Check out Part 2 if you haven’t yet!
Hangpu River Cruise
After having dinner in the city center of Shanghai, our next destination was the Hangpu river for an evening cruise. The concept sounds amazing given that there are so many beautifully lit buildings to see along the river bank however in 1 degree C weather, the reality is not so fun. As we approached the river in our trusty tourist bus we could feel the temperature drop and the air felt like ice against our skin. It was mind numbly cold for me being that I come from a region of Africa where cold for me is between 13-14 degrees C. We had to queue up at the toll gate while we waited for our tour guide to purchase our boat tickets and though that lasted a minor 10 minutes, it felt like we stood there for an hour thanks to the freezing air.
Once we passed through the gates, we rushed onto the boat desperate for some warmth. We all found seats next to the windows and waited for the cruise to start while sipping on complimentary green tea. By this time majority of us were exhausted and dreading the hour that we would spend in the cold boat. Some even took a nap after the first 5 minutes. I braved the cold and went out on the deck to take a video and some pictures. My frozen fingers would only allow me 10 minutes of photo taking before I too retreated inside.
The buildings were absolutely stunning! Every single building along the river whether it be a fancy shopping mall or apartment building was light up like the 4th of July making for some great views.
On a rainy Saturday morning we piled into our tour bus to head to the Shanghai Museum. The museum has a collection of over 120,000 pieces, including bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, furniture, jades, ancient coins, paintings, seals, sculptures, minority art and foreign art. The Shanghai Museum houses several items of national importance, including one of three extant specimens of a “transparent” bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty-Wikipedia.
The museum building itself is quite stunning to look at and we were busy taking pictures of it before we got to the exhibit rooms. Its is 4 floors and each floor has 4/5 exhibit rooms. Our guide gave us permissions to wander around on our own for about an hour, so we split up into smaller groups.
My roommate and I started with the bronze exhibit on the ground floor then decided to jump to the top floor and work our way down. There was so much to see and barely enough time! However, it did became exhausting after a while because every time you entered a room, you got sensory overload! The Chinese are sticklers for detail. Every piece was so full of small extensive design elements. The furniture, ceramics and clothing/textile exhibits were my favourite, I literally had my camera clicking every few seconds.
All the pieces look like a lot of time, patience and skill was put into them. You could get a sense of their tradition and the discipline which is part of their culture from the pieces on display, i.e. these are not lazy people!
I unable to take as many pictures as I would have liked in the Calligraphy exhibit room because pictures were not allowed and I only managed to sneak in 2 or 3 before I was sternly reprimanded by a guard. The paintings were absolutely amazing though given the detail they had. I can’t believe that human hands created such gorgeous art work that looked like it was printed.
Overall, the museum visit was one of my 2 favorite outings that we had (the other being a visit to the Chen family temple in Guanzhou). These two outings for me were the most eye opening in terms of really understanding and appreciating Chinese culture.
In my next post I will detail the activities we got up to on our second leg of the trip in Guanzhou.