The Quest for Fuxing Island
The four of us met up yesterday morning after breakfast to discuss our destination, Fuxing (pronounced “foo-shing”) Island. None of us knew anything about Fuxing Island. Only that it was an island, it showed up on most maps of Shanghai, it appeared to have a road that led to it, and it was pretty far away.
But first we had to tune up our bikes. We managed to stop at every single bike shop on Fuxing Road (no relationship to the Island) between Hua Hai and the Huangpu River. Let me tell ya, there are a lot of bike shops on Fuxing Road. In the end, Nik had his front break tightened, his rear wheel realigned and his back tire patched. Andy had his rear tire aired up and bought key safety gear including a helmet and a dust shied for his face (that’s the weird bandanna-like thing covering his nose and mouth up there….and although it looks silly, I am considering investing in one because the pollution in Shanghai is probably doing a number on my lungs). Dominic had his breaks tightened, shopped for a new bike and almost bought mud flaps, but didn’t. Then almost bought mud flaps again, but didn’t. My bike was already perfect so I sat on the sidelines cheering on the others.
We finally made it to the end of Fuxing Road and took the ferry across the river to Pudong. Neither Andy nor Dominic had ever ridden the ferry, so on this Saturday afternoon, the horizon of their biking adventures doubled.
Once we were in Pudong (the other side of the river) Dominic played the “it’s my birthday” card and took the group to the Super Brand Mall so that he could go to Toys-R-Us to buy himself a birthday present: Jenga! I didn’t mind in the least that Dominic took us into the most rediculous and busy place in Shanghai as a pitstop in our adventure. The other two, however, were not very happy about it, but they were troopers and sucked it up while we scoured the game section for Jenga! and ate ice cream sundays on the steps outside of Donald’s.
Birthday Boy was satisfied and we were on the road again. The area of Pudong that we were in wasn’t very exciting and we quickly made it to another ferry that would take us closer to Fuxing Island.
–I’ve been trying not to use Nik’s photos too much recently because he is posting the best ones on his site, I need to focus more on my own photography to capture what we’re doing, and I know that a lot of people look at both….but I couldn’t pass these up. They are so crisp and amazing, that I had to show them in the context of my photos.
Once on the other side of the river we really started to notice the haze/fog/polution/dust that had consumed the air. It was only 3pm, but the lighting made it feel like dusk which was pretty cool visually. However, this is when Nik and I really started feeling the effects of breathing all of this in, and looked at Andy and Dominic’s bandannas with envy. But we carried on…trying not to breath to deeply.
Then we stumbled into this abandoned warehouse/art gallery area. The place obviously had someone that cared for it and restored it, but it was unclear whether it is currently in use. All the doors were open so we wandered freely on foot and riding our bikes, and no one seemed to mind. I’m sure there is something we don’t know about the place, and honestly, we probably never will. The things I do know is that they turned a bunch of large old warehouse buildings into amazing art spaces by using found materials. They respected the existing structures and left them alone as much as possible. Then they filled the place with vegetation. Huge trees create an almost solid canopy, potted flowers and plants are scattered everywhere and the entire courtyard that winds through this large space is made of slate roofing tiles that have been turned on their sides to create pavers. The area didn’t appear to be under construction, and it looks like it’s been here for at least a couple years, but nothing was occupied. All of the furniture (mostly steel tables with marble tops and lightweight aluminum patio chairs) was arranged in an orderly fashion and nothing was broken or falling apart. Maybe it is more active during the week? Maybe it is simply an event space and is only active during events? My curiosity is peaked, so I will probably be making a return trip.
Enough of that. Back to the quest for Fuxing Island….
After riding along a nasty, dusty, potholed road for almost an hour we finally made it to the island!!! We were so excited about it that we spent nearly twenty minutes just standing on the bridge taking photos of each other and the water that separated the island from the “mainland”. None of my separation photos turned out, so you’ll have to assume that it was worth it.
It turns out that Fuxing Island is a completely industrial island that has one road that runs its entire length. To the east of this road are the ports, power plants and industrial stuff. To the west of this road are dusty residential buildings that seem to be falling apart, but I’m sure they were just built three years ago. There were pipes, manhole covers, wires, sand, rock and concrete truck after concrete truck everywhere. The one public green space (a park) on the entire island was closed for construction.
It was starting to get late and began making our way back home. Then, all of a sudden, it was dark. None of us remember the sun setting, it was just gone.
The bike ride was epic and we saw such a huge variety of places along the way. I told Nik that it felt like we were on vacation. That is how removed we were from the Shanghai that we know. In the end, Fuxing Island was a little anti-climatic but….
It is the journey, not the destination.