Monday, June 13, 2011

Shanghai Natural History Museum & Songjiang (6/10-12/2011)

Friday, June 10, 2011
Kent was due home late Thursday night from a business trip to Huazhou. Reportedly storms delayed the aircraft coming from Shanghai. Eventually the passengers were packed into buses and taken to a hotel. Kent and his business associates dropped off briefcases at the hotel and went out for a snack with workers getting off the late shift. Beer and chicken feet, etc. By now it was June 10th in China, and Kent was toasted for his birthday. Soon after returning to the hotel, they were called back to the airport. Kent arrived home in Shanghai at 5:00 am.
Although he went to work late (his boss actually told him he could stay home today!), Kent did come home early for an early dinner out at the Lisboa Restaurant across the street at Grand Gateway Plaza. Macau specialties. 
Kent's birthday cake, or cupcake?
From Christine's Bakery. Every Sunday we see people carrying large gift-wrapped boxes from Christine's.

The Plum Rains officially began today. They will last for four weeks in Shanghai. Not the torrential rains of a monsoon season, but a steady drizzle. We have already experienced the driest season in 132 years in Shanghai, so we will see what happens to the Plum Rains.

Saturday, June 11, 2011
A steady drizzle. Took a series of Metro trains to Shaanxi Road for breakfast at Egghead Bagels, one of two bagel franchises in Shanghai. (There may be a couple more companies that only deliver bagels.)
Since we were in the neighborhood, went to see the Ohel Rachel Synagogue:
It was built in 1920 by Jacob Sassoon in memory of his wife Rachel. It is considered one of the world's 100 most endangered monuments, and is closed to the public.
The wall topped by woven bamboo outside the synagogue:
This area is known for the shikumen/stone-gated tenements. This corner park seemed to follow that theme with brick arches and a fancy false facade:
Passed a Nike Store, specifically a Nike shoe store:
Do they really offer all these colorful models in the U.S.?
They are certainly bought by people here!
An interesting building on Wujiang Road:
Built in 1925. They have apparently saved this building, but the rest of Wujiang Road (one of Shanghai's many food streets) has been modernized:
After a Metro ride and a long walk, we arrived at the Shanghai Natural History Museum. This is a place where the reviews suggest that you don't go if you are really interested in natural history! We felt as if we were entering the NYC Museum of Natural History after the apocalypse. There were some nice floor tile mosaics:
The main hall of paleontology was dark and gloomy!
Peeling paint, old corrugated plastic ceiling, dusty displays...
Anyway, those dinosaurs were Chinese: A Tuojiangosaurus Long and a Lufengosaurus Hsu.
There was also an animated Amebeledon (Shovel-tusked gomphothere - looked like a small elephant with the two tusks melded together under the trunk).
Giant jellies:
Picking out dinner?
Whale shark with deteriorating lips:
These funny fish are mis-labeled:
This one is the unicorn fish:
Really sorry condition:
This dusty snake really blends in:
Lioness and cub:
Tagged tail of a wild cat:
Ming (1368-1644) Mummy?
Xinjiang Hami Mummy (3,000 years old)?

Sunday, June 12, 2011
Clearing today. Took Metro line 9 to its terminus in Songjiang Town. It was so hazy that we could not see Sheshan Hill in the distance from the Metro train. Once in Songjiang, our Chinese pronunciation was so bad that the first cab driver refused to try to understand. (How many places would a tourist want to go in your small town?!) The second driver got it!
Fangta Park, home of the Fangta/Square Pagoda:
Built in 1068-1094 during the Northern Song Dynasty, but in the style of the Tang Dynasty. Restored in 1975-1977, 60% of its wood structure is preserved.
A Zen garden:
A Chinese gnome and Kent:
With Tamiko:
Flower butterfly:
Modern sculpture:
Umm, bonsai rocks?
See the tiny wooden buildings? This is actually a great representation of mountain scenes in China!
A bonsai forest:
There's a tiny wooden hut in there:
The Square Pagoda and Ming Screen:
The Ming Screen dates to 1370:
It features "Tan" a mythological monster:
He has a dragon body, deer antlers, lion's tail, and ox hoofs, and may represent greed. Other carvings were also supposed to represent human "ambitions." Such as the monkey grabbing a gold seal or chop to represent the desire to become a "Prince"...
The Qingtian Fei Palace:
Built to honor the goddess of the sea, it was moved from Shanghai in 1980.
Sika deer are native to this area, so we saw many representations of deer:
Large peony blossoms:
Koi feeding frenzy:
Home-made paddles:
Covered corridor:
Bamboo grove:
Note the "stream" created by the shiny pebbles of the pathway.
A Spirit Way, and ancient granite road?
Stone table and stools:
Chen Huacheng Temple:
Built to honor the general who defended Shanghai during the Opium War.
Courtyard with cannon:
and "bonsai" stone scenes:
Dark woods:
Rental boat approaching Wangxian Bridge:
Wangzian Bridge is the oldest bridge in Songjiang and Shanghai, built in Song Dynasty-style and supported by wood beams with the bridge floor carved out of Wukang stones:
These girls took our picture, so I took theirs!
Duck boat:
Stone boat, a feature of many gardens:
Crayfish and tadpoles:
Yingxian Bridge:
A kite flier and the Square Pagoda:
Moon gate:
Goodbye, Square Pagoda:

Next, the Songjiang Gate Tower:
The base dates to 1301. A typhoon destroyed the gate in 1950, and it was rebuilt in 1998.
River lined with mimosas and weeping willows:
They are everywhere!
Gate to pedestrian shopping street:
Shopping street:

Next, Zuibaichi Park, the oldest of the five ancient gardens in Shanghai.
Entry Screen:
Rockery waterfall and stone mosaics:
Sika deer mosaic:
(They really have white spots, not flowers, on them!) There are ten deer mosaics in the park, nine of which are looking back, symbolizing a desire to return home.)
Lotus pond and pavilion:
Stone pier:
Arched bridge:
The musical pavilion:
This garden had so many walled-in sections in a maze-like array that we were doubling back and repeating areas.
Keyhole window:
Vine-covered moon gate:
Flame-shaped doorway:
Bonsai garden:
Viewing pavilion and lotus pond:
A viewing pavilion/bridge:
I think this is the actual Drunken Bai Pond:
The garden was allegedly named after a favorite poet of the time, Bai Li, who was known to drink wine while composing poems.
A doorway thingie:
Lotus fountain:

Next, Songjiang Mosque:
The same Chinese word for is used for "temple" and "mosque."
Bangke Gate Tower:
Built in 1559, one of the oldest Islamic structures in China.
Dragon-tail wall:

Knock-off shopping street:
Xilin Temple and Pagoda:
This one is an octagonal pagoda from 1436-1449.
Pailou/decorative arch and a statue of drunken Bai:
Some broken foam dolphins:
Where's a taxi?
Instead we got a pedi-cab!
With a cardboard roof:

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