Exploring Shanghai – Sheshan

24 Jun

My original impression of Sheshan was that it is an amusement park.  There are signs in the subway advertising Happy Valley – Shanghai’s answer to Six Flags or Cedar Point.  It is much easier to get there now – there is a Sheshan subway stop off of Line 9 and from there a free bus to the park.  Line 9 is new – just two years old – so before that if you drove it was over an hour and a half to get there.

A couple of years ago Li and I went to the big Dinosaur Amusement Park in Changzhou and while we had considered going to Happy Valley, the fact that Li tends to feel ill on roller coasters and the high admission price meant that we had taken a pass to date.  So, I was pretty surprised when a couple of weeks ago Li asked me if I wanted to go to Sheshan with him and his parents (they were in town).

It turns out that Sheshan has had a long history in Shanghai – it was the site of one of the first Catholic churches, dating back to the late 1800s and it also was the site of the first astronomical observatory in the Shanghai area.  She Shan (She Mountain) itself is actually the highest point of land in the surrounding vicinity which was why the observatory was located here.  The park houses a museum with the original telescopes and a great collection of space photos as well as the church and surrounding grounds.  It also includes photos of the original founders – they were all French brothers and priests who came to Shanghai in the late 1800s and early 1900s, that is until they were all “asked to leave” in the 1940s.  At that point there was a large gap in the history of the observatory that picked up in the 1980s.  Entrance was free (rare for Shanghai) and there also is a small amusement park there, but the big Happy Valley Park is 20 minutes away.

We got there with no problems with the main difficulty being the weather.  It was hot – over 90 degrees and climbing steps up a mountain in that type of heat is not fun.  I had two bottles of water and a popsicle by the time I made it to the top and another bottle and two more popsicles before I made it down.  At the top where the cathedral was it was a little cooler and we filed into the church to look at the windows and altar.  In the middle of all of the hubbub a group of people came in and started performing a mass – complete with a guitar player.  It felt very intimate and I stayed for the first 10 minutes or so before joining Li and his parents outside for a few more photos.

After our climb up and down we all needed lunch and so we had a late lunch at a small restaurant just outside the gates of the park.  At that point my jet lag and the heat caught up with me, so I gave my regards and headed back to the subway station alone.  On the train back to the city center the air conditioning blasting I had to rummage through my bag for a big scarf to cover my shoulders and avoid freezing.  Ironic.

The day trip was a realization that close to home there are a lot of different things for me to see.  I would go back, but choose a cooler day for sure.  Any similar experiences when you’ve traveled with visitors?

12 Responses to “Exploring Shanghai – Sheshan”

  1. valerie June 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Yes, there is even stuff to do in the suburb that I live in that I have saved for visitors (not sure why that happens — I could go on my own, just have chosen not to). And great pics!

    • gkm2011 June 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      Thanks for the comments! I know – it’s so easy to “save” those things for when people come into town. It’s like saving your best china for guests or towels, etc. I need to get better at using and doing it all and not waiting.

  2. Mona June 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I will be in Shanghai for a few more days. This looks interesting & I will try to find it if I have the chance.

    • gkm2011 June 25, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      If it’s as hot as this week has said, you may want to add it to the list for next time! It was pretty cool though and the observatory was a treat I wasn’t expecting.

  3. expatlingo June 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Is it really already over 90 in Shanghai? Wow, I thought we were the only ones suffering down here in Hong Kong, but you have it just as bad. You’ve got me thinking about Shanghai attractions: do they still have that exceptionally cheesy train-like thing running under the river from The Bund to Pudong with lots of flashing lights and overly dramatic commentary and music? We took it several times around Christmas 2007 and nearly died laughing.

    • gkm2011 June 25, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      The last week it hasn’t been that hot – but now with the plum rains it is starting again. Shanghai’s summers aren’t quite as long as Hong Kong, but they do get just as hot. Yes, the Bund tourist tunnel still exists as far as I’m aware. I did it with a group of coworkers a year or so ago – they were Shanghai natives and never did it. Horrendously cheesy for sure.

  4. jotsfromasmallapt June 25, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    I just love it, GKM, when you take us all along on one of your adventures! Thank you so much.

    • gkm2011 June 25, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Glad to bring you along for the ride. If you decide to come to China – look me up!

      • jotsfromasmallapt June 25, 2012 at 8:47 am #

        Most definitely and thank you. So…..if you are ever in Portland OR…same goes…look me up!!

  5. smkelly8 June 26, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    The last few months my friends and I explored the churches in Jinan. We found several, some in the most unexpected places. Also, I discovered the South Cathedral that Adam Schall, SJ built in the mid-15th century. They’ve got a vibrant international community of believers. I’ve got photos on my blog of the churches.

    • gkm2011 June 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      That sounds really neat! I keep finding churches in places I don’t expect as well. I went to your blog but somehow didn’t find photos of churches when I searched for “Jinan.” Could you send me a link?


  1. Travel theme: Signs « 中国 Jumble - August 16, 2012

    […] final contribution was taken this past June and is in Sheshan, on the outskirts of Shanghai, where there is an observatory and Shanghai’s oldest Catholic […]

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