On our last day in Shanghai we wanted to see a few of the sights that others had recommended before we came. Once again we took advantage of our HopOn/Off ticket and took the bus through the heart of the city, past the French Concession, now lined with trendy clothing boutiques out to the Jade Temple. I have to admit with now so many temples on this tour we really didn’t take the time to have a good look.
But Pam and I were captivated by a painter working away on the second floor in a little corner all by herself. She was doing one of those pen and ink landscapes that look so exotic and ethereal, but her technique was truly different; she was painting everything by hand. By that I mean she had no brush, pen or any other instrument; she painted entirely WITH her hand – palm, fingertip, knuckle, fingernail – and the detail was amazing. Apparently this is an old, almost forgotten style in China and in fact her family were the last known artists in the country. Perhaps one of our readers could comment on this. At any rate her drawings were amazing, and we ended up buying two of them to accompany the embroidery from Beijing that now hangs on our living room wall.
Moochi was desperate to find some ‘dragon buns’ for lunch, so we caught the bus back to People’s Square, and with Moochi’s help once again found a fantastic place with reportedly the best dragon buns (little meat filled dumplings) in the city. Suitably satisfied we decided to divide and conquer for the afternoon, Shelley going in search of some local art, while Moochi, Pam and I went to the Shanghai Museum.
Museums and art galleries can be good or deadly, but this one was exceptionally good; easily on a par with the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. We saw ancient artifacts of jade, bronze and pottery, some dating to the 8th century B.C. All of the exhibits were beautifully displayed and in excellent condition. We paid for the audio guide and it was worth the five bucks. I think we all agreed that the bronze vessels predating the Buddhist era were by far the most creative and interesting. Once you get to Buddha, the art is pretty much same old-same old. I find it more than a trifle ironic that a sage best known for his self-denial and asceticism is most often portrayed as a laughing, pot-bellied couch potato! Moochi was fascinated by the maps showing the development of the various tribes that made up ancient China, and was curious to find her own historical roots.
Maxed out on history and art we veged at a nearby Starbucks for a bit, and then hiked on to Xi Tian Di, an artistic collection of alleyways dotted with little café and restaurants. Shelley joined us for supper in what had to be one of the nicest meals among a very good selection of nice meals on our trip. After a late and leisurely supper we did a little more window shopping before heading back to the hotel to pack for the final leg of our trip. But we all agreed that should it be possible, we would all like to come back to Shanghai for another look.