Shanghai’s National 4A Sights

Here goes the next installment. This is one is substantially heftier with 24 AAAA locations. Yikes.

Shanghai Jinshan City Beach. Jinshan District. 5 JinShan New City Road (5 Jin Shan XinCheng Lu).
-The JinShan official website is slow on the update but now the JinShan Beach Metro Express is open! The JinShan light rail is available from Shanghai South Railway station and it cuts the travel time from the city center in half! I went here last summer for a musical festival and had quite a nice time. . While it can’t touch the tropical Southeast Asian beaches , it’s quite nice to relax at with a cold brew in hand. Plus , bikini girls are never a bad thing.

Jiading ZhouQiao Old City. Jiading District. Tacheng Rd.
-Never been up here before. It’s quite a hike all the way to the end of Line 11 at North Jiading. Looks like a traditional Chinese old town complete with Confucius Temple, canals , park , museum, and traditional style buildings. This is high up there on my new to-do list.

Shanghai Fangta Park (Square Pagoda Park). Songjiang District. 235 Songjiang East Zhongshan Rd.
-Hah! Awesome! I just went there a week before starting to write this. Located way out in the burbs of Songjiang this is an impressive Pagoda rising up from a park. It’s an easy walk from the new Zuibai Pond metro line 9 station. The park itself is nice but not worth going all the way out there for. The pagoda would provide a sweet view of the surroundings but I don’t know from first hand experience. The ticket booth said closing time was 4:00pm but the workers in the pagoda ticket booth were busy clocking out at 3:45. Bleh.

Moon Lake Sculpture Park. Songjiang District. Linyin New Road.
-Located right next to the 4A SheShan Forest Park , I almost went here but the hefty 120 rmb price tag kept me away at the time. Me + Girlfriend + Waiting for pay-day = no go. This place looks pretty danged fun! At the center of the park is an artificial lake with a nice looking beach. Surrounding that is a wonderful green space with plenty of fun sculptures to interact and play with. I’m going here as soon as the spring arrives!

Shanghai Flower Port. Pudong District. Nanhui Town (Find the Shanghai Flower Port article)
We have reached an important point in the list! The first that I’ve never heard of! Flower Port? What the heck is this place? Doing a little research I’ve found this place is really in the boons. Eastern Pudong southeast of the airport! We’re thinking a good 2 hour bus ride to get here. Looks like the SmartShanghai team went at the wrong time, finding a barren land without any tulips (main point of the flower port). I like their assessment of the situation , “Rated an “AAAA” tourist attraction (usually that serves as more of a warning than a recommendation) and famous for the incredible tulip displays March to early May, this could be an amazing destination. But 50rmb for no tulips and a lot of bare ground though was a bit steep. ”
Again , this is another place that will be much more accessible after the opening of line 16.

Former Residence of Chen Yun and Qingpu Revolutionary History Memorial Hall. Qingpu District. LianTang Town 3516 Zhufeng Highway.
Ugh. Here is the first sight that sounds awful. Maybe it’s great but I highly doubt it. Featuring dry , boring, propaganda that glorifies The Red Revolutionary War! WOO HOO! “In 2001, the Former Residence of Chen Yun and Qingpu Revolutionary History Memorial Hall became part of the national patriotism education base. After paying a visit, you will know more about Chen Yun’s great deeds and the Qingpu people’s glorious revolutionary history.”

Fengjing Ancient Town. Jinshan District. 8588 TingFeng Highway.
-Ah something more my style. Watertowns are great for relaxing out of Shanghai, for ditching the skyscrapers for old stone buildings , cobblestone walkways, and canals. I’ve heard of this place but haven’t made it yet. I’ve opted for the closer, cheaper (free!), and consequently more crowded Zhujiazhao water town. This place seems like the secret watertown. The place to avoid the million other people who want to get out of the city on a nice summer weekend. Admission 50 rmb. 1.5 hour bus ride from the city center.

Sun Island Hot Spring Holiday Resort. Qingpu District. Zhujiazhao Town 2588 Shentai Rd.
Whoa. These resort seems ballin’! Not sure why it ranks a national tourist place ranking. Looks awesome(expensive) perhaps someone in the government has some cash invested in it? I might have to do a little look around but won’t enter if I want to check it off the list.
Here is their winter package deal.
“Get cozy and warm with us this winter and improve your health.
It’s time to get cozy and warm with us! Sun Island invites you to experience the difference in winter. Book our package now to get your blood and Qi move freely and restore your overall health!
One Night Accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Sun Island Resort
Complimentary Breakfast for 2
Choose from a selection of leisure activities (4 vouchers with 1 voucher per activity):
One round of Go-kart racing (1.3KM track)
Planting at Herb Garden (1 pot)
Golf Driving Range (30balls)
An hour of island-wide cycling on tandem bike
Craftwork DIY (1 piece)
Five Elements Assessment (Reservation Required)
Mahota Hot Pot for 2 at Members’ Restaurant
90-minute Hot Spring Bath or 50-minute Massage (worth RMB 330/pax)
Free Access to Indoor Geothermal Pool and Gym
Sun Island’s Daily Activities
Weekends: RMB 1330 /2 pax
Weekdays: RMB 1080 /2 pax”

