The Waldorf Astoria comes with a great view and wifi. Another day before the hectic of the car show starts. I zoom in and out on google maps and realize that this city has no limits. A look at the glossy city guide put together by my employer. Places to see in Shanghai. Something cultural would be nice for a change. Let's go local. Ancient temples and a relaxing atmosphere in the midst of a changing city.
The Yu Garden should be in walking distance. I follow the road signs and get lost. Yes this is a garden, but not much Yu is going on. I look at the guy who has some glass bottles filled with turtles as I hear a voice beside me. "In Chinese culture the turtle symbolizes personal luck and health. The goldfish you see over there stands for financial wealth". "You are looking for the Yu Garden, it is around the corner, follow me, I am a cultural teacher, very important". Surprised somehow I follow the guy who gives me a turbo charges lecture in local culture. "Holland, Rembrandt, van Gogh, very interesting, Chinese painting black and white, no color"." Follow me, I show you garden". Walking through narrow streets the guy paints a picture of the foreigner within minutes like Yoda. "Very independent you are, creative indeed, cultural given".
Before I realize I sit on the first floor of a tea house, just above a shop with tourist stuff. Equipment is put on the table within seconds. Chinese culture lands on textile with a few strokes. "Very original, no copy". No color indeed. A customized tourist program or a friendly gesture from a local or ? I am still mixed up, but believe in the latter. A couple of minutes later I enter the Yu Garden, packed with a drying painting, accompanied by a bunch of Brazilians. Nevertheless one will find peace within these walls. Beautiful details and 700 hundred years old. A piece of Shanghai that survived the cultural revolution. An hour in tranquility and then out on the streets again. Should I grab a tea? The Starbucks is situated in a Yu Garden style building next door. I refuse to be part of the Disney tour, stick my painting deeper into my bag and dive into the late afternoon action of Shanghai.