I have slowly come to realize that I needed this time in Shanghai as a time to decompress after such an intense week last week in North Korea.
If I had to do it all over again, I would change my trip to end after North Korea as everything now sort of pales in comparison.
Anyway, yesterday was an amazing day and my wish for today was to have a similar one.
I left the hostel late once again not dragging my butt out of bed until 11:30am.
By noon I was out the door and wouldn’t you know – no rain!
And there was a cat sitting on a motorcycle outside my hostel.
C’mon, how could the day possibly go wrong?
There’s a cat on a motorcycle!
On tap for today was finally going to see the Yu Garden which is only about a 5 minute walk from my hostel.
Crowds or no, I was going today.
It’s funny, after a serene day yesterday, I just kind of smiled as I turned the corner and ended up smack dab in a group of people entering the Garden.
I kid you not, I literally didn’t have to move my feet as I was slowly pushed forward in the sea of people to the front entrance.
And I smiled all the way.
The chirping birds from yesterday were replaced by whistles being periodically blown by police moving the line along as people kept stopping to take photos.
And I smiled all the way.
By 1pm I was through the craziness and entering the Yu Garden.
The garden was much less packed and it was, well, a garden.
I actually think I was more impressed with the People’s Park yesterday but, whatever.
A garden is a garden is a garden.
This statement, by the way, would lead to some profound reflection later on in the evening so stay tuned…
Next stop… Jing’an Temple.
The temple is actually right smack dab in the middle of the bustling city.
In fact, this was Shanghai in a nutshell – a beautiful temple and garden across from a high end mall with a Burger King and Hagen Daas next door.
I arrived and was surprised to see the entrance fee was 100yuan ($20) which seems pretty steep to see a temple.
And you know what? I’ve seen so many temples not only here in China but in other places in the world that they just start to blend into each other.
After awhile a temple is a temple is a temple.
Yup, reflection coming later…
I decided to actually not go inside and instead use the $20 to buy a nice souvenir for someone back home.
Honestly, I was able to take a few good snaps of the temple from outside the wall anyway so it all worked out.
And Karryn has a nice souvenir!
After a quick lunch I headed back to my hostel around 4:00 just to relax for awhile.
At 7:30 I decided it was finally time to see The Bund at night time…
All I kept reading about Shanghai was that you had to go see The Bund at night.
The Bund for those who don’t know is the seawall along the river with the Pudong buildings on the other side.
At night, those buildings are lit up with pretty colors I’ve been told so I headed out toward The Bund.
Oh so pretty!
Actually, it was really nice to see and a nice way to end my time here in Shanghai.
So, it seems every time I go on one of my trips I always end up reflecting on what’s going on with my traveling and with my life.
What do I want my traveling to mean? What do I want my life to mean?
After visiting 42 countries and over 100 cities, everything is starting to blend together.
So many castles, so many gardens, so many temples…
You get the idea.
My visits to new cities need to be more than just going to go see another temple or another garden.
Ah, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
As I look back at my time traveling both on this trip and on previous trips, it becomes fairly obvious that my favorite times and most memorable times are not the things I see but the people I meet.
I couldn’t tell you much about what I saw in Nice but I remember a trio of Manchester girls I hung out with.
You know what I remember about Marseilles? Notta! But I do remember hanging out with Hannah from Australia.
Sure I saw all the things I’m supposed to see in Rome but what I truly remember is my time with Jaimie.
And here on this trip, well, a year from now I won’t be reminiscing on the temples and gardens I saw in Beijing. Nope, I’ll be remembering fondly my time with Danielle from Cleveland.
It has to be about the people. Not the temples. Not the castles.
As for my “real life”, I think putting people first isn’t a bad way to go either.
I’m excited to let that journey start but, first, there’s the matter of another week on this adventure.
Tomorrow I head to Seoul and then end the week in Hong Kong before heading home.
Here we go…