The temperature was one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and the empty park looked like an abandoned summer camp. No one was paddling boats around the man-made lake that humans can't swim in. Only birds and insects played in the forests and wide swathes of grass. The only other company was the hundreds of sculptures -- some very much resembling humans -- made by artists from all around the world and arranged randomly. It's a trippy scene, heightened by the Chinese classical music that plays from little rock-shaped speakers near the sculptures.
They also have a bouncy castle.
And after wandering around for an hour in the heat searching for this bouncy castle, I got exhausted, dehydrated, and quite possibly delirious. My friend went to go find some water, and I just passed out in this giant couch.
And that's when I had a weird dream about the Shanghai Moon Lake Sculpture Park, while sleeping in the sculpture park.
~~~~~ [Just DREAMS] ~~~~~~
Down by the beach, I saw a family having trouble in the water. "HEY! You're not supposed to swim in there! It's six meters deep!", I tried to yell, but no one could hear me.
"Quick, someone find a grown up!"
But the grown-ups were all too busy. This one was getting chased by a mutant dog that fell into a bathtub of fake vodka.
And these girls from the university were too busy hosting their webcam show to pay attention.
These lovebirds were on their third date, just lost in love.
And this couple was on their last date, too miserable to even notice the struggle.
"Somebody call 110!"
"Yes that's right, we're gonna need Task Force Lihai. Now, dammit!"
The Songjiang Elite Dog Squad, a.k.a. Task Force Lihai, rolled up locked and loaded, ready for action.
Led by Commander Ron with the long tongue, the Task Force rushed into the waters!
...but it was too late! And then the task force disappeared too.
Then everything faded away. All those people who looked like manikins for nuclear weapons testing vanished, like tears in the rain. Back on the trail, I asked this fellow how to get to the bouncy castle. He just smiled and replied, "Follow the trail! You'll get there eventually! Just watch out for traps!"
Indeed. On life's trail, one must watch out for traps.
And sometimes the trail gives you options -- but which path should you take? Like, should you go to Perry's or Windows? Should you go to Buddies or Family Mart? And how do you know for sure? Is an escalator technically a sculpture? Wait, isn't everything technically a "sculpture"?
I can't answer all those questions, and neither could these Japanese tourists.
Three hours on the trail had left me sunburnt, sun sick, and parched. I stumbled upon a fountain for a drink, but the waters looked like a rave for microorganisms. Pass.
And finally, when I was so ready to just give up, I came upon the Great Tree of Yue Hu. His branches and limbs swayed under the nuclear sun; his leaves started to breathe like thousands of little lungs; the zen woodwinds and chimes of the classical Chinese music played louder than bombs.
There was no one left to ask.
"Great Tree of Yue Hu, I have wandered your Hu all day. I am tired, and weak, and delirious, and I only have two hours left on my visa. Come on man, I just wanna find the bouncy castle."
The classical music stopped. The sky turned purple. And with a voice like wet thunder, the Great Tree of Yue Hu shouted:
"THE BOUNCY CASTLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. YOU JUST NEED TO OPEN YOUR EYES."
But it was so hot that the bouncy castle scorched my feet.
The Crucial Info Breakdown
So, Shanghai Sculpture Park -- I'd go back for sure. The park is huge, colorful, and has tons of peaceful places to just chill on the grass, or have a picnic, or exercise. Most of Moon Lake is really nice, but some areas have been neglected, so just pay attention -- there might not be anyone else around. You could easily spend the whole day, or just do three hours as a half day trip. Either way will feel like a vacation from downtown. The park isn't always this empty, especially during the school year and safer temperatures. The few staff we met are really nice and laid-back.
Getting There: Take Line 9 to Sheshan Station then a 2km cab ride (or walk) to "Yue Hu Diao Su Gong Yuan". A cab from downtown will take an hour. Here's the address:
1158 Linyin Xin Lu, near Jiasong Nan Lu
Times & Prices: The park is open from 9am-5pm, 365 days a year, rain or shine. Tickets are 80rmb-120rmb for adults (depending on season / weather); 50rmb for seniors 70 or older with ID and children under 1.4 meters; and 30rmb for dogs. The price fluctuates based on the weather. A few shops around here sell water, beers, snacks, and random knick-knacks, but you're better off packing a picnic basket.
What Else is Around Here?: Sheshan has tons of tourist attractions and greenspaces, like the hills and the old church, Happy Valley amusement park, and Playa Maya water park. You could easily spend a weekend in the area, and there's several hotels nearby, including a strange but nice "Contemporary Art Hotel" inside the park.