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.

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

and

259 Jiashan Lu

 

Cat Cafe Bliss

I’d heard before of the Cat Cafe idea being popular in Tokyo, Japan. Space restraints of apartments  and anti-pet leases kept people from enjoying kitties. Also Japan loves cute things. Hence the idea of paying money to sit in a cafe loaded with cute fuzzy beasts.

I was surprised when a google search turned up a few different cat cafes in Shanghai.

I set out on a mission to the nearest one from my house.

Fortunately it’s located at #1 Taiyuan Lu , right in the heart of the former French Concession, and a short bike ride from my house.

Pulling up on bikes there is no immediate indication that there is a cafe here. Only upon a little closer inspection does one see the a small little buzzer, with a small piece of paper with little cat pictures and some Japanese words  surrounding it, around the buzzer.

It’s a like a secret little club for cat lovers. Or the lair of a crazy old cat woman.

“Can I come in and stroke your kitty?”

Ring the buzzer and then a minute later a Japanese lady opens the door , peaks out, says “Konichiwa!” , and hands you some slippers to wear. Whoa.

She leads you through a residential hallway  up a flight of stairs and voila there you are, in her house turned cat cafe paradise! It’s a low lit large living room with cushions on the floor , small tables resting on the floor , cat towers, a shelf of cat paraphernalia , loads of cat toys , three kittens , and three big fat lazy cats.

A menu is handed over and then sticker shock kicks in. The cheapest drink of the lot is 58 or 68 rmb ( a little under $10USD to a little over $10) , and that’s for the simplest coffee , the tea my girlfriend choose hit the wallet for 100 rmb ( like $15!). Although we did get two deliciously dense and moist brownies and a plate of cookies for free.  Imported Tokyo cat cafe concept at Tokyo imported prices. Yikes! But you know what? It’s totally worth it. The place isn’t really about the drinks and although they have wi-fi it’s not a good place to get work done , it’s all about kitties! Get a 58-68 rmb coffee and play with the cats for an hour and a half. Or should I say , play with the kittens and watch the fat lazy cats power nap for the entire time.

The owner is super nice and definitely not a lonely, crazy , old cat lady.  For about half the time we shared the room with a family and two other ladies who were all relaxing and laughing at the kittens antics.

I have my membership card now ( every 50rmb spent earns a sticker towards 20 stickers and then a gift is given) and when I feel like entering this secret cat haven tucked away, I will be back.

Cat Cafe Bliss – #1 Taiyuan Rd. 

Fam Fam Travels

I can split this seasons travels into 4 distinct phases:

Phase 1 – Travels with the Fam Fam

Phase 2 – Me n’ Oblivs Yunnan Adventure

Phase 3- Solo Lost in Laos

Phase 4- Back to Shanghai for Will I Aren’t and Man Man

Phase 1 was an ambitious romp hitting up some of China’s most well-worn tourist spots. The 12 day journey included wandering around Shanghai , visiting the charming canals of Suzhou , chillaxing by Hangzhou’s West Lake , jetting over to Xi’an to scope out the Terracotta warriors, and ending the trip taking in the wonders of Beijing. I’ve already been to Xi’an , Suzhou , Hangzhou , Beijing, and well I live in Shanghai so it might not seem the most interesting trip for me but I went to Suzhou , Hangzhou , and Suzhou the first time I came to China , almost 4 years ago already back when I had no knowledge of Chinese and no idea what to expect. Re-visiting all these cities were fantastic and this time I had freedom of movement unlike with the pre-packaged tour of last time.

It’s such a weird feeling waiting at the airport for people to arrive whom you haven’t seen for a long time , especially when those people aren’t just mere people but your family! Every grey hair I saw start to come out of customs my heart would leap at the thought of pops coming through with family in town. I hadn’t seen the fam fam in around a year and a half and was really excited to see what they thought about my newly adopted country.

Shanghai was a great time and we visited all the typical tourist spots although I did make it to a couple of attractions I had never visited before. I also still have not yet made it to any of the museums, this will change one of these days. The typical places to make sure you see during a visit to Shanghai include the Bund to take in the view of the old colonial front on the river and compare it to the towering , looming , new neon play world of skyscrapers that exists on the Pudong side of things. A walk down the pedestrian street of Nanjing Rd , a stroll through the leafy shady French concession area, hitting up Yu Gardens and the hectic market place and old street , observing the kinda sad animal and bird market , a trip to trendy Tianzifang for dinner and a drink , and finally the two new ones for me ; Jing An Temple , and scaling to the 101st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC).

