May 06

The driver and local guide brought me to the Suzhou railway station, and there I boarded the train to Shanghai. Trains are a reliable means of transportation in China, though I have to say that the condition of the coach was somewhat iffy. Still, a one-hour ride across the rice fields, fish lakes, and canals between the two cities was reasonably comfortable, and the views across the countryside were quite nice.

Arriving in Shanghai, I was greeted by a warm, humid, sunny day, and by my final guide. She did an excellent job of packing the original itinerary into one instead of the two originally scheduled days.

Shanghai is far more cosmopolitan than any other city I've been to in China, and the guide put it thusly: "Go to Xi'an to see China's past, Beijing to see it's present, and Shanghai to see it's future." Judging by the sunny day, China's future seems bright.

Jade Buddha Temple

The first stop was this working temple. Many pray in front of these gilded statues, but the actual treasures are two jade statues kept locked away.

Guardians of Heaven

Along either side of the temple, ten guardians watch out onto the grounds, protecting the temple.

Working Temple

In addition to the devout, one may also see monks and tourists.

Tea Gardens

A quick hop across town to the old quarter. Here we're in front of a tea house, about to enter the Yu gardens.

Four Elements

In case you haven't noticed, many bridges in these gardens are crooked, and that's for two reasons: a superstition holds that ghosts can only travel in straight lines, but more practically, the angles force you to change your view...


There's something very relaxing about these sorts of gardens. Even though a city of 16 million is just stone's throw away, you hardly even notice.

Artful Dragons

This wall is topped by dragons. The original owner built the place because his parents wanted to see the imperial gardens in the Forbidden City, but were too old to make the trip. The dragon is the symbolic representative of the emperor, so in a way, this is the emperor's garden.

Old Town

This picturesque part of town surrounding the Yu garden is quintessential old China, even though the stores in this thriving business district sell goods from all parts of the world, including sushi and Häagen-Dazs.

Shanghai Museum

Another stop was the spacious Shanghai Museum. Jade, ancient coins, calligraphy, and all manner of Chinese art are on display here in this bona fide museum.

The Bund

China's future. There's quite a bit of history bound up in this part of Shanghai. Behind me are historical buildings from colonial dealings with the west, but in front of me is the gleaming future...


Modernization comes at a price, though. As with almost every other part of China, Shanghai is undergoing radical changes. Out with the old, in with the new is the unspoken credo. Though many old places still stand, gradually the city (and the country) is transforming itself.


Bund at Night

Capturing this view of the Bund at night, the city is not unlike any other major metropolis in the world. (If only the air conditioning worked....)