Posted by: daradoodle | October 21, 2008

Chongming Island (崇明县)

Somehow, I’ve always managed to live near an ocean. I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, lived in Manhattan, which is an island, and for the past five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, a hop, skip, and a jump from the Pacific Ocean. Once again, I find myself residing in a coastal city. The water source is the East China Sea and I was excited to learn that there is an extension of Shanghai just 45 minutes away via ferry called Chongming Island (崇明县). Some friends and I decided to make the trek to China’s third largest island during the National Holiday to see if the scenery was different from that of municipal Shanghai.

Poppy and I took the metro from Fudan to People’s Square where we met up with Kerstin. The three of us hooked up with Xing, Dave and Xing’s sister at the alleged bus stop that would take us to the ferry. Upon arrival, we learned that the bus had been canceled a few months prior, so we opted to take a cab to the port since it was nearly noon. Thirty minutes and 78 元 later, we found ourselves at the harbor.

There are many signs in China that are roughly translated to English. This one near the loading dock gave me a good laugh…

Purchasing the tickets went smoothly and we even got a student discount. For 28 元, we were given an assigned seat on the lower deck of the ferry. Once the boat started moving, Dave ventured to the upper level and noticed that there were many empty seats and the windows had a better view of outside. The six of us moved to the upper level and as soon as we got comfortable, a boat attendant came over and told us that we needed to pay 6 元 extra to sit in our new seats and the guy sitting behind us agreed. Being that there were plenty of empty seats, we thought that it was a bit ridiculous to pay extra, so we made the walk of shame back downstairs to the lower level.

Me, Xing & Dave

Me, Xing & Dave

Poppy, Xing's sis & Kerstin

Poppy, Xing's sis & Kerstin

As soon as we arrived on the island, I suggested that we purchase our return ferry tickets. Remember, it is the National Holiday and many people travel during this time. Assured by members of our group (who will remain nameless!) that we would be able to buy tickets when we were ready to leave, I was still a bit leery, but decided to throw my “planner” ways to the wind and just go with the flow.

Ferry arriving at Chongming Island.

We ate lunch then walked a few blocks to the Chongming Confucius Temple. This was the third temple I had been to and it appeared more rundown and primitive than the others. Upon entering the main gate, we were greeted by Confucius’s four disciples lining the sidewalk, two on each side, leading to a statute of Confucius himself. Have a look…

Chongming Confucius Temple

Chongming Confucius Temple

One of Confucius’s disciples

Group photo outside of the temple. (Not pictured: Poppy, she took the pic)

And here’s another one of those funny Chinese signs that I found on the grounds of the temple…

"Please speak Mandarin (aka common speech)" Rightttt....

After the temple, we walked through a park where couples were taking wedding photos. I see this every weekend along with cars that are decorated fancy. Love, love.

The path we walked along brought us to a seawall where we sat, listened to the waves and snapped some group photos.

Xing, me, Xing's sis, Kerstin & Dave

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to venture to the National Forest Park on the opposite side of the island, but we did have time to jaunt around a residential area. Just as a light sprinkle of rain began to fall, we stumbled upon an eerie, but interesting looking gravesite.

The time was 4:30 PM, so we started to make our way back to the port to purchase our return tickets. We arrived to find a massive queue of people waiting to do the same. As we worked our way to the message boards displaying departure times, not to my surprise, the tickets for our boats were SOLD OUT! I had already made plans for the evening to meet with my U.S. friend Aaron visiting from Beijing, so I had to get back to Shanghai A.S.A.P.

We learned that there was another ferry headed to a port different from the one that we had departed, and although we didn’t know exactly where that port was located in Shanghai, we joined the queue for tickets. An hour and nearly a heart attack later, we made a successful purchase from the window. The ferry ride back was an hour and half and extremely crowded. The boat docked in an industrial area I had never seen before. After being bombarded by motorcycle taxis and random people wanting to give us rides in their mini-vans, Poppy, Kerstin and I hopped in a cab to take us back to the dorm. The ride set us back a pricey 100 kaui, but it was still cheaper than spending a night on Chongming Island. I quickly cleaned up and jumped on the metro to meet Aaron for a night on the town.

No one tears up a town up like Aaron. He had the whole evening planned with multiple destinations. I met him sitting with a large group of friends at destination #1, Cotton’s, an awesome outdoor candle lit lounge that reminds me of New Orleans with it’s Colonial main house. Destination #2 was Studio 78, a hip-hop lounge that we were only at for one drink before moving to destination #3.

A few weeks prior, Dave, Paul and myself were at the Captain’s Hostel rooftop bar when I noticed off in the distance an estblishment as high off the ground as we were with large windows that masked faint flickers of candle light. It looked as though it could be a nice restaurant or lounge. I thought to myself, I have to figure out how to get to this place. Well, turns out, it was destination #3! Glamour Bar is an upscale lounge, or what I like to call a “fancy-shmancy” place, with high ceilings, wood floors, dim light, nice wine selection and good music. I’ll definitely go back to this place. We capped the night off with destination #4 (I told you Aaron tears the city up!), Shanghai’s newest gay hot spot, Club D2. If there’s one thing I love, it’s gay clubs. I haven’t been to a gay club in a quite a while and as soon as I walked through the door, I remembered why I love gay clubs so much. See for yourself…

Aaron looks happy!

The fog in the club was so thick, my camera couldn't focus!

Upstairs at Club D2

Aaron, Me & Kim

Aaron, Me & Kim

We danced around on the main floor before making our way upstairs to the bar/lounge area. The only destination after that was my bed, so I hopped in a cab back to the dorm where the cabbie proceeded to have a broken English discussion with me about Obama. I cannot think of a better way to put an end to my first National Holiday in China.

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