GuCun Park Field Trip

Sorry about the past politricks post. In order to apologize , I leave you with these cute pictures from my Monday field trip to GuCun park with the kindergarten.

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.

Back to Work

Yup just like that it’s over. Back to work , clock in clock out , grind time once again. I know I already went on a little rant before but I’m seeing all these TGIF whoa awesome plans for the weekend on slavebook (aka facebook) as I’m sitting in my office during lunch break. Waaahh! Saturday , Sunday , and then Monday thru Friday of work. Waking up on Monday I will already worked for two days so going with the normal progression of time it should already be Wednesday by that time. So then the next day should be Thursday and almost the weekend but in reality it will be the other dreaded T – Tuesday! Nooo!

But enough complaining , having 7 days off in a row (even though they really only give you three days off because 2 are already because of a weekend and then you use the next weekend to cover 7-2-2=3) is really nice. Before, I forgot to mention I went to a Dj Shadow concert on the first Friday at the Mercedes-Benz arena in Pudong. Awesome venue with a great sound system even though it’s a little far away from things and late shows equals no metro home so either a long bike ride or super expensive taxi back home. Unless you live in Pudong and then wow aren’t you just super cool?

After the video game spree I spent the next days riding around the city checking out some bars and restaurants. If you have the chance I say check out

Barbarossa – Moroccan style lounge in People’s Park is pretty cool (pricey)

Shanghai Brewery- Excellent home brews and food on Hongmei Rd

Also found one of those pirate book vendors with loads of good books each for 20rmb but  we bargained down a little bit since we bought 14 books. They look really good too some it is quite hard to tell they are pirated. The back price above the bar code is still even listed in US dollars haha. Ah I love Pirates. China has really good ones too!

Thursday night was spent at a fireworks show in Century Park. Entry to the park for the show was 70rmb but due to vast crowds we waited (along with what seemed like thousands of other people) on an outlying street by the park and watched the show for free. Seriously didn’t matter we didn’t make it inside we had a perfect view from the outside! There were also three other firework nights and each lasted over an hour. Just like the 4th of July except that we are celebrating the anniversary of the Communist Party! I have certainly been missing the 4th of July celebrations the last few years so next year go check out these fireworks if you feel a bit homesick!

The last day was spent at the Shanghai Zoo which actually is quite nice. I had heard it was a bit depressing with squalid cramped conditions for the animals but for the most partwas nice. The zoo is set in a very nice green leafy space with plenty of room for people on wide grassy spaces.You can take Metro Line 10 to the stop named (wait for it! Guess!) Shanghai Zoo.  Initially the plan was to head to Chongming Island but due to late waking up , time restraints , and going to the wrong bus station the plan was scrapped for another weekend.

I also managed to not get very much blog writing down during the downtime but will crank out the remaining summer places very soon. Weird how having a schedule ,other work, and being busy motivates me to write more, draw more, etc. Why can’t I just get it done in the huge expanse of empty space provided to me?

Dragon Boats and Plum Rains

Well it’s here again.  The east Asian rainy season known as the Plum Rains are have reared its gray drippy face。 Just in time to rain for the Dragon Boat national holiday. My original plan of heading down to, previously written about, Mengqing park was thwarted by the steady drizzle that started early early morning and has still not let up. Not a hard rain at all , just constant. My enthusiasm for sitting in the park and watching the dragon boats race down the Suzhou river evaporated as the rains condensed. I was really looking forward to hanging out in the park all day and there was even supposed to be a food street set up with all kinds of delicious food. Street meat , brew, sunshine , trees, and dragon boats , arghghhhhh stupid rains!!!!!

Okay let’s go into some details. Apparently the term “Plum Rains” comes from ancient China , the rains would start every year just around the time the plums were ripe.  When the rains fall on the ripe plums, there follows 40 rainy days. Maybe it’s all made up, but it sounds reasonable and I sure as hell haven’t noticed any amethyst hue to the water. Maybe a slight sludge color from all the air pollution getting pulled out of the sky but that’s it. Haha kidding but the air does seem really fresh right and I am definitely liking that. Anyways , these rains last anywhere from a month to two months or so. I wasn’t yet in Shanghai this time last year so I can’t tell you how long this weather phenomena went on before but I will make note of it for everyone this year. Perfect timing for my parents to arrive, no?

Now we will focus on the parade (or race) that these rains fell upon. The Dragon Boat Festival or 端午节 Duanwu Jie as it’s known in Mandarin occurs every 5th day of every 5th lunar month. This holiday has many different theories about its origins but the most common one I am encountering and the one told to me by a Chinese friend is the story of a poet’s suicide. Supposedly the poet Qu Yuan decided that in the year 273 B.C  he had enough and leaped off in a bridge into water to commit suicide. The villagers raced out in their boats in an attempt to save his life but unfortunately they couldn’t make it in time. They couldn’t help him in life but in death they could. The villagers threw glutinous rice wrapped with bamboo leaves into the water so the fish would eat them and spare Qu Yuan’s corpse.

Due to Chinese influence throughout Asia in ancient as well as modern times the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in Japan , Korea , Vietnam , Singapore , Malaysia , Hong Kong , and Taiwan. On an interesting note, this holiday is a brand new one to China! (the People’s Republic of China that is) You may be wondering ,”how this is possible?” considering how I just stated the ancient roots of this festival. Well due to the pure genius of events occurring after 1949 traditional holidays were ignored in an attempt to… uh well …….. I have no idea. Thankfully though this holiday was reinstated in 2008! Woo hoo! Yes opening up and reform! I have the day off now because of you! Weird to think that during my first visit to China back in 2007 this holiday didn’t exist and now it does again. Kinda cool. Ok folks I’ll leave you with some pictures.


