Shanghai is a study in contrasts: Here, the bottle opener-like Shanghai World Financial Center skyscraper--home to the Park Hyatt Hotel--soars high above the historic and gorgeous Yuyuan Garden.
Did you miss us? We certainly missed you, and how, and how!
John and I were in China for almost three weeks, and, as you probably know, there is no access to Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube in that country… So there was no point in blogging, I figured, if I couldn’t send my posts out through the various social media portals. Frankly, I was chomping at the bit to send some posts, but those pesky Chinese government officials who like to censor the news (um, the Bo Xilai scandal was just kicking into gear as John and I toured China, but more on that anon) foiled my plans.
So now John and I are in London for a week, and it’s a delight being in a country that doesn’t censor the media.
But does that mean I didn’t like China? No, John and I loved it, and yet we also found the country repressive, clunky, fascinating, gorgeous, over-built, sprawling, delicious, charming, backwards, clunky (yes, again), historic, and yet lacking history.
Whew! How’s that for a mix?
But let’s start our journey back in Shanghai, where our Grand Tour originated.
Shanghai is an incredible city on the Huangpu River that mixes the historic and the modern brilliantly. On one side of the river, the 1920s-era buildings of The Bund district offer period-era charm thanks to their Art Deco lines and flourishes; across the Huangpu, the Pudong district boasts mile-high skyscrapers that light up at night like candy and flash advertisements upon their silver and glass skin that offer up everything from Volkswagens to jewels from Bulgari.
Bulgari? Volkswagen? But I thought this was a Communist country… Frankly, I have never seen so many Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton stores anywhere more than in China.
But I digress…
Step away from The Bund and the Pudong, and there are districts in Shanghai that really step back in time, but there isn’t as much pre-1900 architecture as you might expect. John and I especially enjoyed our early-morning tour of the Yuyuan Garden, a verdant oasis in the heart of Shanghai that dates to the 16th century. Step inside the garden’s walls, and you enter a cooling, soothing sanctuary that pairs dramatic garden pavilions awash in fanciful fretwork and red lacquer with koi-filled ponds, sculptural rock formations, and dragon-bedecked gates.
Here’s a little tour of our visit to Yuyuan…
A charming "moment" just outside the Yuyuan Garden. Look at the boatman who tends to the pond--how picturesque! And John and I went bananas for the fabulous lacquer-red fretwork that wraps around the tea house that stands above the pond. God is truly in the details, n'est-ce pas?
A wonderful covered arcade leads across a koi-filled pond in the Yuyuan Garden. The architecture of the gardens was especially inspiring: Just look at the lovely rooflines and the glorious fretwork that punctuates the various pavilions and follies... We plan to add decorative whimsy to our side porch up at Madcap Cottage that channels all things Chinese.
John and I simply fell in love with the Yuyuan Garden's divine arches and doorways that frame vistas of the landscape. Here, a gate shaped like a vase looks onto a quiet and verdant patio. Why not add some whimsy to a garden gate and make it anything but square...
John and I lapped up the gorgeous lacquer we spotted throughout China. Here, a pair of lacquer-red doors leads into a pavilion at Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden. Expect to see lots of lacquer-inspired looks coming from the Madcap Cottage boys in the upcoming months...
Jason ponders an ancient stone within the Yuyuan Garden and wonders how he will ever survive for 3 weeks in China without access to Facebook and Twitter. Sadly, the carving upon the rock offered no solution to Jason's woes...