BiHai Golden Sands Water Paradise. Fengxian District. Haiwan Tourism Zone 2 Haihan Rd.
I could not find any English language information about this place at all. That link is helpful if you read Chinese and to look at a few photos. It looks pretty much like a decent beach. Come summertime I’ll head over there to make some comparisons between JinShan City Beach and this one.

Shanghai SheShan National Forest Park. Songjiang District. Waiqingsong Highway.
This area in Songjiang is super-concentrated with sights. Sheshan Forest Park , Moon Lake, and Happy Valley are crammed up next to each other. SheShan Forest Park is divided into two separate parks, east and west. SheShan West has The Church of Our Lady of Sheshan – an active pilgrimage church in China, and the SheShan observatory. The East Park is more about nature with some nice walkways through bamboo thickets. Shan , meaning mountain in Chinese is more of misnomer at only 100 meters but it’s still pretty cool. Here is my previous trip there ,

Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park. Yangpu District. 2000 Jungong Rd.
I love this forest park! It’s got the nature I like plus the Chinese version of park complete with roller coasters, paintball, go-karting, electric boat rental, and horse riding. Pretty awesome all-in-one entertainment area.

Shanghai Zoo. Changning District. 2381 Hongqiao Rd.
Eh , well if you’ve been to any zoos in a Western country you don’t really need to go to this one. The conditions of some of the indoor enclosures and the treatment of the animals by guests (so much trash/food flung into the monkey enclosure) are surprising. I’ve been to the Cleveland, San Diego, and Shanghai zoos. Shanghai’s is laughable (with some weeps) in comparison.

Guyi Gardens. Jiading District. 218 Huyi Highway.
It’s a hike up to Jiading District but worth it when this garden is pared with Nanxiang Ancient Town and its famous Xiaolong dumplings. Stuff yourself and then take a post-dinner stroll through the greenery.

Oriental Green Land. Qingpu District. 6888 Huqingping Highway.—Culture/Park—Garden/200812/25-2612.html
Oriental Green Land is billed as one of the top sites in the country for juvenile extracurricular education and entertainment. A sprawling green area next to Dianshan lake serves as a center for city youth to get out and enjoy the green space. This quote displays the Chinese mindset quite well “Nowadays, students are always overloaded with homework and feel they are under great pressure from peers, which is not healthy for their overall development. In addition, health and fitness are under threat through ‘over-safe’ lifestyles,” said Huang.
“Thus, high school students around the city are required to attend the three-day outdoor activities here in order to help them develop physical and social skills,” Huang added. Yes , it’s China. Give the kids too much homework and then force them to participate in outdoor activities to combat the work. Nothing says fun and gets me ready like compulsory. Seems like visitors can also partake in dragon boat rowing and sculpture viewing.

Century Park. Pudong District. 1001 Jinxiu Rd.
Ah, one of the first places I visited when I was new to Shanghai and desperate for an escape from the city. The largest park you don’t have to venture super far to get to. Cool events also take place here like the Spring Midi Music festival and fireworks show.

Yu Gardens. Huangpu District. Fuyou Rd.
The small garden is just a small part of the massive super touristy Yu Garden Bazaar complex. Tons of people, touts, and cheesy souvenirs. It’s an overwhelming place to see in the summer when the tourist crowd is at its max. I take visitors to see this place and go on an annual trip to see the lantern festival during spring festival. At all other times I avoid it.

Dongping Forest Park. Chongming Island. Beiyan Highway. v
The holy grail of Shanghai forest parks! This is largest man-planted forest in Eastern China and the place with the freshest , cleanest , air . Walking among the giant pines in the evening I didn’t run into a single other soul. This does not happen in the densely populated Eastern coast of China. Besides just enjoying nature there are BBQ grills, camping, ziplines, boat rentals, and games. There is even a giant bonfire space to rent out at the hefty price of 1100 rmb.

Zhujiazhao Ancient Town. Qingpu District. 763 XiangNingBang Rd.
One of Shanghai’s closest and most popular watertowns. It really is like stepping back in time. Take the time to stroll down the cobblestone leafy streets that border the ancient canals. Eat a steaming plate of crayfish and then wash it down with a BeerLao from the punk bar. The town also attracts young Chinese who want to drop out of the hectic city life and open up a small shop or guesthouse.

