Got out of Shanghai for the first time in 2021 last weekend. Not far though, just to a little island off the coast. You can get there quite conveniently with a combined coach and ferry ticket from Nanpu Bridge tourist coach centre. The ferry actually leaves from another island, Yangshan island, which is home to a huge container port and connected to the mainland by a long sea bridge.
There’s enough small attractions to spend a weekend, including beaches, temples, and a lot of cliffs, which you can see pictures of below. I liked the relaxed style of the little fishing villages.
Eventually I reached the Huangpu river, which I believe is the southern boundary of Minhang district. There’s a small park here called Minhang Riverside Park, which isn’t particularly notable. However the view of the river is dominated by a large single-span suspension bridge. Unfortunately Wikipedia, my usual source of bridge knowledge, failed me on this one. The words on the tower read 闵浦二桥 “MinPu 2nd Bridge”. Some web searching reveals that it was opened to traffic in 2010, the tower is 148 meters tall, and the deck is 40 meters above the water. It’s a rather prosaic concrete structure: they didn’t even bother to paint it. However it is notable for having two decks. The lower deck carries the metro line 5 extension to the Fengxian suburb, the only place the Shanghai metro crosses the Huangpu river above-water. You can just make out a train crossing the bridge in the picture below. They have to drive very slowly for some reason.
Minpu II bridge with metro train crossing
Speaking of metro lines, Shanghai’s brand new line 15 opened just last month and the southern terminus is a few miles from this spot. This line is generating a lot of excitement because all the trains are driverless, like London’s DLR. (Actually Shanghai already had driverless trains on the Pujiang line but it’s so out of the way not many people knew about it.) Obviously I ran straight to the front of the train and stared transfixed at the passing tunnel for the whole journey. I made a short video so you can experience it too.
I’ve got a week off for Chinese new year so it seemed like a good opportunity to go out for a walk. I planned to explore westwards along the Dianpu river which I’d walked before, but I didn’t get very far as the path along the river is intermittent at best and the big roads aren’t pleasant to walk along. So I took a detour to Sijing old town, which I found by chance while looking at the map.
The main attraction is probably Futian temple, a medium-sized Buddhist temple dating from the 18th century. There weren’t many visitors so it was very peaceful, much more so than other temples I’ve visited in China.
Outside the temple
The old town itself has seen better days. I’m not sure if it’s in the process of being demolished or renovated. Anyway most of the buildings are boarded up although there’s a free architecture exhibition that’s worth a look. I actually preferred wandering around here compared to some of the more over-comercialised old towns I’ve been too.
The waterfront view is more attractive
The pagoda was closed too although it seemed operational so that might just be because it’s the new year holiday.
Last weekend I went out for a walk to Minhang sports park, a large green space in the west of Shanghai. Although I’m not sure what qualifies it to be a “sports park” rather than just a regular park. Minhang is the name of this particular suburb.
Minhang sports park
Afterwards I kept walking south to Xinzhuang and then even further south to a part of the city I’ve never visited before.
This area is a bit industrial and there wasn’t much interesting to look at except metro line 5, which I’d never visited before. It’s elevated above the track and has this walking path underneath it at least part of the way.
Paotaiwan wetland park (炮台湾国家湿地公园) is a small nature reserve in Shanghai’s BaoShan district on the southern bank of the Yangtze river. It’s quite peaceful compared to most of the city’s tourist attractions and even on a Sunday afternoon it wasn’t particularly busy. I liked the viewing pier where you can watch the big cargo ships sailing by. You can travel there either on foot or by bus from Shui Chan Road (水产路) station on line 3.
First sight of the Yangtze river
I initially thought the name 炮台湾 (炮 cannon, big gun; 台湾 Taiwan) was an alarming nationalist call to blow up Taiwan with a cannon, but apparently it’s 炮台 “gun emplacement” 湾 “bay”, after the fort that guards the mouth of the Yangtze river, so there you go.
Line 3 has got to be Shanghai’s most iconic metro line. I’ve even seen it featured in some promotional tourist ads. To my knowledge it is the only line to be entirely elevated above the ground and riding on it gives some great views of the city.
But what is it like to walk nearly 26 miles underneath it? Today I can reveal the answer is: a bit dull.
I walked the route over three afternoons which I’ve merged together in the map above.
To my great shame I didn’t make it quite to the end, stopping one station short at Tie Li Road. The last section really wasn’t great for walking being just a sparsely populated industrial area.
The problem is, unlike line 12 which I walked last year, the route doesn’t pass through the city centre or cross the river, and most of the latter half runs parallel to a large noisy highway. So there isn’t much in the way of scenery apart from the elevated concrete structure itself. And you can’t even really see the trains.
But it wasn’t a total loss as I got to visit Baoshan district for the first time. Another tourist attraction there will be the subject of a later post…
I’ve wanted to walk to the Yangtze river for a while now, seeing as it’s only just a bit north of Shanghai. I tried last week but the attempt ended in failure. As I got to the edge of the city I found myself walking through an endless expanse of warehouses and docks, which was not a lot of fun. It also wasn’t obvious if I’d be able to see much once I finally got there so I gave up and went home.
Before the industrial wasteland there was a nice footpath along the Huangpu river. I passed another impressive bridge, the Yangpu bridge. This one is the 38th longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Shanghai really is a great place for bridge spotters.
With China clamping down on imitating foreign architecture of late it seems like a good time to visit Shanghai’s “Thames Town”.
Obligatory red phone box
This isn’t the first time I’ve visited one of these curiosities: back in 2018 I visited Paris-lite in Hangzhou.
Thames Town is way out in the suburb of Songjiang. I decided to make the trip more interesting by walking there from Qixin Road subway station which is at the end of line 12.
The route was surprisingly rural in places. But there was always some apartment complex or tower block visible on the horizon.
Rice fields next to the road
Eventually I got to Songjiang which was once a self-contained town but now merged into the Shanghai suburbs.
Lake in Songjiang
It was getting a bit late by the time I finally reached Thames Town, which limited photo taking opportunities. It’s just on the other side of the lake in the picture above.
Tourist information board!
They’ve done a pretty good job of replicating a generic “English market town”. The houses looked pretty authentic too, although it was hard to get a good look as they all have tall fences around them. I guess the occupants must be pretty annoyed with the number of tourists.