So after spending a whole week doing the daily grind in Shanghai, (and spending my Friday walking home for an hour after struggling to flag a cab from my night out), I felt like I could use some time-out.
Wanting to stay in the city, I found two places where travellers and locals alike can feel more peace and tranquility to escape the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
First was the Yu Garden, or Yuyuan Gardens, is in the Old Town of Shanghai, meaning it attracts lots of tourists. Once you get past the hawkers on roller-skates zooming past you trying to flog their wares, you’ll find the gardens tucked away if you follow the signs. RMB30 to get inside, and once you’re in, all the sounds disappear and you can spend your afternoon gazing at the large fish swimming below you. The architecture, if you love looking at old bridges and roofs, is a delight.
There may be a few tour groups in your way if you go on the weekend, but you will still be able to find a place to sit and enjoy the beauty. My favourite part is when you could look up and see all the towers looking down on you. It felt like such a little slice of paradise where you could still appreciate where you were. Once you leave the gardens, your thrust back into the Old Town again, with the hawkers on your case left and right. Enjoy it while you can. Going at a slower pace and enjoying the rock paths and views over the water is a great way to slow down and miss the large tour groups. Old Town itself is a great place to appreciate the blend of old and new.
If you like temples, The City God temple is another good choice for quiet in Old Town. Being respectful of the locals actively praying, photo takers are scarce with more spending their time wandering around the temple. Remember to head to the most southern hall where you can grab a note from the temple, but you'll have to get a Chinese friend to read it and translate it for you.
My favourite about this park was the fact that it is a bit further out from the city, so you can enjoy a bit more silence once you leave. Leaving out of Century Avenue exit of the park leaves you wandering down a beautiful paved path.
Just remember you’ll be walking towards the Science and Technology Museum metro stop, where again the hawkers just don’t understand why you would want to go to the metro stop instead of going to their stall at the market in the station. Us western tourists just don't understand the great deals we're missing out on.
Despite the hawkers, the traffic and the constant rush of bikes, there are places to find peace in Shanghai if you know where to find it.
~ Olivia (WM)