The journey started at Longyang Lu metro station with a transfer to Line 16, where the trains have just just three cars, and the seats are different than any other metro line in town.
The subway passes right over the nongcun. Lots of little villages lined with trees and farms. Most people in the cun build their own homes, but apartments out here are much, much cheaper than downtown -- like 9000rmb per square meter.
End of the line. The journey takes one hour from Longyang Lu, or two hours from downtown.
Not many proper cabs operate in deep Nanhui. A bunch of black-taxi drivers were hanging around the metro station smoking cigs with their shirts rolled up their bellies. Opted for the 2rmb bus 330 instead, which stops at a bunch of the major tourist destinations around here, like the China Maritime Museum and the Nanhuizui Seaview Park. Most of the scenery is rural and fairly undisturbed. Guess this area will be built up in 20–30 years.
A tourist brochure pitch for the Nanhuizui Seaview Park sounded convincing: "Located in the most southeast corner of Shanghai and beside the sea, the park is one of the best places to look up at the stars at night". And it's free.
Arrived and found a massive, climbable steel structure that looks like the Birds Nest peering out over the sea. Everyone was climbing over this wall to walk down the stairs, even though there is a path like 20 feet farther.
Around the corner was a nice little reminder of Shanghai's "Seven Don'ts": Don't Spit + Don't throw garbage + Don't jaywalk + Don't disturb public places + Don't talk dirty+ Don't smoke in public + Don't yell in public.
Hovering over the sea is the Donghai Bridge -- the 11th longest in the world. This guy is 32.5km long, and ends at the Yangshan Port. From there, lots of little ships carry tourists to Shanghai's surrounding islands, like Shengsi, Daishan, and several others.
Some luxury oceanfront property. Probably like seven mistresses and rare animals living in here.
Everyone was just marvelling at the ocean and its power, the ships that had come and gone, and the storms that had passed. Water no get enemy.
Hung out by the ocean for a bit then took a 30rmb cab to Dishui Lake, China's biggest man-made lake, which was finished about 7–8 years ago, according to our cab driver. Before that, this place was just swamps and puddles, he said.
No fishing, angling, or trawling in these parts.
No one was catching any fish anyway. The water seems to get deep fast here. Stuck a big umbrella in and couldn't hit the bottom.
Into the forest, where this adventure took a turn…
And down THE TRAIL OF BAD VIBES.
Around the corner, a classic "choose your own adventure" scenario. Climb up the ladder and into the uncompleted sailboat kingdom? Or see what's in the box?
Inside the box was a magic television. A portal into a world of four-star quasi-luxury.
Dragons, you say????
Was this TV even real? Was this a mirage? Reached in the box to touch the screen…
Still not totally sure what happened, but it seems like that TV was a reality portal that ripped our atoms apart like millions of Skittles, then dropped our reconstructed bodies in Crowne Plaza Dishui Lake hotel.
Whoaaaaaaa… it's the same hotel from the television! It all began to make sense.
Time for a bath after that atomic deconstruction. The tub fills fast.
What…is…this…place…A fine patio indeed, overlooking the lake. Later that night, in the dark, near silence, acoustic treatment directed a concert of rain drops, crickets, and horny cats inward in 3D stereo sound.
Wandered out of the bedroom and into the hotel to find something to eat. Some future shit in these here halls. The design of this hotel is on-point, though sometimes you can really tell the builders skimped on the materials. An architect can draw a fine plan, but no one knows what will happen when the construction team gets ahold of it.
Really weird selection of tunes in one of the hotels many "music areas". One of the songs was talking about "hitting it from the back" and pretty sure another tune was by KD Lang or some shit.
The Chinese Dragon Restaurant from the magic TV!
The food in here is above-average Chinese food. The service was just whatever though. Most of the hotel staff either just don't give a fuck or are nice but clueless. The Crowne Plaza Dishui Lake hotel is a classic case of great hardware, weak software. Several of the dishes were unavailable, waitresses had a "whatever" attitude, and asked us to pay before we finished our meal, then charged a 15% service fee and didn't even say "thanks, have a nice night!" or anything. Asked why they charge a service fee and they said they're trying to "head in the direction of a five-star hotel", and five-star hotels all charge service fees.
Still, nice chicken; probably one of those Nanhui free-range birds, cooked up with some Chinese medicine.
Had to try the xiaolongbao. Pretty sure the waitress lied when she said they were made fresh to order. These came out in like five minutes, with thick skin and almost no soup inside.