Grand View Garden. Qingpu District. 701 Jinshang Rd.
Grand View Garden is a replica of the magnificent garden created within the Jia residence for imperial concubine Yuanchun, as described in the Qing Dynasty novel A Dream of Red Mansions. The pictures look pretty spectacular. Chill out in the Qing dynasty tea house and enjoy the green spaces. At nearly 2 hours out of the city you will certainly need a bit of relaxing!

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. Pudong District. 1388 Lujiazui Ring Rd.
Shanghai’s aquarium is pretty cool. It boasts the world’s longest under water tunnel at 120 meters. The jellyfish exhibit is also quite stunning. Much more worth it (with a corresponding price tag 120 rmb) than the zoo.

Jinjiang Amusement Park. Minhang District. 201 Hongmei Rd.
Urban Shanghai’s (city center) only rollercoaster , and if you ride line 1 down south you probably recognize the giant ferris wheel looming overhead. Not much desire for me to go seeing as how in Ohio I lived an hour and a half ride away from one of the world’s greatest amusement parks , Cedar Point. Man , I miss the Millenium Force and Top Thrill Dragster!

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. Huangpu District. 100 People’s Avenue.
While it sounds rather boring, its main feature, a scale model showing the entirety of urban Shanghai with future buildings also appearing. It’s a great way to see how Shanghai will continue to develop and a lot of fun to try to pick out your living complex (obviously for those of us who live or have lived here). They also have smaller models of areas of interest such as the Bund. I haven’t been here yet, but it does seem pretty cool.

JinMao Building 88th Floor Observatory. Pudong New District. 88 Century Avenue.
The JinMao building? That’s like so early 2007. When was this list made? Haven’t the authorities been notified of the taller adjacent Shanghai World Financial Center? What’s going to happen in 2014 when the even taller Shanghai Tower which is right next to those is completed? The 88th story observation deck is really cool, but unless you like to blow cash, why not just visit the 100th story observation deck of the SWFC? It’s even better.

Shanghai Museum. Huangpu District. 201 People’s Avenue.
Museums in China tend to rather dull. Provincial museums are the worst, without even any English signage. Good thing it’s Shanghai. The city went all out to get a museum worth of national praise. It seems they did the job right. There are many different halls loaded with various antiquities from Qing dynasty furniture to jade, calligraphy, and paintings. I’ve been saving it for a rainy day.

Dang, I’ve been busy lately with the new job. That took quite a while to finish. There are still 16 more 3A places in Shanghai. Not sure when I’m going to get to them, the next 2 weeks promise to be hectic then it’s off to Thailand for a much needed 11 day break!
Woo hoo!

Shanghai’s National 5 Star Ranked Sights

With the continued lack of photo posting I have going on , I figure it’s time to start doing some more translation-based posting to further English language information available about Shanghai. I keep finding cool Chinese language only things about Shanghai on my new social media obsession- Weibo. The Chinese micro-blogging version of Twitter.

For example, did you know that there are 3 Nationally ranked 5A (star) sights in Shanghai , 24 Nationally ranked 4A , and 15 Nationally ranked 3A ? Neither did I. In addition to these nationally recognized places , there are also provincial ranked spots as well. Usually the national ones are pretty awesome, sometimes the provincial ones feel like they get the plaque so they can put up a ticket booth. Hey, look at this dilapidated shack that someone kinda famous used to live in! Whoa, check out this lake with half the pollution levels of the others!

I was curious to see how many of the 42 places I’ve been to.

14 , in case anyone else is curious. That’s 33.endlessly repeating 3, without really meaning to. Not bad. A lot of them aren’t exactly obvious , especially the AAA ranked.

Let’s start out with the AAAAA ones!

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum , Pudong District , 2000 Century Avenue.
– I’ve been to this one. I have an issue with the ranking. While it’s decent , it means that my hometown Cleveland Science Center should be ranked Chinese National AAAAAAAAAA (That’s 10A) in comparison. It’s not quite as hands on and awesome as my hometown’s.

Shanghai Pearl TV Tower, Pudong District, 1 Century Avenue.
– Pretty obvious. It’s Shanghai’s huge, phallic , erect, TV Tower! Although some may question the design , Shanghai’s manhood is a symbol of change and prosperity that has come over the economic capital of China. Back in 1994 this was the shining example of the change that would sweep over the city. A huge structure in the farmlands that was Pudong. While now it’s been eclipsed by taller buildings in Shanghai and taller TV towers in China (Guangzhou) it’s still pretty dazzling. I’ve been up the Pearl’s taller brothers but not the actual itself yet. At 180rmb admission is a bit steep.

