Two days into the Spring Festival and Shanghaiist has already developed “cabin fever”. While most of our friends and colleagues have left for Vietnam, Thailand, London, Sydney and Harbin respectively, we’re having to make do with a week in our apartment, listening to the distant (and not-so-distant) snap, crackle and pop of fireworks, and waiting for the latest cold spell to kick in.
Yesterday we took affirmative action and decided to be tourists in our town. We chose to explore the Longhua Temple: unwisely, since the first day of the Lunar Year is one of the busiest on the Temple’s calendar. Crowds gather to mill about, tie wishes onto a branch of The Wishing Tree, and to look (unsuccessfully) for empty taxis so they can get the hell out of the place.
It was largely to escape the hoards outside the Temple that we ended up at the Longhua Martyrs’ Memorial, just around the corner. It’s a large park and complex of buildings dedicated to Communist Party members (and a few Kuomintang individuals) who were killed resisting Japanese and other foreign powers during the Chinese Revolution.
And it makes for an interesting visit. There’s a pyramid-shaped museum stuffed with stories of martyrs who died for their particular cause, with English-language subtitles and a whole bunch of items from the period (clothing, weapons, diaries). At the back of the museum you’ll find an eternal flame and the statue pictured at the top of the post. And a long tunnel runs beneath the park which apparently follows the paths taken by prisoners from their jail cells (part of which remain) to the small grove where they were executed. The most famous incident from the period dates from 7 February 1931, when more than 20 prominent Chinese — including five left-wing writers — were killed by the Kuomintang.
By the time Shanghaiist emerged from these dusty halls of history the taxi queue had mercifully diminished, enabling us to return to our apartment and continue the process of going slowly batty while our friends eat pho in Hanoi and frolic on Australian beaches.
2887 Longhua Xi Lu. Open: 9am-4pm daily. Getting there: subway to Caobao Lu and walk (15 minutes). Or taxi (15-20 RMB from city). Admission: 8 RMB. Longhua Pagoda, part of the Longhua Temple complex, is the building second from the right in the Shanghaiist logo, by the way.