Posted by: daradoodle | October 5, 2008

National Holiday

Thanks to China’s annual National Holiday, this week has been a plethora of tourist attractions and nights out on the town. Most people have the week off from work and school to commemorate the October 1, 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. This holiday makes for one of the busiest weeks to travel in China. I guess you could say that traveling during the National Holiday is similar to traveling during Thanksgiving or Christmas in the U.S. With a whole week off, what’s a gal to do?

Well, I was torn between traveling outside of Shanghai for the holiday, and sticking around the city to explore a bit. Although I had read horror stories on other people’s blogs about traveling via train during the National Holiday, my three European friends and I decided to travel north to the coastal city of Qingdao (青岛), home of Tsingtao beer.

We were to leave on Tuesday and I was to return on Friday because my friend Aaron from the U.S. was coming down from Beijing for the weekend. An hour before we were to leave, we learned that the trip we thought was only seven hours turned out to be 21 hours! The only train tickets that were available at the time of purchase were hard seat train tickets. You don’t want to travel 21 hours on a hard seat. Not only that, but I would have spent more time on the train than in Qingdao. We decided not to go and went to the train station, which was a nightmare, to get a substantial refund. I took that money and got fabulous foot and shoulder massage at a Korean spa down the street from the dorm. My camera died the day before, so I was unable to take pictures of the warm tea solution that soaked my feet, or the small rubber hammers that the masseuse used to get the blood flowing in my legs. Zen.

I managed to purchase an AWESOME camera the next day. Check out the latest and greatest Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77. I ❤ my new camera and after you see some of the pictures this bad boy produces, I’m sure you’ll like it too. Oh, and a shout out to Paul for helping me negotiate with the people at the electronics store on Xujiahui (徐家汇).

So now that I’ve decided not to leave the city, it’s time to explore! Paul, Dave and I walked around the “uber hip” area known as Xintiandi(新天地)on the outskirts of the French Concession. This area was originally designated for French traders and businesspeople in the mid-1800s and still captures the French aesthetic with the architecture. The use of rod iron and bricks make the neighborhood appear strikingly similar to that of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Paul & Dave in Xintiandi

We dipped into the Shikumen Wulixiang Museum to get a feel for Shanghai living in the 1920s. The museum is an authentic recreation of a typical shikumen (石窟门) home, or stone framed doorway house. Click here – Shikumen Wulixiang Museum – to see the rooms in the house, and here are a few pictures of stuff I found interesting.

1920s office supplies

Cool stuffed creature

Cool stuffed creature

Oddly enough, the Shikumen Wulixiang Museum is adjacent to the site of the First Congress Hall of the Chinese Communist Party.

Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party

Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party

We also visited a couple of temples. The first, Jing’an Temple (静安寺). The temple is still being restored after damage caused during the Cultural Revolution.

Jing'an Temple

You have to toss a coin in this big urn looking thing.

My favorite temple so far is the Jade Buddha Temple (玉佛寺). This temple is considered “active,” which means that Buddhist monks still practice here. We spoke with a few of the monks and they were really cool! They told us that an average of 1,500 tourists visit the temple each day. Unfortunately, taking photos of the actual Jade Buddha is prohibited, but there were plenty more photos to be had elsewhere.

Jade Buddha Temple

Me with the super cool monks.

Dave chatting in Mandarin with a monk.

We were told that there are only four people in China who can do this type of art.

He uses his palms and finger tips to paint.

A big room where the monks practice

The walls of the room are lined with these baby Buddha statues.

Close-up of the many Buddhas.

Discussing the National Holiday would not be complete without mentioning the nightlife. On Wednesday night, I went to a Japanese Teppanyaki dinner with a group of friends from Fudan. This type of dining is similar to going to a Benihana restaurant where you have your own chef cooking the food in front of you. I was warmed that the all you can eat, all you can drink dinner could be dangerous. And to my demise, I learned the hard way… I’ll leave it at that. Here are some fun pictures from early on in the evening.

Our own private room with our own private chef!

Me, Paul & Mike

Wayne

Paul, Mike, Saitavius, Christian & Wayne

The holiday isn’t over yet! On the next blog post, you’ll hear more tales of National Holiday including tidbits from my trip to Chongming Island, the second largest island in China.

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Responses

  1. Hey Dara, looks like China is superb. I can’t believe you have done so much already, well I guess I can. Your friends look pretty cool and so does the architecture. The food looks a little scary. I can’t believe you are getting around China so well. In New Orleans they would say you have murdered it. slang for doing something well. hehe! The Chinese holiday sight seeing is my fav. blog so far. Can’t wait for you to go to Chongming Island. Keep the stories coming so I can live vicariously through your adventures. Always amazed, Jen.

  2. Here you have given good information about travel. Traveling during the holidays is always interesting. I also having some good information about India travel…..


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