Shanghai Wild Animal Zoo, Pudong District Nanhui Town, 178 Nanliu Highway.
– China’s first national grade zoo. Unlike other Chinese zoos the animals here have space and there is a Safari like bus ride through the park. I’ve never been but this review from TripAdvisor sounds it out for us, “This zoo is 100 times better than the garbage littered zoo in west Shanghai (Puxi). I feel really sorry for the animals in that zoo.” It’s quite a distance away from the city center and a bit complicated to get to. I’ve been past it on my way to the Nanhui Peach Village though. There is a stop for the Wild Animal Zoo on the as of yet unopened line 16 . Once that line opens it will much easier to get to.

Keep an eye out for my 24 AAAA guide next time. It’s gonna take a bit longer to translate and write-up ,bear with me.

Happy New Year!

Ah , a nice refreshing 3 day break from work (Jan. 1st-3rd), now it’s Saturday morning and I’m on my lunch break. What? This must be a typo! Lunch breaks are not needed on the weekends. Surely in China one must be able to choose a time and place to eat on the weekends? This break must refer to the amount of effort it takes to get up from the couch in between pirate DVD episodes of “Game of Thrones”! No , no , no you must pay for that three-day holiday by working two days on the weekend in addition to the next week. Tuesday , Wednesday , Thursday off , and Friday to Friday on. The Chinese holiday schedule is not content with , you know, actually cutting people some slack. Great. As much as I loved those days off , it just doesn’t seem worth it with 6.5 more days looming ahead on the horizon. ( rainy, snowy, cold next 6.5 days) Happy New Year! WORK MORE.

On a happier note , the days off were really great! The first day of the new was the warmest it’s been in weeks, and the sun was shining! I took this opportunity to get out of my smelly little box that serves as an abode and ventured far off into the never never lands of Songjiang District.The end of metro line 9 is a long, long way from downtown. I rode all the way to the new terminal station (opened Dec. 29th), Songjiang South, looked around , and then hopped back on the subway one station north to the also newly opened Zuibai Pond station , home of Shanghai’s oldest classic park Zuibai Chi (醉白池). The 醉 means drunk. This garden was the retreat of a famous poet who liked to come , drink, and write poetry. Awesome.

From there I walked to the other touristy places in the area, Xilin Pagoda , Songjiang Mosque , and Square Pagoda (fangta) park . I was the only non-Asian I saw all day which incidentally made me a tourist attraction as well. After all was said and done it was getting dark and cold , time to take the nearly one hour subway ride back home. Let on the “Game of Thrones” marathon begin! I’m late jumping on the bandwagon but am glad I did. I would love to read the books but sadly Season 1 and 2 on pirate DVD come up to a whopping 72 rmb ($11.42 USD) while the real editions of the books (only ones I’ve seen at the Fuzhou Lu foreign language book center) hits the wallet for more than 100 rmb a piece ($15.80+).

When dawn broke it was time to venture out again. This time I went to one of those place you hear about and always mean to visit , to be a tourist in your city again, Longhua Temple. This complex is located close to the city center and is totally worth the visit. It’s a peaceful oasis from the outside gray area where intense construction of the middle portion of the metro line 11 has the ground all ripped up, and safety walls erected everywhere.

Admission is 12 rmb and you get a free pack of incense! Everyone is just strolling around and bowing before the various deities and shrines. The temple interiors are quite impressive. I like Gods with hundreds of arms and swords. I would like to think the Gods were pleased by the pomelo and apple sacrifices. (I certainly would be). Comparing these shrines to their Vietnamese counterparts ,however, makes me wonder why the Vietnamese offer fruits , beer, and liquor to the heavens while the Chinese don’t give booze to the mighty ones above. Maybe drunken Gods have a mean streak in China?

After blissing out in the temples , and petting the fat temple cat , it was time to a nerd and ride the brand spankin’ new metro line 13 just for the sake of riding it. The terminal station’s , Jinyun lu, surroundings are a barren wasteland. A giant shopping mall looms above the surrounding low rises , a center of sterile fun in a bleak gray world. Billboards abound with messages about the great new west city business district that will have sprung up like a weed and pictures of vast green lawns are interspersed with shiny glass towers, the skies are photoshopped blue, and the people are way to happy to be in a business district. I certainly do not smile like that on my approach to the office. More the like inverse of that. My smile proportionally decreases with the proximity to work.

One cool thing in the area (maybe the only) was that you could see the Bottle Opener (Shanghai World Financial Center) Shanghai’s tallest building looming from the misty (smoggy) distances like the eye of Mordor. That was intense. OMG! Reference to an intense medieval fantasy epic , must return home for more “Game of Thrones”….

Day three was cold and little flakes of snow floated from the skies. Curses from the Gods for not receiving their alcohol rations (doesn’t snow in Ho Chi Minh does it?!?). Twas a day for cleaning, preferably in the 1 foot radius around my radiator. Sigh , now back to the work marathon.