Century Park (世纪公园)

Ah yes another park review , don’t worry everyone there will be plenty more to come! If you find yourself out on the Pudong side of town consider checking out Century Park. This park is a massive green space featuring a gigantic lake in the center. Originally it was named Central Park but the big guys in Beijing decided the name wasn’t aight and it was changed to Century. There are many activities to partake in such as : renting bikes , flying kites , setting up tents , picnics ,paddle boat rental, fishing , and having a dedicated concert area. This is one of the largest urban parks in Shanghai with around 140 hectares in the park itself.If a big music festival comes to Shanghai it’s pretty much guaranteed it will be here. A fantastic sounding (I was slow on getting the info about the concert but people told me it was quite awesome) festival spanning three days with bands from all over the world just happened a few weeks ago.

I know I’ve written about a few parks before but greenery is one of the things I really miss about living in Ohio. Slowly but surely I’ve become accustomed too and have really started to love city life but let me tell you it sure is nice to hop in a car and drive anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to find yourself in a dizzying array for different lush green zones. Lush green zones with dirt trails and few to no other people. Parks here in Shanghai are usually busy and bustling (even during the days those old people are crooning out songs , ballroom dancing, and loudly play card games. The parks are definitely vastly different but still much enjoyed by myself. When I come back to Ohio to visit expect to hang out with pretty much exclusively in the wonderful parks spread out over northeast Ohio.

This is one of the parks in Shanghai where one can find a quite little spot and partially forget where they are. There are some dense patches of trees and flowers where you can’t see any of the ubiquitous skyscrapers that characterize Shanghai , some peaceful sculptured gardens , and we can find examples of Eastern and Western landscapes. One little patch of the park was designed and given as a gift by the city of Montreal. I’m only mentioning this because my roommate is from Montreal and he confirmed that in fact it does remind him a lot of Montreal , kinda cool me thinks. One can spend hours wandering around the paths and checking all the different areas in this park. Enjoy it now before the insanely hot humid summer arrives folks when it can be difficult to drag yourself away from the cemented position on front of the A/C.

I guess I should put out some of other important details about the park , maybe such as how to get there yea? Fortunetly its pretty easy everyone don’t worry. Century Park is located on metro line 2 Century Park station and if you can’t managed to find the park after leaving the metro well its hopeless for you my friend. This metro station is one stop past the Science and Technology Center I wrote about previously, and is very easily walkable from the Science Center. Just go down Century Avenue.  Admission to the park also costs 10 yuan , around a $1.55 USD at the time of writing.

I’ve been to Century Park quite a few times but don’t frequent it so often considering it’s such a long hike from my house via the metro. My pictures from it are from when I just arrived in Shanghai as a traveler with my friend Lindsay , who was visiting me from the U.S.A , at the time. I especially love the fisherman picture with the highrises in the background. Enjoy folks!

MengQing Park 梦清公园

I’m working on a cool places in Shanghai page for this site so I figured today I might as well do a write-up on one of the many places I’ve come to enjoy here. This little gem of a park was a completely accidental find which I located after a little art session at Moganshan Rd. (More on this location later) . MengQing Park (梦清公园 , loosely translated as Green Dreams Park, is located at 66 or 130 Yichang Rd in Putuo district right near the meetings of Jingan and Zhabei districts. (宜昌路66号130号)。 A quick walk from Zhongtan rd on metro lines 3 and 4 , not that far from Changshou rd metro stop on line 7 , and a very quick walk from Moganshan rd art district.

This park is situated on a little peninsula surrounded by the Suzhou river ,where the river flows does a 180 and then drunkenly continues on its meandering path. The Suzhou river still isn’t the cleanest in the world but years ago it was completely and utterly awful. 11 years and a 14 billion yuan (a little over $2 billion USD by today’s exchange rate) has done a lot to swing that around. This park is part of the rehabilitation phase of the river. Before 2003 or so this little jut of land was a factory complex and is now an 8.6 Hectacre patch of green with lots of trees and bamboo!. Part of the river is diverted through a man built series of pools which filters the water through underwater greens and serves to oxygenate and purify the water. Pretty cool use of nature in the middle of the urban jungle. There is also a vast underground storage pool used to collect rainwater and then run it through the filters. Which is also a very good thing cuz well lets face it all that smog in the air gets pulled outta the sky and into the raindrops when the clouds decide to unleash upon us.

Continuing on the theme of being in a concrete jungle one definitely does not forget they are in the middle of a megalopolis. Sitting in the park surrounded by trees one has a great view of blocks of towering 28 story plus apartment buildings. The best time to visit the park is in the evening/early night when the all the apartments are glowing with the lights of their interior residents. The park itself is also lit up with an array of mind-bending color changing light displays. One of the things I really enjoy about China is the everyday light show! Not sure exactly when the park is closed ( ill clarify after a further visit of the park) but it stays open after dark for a while which is quite unlike many parks here in Shanghai.

This is a fantastic place to go to enjoy an intriguing mix of nature and urban , a place to ponder pollution and rehabilitation , also not a bad spot to take some brews and relax taking the light show and trees. With that I will leave you with some photos to enjoy! Hope to see you there!

-RatDawg5 Out