The er-hu, seen here being played in Luxon Park, takes its name from the word “er” for “two”, as it has two strings, and “hu(qin)” or “barbarian instrument”, as it was introduced to China 1,000 years ago from Central Asia. Commonly called  the ”Chinese violin”, it is a popular solo as well as orchestral instrument.
Shanghai – Fact Check

Man-made serenity is hard to maintain

Photo by Miguel Sayago

Shanghai – Fact Check Man-made serenity is hard to maintain

Traditional Chinese gardens aim to recreate the natural world in miniature, with artificial ponds, sculpted rock formations, and distinct areas dedicated to different types of landscape and plants, such as bamboo forest, mountains or grassland.

Gillian Bolsover
Gillian Bolsover Travel Writer & Photographer

Yuyuan, dating from the Ming Dynasty and now surrounded by an extensive tourist market, is Shanghai’s best example. Just getting to the park is an experience, since a prospective visitor must successfully navigate the circuitous streets of the encompassing bazaar without losing their way, or falling prey to tourist trinkets or Shanghai’s tasty snacks.

Once inside the garden, the winding paths, wooden pavilions and teahouses, although beautiful, are often overcrowded, ruining the serenity and scripted views that traditional Chinese gardens are designed to provide. Visitors should head for the gardens of nearby Suzhou to better experience a true classical garden.

However, these classical concepts, with distinct areas, winding lanes and unfolding scripted views are reproduced in many of Shanghai’s city parks. This nature, while beautiful to walk through, leaves some locals wanting more. “I wish there were more things to interact with but that’s the Chinese way,” says Liu Xiao. “They fence off the lakes and you can only sit on the benches. If there is a lake, you cannot swim and if there are fish, you aren’t allowed to catch them.”

Larger parks, such as Zhongshan Park and Pudong’s Century Park, now have expansive lawns where visitors fly kites, picnic or play sports, and many city parks are now built with basketball and tennis courts next to the traditional exercise equipment. Parks also expand past Western traditions with fairground rides, roller rinks, horse riding, pleasure boats and zip lines. Xuhui Park, opened in 2001, recreates in miniature the city of Shanghai, with a meandering Huangpu River and massive elevated walkway that mimics the city’s major east-west thoroughfare Yanan Road.

With such diversity, Shanghai’s Parks provide a welcome break from the hectic and often impersonal nature of the gigantic city. “I’ve lived here all my life,” says Zhu Weiyi, 57, “The parks just keep getting prettier and prettier.”

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