Nanxiang Old Town

Live in Shanghai and looking for something new you haven’t done before? Looking for classic Chinese culture but don’t want to leave the city? Head up to Nanxiang. Nanxiang is one of the four great ancient towns of Shanghai and a place that’s been totally off my radar for the past 2 years here. You can conveniently sample the staples of Chinese culture all within a few blocks. Nanxiang has a classical Ming Dynasty Garden , one of the largest temples in Shanghai , a newly built ancient town , and just happens to be the home of the famous Shanghai “Little Dragon” dumpling (小笼包). Foodies rejoice!

Nanxiang is located in the northwestern Jiading suburb and has its own metro stop. A 15 minute walk or a quick bus/taxi ride will get you into the heart of things.

First we stopped into Guyi Garden (古猗园)which was first constructed some 500 odd years ago in the Ming Dynasty. This was the most impressive garden in Shanghai for me , it easily beats the famous central town Yu Gardens. It was a very nice way to relax and enjoy the beautiful fall weather we’ve been having. Not many foreigners make it out this way so anyone stopping in will definitely give the locals something to gossip about. During our time the Othsmansus trees were in full bloom and the entire park was pervaded with a sweet smell. I couldn’t help but breathing in deeply and making satisfied noises. So much better than the usual city smell! While this is a very nice garden , those looking for the best of the best should take the quick train ride to Suzhou ( a city renowned for its gardens) . Those of us not looking to leave the city can take the trip here.

The park even has a few black swans and an interesting human man tourist person trying to squawk and gain the birds’ attention. This man may be seasonal but keep an eye out. He is freakin’ hilarious.

After enjoying the serene , verdant environment , it was time to search out the ancient town. It’s a quick walk away, and upon arrival the ancient town was under going construction. The town has been a seat of civilization for the past 1500 years but it was time to make things spiffy. China has enough history to be able to construct new ancient towns. My girlfriend and I often have a laugh at this , ” China , building ancient water towns in modern times”. Techically this is a water town with its running canals but as a water town it can’t hold a match up to any of the others I’ve been too around Shanghai. Don’t come here for the canals (go to Zhujiajiao for that) but do come for the XiaoLong Dumplings. There are a good two streets devoted to the dumplings (Guyiyuanlu) as well as numerous within the small “ancient town” center. We stopped in a store to grab some homemade peanut sesame brittle and when we asked the owner where the best dumplings were at, he kindly recommended next door. (Hmmm, go figure. Kickbacks).

We devoured two bamboo steaming baskets worth of shrimp and crab roe dumplings while sipping our cups of tea.


After this it was too late to visit the temple and the other garden in the area but one of these lazy weekends I’ll definitely make the trip again. I’ve been enough temples throughout China so they don’t have that first time in Asia awe to them anymore. It will be interesting to come back once construction is finished to see how things turned out.

Dongping Forest Park

The last four weekends I’ve visited the four forest parks in Shanghai : SheShan , GongQing , BinJiang , and now DongPing Forest Park. I fell in love twice and ate some BBQ in this latest journey. What better way to enjoy the tail-end of summer? Already the nights have turned chilly , and the humidity has been dispelled with crispness. Mmmm , almost hoodie weather!

DongPing forest park is the hardest to get to , the furthest away from the city center , the most expensive (by far) , but I like it the best. It just about captures the real forest vibe I’ve been searching for , the skies are blue , the air is fresh , plus the bus ride to get there is long but has some pretty cool parts to it.

The forest park is located in the center of Chongming Island. It’s easy to forget just how long the island is. From the Eastern part with the connecting bridge to the middle port town of Nanmen is about an hour. Add this time in with the metro ride to the bus , and the following connecting bus ride from the port town to the park and travel time from my house is hitting about 3 hours. Yikes. I can make it to other cities in China via bullet train in much less time. Working in the park’s favor is that for a minimal fee you can pitch a tent and sleep overnight , there is a huge central fire pit available for the highely overpriced fee of 500rmb but with enough people throwing down it would be okay.

The gamut of entertainment from the electrical boat rentals , to the water ball rolling , grass skiing , and paintball are all available here. I didn’t do any of these , and instead choose to barbecue , and take in the nature. The nature part is awesome! So not Shanghai. Tall pine trees that stretch on and on , and after 5 o’clock there was a not a soul around. 20 minutes walking around in trees without seeing a person is pretty much the antithesis of my China experience. More please!

Earlier I mentioned falling in love.

First is Stubbs

I coaxed her out of the woods to discover a missing tail! Looked like it had been somewhat recently lost and healed. I tried to give her food but she just wanted a scratch.

The next time was with Wild Goldfish

It took her a bit to get her to come out from her bamboo grove but after I started petting her she wouldn’t let me leave. AFter walking away , her cries brought me back 3 times before I could bring myself to leave.