More on those later but first a quick note. It’s weird to be a tourist in one’s own city again. Like I didn’t want to be whipping out my camera at everything , gawking at everything , and generally like a lost fool. I’ve acquired this kind of superior smugness when I see tourists in Shanghai. Hahaha , look at them with their maps and guidebooks , how do you get to the Bund??? mwhahaha , idiot idiot you stick the metro card in here when you leave the station! I’ve been in Shanghai a little over a year now and I know my way around Shanghai pretty well and it feels good to have familiarity with such a mammoth beast.

Ok , I’m going to do write-ups of the things to do in Shanghai in my Cool places in SH post so don’t worry about those yet , only so much time ya know but for now I will give impressions of the two new places I visited here with the fam fam. Jing’An temple is a huge metro stop /shopping area/food area with a golden temple smack dab in the middle. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in area and often switch from metro like 7 to 2 here but never have I visited the interior of the temple. It’s not a fantastically huge temple but the architecture is really worth checking out. The wooden carvings are absolutely stunning. You don’t need much time here but a quick look around is worth it. Another feature of the temple which I quite enjoy is that this amazing temple is surrounded by towering glass edifices. From the interior of the temple you can see a giant building wide sized video screen playing advertising. The temple has been at that location since 1247ad and only the last 20 years has seen all this modernity surrounded it.

Next site up is the SWFC. Now this is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Shanghai. It’s a bit pricey coming in at 150 to go to the top 101st floor. This building is (currently) China’s tallest buildings and (currently) the world’s third tallest building. It does proudly feature the world’s tallest observation deck so hah take that Burj Khalifa! But already Shanghai has plans to build a taller one and construction has started on the new NYC World trade center and Saudi Arabia’s insanely (almost 1km) tall Freedom Tower. The whole interior is done up in a hip way with pulsating lights , trippy graphics , and jazz music. The view from the top is mind-bogging. Go up at night-time to be treated to an intense view of the kaleidoscopic neon heaven that is Shanghai.

Okay good for now. Next post will detail the quick trip to Suzhou , we only had a day there and it rained the entire time but is a very cool place. A bit more relaxing than Shanghai if you can ever use that word to describe Shanghai haha.

Science and Technology Museum

Last Friday ( my off day) took me to meet up with a friend to see an Imax movie at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and take a visit to Century Park (世纪公园).  The center is located in Pudong on metro line 2 at the appropriately named “Shanghai Science and Technology Museum” metro stop. The original plan was foiled by time limitations and a late arriving friend. So instead we decided to tour the Science Center. It’s a pretty cool place with some interesting exhibits but in terms of interactivity and fun things it doesn’t match up to the Cleveland Science Center I’m so familiar with. There were a few good interactive exhibits like a robot that plays a game involving setting stones on a board , and a face that interacts with visitors by getting them to do various things. Cooler if you can understand Chinese and what it asks of you ( like me hehe). Exhibits include Spectrum of Life , Earth Exploration , Cradle of Life , World of Robots , Information Age , Light of Exploration , and Space Navigation to name a few. The center also features an Imax theater , a 4-d theater , Imax 3d , and a planetarium. Entrance to the museum costs 60 kuai and Imax movies range from 30-40 kuai depending on 3-d or not. My favorite things about the center are the Imax theater and the Earth exhibits. The game playing robot was also very cool. The museum is something to check out once and the Imax movies are good to go see. After checking out the exhibits we ducked out of the museum and hung out in the big plaza outside of the museum.

The plaza is a good open site surrounded by pools of water. Skaters , rollerbladers , kite flyers , and touts come to congregate and hang out. Underneath the plaza as part of the metro system has a great fake goods market , where you can buy clothes, wallets , software , and various assorted things. Bargain hard here. They start super high and as a foreigner dawg you get especially high prices. 400 kuai start for a fake billabong hoodie later reduced to 100 kuai (which is still probably expensive) I hate bargaining!

So everybody go check out the science center , the  Imax theater , and then after take the quick walk to Century Park or hop on the metro to go one stop further. I will write about that amazing place another time. PEACE RATATAT.

 

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