New Friends and a Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony

Shanghai Travel Blog

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Jason is shopping in the bazaar!

         This morning we awoke at around 5:30 am; our bodies haven't completely adjusted to the time change. As I crawled down the steps from our loft bed, I realized that my feet were aching and my hips and thighs weren't working properly either. The endless walking that we made our bodies perform on the previous day had come back to haunt us! Therefore, as we exited our hotel this morning, we headed straight for the line of taxis, rather than in the direction of the subway. Our taxi driver pulled in fron of Yu Gardens and Bazaar, which was our first stop for the day. We first entered the Bazaar, which consists of shops that peddle everything from tourist souvenirs to traditional medicines beneath fanciful old-style Chinese roofs.

This is the zigzag bridge that leads to the teahouse.
At every turn we made, we encounted peddlers hollering at us, and calling us into their stalls full of trinkets and souvenirs at highly inflated prices. We made a few purchases after haggling the prices down to a third of what they requested.

        We then strolled across the famous zigzag bridge that leads to the Huxingting Teahouse. The zigzag design protects the structure, since Chinese people believe that evil spirits can only travel in straight lines and are unable to turn corners. As Jason and I were posing for a picture along the bridge, a Chinese woman asked us to take a picture with her son. We don't know whether it was the blonde hair, the blue eyes, or simply the fact that we were Americans, but we must have been a rarity in her eyes if she had to get a picture of us!

        Before leaving the Bazaar, we entered the Yu Gardens scenic area, which is a breath-taking Chinese garden neatly divided into six sections, turning the ancient garden into a mazelike structure.

Yu Gardens was beautiful!
After wandering through the serene environment, we grabbed some lunch and returned to the hotel to drop off our purchases and find a retreat from the hot, sticky weather.

         At about 2:30, we were in another taxi and on our way to the pleasantly landscaped People's Park. As we were about to enter to famous park, we were stopped by a group of 4 Chinese college students who had studied English for years and were eager to practice conversing with a couple of Americans. We learned their American names: Lisay, David, Daniel, and Peter. We spoke with them for a few minutes outside of People's Park. and before we knew it, they had invited us to go experience a traditional Chinese tea ceremony with them, which was such a memorable experience.

We met some Chinese friends and enjoyed a tea ceremony together.
We went into an unremarkable building and into a small back room with a table and six  chairs. The woman performing the tea ceremony prepared six different types of teas for us. Before serving two miniature servings of each, she explained the ingredients and benefits of each flavor. We learned the proper way for both males and females to hold the teacups and that it is good luck to drink your serving in three sips. We also were able to enjoy a variety of dainty appetizers to accompany our tea, such as flavored pumpkin seeds and delicious plums. This experience was truly unforgettable and was something we never would have been able to experience without the help of our newly-found friends.

          We also engaged in some fun and interesting conversations with the four students during the couple of hours we spent together.

Our hostess prepares a variety of teas for us to enjoy.
They were curious about Arnold Schwarzennager and wanted to know whether we preferred Obama or McCain. They told us about their brothers and sisters and the fact that their parents have to pay extra fees because they have more than one child. We were sad to part from our new English-speaking friends, but we exchanged email addresses before saying our goodbyes.

          Jason and I then strolled through People's Park and down Nanjing Lu West for a couple of miles before reaching the Shanghai Center, where we bought tickets for an acrobatic show the following evening. We ended the evening by enjoying tea, noodles, and dumplings at a restaurant across the street from the Shanghai Center.

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Jason is shopping in the bazaar!
Jason is shopping in the bazaar!
This is the zigzag bridge that lea…
This is the zigzag bridge that le…
Yu Gardens was beautiful!
Yu Gardens was beautiful!
We met some Chinese friends and en…
We met some Chinese friends and e…
Our hostess prepares a variety of …
Our hostess prepares a variety of…
photo by: spocklogic