011 • JINSHAN, CHINA

Click for Lightbox. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

A SATURDAY IN JULY, 14:53:46

To get to the beach you inevitably end up in one of those orange taxis with a license plate that starts with an ‘F’, ‘G’ or ‘H’. Meaning you’re far, far away from the downtown districts of Shanghai, where taxis are yellow, blue, brown, red, green or white. But never orange. And the first letter on their license plates doesn’t go beyond ‘B’. With a ‘C’ you’re really pushing it and, to be honest, already not really wanted by anyone in downtown.

But this beach in Jinshan is home of the orange taxis with late letters. Where cab drivers still smoke in the car. It’s about 75 kilometers from downtown Shanghai, right on the Hangzhou Bay.

It’s the best beach option, correction: the only beach option without flying, for Shanghai’s 25 million residents. The sand is said to be shipped in from Hainan, China’s subtropical southern island province. The water is also fairly, eh, fake. It’ll get you wet, sure, but it has little resemblance to the actual water of the Hangzhou Bay and the East China Sea beyond that. A barrier about 100 meters from land separates the blue-brownish swim water at the beach from the outright brown waters of the open sea. Not sure what that barrier filters out, but I hope it’s a lot.

People are chilling under a sea of Lipton Icetea sponsored umbrellas. Many carry their own umbrella while sitting under the sponsored one, just to be sure about avoiding any sun hitting them. A sign prohibits them from taking the umbrellas into the sea though. Security guards enforce the rules, for a change.

Men and kids don’t worry as much about the sun. The women who take a dip are mostly doing so wearing bathing suits or regular shirts covering their shoulders and arms, while reflecting welding shields on their head protect their face. The burka-bikinis of Qingdao haven’t made it down here.

Of course, you can always just bury yourself or your family in the sand to escape the sun.

It’s January now. Cold and rainy. The thought of a ride in an orange taxi out to Jinshan Beach on a Saturday in July comforts.