Still, for about 340rmb, with five dishes and two beers, not a bad meal. Kinda like the Chinese food at Charmant. No peanut smoothies though.
After that, it was time for a trip to the beer garden! Got pretty lost looking for that damn beer garden, but luckily we found some security guards who pointed us in the right direction.
Found the beer garden, and it was a really rocking time.
Really felt just like Germany. Made a bunch of new friends too! This dude was trying to teach us all kinds of drinking games from the Black Forest. A real rager, this lad.
And there were some ladies hanging around, too.
The beer garden is total bullshit. They only open it from 6–9.30pm, and from 6–8pm, they only sell the 250rmb free-flow package, then the whole thing promptly ends at 9.30pm. So basically the protocol is: get people's money, make them get as fucked up as possibly so they don't feel ripped off, then promptly give them a boot, and maybe let them wander around by the lake, where there are no lights. Showed up at 10pm, couldn't even get a beer, man. Went into their "brewpub" to try to get a glass of the homemade shit. It was also an awesome time.
And….all six of their brews were unavailable. Pretty sure the builders took the design render literally and just put 100 EMPTY BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL.
Luckily, the one actual five-star level employee in the whole damn hotel was kind enough to go find two beers for us, then she just wandered off and didn't ask for the bill.
After that, went back to the room to peep some TV. Watching Chinese TV in hotels is one of the best parts of the China experience. This night's viewings included a looped infomercial from 2013 called INSIDE Shanghai, starring Allan Wu and two annoying women with Singaporean accents. It's like a magazine full of soft ads, but in video.
Watched that about three times, followed by some Chinese medicine infomercials and this wild Shanghainese sitcom called 岳父太囧 (Modern Father) about a girl who lives with her Chinese dad and her laowai boyfriend. Dad and girlfriend don't speak any English, boyfriend has to use iPhone translator / laptops to speak with the dad. Shit is wacky, and realistic.
Woke up and went for a swim. Pretty sure the "lifeguard" girl doesn't know how to swim. Chill pool, though.
One of the dragon's nine sons.
Breakfast time…The morning buffet was just alright. Definitely not even approaching five–star level. No omelette station, just a dude making sunny side ups, and not nearly fast enough. Asian selections were better than Western efforts. They promptly turned the lights off and started kicking people out at 10.30am because "it's time for us to finish work".
After more wandering and some weak afternoon tea, it was time for the two hour trip back downtown, feeling refreshed after a night spent wrapped in a down comforter out on the patio, listening to the rain fall over the lake in near darkness, occasionally interrupted by mosquitos and the cries of one horny cat in the bush.
Pros: Peace and quiet. Dishui Lake feels way out of Shanghai, but it's accessible by subway. Good hotel design; Crowne Plaza and the grounds are super nice and relaxing, especially the patio overlooking the lake. And the air here is noticeably better than downtown. Nice to see a less polluted rural area. Definitely a family friendly destination, for the young and old. There are several big parks, villages, golf courses, and the Shanghai Flower Port in the vicinity. Would go back to peep those areas for sure. Entertaining hotel TV.
Cons: This hotel doesn't get the concept of five-star service, but they still charge a service fee and hefty room rates (1550rmb for ours). Didn't feel super welcomed, and everyone working here seems kinda out of it. The concierge couldn't call a legit cab that used a meter. They only had one sad-looking bicycle for rent in the whole hotel, and a terrible explanation for why. There's no gift shop, so the only place to buy drinks is the gym, where a Gatorade is 30rmb -- six times the normal price. The beer garden. Two-star hotel level shampoo and soap. Mosquitos. Also, the banks around the lake seem sketch. The water gets deep fast, and there's nothing to keep guests -- many of whom probably can't swim -- from slipping down and falling in, and certainly no lifeguards. It's like they built this place without considering how people might use it.
Room Price: 1550rmb, including breakfast, but those who book ahead can get 900rmb a night (maybe not the lake-facing rooms). Some packages come with sailing lessons. Would happily pay 900rmb to stay here again, but 1550rmb is too much. Hate having to go through different channels to get the price something should cost…
Best Time To Go: Anytime, really. We went on a rainy weekend but still had fun. The vegetation was mega lush and dripping with dew.
Getting There: Get to Longyang Lu on the metro, then take Line 16 to the terminal station. From there, you can take bus 330 or a black cab to the hotel -- should cost about 30rmb by cab. A cab from the city center to the lake will cost about 250rmb.