BEACH THOUGHTS IN THE DEEP OF WINTER

Remko Tanis • 25 January 2019

The closest I ever got to actual water recreation while living in Shanghai was the boozed up swimming pool brunches at the Sofitel Sheshan hotel. All you can eat and drink (including champagne, if that’s your fancy) little under EUR 60. Those seem to no longer be around.

Oh, and there’s that time I went water biking in Century Park.

Wondering what I’m doing on a water bike in Century Park, Shanghai, China.

Wondering what I’m doing on a water bike in Century Park, Shanghai, China.

But then came a trip to Jinshan City Beach on theHangzhou Bay, about 75 kilometers south of downtown.

View from inside a Shanghai taxi. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

View from inside a Shanghai taxi. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

To get there, 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.

It’s the best beach option, correction: the only beach option without getting on a plane, 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, remarkable. 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 in the swim section of the Hangzhou Bay at Jinshan City Beach, Shanghai, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

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.

People carrying umbrellas to protect their skin from the sun at Jinshan City Beach, Shanghai, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

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.

This is people having proper beach fun.

A family at Jinshan City Beach in Shanghai, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

All of this crossed my mind while reading construction had started on Heqing Country Park. This will become a 35.7 square kilometer collection of culture, sports, and ‘water development’ (whatever that is) like kayaking. All that right on the Shanghai coast, which up ‘til now has been the exclusive domain of port terminals, industry and a massive airport.

It might turn out to include the closest thing to a proper beach in the city of Shanghai, the very name meaning ‘On the Sea’. Or it might not turn out like that at all.

At least it made me reminisce about those people enjoying Jinshan City Beach.