Monday, August 8, 2011

Fuxing Park: A Sight for Nature-Starved Eyes

If you've talked to me in the month since I've moved to China you will probably know that one of the main things I gripe about regarding my life here is the unfortunate lack of vegetation. Born and raised in the Northeast United States, I miss my towering trees, rolling hills, and lawns of green. Therefore, one of my unofficial projects here has become finding and hanging out in the green spaces that Shanghai has to offer. And I started out at probably one of the nicest parks in Shanghai.

Fuxing Park (复兴公园) is a modestly sized park located near Xintiandi (新天地), a former European occupied neighborhood renovated into high-end shopping and clubbing. European influence is abundant throughout Shanghai, and so are high-end shopping areas. However, I walked down streets that looked like this:
A tree-lined avenue! I must've been a sight, strolling down this street with a bounce in my step and a huge grin on my face, the camera planted firmly in my hand.
One of the entrances to Fuxing Park.
Fuxing Park contains a variety of "landscapes," from wide-open grass to avenues guarded by leafy trees with smooth white trunks. I rather ignorantly chose one of the hottest days of the summer so far to visit the park, and thus was very appreciative of the ample shade and seating.

But the reason I ended up enjoying my time at Fuxing so much had little to do with nature: it was, in fact, the people in the park that completed the experience for me.  This is Shanghai, so there are people people people everywhere, and everyone is trying to get to where they need to go as quickly as they can. However, the people at Fuxing were not in a rush. Things seemed to run about three times slower than the city beyond the park's boundaries, and maybe it is the absence of this need to be somewhere else that makes everyone more easy-going, and I more interested in watching them.

Clusters of old men and women sat together on benches or in circles of scooters, gossiping. Young parents patiently played ball in the middle of the street with their toddler children. Men dressed in loose cotton clothing practiced taichi with their eyes closed while listening to a Chinese opera singer's warbling over their boombox. Tourist families ambled slowly by, enjoying the view and not rushing to visit a hundred other places. An artist unhurriedly set up shop on a bench, one by one leaning his portraits on the bench to attract customers. European students sat two by two on the benches and read. And me, sitting there in the middle of all that, wrote everything down with a lightness of spirit that I closely associate with special places.

I didn't stay long because it was so broiling hot, but I'd like to go back one day, maybe with some friends, and throw a frisbee around on the lawn or something before chilling out on the benches. Fuxing Park is definitely my kind of park, and I'm happy to know that there's a Steph-place in the middle of all this concrete. :)


  1. Are you allowed to climb that ladder up into the tree? My aunt and cousin just got back from China three days ago and one of their surprises was the extreme difference in regulations between America and China. China, they said, is not as paranoid about personal injury. For example, they went to a zoo where they were encouraged to feed the animals (and could purchase live chickens to feed them with) and where children were allowed into the baby tigers den.

    That park looks absolutely beautiful!

  2. oooooh! pretty! I missed the green spaces and trees when I lived in a big city too (Bangalore, India), but luckily the city had some nice parks and that mixed with trips to the countryside gave me my green/tree fill.

  3. SO MUCH GREEN. I love it. Loved your description of everything the pictures didn't say. It's like you're a writer or something. ;)

  4. That's definitely where I would want to hang out, too -- especially if green spaces are so hard to come by. The heat would be a deterrent, though, but hopefully you can return when it cools down!

  5. I'm not so sure I would miss greenery but you never know. Plus Fuxing Park looks very beautiful and I might be tempted to go read a book there on a not-so-hot day! These are some great pictures too, ever study photography? :)

  6. Oh that place is BEAUTIFUL. There is something so peaceful and soul-filling about it. And I love how everyone in the place seemed to slow down. Even more I love how you called it a "Steph-place" for you. I can see why. I'm a bit in love with it myself already.


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