Say It Ain’t So

Oh, the sad , sad , horrible act of trading the long term for the short term. Putting a quick infusion of cash over the preservation of nature, and the long term enjoyment of life.

Please, please , say it ain’t so Shanghai!

Via Shanghaiist:

Tensions between development and environment look set to define this century. In Shanghai, the municipal government is currently wrestling with the temptation to hand Chongming island – described as the city’s “last virgin territory” – over to the developers.
The island lies at the mouth of the Yangtze river and is well known for its unspoilt natural beauty. It has large swathes of wetland that millions of migrating birds rest and recuperate on every year. The island is already populated but remains relatively rural, undeveloped, and distinctly low-rise. A fifth of its area – 300 square kilometres – has already been turned into the Dongtan wetlands nature reserve.
The official line of the local government is that the environment of the island will come first if (i.e. ‘when’) it is developed. They have recently released new plans proposing to build a Chongming ‘eco-city’ that will only have ‘environmentally friendly industries’ on it. The island has already been connected with new bridges and tunnels but officials insist that any developments that arise from these vastly improved transport links will be limited.
However, privately, the South China Morning Post reports, municipal authorities are considering turning the island over to the developers. The temptation to do so must be very great. Recently Shanghai’s economy has been performing relatively poorly, and last year the mayor said that it would have to find new ways to drive its growth. Selling the island’s land to developers would make a lot of quick bucks. The island is huge – over 1,400 square kilometres (China’s third largest) – far, far bigger than Hong Kong island (80.5 sq km) and more similar in size to all of Hong Kong’s territories combined (1,104 sq km). This represents a lot of undeveloped land and the Post reports how officials privately refer to it as the “Long Island in the East” (comparing it to New York’s relatively developed Long Island). They are also increasingly keen on the idea of developing it into a special zone where gambling is allowed, similar to Macau.
At the moment the island remains an excellent destination for a peaceful day-trip from busy Shanghai.

I love Chongming! I don’t want to see it become overly developed with brass , rude drivers beeping angrily , almost killing pedestrians, and emitting noxious fumes into the air. I love the tranquility and peace of the island. I had planned to make it my summer weekend destination spot for many a year to come.

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.