A Shanghai Photo Essay: Culture Shock Bike Tours

2015-09-06_0019Last weekend, new bike tour company Culture Shock invited me for a four-hour morning ride around Shanghai.  Officially open for business later this week, the long-term French expats have been running special media tours in order to work out its kinks.

As of now, the company runs two tours: one in the morning (9am-12:30pm) and one in the afternoon (1pm-5:30pm). Both begin at the Eclair Cafe in the Xintiandi Andaz Hotel, where you receive a complimentary croissant or pain au chocolat and coffee/tea, and end at the same place. The tour gives a pretty good feel for the surrounding area ( approx. 10km), as well as some insight into Chinese culture. Here’s a look at my experience:

2015-09-06_00182015-09-06_0021I arrived to the hotel at 8:45, in desperate need of coffee and carbs. It was Sunday morning, after all. The croissants were pretty legit; although I wasn’t too surprised, since our guides were, indeed, from France. Afterwards, we tested out our vintage-inspired bikes and went through a safety check.2015-09-06_00222015-09-06_0001Our first stop was a lane house development off Nachang Lu in the French Concession. We were greeted at the entrance by some residents, who seemed happy to have us in their quaint complex, then we were educated about the building styles and materials. It was interesting; however, my own apartment was only about two blocks away!2015-09-06_00232015-09-06_00042015-09-06_00032015-09-06_0002Next, we took a short trip down the road, to one of my favorite places in the city, Fuxing Park.  We were led through a labyrinth of singers, dancers, Tai Chi enthusiasts, and old men practicing their calligraphy with paint brushes and water. And after doing a bit of singing and spectating, we ended up at a field, where we became the ones people wanted to watch.  Imagine a group of foreigners amongst hundreds of Chinese people, learning Kung Fu, taking turns pretending to be cranes and tigers, and attacking one another with grand gesticulations. Needless to say, we had more than a few visitors. We also felt a bit closer as a group, which was the company’s intention. 2015-09-06_00082015-09-06_00242015-09-06_0025After working up a sweat in the park, we headed to a local street haunt for a traditional Chinese breakfast. The guides ordered youtiao (long fried sticks of dough), soy milk to dip them in, cōngyóubǐng (scallion pancakes), cí fàn gāo (deep-fried rice cakes), and da bing (literally “big bread,” but deliciously crispy). It was a good variety, and nice to be surrounded by locals, doing the same thing. 2015-09-06_00102015-09-06_00132015-09-06_00142015-09-06_00092015-09-06_0015After the coffee, soy milk and bottles of water along the way, it was time for a bathroom break. But instead of stopping at a public restroom, the guides changed plans a bit, and we ended up at one of the few Buddhist temples in the city, and one I never knew existed: Fazang Temple, at Ji’an Lu with Fuxing. It was a great chance to explore a lesser-known attraction and to learn about how to make wishes and use incense properly. 2015-09-06_00122015-09-06_00112015-09-06_00202015-09-06_0017The last part of the trip was by far my favorite–exploring Shanghai’s “Old City.” Near Laoximen station, away from the tourist path, there is a whole world that feels quite separate from the modern metropolis I’ve come to know. Narrow streets wind through tiny, crumbling buildings, lanterns and a variety of undergarments decorate windows. It’s what I imagine all of Shanghai looked like at one time.

I took one last look at the old buildings, and at the men and women who occupied them. They waved as we passed, and some of them wished for our return. Thanks to Culture Shock, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back.

If you want to go:

  • Website: http://culture-shock-tours.com
  • Cost: 450 RMB (approx. $65 USD). Includes everything discussed above, including food, drinks and a voucher to the hotel’s cafe.
  • Recommended for: Any age group and physical condition, but remember that Shanghai traffic can be overwhelming to some. French visitors will appreciate that the tour can be led in their mother tongue.
  • Get 100RMB off when you use the code LUCKYRIDE at checkout!

19 thoughts on “A Shanghai Photo Essay: Culture Shock Bike Tours”

  1. The photos from the bike tour are stunning! It looks like you had a lot of fun and interesting experiences on this tour. When I visit Shanghai, I might have to do this one! Thanks for sharing!
    I recently traveled through SE Asia (tons of new posts on my blog) but I haven’t made it up to China yet. I think I’m moving to Bangkok next fall, so I will definitely make it up there at that time!

  2. I look forward to reading Jennifer’s informative blog, Adventurous Appetite, with wonderful descriptions of her many travels! She describes foods in such detail my mouth waters and I love seeing parts of China through Jen’s eyes. I wish I could be a little stowaway in Jen’s pocket and enjoy the adventurous life!

    1. It was, Katie! I really need to take a break from Chinese food though. I am getting what my mom and I call “fluffy.” lol

  3. After a long day, I love ending it peacefully knowing that places like this do really exist. Can’t wait to see them one day!

  4. What a great way to see the city! You’re right that cycling in China can be a bit of a shock. But now I find that, after cycling for 2 years in Beijing, I ‘m not afraid to cycle anywhere! I used to hate cycling on roads but it all seems a lot calmer elsewhere. 🙂

    1. I agree, Joella! After two years in Bogota, and now two years in Shanghai, traffic anywhere else doesn’t even seem like traffic! 🙂

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