Friday, April 5, 2013


Thursday was Qing Ming Jie (清明节), literally translated as Pure Brightness Holiday but more widely known as Tomb Sweeping Day.  It is a spring festival of honoring ancestors with sadness but also reverence and gratitude.  Xinhua has a good overview and links on the day if you are more interested here.  My host family left Shanghai this past weekend (while I was in Ningbo) to place flowers, food, and 'sweep' their relatives tombs, so we all took the day off in the city.  

No class for the holiday meant hot pot and KTV with some fantastic CIEE friends Wednesday night, then a bit of exploring on Thursday.  A few of us went to another temple, this time in the southwest Xujiahui area.  We visited the Longhua Pagoda and Temple, the largest and oldest in the city at 1700 years.  The temple was especially bustling for the holiday, but I preferred the setting of this one next to Longhua Memorial Park, as opposed to Jing'an in the middle of the city.  Incense floated through every passage way, people burned prayer tags, folded paper gifts and ate steaming bowls of soup from the cafeteria.  The walls are a lovely saffron color and each hall had magnificent renditions of Buddha and the other deities.  From ECNU, it's an easy metro ride down line 3 to Longcao Lu.  Admission is only 10 kuai, and I'd recommend making a picnic out of things at the neighboring park if the weather is good (try to ignore the intimidating Communist-era scultpures).

After the temple, we shared lunch at a delicious Vietnamese restaurant (why can't there be spring rolls on every street corner?) and I came home to do homework and take a nap.  Being the opportunist-minded individual I am, after dinner I hustled out to the French Concession on Hengshan Road and went to the Shanghai Brewery to catch the tail end of happy hour with a few of the guys.  Going out into the city takes quite a bit of effort and coordinating, and I always spend too much money, but I'm only in China once and whether or not this is a wise way to frame my time here, I'm doing it!  The Brewery has two locations and mainly draws the ex-pat crowd, so again it was pretty bizarre to see so many foreigners in one spot.  It's a restaurant, sports bar and microbrewery though, and I enjoyed the ambiance and playing pool (albeit terribly).

Since we didn't have class Thursday, we had make-ups Friday which were quite inconvenient because ECNU has construction all over the place with blocked pathways and gates.  Afterwards my Seminar on Living and Learning went on a field trip to Tilanqiao, a Jewish neighborhood.  This district actually became a haven for Austrian and German Jewish refugees of World War II.  Mary and I wandered around the alley ways on a class assignment, seeking to be unobtrusively nosy and take pictures of happenings beyond the obvious.  Here's a bit more on this area if you're interested.

 These traditional style apartments had dark doorways and stoops we tried peering into.  It reminded me a lot of Brooklyn, or what I imagine Brooklyn is like..!

 A barber shop-- checkers, rather than stripes.
 There quite a few outdoor exercise machines and signs about healthy hearts and walking.

 I will certainly be more conscious of street food in light of the recent bird flu outbreaks here, but I couldn't be swayed from the vegetable wonton soup for 5 RMB!
 The mannequin.  The legs--!  You see it?

I'm taking this rainy weekend and staying in Shanghai.  I traveled this past and the next I'm going on my CIEE weeklong trip to Yunnan (which is going to be amazing), thus I eager to finally go to museums and check out the contemporary art scene at galleries. 

It is going to be a sad day if Blogger ever decides that my photos are using too much bandwith :B.
Listening: "The Naming of Things" by Andrew Bird

1 comment:

A Normandy kitchen said...

Hello Nicole,

Great pictures, the temple ones are really beautiful. Very interesting about Tilanquia.

'Only in China once' - I am sure you will visit again... but you must always live everyday like that anyway! So, enjoy it all, it looks wonderful. Thank you for showing us around!