Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yu Yuan

One of the major sights in Shanghai is the Yu Gardens, a Ming era traditional garden that was originally built in the mid 1500s. The Gardens were damaged in the years of upheaval that began in the 1800s, and were restored by the city in the late 1950s.

Walking around I was struck by the similarities and differences between the Chinese style traditional garden and the Japanese style that I am more familiar with. I was very interested to learn that one thing you don't find much of in a Chinese garden is plants!

Rather, the garden is built with lakes, streams, rockeries, buildings and pavilions with a few trees and plants here and there. The many walls and bridges lead to an almost maze like feeling, with each section of the garden very unique and distinct from the adjacent areas.

Each doorway we passed through brought us into a completely new area ripe for exploration. While our dumpling lunch nearby had been pretty expensive (for China anyway, it was only about 15 dollars a head), the Gardens themselves were well worth the price of admission. By breaking the gardens into such small sections, the whole thing seemed much larger than it was, and was capable of hiding the crowds lending the experience a more personal feel.

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