In between meeting these two kitties , the wild BBQ cats entertained me. Immediately after people are finished and leave the grill , the cats move in. A group of 5 moved in and made off with every scrap of food possible. I spied a cat waiting in the bushes for me to finish , and I made the move to give her some food. She ran off , and I discovered she had already been devouring an uneaten fish on a skewer.

Yea , I ignored the ziplines , paintball , and rollercoasters to play with a bunch of cats.

This park is seriously great. I will be back , and next time I’m bringing a tent and “roughing” like this group.

The three-hour trip is do-able for a day trip but I would recommend staying overnight. If tents aren’t your style there are plenty of hotels in the port towns , and country-style farm stays everywhere else.

To get to the park :

1. Take the metro to line 6 JuFeng Lu

2. Just outside the metro is a bus station , hop on the NanMen 南门 bus (18 rmb each way).

3. A 9 kilometer underwater tunnel , and a nearly as long bridge ride later , plus an hour on the island travel and you will arrive by the NanMen travel bus station. Walk a bit forward from where the bus stops and you will see the 远客站 or bus station。

4. Hop on the NanDong Xian 南东线 and tell the conductor you are going to 森林公园 senlingongyuan。 Ta da you made it!

For return trips the last bus back from the park leaves at 7 , there are plenty of illegal taxi guys to negotiate a price with if you miss the bus , but expect to pay a premium , and the last bus back to Shanghai from NanMen leaves at 9.

Now that I’ve made it to all the forest parks of Shanghai , what next?

I’ve been scouting google maps and have located plenty of forest parks in nearby cities ! This will last until the winter settles in. Then it’s mad DVD time.

The True BinJiang Forest Park Experience

I finally made it back to BinJiang Forest Park. The first time I went was with 130 or so kindergarten kids. A fun time but not exactly optimal for seeing the park and finding a peaceful little patch of woods for myself.

Like the rest of Shanghai’s forest parks, it’s a long ways away from the city center. This journey requires a trip out to the northern most stop of Line 6. I’ve never had any occasion to use Line 6 until now. Somewhere along the journey the subway emerges from the underground and we are rewarded with amazing views of crappy buildings , smoke stacks , shipping containers , and a brand new shiny customs and tax building. Awesome! It all makes sense really , as we are headed to the GangCheng ( Harbor City) metro station.

The park is situated at the confluence of the Yangtze and Huangpu River. It’s on the opposite side of the Huangpu as the previous Paotaiwan Park post

On the car ride from the metro stop ( there is a bus but we weren’t quite sure where the stop was and got a good deal from an illegal taxi) the driver pointed out previous fortifications and cannon mount points to defend against attacking Japanese. Driving through the area it seemed a bit suspect there was a park nearby. BinJiang is a vast green oasis tucked inbetween shipping and industry. It’s a windy road to the park , passing big rigs , rundown restaurants, laughable laundromats, and shady accommodations. If I hadn’t have been there before , I might have gotten a little nervous the driver was taking us for a ride.

This park is a little more nature orientated than Gongqing Forest Park but still features an outdoor laser tag arena , BBQ zone , and has the standard kids rollercoaster with accompanying pirate ship ride currently under construction.

The park is split into different regions including “Ecological Forest Zone” , “Wetlands Area” “Coastal Viewing ” ,”a 7 acre Azalea Garden” , “Eastern Park Zone , and “BBQ”!. Heading out on foot will take a while to totally wander across the park , and may take more than a day’s trip to totally explore all the side paths . I really love the Ecological Forest Zone with the wooden boardwalks that meander into the Wetlands Area. It’s the most peaceful and secluded I’ve ever been to in Shanghai. Definitely more foresty than the other parks. I’ve yet to make it to the Chongming Island Dongping Forest Park , and that may be the final contender for king of Shanghai parks.

We started with a spicy squid and duck breakfast in a lovely flowered area. (Anyone sensing a pattern with my weekend breakfasts yet?).

After, we wandered through the Wetlands and Ecological Forest zone.


We learned about the science that goes on in the parks to created such a blissed out experience.

And visited the not-so-pretty coastline view.

At this point the clouds were rolling in and we saught shelter in a pavilion in the woods.

The heavens rained down and we zoned out in this pavilion for an hour without seeing a single soul . We were all wasted on those previously mentioned free ions. Wheeeee!

After the rains stopped , it was time to grab some food and rent a tandem bicycle.

We explored the rest of the park , and while veering off on some stone paths that we probably shouldn’t have been riding on , we lost traction on the slippy stones and had an awesome crash.

Then the saw this monster crawling through the grass!

After the bike time was up ( don’t be a minute late or its a 50% charge on the next hour) (Whatever happened to Socialism?) we decided it was time to head back to the city. We will definitely be back. Hopefully we can drag a bunch of friends and chip in together to rent one of the popular BBQ pits. Hooo rah!

