Apr 2, 2011 at 2:11 am #1271575
Griffith WilliamsBPL Member
I recently moved to Shanghai and would love to go on day hikes or weekend trips, but don't know where to go. If anyone knows any areas or trips I could go on, I would live to hear about it.
Anywhere around Shanghai would be great. I'm also working on getting my local driving license. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to travel by car to get into some nature.
I've been looking online and haven't found much. If anyone has suggests or knows of resources where I could find trips in the area I would appreciate it a lot.
Thanks!Apr 2, 2011 at 10:47 am #1718884
Not exactly "around" Shanghai, but certainly do-able as a weekend trip — check out Huangshan.Apr 2, 2011 at 11:23 am #1718909
I wouldn't consider it as a "nature hike " but Tiger Hill outside of Suzhou is very impressive in its own way . The sight of wild white cranes over pines is after all the symbol of longevity. Suzhou's gardens are first class and many other water towns in the area like Tongli are less crowded . That said, people from Shanghai flood both Suzhou and Hangzhou on the weekend since the trains are so fast now. What kind of hiking do you wish to do? Do you subscribe to the Oriental List run by Peter Neville Hadley?Apr 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm #1718957
Prolly off topic, but in case OP is interested in Chinese gardens — but without the maddening crowd — go to Yangzhou instead:Apr 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm #1718988
Ben: I fully agree. The Slender West Lake is far superior to Hangzhou largely because it hasn't been rebuilt. I'm convinced that some of the stone grotto work in Y was done by the greatest rockery builder in China-he did the rockery at the Silk Institute in Suzhou. How did you happen to go and how did you travel? We had to connect via taxi from Y to Nanjing but there was rumor that eventually the train would go there . We spent 4 days in Y.Apr 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm #1719023
I took the train from Nanjing to Yangzhou and back. An easy day trip. Shanghai is farther away, but with the fast trains nowadays, that shouldn't be a problem at all.
My China travel was done in 2009 as part of my RTW trip. Out of the seven month total, I spent 3 in China alone. Lots and lots of train rides. Totally unexpected, but my favorite areas were the non-Han areas such as Tibet and the far west portion of Xinjiang (Kashi or Kashgar). But within the Han areas, little Yangzhou turned out surprisingly enjoyable. :)
What about your trip? When, where, and duration? Highlights? Lowlights?Apr 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm #1719029
Thanks Ben. I'm glad to hear that that train connection exists now : I hope to go again.Yangzhou is great-low key , cheap , not on the Western radar . We were there in Winter . One thing that I really like -the Chinese tourists loved to ride around in the boats with the singing boat girls which kept them off of many of the pathways. I swore though that the drivers were the craziest I'd ever seen. Each cab ride the drivers would routinely take the left lane then the right -ALL the drivers were doing it -like playing Chicken all the time. Tibet was not open when we were there. Xinjiang was pretty good. Urumqi was pretty strange , but the desert and mountains are something to see.Apr 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm #1719047
Oh as to when we were there -a solid year in 2004, and 4 months in 2002. Both were part of my wife's sabbatical research in Mandarin Immersion and directing a student program at The University of the Minorities in Beijing. That's in Haidian which I much prefer over Chaoyang. This is about when the back lakes were getting too trendy and before they really started wiping out the hutongs for the Olympics. We spent most of out time in Beijing and Z trained when we could . Trips to Xi'an, Dali, Liajang-The Stone Forest was pretty interesting. Since gardens are my thing we spent 3 weeks at different times around Suzhou and I sought out gardens everywhere I went. Pingyao was impressive . I'm sure it is hyper-drive now. Luoyang and the Shaolin Temple before it got reconstructed. Qingdao is well worth seeing Lots or Western Architecture , especially German stuff with Chinese stuff merged with it like Bladerunner in real life . We combined it with Weifang and the Kite Museum – I have a real interest in Folk Art. I spent lots of time bargaining in Antique markets. A friend Margaret Duda taught me Chinese Silver over a visit Day trips out of Beijing were good Chengde especially and outlying Temples like The Temple of the Pool and Mulberry . Chuan Di Xia is worth an overnight trip. On a daily basis China wears you down , but overall I really like being there. My daughter is hoping to go next year before starting college. We're hoping she studies at the same University we were at. And I really want to see the new I. M. Pei Suzhou Museum . American Master's did a program on it -worth watching, but so far not released as a DVD.Apr 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm #1719054
Fascinating! I did not have enough time to visit the NE at all — so good to read off your notes above. :)
Curious have you visited Taiwan? If not, then highly, highly recommend it. Ditto for Griffith as well — whose thread we have hijacked!Apr 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm #1719084
Taiwan. No, not yet . And my wife went a few years ago for a conference . The Museum with all of the paintings was/is being redone so she was unable to see much of the collection.That is a priceless collection and for me would be a major draw. That and the indigenous areas and the Street Food. One of these years! Sure we hijacked it , but at least he got some advice . I really wonder about his remark about driving. You can't rent cars in China, and I sure wouldn't want to drive around Shanghai!Apr 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm #1719095
And then there are the places we never got to Jiuzhai Gou . China's Yellowstone . At the time flying was an option . The road was said to some of the worst traffic in China. But surreal country. And I wanted to go to Zigong, the Lantern Capital of China and home to the major Dinosaur museum.Ben I think you'd like The Oriental-list. Lots of accurate advice on how to avoid the touristy places and to see what's left of the countryside.Apr 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm #1719098
To me, Taiwan's two biggest drawing cards:
1. Just about the warmest and most hospitable people anywhere. Imagine a people eager to help strangers — imagine no line jumping, pushing or shoving — and definitely no disgusting guttural-clearing sounds and spitting!!
