By now, I have logged quite a few Shanghai routes on my everytrail page. So its time to start sharing a couple more ( for others: check out this category tag) on my blog. Specifically routes that substantiate in various ways my claim that this city is eminently runnable, and great to explore running.
This half marathon length route, starting in ‘green city’ (Pudong, Jinqiao), the upmarket residential area that I live, takes a faster and more diverse route to the great Huangpu river than the big Pudong circuit that I posted earlier, and more of the fascinating old industrial neighborhoods at the Puxi side (Yangpu).
This route is my prime suggestion for anyone starting in Pudong, looking for this distance, and wanting to get most diversity and the best feel for what Shanghai can offer. Yes, it doesn’t take in the Bund, no French concession, etc. but I know of no better combi of old and new, much of it off the beaten track even for most local expats, and stunningly traffic-free or traffic-light for near all of it.
The route includes two ferry crossing, one on a fascinating stretch of river that is full of shipwharfs (a.o. CSSC) and big vessels, military and commercial, moored. It includes four neighborhood parks, a good 2k of river promenade, more than one km of 1980s residential compounds, and approx. 5 to 6km of shikumen alleys, four street markets and two renovated factory complexes (Shanghai Fashion Centre and one housing art & design businesses), a couple of great pieces of art in public space, a small photo exhibit documenting the changes of Lujiazui over the last 25 years, close up views of the three dominant skyscrapers of the financial district, and of the largest bridge crossing the Huangpu (the Yangpu bridge, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges worldwide), and plenty else.
The route has different attractions during different parts of the days, the markets streets being liveliest early/mid-morning, the Shanghai Fashion Centre only opening at 11AM (10 in the weekends), and the parks following a circadian rhythm of their own. And I have to repeat, because it is so utterly unexpected, I mean we’re talking one of the largest cities on earth and we’re definitely not talking suburbs: maybe only 10% of the whole route has traffic, the rest is traffic free or has only electric motorbikes and bicycles. And the running along streets with traffic is mostly on broad, often tree-shaded sidewalks.
The only caveat: even with the gps track of this route downloaded onto your garmin (can be done from the everytrail site) it wouldn’t always be easy to find the right alley entrances, and you might sometimes feel (wrongly) that you’re intruding into private space. It took me many many exploration outings to figure out the nicest possible route, many dead ends, many let’s try-that-one-next-time kinda return visits. And on top of that the cityscape is changing continuously (e.g. some of the shikumen neighborhoods are in the process of being dismantled).
After so much verbiage you deserve closure by some great sound: Syrian rockband Khebez Dawle, based for a couple of years in Beirut but recently on the move into Europe giving concerts on the way. Why one of the most fucked up parts of the world produces so much amazing music is a total mystery to me.