Category: Weekend Trips around Shanghai

Zhujiajiao – an ancient Chinese water town

Zhujiajiao – an ancient Chinese water town

The ancient water town

This weekend we took a trip to an ancient water town just outside of Shanghai. It’s called 朱家角 [Zhūjiājiǎo] and is 1,700 years old. We went there together with our friend Pearl from Taiwan and her friend, who is a Shanghai local. Although it is a rather touristy place, it was not too crowded.

Zhūjiājiǎo is famous for its many rivers and bridges, and there are historical buildings like a post office from the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty before the foundation of the Republic of China.

Some people call it Shanghai’s Venice and indeed, there are many boats you can take around town. We spent the whole day walking in one direction, and then took the boat to get back to the car.

We also visited a Daoist temple. The wooden structures of the temple have been built without using any nails or screws – just wooden connectors. It must have been one big puzzle!

Local food and another tea ceremony

When we had lunch, Marina and I didn’t even try to order after one glance at the menu – no pictures or translations. Instead, our local friends ordered specialties and their favorites. We had green pepper beef, eels, chicken, fried pork, sweet lotus, and some vegetable dishes on the side.  It was all very tasty and spicy. We had to get used to the looks of it, but we were happy to get a real taste of the local food.

In the afternoon, we went to a tea place in an ancient building, and had delicious tea. This time it was less ‘ceremonial’, since everyone had their own tea, but we still followed the basic rules: clean and flush, very short brews, repeat.

This time I had Taiwanese Oolong Tea, tea that is a little more fermented than green tea.

Even more food

The week before, we had dinner at a Kantonese restaurant. For the first time, we ate a dish that tasted like something you would get in a Chinese restaurant outside of China as well: It was a fried pork with sweet and sour sauce, usually not a very common combination in Shanghai. We also had milk tea and tried different dim sums that the friend who took us there recommended.

On Saturday, after we got back from Zhūjiājiǎo we also tried what can be best described as fried dumplings. It was the most delicious street food I’ve ever had! It was a recommendation by our Shanghainese friend. The place was small, packed and in a street far off any metro station, so we would have never found it on our own.

[Edit by Marina: And as a Swabian, I just have to mention that 4 big dumplings were only 7 RMB, around 1€! Even more reason to go back! 🙂]

My first Chinese tea ceremony

My first Chinese tea ceremony

Linhai and its historic city center

In the historic city center of Linhai we found a place that obviously sold tea and everything you need for a traditional tea ceremony. When we entered the store, two Chinese guys invited us for their ceremony. What sounds like the start of the standard tourist scam in Shanghai, was a very nice gesture in Linhai. At the end we spend almost an hour there, drinking ten year old Pu’Erh tea. We talked about tea and the perfect way to prepare it.

In case you were wondering, here is how you make the perfect Pu’Erh tea:

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Hiking in remote Chinese mountains

Hiking in remote Chinese mountains

Wanderlust

This weekend I was invited by a colleague to join him on a hiking trip. I didn’t  really know what I was getting into, he let me choose the trip based on pictures on some Chinese website. I did, and we ended up on a bus to I still don’t know what it is called exactly. There is no English translation or anything remotely helpful on Google. It was a mountainous area somewhere around a six hour bus ride from Shanghai, the closet summit with a name is called Kuocang Shanmai. I was the only 老外 [lǎowài] in the group and only few others spoke English.

We started our trip in Shanghai at 7 in the morning and were ready to hike around noon. In the worst heat of the day. I didn’t bring much equipment, and I was lucky to have enough room for loads of water. Since the airfreight hasn’t arrived yet, I didn’t have much to chose from anyway, and ended up wearing running shoes and shorts.

Some Germans I met in Shanghai the night before told me that I’d be alright. The Chinese tend to make every mountain peak very accessible. “There will be stairs”, they told me. Well, there weren’t. Our hike lead us through very green and beautiful paths, every once in a while super steep and rocky, with magnificent view points along the way. Everything you can wish for on a hike. If it weren’t for the heat, mosquitoes, ticks and leeches. Lucky me, wearing t-shirt and shorts.

We had three guides,

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