A handsome man from the neighborhood behind the park.
Getting There: Lu Xun park is located at 146 East Jiangwan Rd. (146 jiang wan Lu) near the Hongkou Stadium. Getting there is very easy by metro. Take line 8 to the Hongkou Stadium station and get out at exit 1. At the sidewalk turn left (so the stadium is on your left) and walk about 200 yards to the park entrance. There is no entrance fee.
The park was built in 1896 as a shooting field. In 1905 they added an amusement park area (kiddy rides). The famous Chinese writer, Lu Xun, was placed in a mausoleum on the park grounds and the park is now dedicated to him.
Cherry blossoms in the mid-day sun.
The park is alive with families taking advantage of the shady spots, bounce castle, and small electric boat rides. The older generation prefers the tables set up for mahjong or card games. Park benches often become host to intense debates. Just a stroll along the shady lanes of the park is a great way to spend the day, too.
In between are open areas where accordion players entertain, opera singers practice. Line dancers get their groove on only yards from the traditionally dressed folk dancers. Another turn down a different path finds the calligraphy masters practicing on the pavement with buckets of water and long brushes. They will explain the history of each character to any interested onlooker. Today was a sunny sunday and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The park was hopping.
The folk dancers at Lu Xun.
This little girl wanted to dance too
The cherry blossoms were beautiful.
The line dancers getting their groove on.
Everyone in my family had agreed that on such a beautiful day we should go for a walk in the park. On arriving we were greeted with the onslaught of sights, sounds, smells and sheer mass of people, that China is so well known for – and so often leads my son into sensory overload. I just wanted to have a walk in the park, so to speak. My ‘good mom’ self seemed to have been left behind at first and I had this fantasy of a perfectly relaxing day that didn’t involve negotiating with teenagers or dealing with emotional crisis. Unfortunately that is exactly what parenting is about. I felt frustrated by his sullenness.
To give you an idea of his mood let me tell you a little of his running commentary on the park. On walking in and seeing the small electric boats floating on the lake among the plastic fish he said “oh look, how nice that they let the children drive the nuclear subs among the water mines…how lovely.” This was said with a completely deadpan face and tone of voice. I think he meant to be cynical, but when I really looked at the boat and plastic fish his description was right on the mark. So I started to laugh and tell him it was a good joke. But he didn’t mean it as a joke, he meant it as a deep, thoughtful commentary on society. So he really didn’t appreciate me finding humor in his comment. Ahhhh, deep breaths……..and move on to another area of the park where, hopefully, we can find more common ground.
At home my kids complain that they are not learning practical things in their Chinese class. I suggested that a day like this would be the perfect opportunity to practice and get to know some locals. S2 had a sour expression on his face and just stared at the ground as we walked along. I was getting snippy and this didn’t help the situation. Finally he said to me ‘I just feel overloaded, please just let me walk along.’ I took another deep breath. I felt very guilty about my snippiness and appologized. Once we had reached this truce the tension level dropped and we walked along and peacefully enjoyed the scenery.
This bud has a couple of days before it blooms.
- The artist inscribing D's fan.
Along the path we found a man hand painting fans. He decorated one side with scenes from the park and wrote poems on the other side. They were marked with his ‘chop’ which is a Chinese person’s official signature. He saved the two end panels of the fan and inscribed them for the purchaser. D fell in love with one that had red cherry blossoms on it. The artist wrote her Chinese name on the back and wrote the date and place so she would always remember where she got the beautiful fan.
A game of cards in the spring sunshine at Lu Xun.
The artist at work at Lu
The furthest edges (left and right) are where the artist enscribed D's name and the date and place where they met.
Zhu Lao Shi practicing calligraphy before the crowd descended.
The cherry blossoms on D's fan.
Turning a bend we came upon one of the calligraphy teachers writing on the road. I stopped to take some pictures and he asked me where we were from. From there the conversation blossomed and we started to attract a crowd. I introduced my kids and explained that S2 was planning on going to a local college next year to further his studies in Chinese language and calligraphy. The teacher, it turns out, is an award winning calligrapher and teacher at the college S2 is planning on attending. He and S2 traded phone numbers. It was very exciting and the crowd really started to grow. Even I felt crowded in. Lao Gong (LG for short and meaning husband) was off to one side and started to collect his own set of groupies. All of this became too much for S2. He was very polite and excused himself to go and sit on a stone wall. I was proud of him. D and I continued to chat with the teacher and the others for about 10 minutes. Finally I felt we had reached the limit of my Chinese and it was time to move on in the park. I also wanted to find S2 and make sure he was ok. When I extracted myself from the crowd I found S2 sitting on the stone wall chatting with a young Chinese man who wanted to practice his English. S2 said a polite farewell and we moved on before the crowd could follow us. S2 actually seemed cheered up. He said his favorite part of the conversation with his new friend was that the man told him he is ‘a sailor….he sells things’ LOL.
I am somewhere in the middle of this crowd explaining why we came to live in Shanghai.
Grandfather taking his granddaughter for a spring walk in the park.
After a day of sunshine we left through the back of the park. This leads into a series of small streets and little alleys. One of my favorite dumpling stands is back here. The walk to get the dumplings provides an eyeful too. There is a barber who has set up shop in two parking spaces.
School children getting an after school snack on the way home in the afternoon.
- The outdoor barber shop.
Today he was giving a customer a close shave while a fellow barber cut another customers hair.
Women work together in supper preparation tasks. The laundry flys like colorful flags from the power lines. The street food vendors and vegetable carts line the roads. This is the China I have grown to truly love.
getting a close shave at the outdoor barber.
Our dumplings were fresh and hot and wonderfully juicy. After a long day out they hit the spot. The chef kept coming out to watch us eat, making sure we knew the finer points of soup dumplings. We assured him they were very delicious!
At the end of the day we exited the subway (metro) station near our apartment and were greeted with a lovely row of white cherry blossom trees catching the afternoon sun.