Monday, May 23, 2011


After yet another leisurely morning, we decided to go see the Jade Buddha Temple, renowned for its large statutes of Buddha carved out of single pieces of jade. The uncomfortable humidity we'd been experiencing all week finally turned into thunderstorms, so we were glad to be mostly indoors for the day. When we arrived at the temple, we were greeted by a friendly guy who spoke English very well. He graciously gave us a tour. There were a few different buildings filled with various large non-jade statutes of Buddhist gods and kanons. Our tour guide explained a little bit about the sitting jade Buddha, which came from Myanmar, then talked about lady Buddha ("just like Mary") and Happy Buddha. He then escorted us into a gift shop and encouraged us to touch all of the very expensive merchandise. We were not swayed by his saletalk, however, and we escaped his wiles for the two statues. They were both lovely, but the second one (reclining Buddha) was truly fantastic.

Awkward smiles.

Almost 7 feet long and weighing 3 tons, it was carved out of one large slab of jade from Myanmar.
We next went to the French Concession, a surprising find in the middle of futuristic Shanghai. It was a quiet tree-lined neighborhood with European-style houses, boutique shops and Irish pubs. I dragged J into a specialty cooking supplies place and we came across a real live French family.

Later that evening we went back to E. Nanjing St, the main boulevard downtown where the souvenir shopping was centered. There was an underground area where one could find cheap brand name products*. One gentleman even showed us a false wall and invited us to see his collection of watches and purses. We declined and instead went to another stall where a woman had authentic (looking) soccer jerseys. She offered us a price for two kits (jersey plus shorts) and then we (J) haggled. We thought we were driving a hard bargain by offering half of what she originally asked for, but as soon as she heard the number she threw the merchandise into a bag thrust it into our hands, grabbed our money and ushered us out.

*Later that evening we saw a number of police cars stationed outside the underground market.

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