Saturday, March 31, 2018

It's All About the Blossoms. Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.


Today was the day that I had been looking forward to ever since I started planning our visit to Shanghai. I had set aside the entire day to visit gardens to see blossoms. More specifically, peach and cherry blossoms as it just so happens that our visit to Shanghai coincides with the annual festivals for both types of blossoms.

When I was doing research on Shanghai, I was captivated by beautiful images of flowering peach trees.  More research yielded the names of a couple places that we could go to to see the flowers but the name that kept coming up repeated was Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.  Given the scarcity and difficulty of finding information on how to get to Nanhui Peach Blossom Village, after even having asked my friend Chantale's nephew (who's from Shanghai) for directions, it quickly became obvious that it would be easy for us to get to this place on our own via public transportation.  So, I decided to hire a car and driver from Miki Tours, to take us there.  With transportation taken care of, my only other concern was that there would actually be blossoms to see.  As Bro has been reminding me, it's extremely difficult to predict when flowers will come into bloom these days but I was fairly confident that we would see something.

Our daily breakfast joint.

Our day began with our usual ritual of breakfast at the restaurant across the street from our apartment building.   We've never even ventured inside the restaurant that's right next door to the place that has become our regular haunt.  Somehow, we've decided the food is not what we want though I think it's pretty much the same stuff.

Before entering, I took the obligatory photos of our meal order from the menu posted out front.  Laugh all you want, but this method works like a champ if you don't speak the language.




We also ordered a second container of dumplings.  SK is the dumpling queen and the one plate was not enough for her healthy appetite.  Granted, she did share.


After breakfast, SK and Bro needed to quickly dart back into the apartment.  I waited out front of the apartment for the driver.  A man approached me with a piece of paper that had my name on it.  I looked at him, smiled and nodded.  I then had to use sign language to, as best I could, indicate that we had to wait for two more people.  I basically raised two fingers pointed up at the building and surprisingly, he understood.  He then motioned for me to follow him. At first I though he had not understand so I repeated my gestures and again, he nodded.  So I followed him.  He was trying to point out to me that he would be waiting for us in the parking lot of the hotel that was located right next door to our apartment building.  So, I nodded back that I understood and walked back to the front of our apartment building to wait for Bro and SK to come back down.



While this was all happening, I was getting Wechat messages from both Miki and her assistant making sure the driver had arrived and all was okay.  I confirmed everything was fine.  So far, the day was getting off on a good start!

With all three of us and the driver piled inside the car, he made his way to Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.  Our drive took us out of the city, into an area that I would describe as a suburb of Shanghai.  At one point, we drove across a place that looked fairly deserted....a few buildings but that was it.  There was no sign of anything that I would describe as a garden or even an orchard.  Most certainly, nothing that looked like a village.  Indeed, the driver seemed lost himself because at one point, he stopped the car and checked the map on his smartphone.  He never had to turn around so it seemed like he was always going in the right direction.
Geting to Nanhui Peach Blossom Village:
AddressShanghai Nanhui Peach Blossom Village, 289 Beimen Lu, Huinan Zhen, Pudong, Shanghai, 浦东新区惠南镇北门路289号, +86 21 5801 9595, www.taohuacun.com.cn
Driving detailshere (55 minutes from downtown) or take the bus 惠南3路 or 三港专线.

We went from main road, to small road, to dirt road and then he turned off and into a parking lot that was situated inside a walled complex.  There were quite a few cars parked in the lot.  We had arrived but I was wondering what had we arrived into because again, I did not see any trees or garden or village.   After parking the car, we got out and while the driver and the parking attendant got to bickering, seemingly about how badly he had parked the car, we made our way towards what looked to be the entrance....basically where everyone else was walking to.

The path was flanked on both sides by vendor booths selling food and garden supplies.  The place was mobbed with people and there was a festive atmosphere all around.

Overhead were large garlands of pink flowers.  I wondered if they were real but on closer inspection, I realized they were fake.  Even so, it was pretty sight - it was a sea of pink above our heads.  Seeing them, I was getting excited because it reminded me of the photo that inspired this visit to begin with.  Even though I could not read any of the posted signs, I was certain we were at Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.



Where the path ended stood a small entry pavilion.  It was the same pavilion as what I had seen in the photos.  My final confirmation we were at Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.  The sight of the crowd around me was further assurance that we would be seeing flowers today because no one would be here if there were no blossoms to admire!


