Saturday, September 10, 2011

French Concession Villas & Mid-Autumn Festival (9/8,10/2011)

Thursday, September 8, 2011
A nice day for a walk.
Took more pictures of the Wukang Mansion/former Normandie Apartments:
Built in 1924, one of the few buildings with arcades:
And one of the few flat-iron buildings:
Sculpture at the entrance of a park on Xingguo Road:
A mermaid?
Lots of palm trees in this park:
I don't think they mean this:
The sycamore maple trees in the French Concession are in full leaf:
Sycamore tree trunks, all in a row:
I wanted to see the Radisson Plaza Xingguo Hotel complex, which has either 28 or 13 villas of French, British, German, American, Spanish and Canadian design, built in the 1920s and 1930s.
The modern Radisson Plaza tower was built in 2002:
The fountain:
Once the government owned Xingguo Guest House, and Chairman Mao frequently stayed at this villa complex.
Not sure if Villa No. 8, the Conference Center, was a 1920s/1930s villa:
This path led to several villas that were private property:
Garden area:
Rose of Sharon:
Villa No. 2, a Victorian coastal-style architectural construction with three three-vent chimneys:
This might be Villa No. 6, a French-style villa with a circular-shaped sitting room:
Villa No. 7:
The Wong Song Building:
Onwards to Huashan Road and the Dingxiang Garden Villa:
Built on the grounds of a film studio of the 1920s and 1930s, this is the former villa of Qing Dynasty viceroy Li Hongzhang. Li is thought to have given it to his favorite concubine Dingxiang (Clove), and that is where the Dingxiang Garden gets its name.
The garden had a dragon wall:
The garden is now private and I could not enter. Near the restaurant on the grounds there were these carved tree trunks:

Saturday, September 10, 2011
We had a three-day weekend to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Our Grand Gateway had a small get-together at The Club, decorated with lanterns:
Snacks were offered, including boiled peanuts:
And the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival treat of mooncakes:
The size of hockey pucks, there is very little cake and plenty of filling which is lotus seed paste with a salted duck egg yolk in the center to symbolize the full moon.
Some mooncakes have other sweet bean paste fillings or ground nuts held together with maltose syrup:
The festival is a lunar harvest celebration and is associated with a legend of Chang'e. These kids were dressed up, but I'm not sure who represented Chang'e:
The legend has many variations, but essentially Chang'e and her husband Houyi end up as mortals living on earth. Houyi is a talented archer. Once there were 10 suns in the form of three-legged birds that lived in a mulberry tree. Each day one sun would travel around the earth. One day all ten suns traveled around the earth together, causing the earth to burn. The Emperor asked Houyi to shoot down all but one of the suns. The Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that would grant him immortality, but he was advised to prepare himself for a year by praying and fasting. Houyi hid the pill, but Chang'e found it. For whatever reason, she swallowed the pill and when discovered, she flew up to the moon. Chang'e commanded the hare that lived on the moon to create another pill, and apparently the hare is still working on it. Houyi built himself a palace on the sun and once a year on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, he visits his wife. That is why the moon is very full and beautiful that night.
We had three of Chang'e's white hares/bunnies at The Club:
which the kids and girls of all ages loved!
The entrance to The Club had mooncake samples all week:

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