Day 13: I Wish Yu Were Here

On the very last day of Plus3, we visited the Yu Garden in Anren Jie, Shanghai. The Yu Garden is a classical garden which was built for Ming Dynasty government officer Pan Yunduan’s parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and peaceful time in their old age. After being dropped off in the parking lot, we had to walk through an alley with many clotheslines above in the residential area. Once we exited the alleyway, there was a noticeable shift in architecture. All the buildings were soon in the traditional Chinese style, and we entered a bustling market.

When we first entered the Yu Garden, we immediately saw the Sansui Hall. The hall was originally used to entertain guests and it is the largest structure in the garden. The name of the hall San Sui means Bumper Harvest. We then moved to the main pond. The layout of the rocks, the greenery, the water, and the houses throughout garden is very beautiful and balanced. In the pond, there were red-orange fish and the occasional turtle. Apparently, people in the past have brought their pet turtles to the garden and released them into the pond. The bridge above the pond was unique in that it was built in a zig-zag fashion. In the past, they believed that evil spirits can only travel in straight lines, so if an evil spirit followed a person across one of these zig-zag bridges, the evil spirit would fall into the water instead. We passed by two Chinese lions made of pure iron guarding one gate. I was told that the Japanese wanted to take the two Chinese lions but couldn’t because it was simply too heavy to lift. I saw many elegant and unique rocks throughout the garden; there was one set of rocks that symbolized the twelves animals of the Chinese zodiac. Before we left the Yu Garden, we got the opportunity to listen to traditional Chinese music.

I wish we could’ve stayed longer in the garden, but I ended up exploring the marketplace instead. After crossing a zig-zag bridge myself, I walked around, browsing the shops. I thought it was interesting that there was Starbucks within a traditional Chinese building; they had a unique peach infused green tea drink that was refreshing though. Later in the day, I went to Pearl Market with a group, and I helped barter once again. We made it back just in time to get ready for our final presentations. We got to present at a pretty fancy hotel. After our presentations, we had our last dinner together at this restaurant that serves Turkish style food. Instead of typical tea, they brought out milk tea that had an interesting taste I can’t explain well. It was a wonderful last dinner with the group. I got to try out many new dishes there as well, like dragon fruit on pizza. We went back to the hotel, and I packed up quickly. I’m going to miss exploring China with all the new friends I’ve made throughout Plus3.

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