The best part is that this is the 120 hectacre stage 1 of the park. Stage 3 is expected to have 300 acres. YESSSSS! Who knows when it will be done but I’ll most likely still be here!

GongQing Forest Park

I’ve been getting city fever lately. Now matter how nice it is to stroll through the leafy former French Concession , looking at all the nice things I can’t afford to buy , dreaming of the $7USD cups of coffee I would like to have , I’ve been itching to get out. Last weekend featured a long metro ride out to SongJiang District and the awesome SheShan (“Mount She”)

This week featured a loonnng metro ride (19 stops from my house) to the northern reaches of Shanghai. GongQing Forest Park is a sprawling “forest” located in the hinterlands of Yangpu District , a bus/taxi ride onwards from the terminal station Shiguang Rd on metro line 8. Admission is a mere 15 rmb , although additional activities are extra.

We woke up early Sunday morning with the whole day ahead of us , and an intense craving for coffee. Nothing can change my love for coffee. Breakfast foods , on the other hand , are a whole another story. Maybe I’ve been in Asia too long but I skipped the bowl of cereal and went straight to the spiced lotus root and duck neck. Yes, duck neck. It is awesome.

We procured seats using advanced metro riding methodology long studied in the dog eat dog world of Shanghai rush hour, and 19 long stops later we were there!

Picture a forest park in your mind. What do you see? Trees , certainly , flowers , yes , a lake , of course! Rollercoasters , go-karts, paintball? No. The Chinese , however, do. The forest park as envisioned by them is an all-included entertainment center. I took full advantage of this.

A three-hour tour . A three-hour tour. Uh guys, I can’t see the shore anymore!

Cap’n Booze welcomes you aboard!

The park (you know the nature part!) is really great and even though there is a rollercoaster somewhere in the confines of the vast park it’s easy to forget you are in Shanghai. Thick pine groves with no people and only a dirt track , verdant woody areas with wildflowers. Reverberating blasts from the horns of cargo haulers on the adjacent Huangpu River (ok , ok , still in Shanghai :))

The entertainment in the park includes go-karts , bumper cars, a merry go-round , a log ride , rollercoaster with complete upside down loop , paintball , archery ,horse riding, a kids zone , paddle and electric boat rental for cruising the lake , a zipline over the lake ,various food and drink stands, DIY BBQ pits, two-seater bike rentals, and a few other assorted carnival rides. I was hugely let down by the sign proclaiming mini-golf when there was no mini-golf to be had. Seriously , there is no putt-putt option in the entirety of Shanghai , and most likely in the entire country. This is a travesty.

With the exception of the lack of mini-golf , this is a ROOMAOMAO certified awesome, excellent city escape. Go there while the weather lasts , before the definition of fun becomes hot tea , blankets, and meters tall stacks of DVDs. Viva la summer! (or verano if you please)

Even though it’s only Monday my thoughts are already wandering off to next weekend. Where to go? Tongchuan Fish Market? Nanxiang for some of the best Shanghai XiaoLongBao? Hmmm , choices , choices.

Shanghai’s “Mountain” – SheShan

I have been itching to travel somewhere , to get out of Shanghai for a weekend , but the double whammy of trying to making sure I have enough RMB to have fun in Vietnam and stupid weekend errands have kept me within a couple of blocks radius of my house for the blessed 2 day break. (no further West than Shanghai Brewery , no further East than XinTianDi , no further South than Zhaojiabang Rd , and no further North than HuaiHaiZhong Rd. )

The combination of frugalness and convenience led to SheShan (佘山) or She’s (not the same as English – shhuuuuhh-) Mountain. Frugalness liking the free entrance and convenience liking the appropriately named SheShan Metro Stop. Mountain is more of a misnomer really , as it stands a towering 90 (18% of Shanghai’s current tallest building -Shanghai World Financial Center-) meters over the surrounding alluvial plains. I thought it was the highest natural elevation in Shanghai until a Google search gave that to the 130 meter tall peak of the uninhabited island Dajinshan.

We visited the Eastern and Western parts of the SheShan Forest Park area. There is more to do in the surrounding environs with several high-class hotel resorts , a golf course, and the adjacent Happy Valley Amusement Park. With those things all costing the big bucks , we stuck to the park.

Waiting in a huge line for a death trap? Ehhhhhhh.

I had visited the Eastern part of the park with the Flying Dutchman , Pan, waaay back in the distant mists of 2 years ago , but it was time to head back.

The Eastern part of the park is one of the closest places to nature as you can get in Shanghai. It is a peaceful , easy, stroll through bamboo thickets to get to the peak. There are several good places for grabbing a peak at the outlying countryside. There is even Fragrant Buddha Spring brought to you by Pepsi-Cola©!

Nothing says Zen like crappy speakers blasting “relaxing” music and an ice-cold can of PEPSI©!
Wanna be a big-bellied Buddha? Two words. Sugar calories!

