I proceeded to my CouchSurfer's home where I found that she works in communications for International Paper. We had only the beginning of a good conversation about paper versus pixels. She was incredibly generous and had another chatty (conversation-starved) American sleeping on the floor. Unable to house a third person, she had referred Irina from Romania to another CouchSurfer, but suggested that the two of us pair up for a fun weekend of adventures. That is exactly what I did.
|This photograph is more interesting inverted.|
Inside the museum, by far the most amazing thing is the scaled model of the whole city of Shanghai. The skyline of this city rivals any other city I have ever visited and The Bund is one of the most gorgeous, urban environments I have ever witnessed. Following are some images from the museum and from The Bund by day and by night. Irina and I paid 30 RMB for a double-decker bus tour that was worth every penny.
|The Oriental Pearl Tower|
|The TCM Museum|
Pictures were not permitted inside the museum, but she and her fellow medical student allowed me to snap a panorama of the third floor's extensive collection of herbal, animal, and mineral samples. It was like Noah's Ark combined with the Arnold Arboretum and the Colorado School of Mines. There were hedgehogs and tiny deer and their antlers and gall bladders from ungulates, armadillos, horns from water buffalo and turtles (live and mounted). There was ginseng and plants few have ever seen. There were geodes and stones that get ground into a dust, too.
In the afternoon, I met Irina and her host, Fiona, for a lunch at YuYuan Gardens. YuYuan Gardens is a charming delight and was filled with amazing architecture and dragons.
|A small fraction of the humanity--many foreigners--visible from our restaurant's second-story window. Those on the bridge were on their way to the inner-sanctum (the non-commercial part) of YuYuan Gardens.|
|Finished lotus leaves which wrapped sticky rice and a sesame ball stuffed made of lotus paste with a poppy-seed filling. The purple scoop is sweet potato. I also had a long kebab-skewer with a fish on it.|