Friday, 10 August 2007

YuYuan Gardens - Take 1

So I opted for the super-deluxe version of the studying Mandarin with Mandarin house... and part of being a Summer Study Tour student at Mandarin House means you get afternoon tours of Shanghai landmarks included in the price for the course. Each afternoon the school organises some sort of activity, from a Nanjing Lu tour to a KungFu lesson! One of the nicest places to visit in Shanghai is YuYuan Gardens – an oasis of calm and greenery in and otherwise hectic and severely polluted city. The tour was very popular among students with over 12 signing up for the jaunt.

We all got into cabs and agreed to meet the “tour guide” from the school (you guessed it, another teacher) at the entrance of the tourist street at 4pm. We all made it there with no mishaps, spoke to a Chinese policeman (its illegal to take their picture, apparently...) to make sure we had the right place, and then proceeded to be ogled and photographed by Chinese tourists as we perused the stalls and shops in the touristy area.

With our local guide leading the way, we happily roamed about and finally made it to the garden entrance at 5:02pm...

Only to find closed doors and a sign that said that there was no admittance after 5pm.

You’d THINK they would check that. Maybe read a lonely planet. Ask previous guides who’d been there. I don’t know...ASK someone who’s actually been there and knows? Maybe do a little research before taking 12+ students on a fruitless “tour” to see a set of closed doors. Admittedly, the doors were ornate and the sign was quite pretty, BUT SERIOUSLY. If the “guide” hadn’t looked so shell-shocked, I would have thought it was a joke and laughed. As it was, I merely geared up for an almighty row the next day at school to demand money back so we could visit the place again... when it was open.
See? Proof that stupidity is definitely not regional – it is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-ignorami. *sigh*

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