups: the adults and their families went back to the Old City Market to continue shopping, while the students exercised their speaking and bargaining skills by participating in an Amazing Race-esque competition. The eight students were divided into four groups of two, and each group was paired up with another student native to Shanghai (one of them was Middlesex student Leo!). Each group had to use their language skills to purchase three items: a Chinese balm, a spicy Chinese condiment, and a Chinese decorative knot. They would be judged on the speed in which they finished and how large of a knot they could find. Because two groups finished in a tie for first place, Mrs. Ku decided to extend the competition, so stay tuned for the winner!
The adults also got to experience Chinese feet and body massage at a local massage parlor, as well as ride the subway, the first use of public transportation for the group during this trip.
Tomorrow we make our way to Suzhou!