A Stroll Through Lu Xun Park and the Lu Xun Museum

Ever since our first forays out of our hotel in the days when we first arrived, I’ve been wanting to explore Lu Xun Park some more and visit the Lu Xun Museum.

Lu Xun was an important Chinese writer in the early part of the 20th century who eventually settled in Shanghai. The park is named for him. The museum is not technically inside the park. It’s next to the East gate entrance to the park.

The museum contains hundreds of photos, and exhibits of his writings from various periods of his life. There were a couple of multimedia presentations featuring narration in Mandarin. Since we can’t understand Mandarin, the kids and I skipped those. Though they looked quite interesting.

The way the official sounding text is written about him in the museum and in the prefaces to his books, you would think that Lu Xun was an exemplary member of the Chinese Communist Party. You would be wrong. He  had Leftist sympathies but never joined the Communist Party. Though Mao and the Communists would claim him as one of their own after he died, I’m not sure a man who thought the “cultivation of independent and healthy minds” would make a good Communist. What he did want, above all else, was for the Chinese to reclaim China from the colonial powers. He saw literature as a way to help jumpstart that process.

Near the end of the exhibit area was the small bookstore. The shelves were filled with volumes of books by and about Lu Xun in Chinese. The woman behind the counter saw me and said “English!” and pointed to two shelves with books in English. I picked up a hardcover of the first volume of Lu Xun’s selected writings. There were four volumes. I figured I would buy the first volume which had his fiction, what I’m most interested in, and if I liked it I would go back and pick up another volume or two.

I brought the book to the counter and the woman got up and started talking rapidly. I made out that she was talking about “all four” while she proceeded to lean down and grab the other three books in the set and place them on the counter.

The price was 146 Yuan for the complete English-language four-volume set. Not 14.6 Yuan for one volume or 146 Yuan for one volume. That’s a pretty good deal. As you can see, they also gave me a nice bag to carry all the books.

I hope I like Lu Xun’s writing, because I now have a lot of it. I’ve begun reading the first volume and so far the translations seem good. Anyway, I know have my first souvenir from Shanghai.

The kids were getting hungry and antsy, and Meredith suddenly had to use the potty. So we rushed through the last bit of the exhibits and I took Meredith to use the potty. Meredith was happy. She had the option of a squat toilet or a Western-style toilet. She proudly told me, “I know how  to use a squat toilet!” But she still opted for the Western-style toilet.

We left the museum and found a shop in the park that sold snacks. The kids chose ice cream, which has become their go-to snack. Ice cream bars of many kinds are sold at every convenience store all over Shanghai. The kids can easily look and choose the kind they want.

The area near the shop was like much of the park. Tall old trees had grown high enough and been trimmed to provide almost complete shade to wide bricked areas.

We sat on a bench under a tree, eating our ice cream and watching the people nearby. Men and women of late middle age and retirement age were dancing in the shade of the trees to music with a fast beat, ballroom style. Two men were playing badminton in front of the store where we’d bought our ice cream. Then one of the men talked the saleswoman at the store into playing badminton with the other man. And pretty soon she was hitting the shuttlecock back and forth, too.

There was also a little boy, about three years old, standing on a nearby bench and shouting, “Loawai! Loawai! Loawai!” (“Foreigner! Foreigner! Foreigner!”) and pointing at us.

I like this park. It’s another beautiful sanctuary, like Fuxing Park, amid the inexhaustible cacophony and rush of the city.

More lotus plants. I know. But I like them, especially this time of year when they’re beginning to bud and bloom. It also reminds me of the lake in the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles where Stephanie and I used to live. But the lotus plants are far more abundant here in China than I ever imagined.

There’s a large lake where you can rent boats, and smaller pond where you can rent paddle boats.

Here’s a clock that the kids liked and Henry wanted to pose in front of. It was built to mark the beneficial friendship between Chinese and Japanese kids.

The kids figured out that there was space inside where they could go.

As tiring and frustrating as traveling with kids can be, it’s moments like this when they make me laugh. They see the world differently than us adults. Just as Meredith made a slide out of that section of steps at Yue Miao in Hangzhou, so they found a place in Lu Xun park where only they could fit.

Chinese Paparazzi Count: 2

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