2. It's where traditional Chinese customs and values live on — woven exquisitely with the modern. You won't see ticket booths in front of antiseptic temples staffed with uniformed employees trying to sell you incense sticks. What you will see instead are vibrant temples crowded with worshipers — the kind of scene you get only in places where religion is an integral part of people's every day lives.
And yes, the natural beauty and the food are also top drawers. :)
SAD , but traveling to Taiwan will also give you an appreciation of just how so very much of traditional Chinese culture and customs have been destroyed by the communists. That's the reason why I wrote above that I enjoyed Tibet and the western fringes of Xinjiang more. Unfortunately, the government is hell bent on "modernizing" those remaining cultural bits as well.Apr 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm #1719102
You just sold me. I love real temples , Buddhist , Taoist , even the Yellow Sect. To not be exposed to the usual Street Hassle would be novel. Spitting? Every 10 feet. And signs in the parks showing " No Pitting" ! Some things are worse than Spitting.Apr 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm #1719107
Except for temples in Tibet, I never saw "real" temples in China. But I have a feeling that Tibetans would protest at what I wrote. Their temples were a lot more real prior to the 1950's!!
My grandfather was a Buddhist. When he passed, the family paid for the monks to chant prayers. This was, of course, not much different from churches or mosques the world over, which all accept "donations" heartily. But what was different was this: during the "solemn" chanting ritual — in full view of us the family — an "accountant" monk went around giving each monk his stash of cash. And each monk in turn would stop his "solemn" chant to count the cash before stashing the wad into his pocket. It was unseemly, to say the least. But to the monks, it was just another day at work.Apr 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm #1719108
The unholy temple I described above is the Jing An Temple in Shanghai. You should go for a look see. That temple has expanded at least ten-fold since the 1980's. Somebody's doing something "right", I suppose.Apr 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm #1719122
The tip-offs for real Temples are ill people or distraught people clearly bowing before altars . Deities covered with cloths to hide their usually ferocious aspects. Apprentice monks practicing their calligraphy or swabbing the floors. No interest in you as a tourist. Outrage if you try to take pictures of Deities. This is not to say that these things can't be super-imposed over touristy sites that are running both ways. Then there are the mystical elements. You are setting a Buddhist bird free and pay the price but it is just like a homing pigeon. The Taoists are far more free form than the Buddhists. The Tibetans, well if you read accounts of the early accounts of the Llama Temple in Beijing they had quasi -human figures stuffed like jelly-donuts for certain ceremonies. When you look at the deities there and atop Beihai Park these are bloody deities also into ecstatic union with the godhood.On the other hand not great for the Llamas who endured travels for the Empresses birthdays and died enroute As to the visible payoff sounds very Buddhist . Or Christian except the bill is after the funeral dinner.Apr 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm #1719365
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
I just got back from a business trip to Shanghai & Suzhou. I was amazed how populated and urdanized that area is. I'm told that a smoggy haze is standard there, and it's all I saw. Hard to believe that there are pretty areas to hike. That said, I saw no graffiti.
TomApr 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm #1719553
Griffith WilliamsBPL Member
Hey John and Ben,
Thanks for all the comments, I wasn't expecting to get so much info so quickly. Also glad its turned into a travels around China thread. I have list of weekend trips I would like to take and it's always good to get more info. Let me try to reply…
I signed up for Oriental List. I hadn't heard of it before so I'll check it out.
Thanks for suggesting Yangzhou. I went on a weekend trip to Hangzhou a few weeks ago. It was a nice trip, but crowds everywhere. I'll have to try out Yangzhou one weekend. I've never been to Huangshan, but have wanted to check it out too. Is it possible to do in one weekend? I always assumed I would need to take a few days off to see it. I know it's a long shot, but do you think it would be possible to camp in Huangshan?
I'm also interested in Moganshan. It's about an hours drive from Hangzhou. I heard there are some pretty areas to hike there. I need to look into it more.
About driving – you can rent cars now. I know Avis has rentals here, and there are also some local rental companies too. I haven't looked into it too deeply. The catch is you need a local license to drive and to rent a car. US and international licenses are not recognized. I'm in the process of getting my local license. Basically, it's a lot of document gathering and procedure. It's also not friendly to non-chinese speakers. There is a good description on how to do it here. Just note the location has changed to 1330 Ha Mi road. http://www.shanghaihalfpat.com/convert-to-china-driving-license/
I have checked out Jing'an temple and I agree with you. I don't know if you have been back recently, but the shopping mall attached the back of the temple is almost complete. It's a shame.
Tom – you are right about smoggy haze, but that just makes me want to get out of SH and go on a camping trip or hike even more.Apr 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm #1719627
If you can go to Yangzhou during the week, so much the better. But even while there will be more people in the weekends, it should still be a lot less packed then Hangzhou and Suzhou. In Yangzhou, the two gardens are the famous Slender West Lake and Ge Yuan. Then there is the heavily rebuilt but still kind of nice and atmospheric Da Ming temple complex — with an fairly OK veggie restaurant. Within the town itself, there is a small but interesting museum of old Chinese beds. Many are wonderfully carved.
I assume you are familiar with Lonely Planet guidebooks? They have a good travelers forum — a treasure trove for info. re. places to see, things to do, and logistics.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.