Not far from each other, and fairly close to the Bund on Huaihui Road, sit Yu Garden and Yuyuan Garden. The bus tour map of Shanghai that we had showed Yu Garden and our other tourist map that showed the subway stations showed Yuyuan Garden. Google Maps showed both. The ship’s explore on your own lecturer on the Holland America Westerdam mentioned Yuyuan Garden in his talk on sights to see in Shanghai, but the description he gave of it actually fit Yu Garden.
We found Yuyuan Garden first since that was the one we were looking for from the talk on the ship. It turned out to be a small park with a couple pathways through some greenery rather than the 5-acre garden with lots of markets and old-style architecture we expected, though we did pass through some local markets in old Chinese style buildings on the way there. Yuyuan Garden had lots of plants and some funny signs about not peeing on the plants. In China they don’t use diapers and have a tendency to just let little kids pee whenever and wherever they are when they need to go. (Such as in a garbage can at a restaurant right at their table while everyone else was eating – yes, we saw someone let their little boy do that even though there was a restroom nearby.)
After finding Yuyuan Garden and consulting the map we headed back in the direction we had come from toward Yu Garden. Along the way we passed through an area of beautiful buildings in old Chinese style.
There were lots of scooters near those shops. There are scooters all over in Shanghai, and some of the drivers pay no attention to any sort of traffic laws or rules. They ride with or against the traffic among the cars, and through the crosswalks while they are full of people. These are mostly electric scooters and often at night they ride with no lights so their batteries will last longer. Sometimes parked scooters take up the whole sidewalk so people have to walk in the street.
After walking down the road through those buildings for a bit we found what would be called China Town if we weren’t already in China. The place that looked like China Town was the markets of Yu Garden, on the grounds of what was once quite a large temple complex. There was foot traffic only between the buildings there so no cars or crazy scooter drivers to contend with.
The market is made up of all sorts of old temple buildings and it is free to walk through the market area unless of course if you buy anything. All sorts of things are for sale there with a variety of food, souvenirs, clothes, toys, shoes, art, jewelry, and more.
A little restaurant had one guy making potato noodles and another making walnut cakes right in the front window. A jewelry store had several jewelry makers out front busy at their craft. Most of the stores just had merchandise and salespeople.
A sort of central area had a large coy pond, which also had swans swimming around on it. Pathways across the pond were quite a popular attraction, and the fish would swarm to the surface if anyone fed them anything.
The pathways over the pond are the star of the free area of Yu Garden. The pond is full of coy of varying sizes and if anyone feeds them they are literally on top of each other and often sticking their heads out of the water trying to get the food. Some of them are huge. We also saw three white geese swimming around one section of the pond.
Yu Garden does actually have a garden, but you have to pay extra to walk through it. There are more stone pathways, rockeries, water features, and buildings than plants and not really any open green space, but it is nice to walk through and has a lot to see.
The buildings in the garden area are smaller than the ones in the free area, and none of them are shops. They had intricate detailing in the architecture as well as in the carvings, statues, or other artwork. The pathways there are smaller too.
Even one of the pathways had decorative artwork.
A few of the pathways are the original uneven stone, worn slick and smooth from centuries of feet passing over them. Most of the pathways are not quite that old, therefore more even and easier to walk on. Some even appear quite new. Some passed through a pond as raised bridges.
Fish in the garden pond swarmed to anyone with food just like the fish out in the market area pond did.
The garden area had bridges between buildings and some crossing between pathways. We found a flower garden near one of the bridges on the pathway to a small temple.
This little temple was open to look into, but not to go inside.
A lot of the original pathways are blocked off to keep them preserved in their current state, including all those running through a rockery. You can view these areas, but not walk through them.