Shanghai has 440 km of subway lines taking city-goers from the suburban wastelands all the way in the western parts of Puxi to the airport that touches the eastern coastline in Pudong. For those hoping to get a taste of all things Shanghai – whether it is the ritziest parts of the French Concession or a mountain hike in the outskirts of the city – the 9 line is a good place to begin these explorations.
The adventures began during our first weekend of GAF training, through a walking tour. We got off the Xiaonanmen stop and were able to explore the slums, an outdoor fabric market, and a ferry ride across the Huangpu.
Another day, we ventured around Tianzifang, a shikumen style pedestrian neighborhood turned tourist hub in the French Concession right off the Dapuqiao stop of line nine.
But the most exciting adventures were in the form of two day trips – one to the water town called Qibao and the other for a mountain hike in an area called Sheshan.
Qibao is great for those wanting to:
1) see some really cool pagodas
2) experience a smaller version of a water town
3) have your clothes smell like stinky tofu for the rest of the day
4) sit on golden rooftops of temples
5) buy a holographic image of China’s most famous leaders for 25 kuai
Qibao is also great for those NOT wanting to:
1) pay an entrance fee to a water town
2) sit on a bus forever to get to a water town
3) get completely away from the city
4) tour a bunch of random museums
5) feel guilty when they buy a holographic image of China’s most famous leaders for 25 kuai
The other adventure was to Sheshan, which is quite a trek outside of the city. We explored this place one afternoon when the temperatures reached 40+ degrees Celsius. Seemed like a great idea when we were sitting in the comfort of AC – when I was swimming in my sweat, I questioned the logic of this trip.
Overall, though, Sheshan was a great way of exploring a place that was “just so Chinese.”
There was a random theme park with about seven roller coaster rides. There was a really random sculpture garden with fake sculpture people swimming around in the manmade lake right next to the manmade mountain with a manmade church on top of it.
We hiked. It was death. But then there was a woman with ice cold water and strawberry popsicles at the top of the mountain. For an hour and a half subway ride each way, a bus ride, an ice cold water, a popsicle, and entrance fee into the church, I paid 20 kuai (the same amount of money for a grande iced coffee at Starbucks…) which was PROBABLY the most exciting part of the whole trip. Gotta love living on the cheap!
So while we have been swamped with training sessions these past few weeks, we have still been able to explore a lot of Shanghai. Here’s to hoping there are lots more adventures in the next nine and a half months, both in Shanghai and China and Asia as a whole.