Category: Weekend Trips around Shanghai

Obstacle race through a bamboo forest in Moganshan

Obstacle race through a bamboo forest in Moganshan

Last weekend a large group of mostly archery people took part in an obstacle race through the bamboo forests of Moganshan. We rented a bus to get there, and I guess it was just as much about having a fun weekend with friends, as it was about the race.

All of us signed up for an elite mode of the race, which meant we were being timed and had to do a punishment of 50 jumping squats for every obstacle we could not do. It was me who convinced our tiny friend Marlyn to sign up for the race and the elite mode, so I felt a bit responsible helping her make it through the race.

Just three days before the event, I cut my finger badly while cooking, so I could not take the race too seriously anyway. First, I did not want to do the obstacles at all and I thought about just running along and being the camera man of the group. After protecting my finger with bandages, a finger condom from Japan, a latex and a workout glove, I felt comfortable enough doing it anyway.

Marlyn and I still stayed behind the group, took it easy, and tried to give our best at the obstacles. We had to stop once to take pictures with the track guards, that is most likely why our time wasn’t that great in the end.

We made it! In the end, we were much faster than anticipated, made it through almost all the obstacles (except Monkey Bars for me, where I tell myself the finger is to blame, and Archery for Marlyn, where she clearly does not have any excuse at all).

The others were exceptionally fast, I think we had a handful of people placing in the Top 10 of the whole race. I do not have any pictures of them running, since it took me almost twice as long 🙂

Moganshan 2.0

Moganshan 2.0

There was an obstacle race in Moganshan last weekend, so we went with a big group of people from archery. Before anyone gets confused: No, I didn’t compete in the race, I was just along for the ride 🙂

Our group consisted of 26 people and 2 dogs and we had a fun weekend. This is part of our very international crew:

We got to Moganshan at 11:30 on Friday night after a 4 hour bus ride. The race took place on Sunday so Saturday we used for hiking, swimming and eating. Sadly it rained almost the whole day so the hike through the bamboo forest was very slippery. I may or may not have slipped several times and fallen on my butt …

In the afternoon we headed over to “Naked Stables”, a beautiful resort, where we had a barbecue and could use the pools. It was still raining a lot but the place was really nice. If we had an unlimited vacation budget, I’d definitely like to stay there for a couple of nights. And no one was naked, in case anyone was wondering 😉

While a big part of the group, the “elite mode” guys, went to the race Sunday morning, I hung out with the other “fun mode” people. The weather was much better (it didn’t rain until lunch) so we walked to a little coffee shop with a nice view over the bamboo hills. After another barbecue with everyone we got back on the bus to Shanghai. Not pictured: The party on Friday and Saturday night. You’ll just have to imagine that part 🙂

If anyone is wondering about the details of the race, Thorben will cover that part of the trip 🙂 Here are the race finishers from our group:

Moganshan: Bamboo, bamboo and more bamboo

Moganshan: Bamboo, bamboo and more bamboo

Last weekend it was outing time! Our company here gives each employee a budget and an extra day off to go on a trip, aka the outing, with coworkers. Thorben’s department always does something pretty fancy:  Japan last year and Vietnam this year – I’m still bugging him to finish his blog post. My department wanted to take it a bit easier so we stayed in China. Our destination was Moganshan, which is a 3-hour drive from Shanghai.

Moganshan or Mount Mogan is both the name of the mountain and the village we spent 2 1/2 days in. Our hotel was located on the edge of the town and – as everything in this area – was surrounded by bamboo. Besides lunch and dinner we didn’t have any planned group activities. The weekend can be summed up in a few words: Relaxing, reading, hiking and eating. Many of my coworkers brought their spouses and kid(s), so you could also call it “31 Chinese and Marina in a bamboo forest.” 🙂

On Saturday and Sunday we got quite a bit of rain, so when I ventured outside the air was pretty misty. I joined some colleagues on a little hike to a waterfall on Saturday and then on a bigger one through the bamboo forest and up the hill for some good views on Sunday. Sadly, just because there is bamboo doesn’t mean there are pandas. They prefer a different he climate, so I’ll have to wait a bit longer to see some.

Monday morning we had beautiful weather but unfortunately our bus already picked us up at 10:30am. I took advantage of the sunshine for as long as I could and took lots of pictures. If anyone asks, that’s what Moganshan looked like the entire time 🙂

Overall, it was a very relaxing weekend (especially after all the kids returned to Shanghai Sunday after lunch 🙂 ) in beautiful surroundings.

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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