All jokes aside, the Eastern part of the park is really nice.

On to the West!

It starts out bizarrely enough , with a free ticket given to you at the booth which you then have to scan through the turnstiles to enter. This is where the previous post came from.

Another strange thing about this part of the park is the Roman Catholic Basilica chilling on the very peak alongside a Jesuit Astronomy Observatory. Apparently this church was one of the most important in Asia in the early 1900s with pilgrims from all across Asia visiting. The church was heavily damaged during the Cultural Revolution but has since been restored , and is now an active Church. Visitation is free.

The Observatory, on the other hand , costs a measly 12 rmb (little under $2USD) for admission. The museum is totally not worth it but the view from the top of the Observatory is. I was incredibly surprised to spot the Shanghai World Financial Center along with the JinMao Tower (current 2 tallest buildings in Shanghai) from the top! These buildings are approximately 35 kilometers away!

All-in-all it’s a great trip if you live in Shanghai and need to break the monotony of concrete with some bamboo. It’s definitely not a come to Shanghai just to see it attraction but if you spend enough time here you should see it.

Being out the burbs of Shanghai there aren’t too many foreigners and that leads to some funny things.

Funny things kids said

1. (In Chinese) Whoooaa! I see a foreigner!
2. (In English after he pretended to shotgun blast his dad off a ledge) Headshot!
3. (No Language) A shocked lingering quadruple take stare.

JiaShan Market

Shanghai Cool Places – JiaShan Market

This is a newish -about 1.5 year old – eco-friendly urban garden community located smack dab in the french concession. It’s tucked away in between South Shaanxi Rd and JiaShan Rd , accessible from little car-free -but not bike free- alleyways that connect the two major roads. Entering in from the South Shaanxi side one passes the old Chinese neighborhood wet market with fresh veggies and fruits , clucking chickens , splashing fish , and crowds of people trying to get their shopping done. It can be a little chaotic (and stinky) but go a little bit further in and all of a sudden you find the tranquil JiaShan market garden community. Based around a courtyard and an alley are loads of cafes / restaurants , an international hair salon , a tattoo place , spa , rooftop gardens , and super awesome looking apartments (10,000 rmb / month, a bit out of my price range but damn I am envious) . The eco-friendly restaurant , Melange Oasis , even has rooftop garden plots for rent for those aspiring urban gardeners (currently full-up!).

This place is an awesome little oasis in the middle of the city , a huge juxtaposition with the Chinese wet market near the South Shaanxi entrance. Even better , on Saturday mornings from about 10am-3pm there is a weekly little community bazaar . There are bottles of wine , paintings , calligraphy , children’s books , dried Xinjiang fruits , freshly roasted coffee , trendy bags from Vietnam , earrings , jewelry , and eco-friendly home cleaning products to be found.

Considering I’m only a five-minute walk from this place , you can find me here quite often!

Entrances at

Lane 550 Shanxi Nan Lu


259 Jiashan Lu


Cite Bourgogne – Photo Tour

Right next to my apartment lies the old (by Shanghai standards) Cite Bourgogne  Shikumen housing complex. While most of Shanghai (and China) is in the throes of an intense out with the old , modernization drive , these old Shikumen buildings are still going strong. Beijing has been destroying it’s old Hutong (traditional housing in small alleyways) by the thousands in favor of tall modern apartment buildings and Shanghai is also definitely not a stranger to the cranes.

The Cite Bourgogne , its French name , or the Bu Gao Li (Chinese name) was built-in 1930 on the corner of South Shaanxi Rd and JianGuo Xi Rd when they  were known as Avenue du Roi Albert and J. Frelupt, Route . (Remember this is former French Concession!)

Taking a stroll through this relatively small complex is like a trip back in time. Seeing the narrow alleyways in between the solid red-brick wall-to-wall 3 story buildings is quite different from the new 30 story concrete monsters rising into the sky in the rest of Shanghai. Here the old folks go about their day , shuffling slowly through the lanes with a sack of vegetables , the grandpa riding his bicycle at just a fraction faster than walking speed rings his bell to get you out the way ,  and clothes hang out in the sun trying to dry out in the intense summer humidity.

I like to try to get a glimpse of the housing interiors when the doors are left open. I feel a bit odd straining my neck to try to get a peek inside of the houses when people leave the doors open , but come on! , I’m curious. Some of the housing seems to have been declining since the time it was built with dirty cement floors and junk packratted away. Others though , appear gorgeous and gleaming inside and make me really wonder what the other two floors are like.

Given a choice between the old style Shikumen housing and the new towering apartment buildings I think I would go for the old. However , I do so love the amazing view of the city one can get from way up high. (One of the things I really miss from my previous 28th story pad.

How about you readers? Old or the New? Which one to choose?!?