Bro did the needful and bought our tickets.


We paused for a few minutes to look at the map of the place.  It was then that we realized just how big it is.  From what we could make out, there originally was a peach orchard here and I guess over time, the owners realized they could expand it to be a garden of sorts, focused primarily on peach trees.  I never realized just how many different types of peach trees and blossoms there are.


Since we didn't have a paper version of the map to guide us, we decided to just take a path and walk. I don't think you can get lost inside this place but most certainly, you could walk for a lot longer than you would expect to as it would not always be easy to find your way back to the entrance!

Bad translation but I think you get the gist of what's trying to tell you.  I had no intention of doing any climbing!




What follows next are a lot of the photos that I took while walking through Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.  I couldn't help myself as the blossoms are not only plentiful and varied but also very colorful.  It was such a beautiful day to be out and walking among all the blossoming trees.  It's no wonder this place was so crowded.

Unfortunately, I did not realize that SK suffers badly from spring time allergies until she arrived three days ago.  She also arrived sans any medicine because she's waiting for her sister, Yim, to bring it with her from Sydney.  She explained why the Aussie medication is better than what she can get in the UK but I have to admit, I still really don't understand why.  Perhaps it's just personal preference?  In any case, SK is being a real trooper today - spending all day with her nose being assaulted by pollen every second as Bro and I are in flower heaven!





I did quite a lot of close up shots just because.....the flowers were so pretty.   So many different shades of red and pink.  Some were single blossoms while others were double or more.  It was incredible to see the variety of them all.









Part way through our walk, we head the sound of music playing.  Curious as to what was going on, we followed our ears.  It was a small group of performers on stilts.  More about their performance in the blog post that follows this one.


This post continues with more photos of lovely peach blossoms.  Who knew there were so many different types.  Seriously, I never knew!


The yellow flowers are rapeseed flowers which also come into bloom at this time of year.  They provided a very colorful backdrop for all the peach blossoms.





The garden has a few pavilions where you can sit and take a break.


There's also some, though not as much as I would have expected, garden art.  The pair below are disguises for trash cans. 


In Chinese culture, there are the Fu Lu Shou otherwise known as the Three Star Gods.  Collectively, the three gods represent happiness and prosperity, status and authority and health and longevity.  The Three Star Gods are popular lucky symbols for those who are into Feng Shui.


Shou Xing is the star god of longevity. He is often called the “Old Man of the South Pole”. Shou Xing is easy to recognize with his long forehead. He carries the peach of longevity and a staff.  With his peach in hand, it's not surprising to find Shou Xing standing a quiet, shaded corner of Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.  Shou Xing is probably the most popular of the Three Star Gods.  Everyone wants to live a long happy life. 


Every which way we looked, it was flowers.   Add to that some nice garden art and the occasional pavilion or two and our stroll among the trees was a very peaceful and tranquil time.  We took our own pace and time.








In one section of the garden, there is man made lake.  You can rent paddle boats and go around it.


Peach trees were not the only blossoming trees here.  Magnolias were also in bloom but sadly, few people pay attention to them.  Too many peach flowers to ooh and ahh over.


We also saw a lot of this pretty bloom and while I don't know exactly what it is, I don't think it's a peach....is it??  If I were to venture a (wild) guess, I would say it's a variety of red bud??





I'm not as avid a gardener as Bro is but I do know something about plants.  Here, it was obvious that many of the trees were grafted onto sturdier stock bases.  Makes the tree look a bit unnatural in shape but the flowers are gorgeous.


Everyone had their cameras out and taking photos.  For the Chinese, peach trees are the most popular of the spring time tree blossoms probably because the peach holds so much significance in the culture.




All in all, we were at Nanhui Peach Blossom Village for about an hour and a half and that was just perfect.  After a while, the flowers do all start to look the same.  If I were to do this again, I would pack a picnic lunch, find a nice spot with a view and enjoy an al fresco meal before leaving here.  In our case, we were off to find a place to have lunch and then make it to our next garden destination - Gucun Garden, where the cherry blossoms are calling our names.

As we exited the entry pavilion, I turned back for one last photo.  This is the one that captivated my attention month's ago and maybe it will be inspiration for someone else to visit Nanhui Peach Blossom Village during the annual Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival!