One day, during a break between classes, my friend Bonnie showed me a post on WeChat from Fudan University’s Cycling club. They were having an outing that weekend to Dishui Lake (滴水湖), which is on the outskirts of Shanghai. Those who didn’t have bikes or didn’t want to use their own bikes could rent one for the weekend.
“It’s about 85km, I think,” said Bonnie. “I’m looking for people to go with me. Will you?”
Being a stupid American, I have no concept of how far something is in kilometers, but it seemed like a fun opportunity to spend time with actual Chinese students (isn’t that the point of study abroad???). So I told Bonnie, “Sign me up!!”
It turns out………… that’s pretty far. Especially for a non-biker like me.
Saturday morning, we met bright and early at the campus’s south gate. The night before, we had retrieved our rental bikes and helmets from one of the club officers. They were pretty cool bikes, with gears and everything!
Now, many students at Fudan, even international ones, use bikes to get around campus. However, I didn’t feel that a bike was necessary, so I chose not to get one of my own. I don’t really bike that much at home either. So this was basically my first time biking in a long, long time. (The last time was when I visited my friend at UC Davis, and my butt bruised from casually biking over the course of a weekend. I have a sensitive butt!!!)
If you are a newbie biker like me, I suggest you don’t go on a 170km bike ride for your first time biking. That’s right, it turns out the route was 85km one way. We take one day to get to the lake, spend the night there, then we bike back on the second day.
The assembled group consisted of about 20 students, about half of which were experienced cyclers from the Cycling Club, and the rest being casual cyclers who chose to join in on this event. Me, Bonnie, and this Latvian dude were the only foreigners in the group. There was this Singaporean dude too, but I guess he speaks enough Chinese to not have to hang out with the foreigners LOL
After leaving Fudan University, we actually headed to the university’s other campuses to pick up other students who were joining in. The above picture is of Bonnie and I in front of the Zhangjiang campus. The different campuses are known for having different course offerings (e.g. tech vs. medicine vs. law), and I only ever had classes at the Yangpu campus, so this was my first time visiting the other Fudan campuses. Pretty neat! Also, it turns out a few of the cyclers don’t even go to Fudan; some went to other nearby universities such as the military university.
We started biking. Here is a map of our route:
Along the way, we had to cross the river via ferry. The cool thing about the ferry is that you can use your metro/transportation card to pay the fare. That’s one of the things I love about Shanghai. One card for any mode of public transportation!
Dishui Lake is literally at the most southeastern point of Shanghai. For a part of the route, we were biking next to cars on the street. Before long, however, we were out of the city center, and instead of busy streets and tall buildings, we were biking next to farmland and fields of yellow flowers. Crazy how big this “city” is!
We stopped for lunch at this old town. Like a lot of old towns, it was a canal town! There were quite a few tourists here but it still had a charm to it.
After lunch, we got back to biking. My butt hurt sooo much. My butt is not used to all this biking. My butt is not happy with all this biking. Also, my shoulders and wrists hurt too.
When the leader told us “10 more km!”, suddenly, my ENTIRE BODY HURT LIKE CRAZY. I was legit dying and even thinking about ways to get out of having to bike back the next day. But I couldn’t think of any ways because I have to take my frickin bike with me and it’s not like I could take the metro or put it on a taxi. It turns out that leader was wrong and there were something like 20 more kilometers to go. Anyways, it was probably a psychological effect but the last 10-20km were KILLER.
When we finally arrived at Dishui Lake in the afternoon, my body was dying. Some of the cyclers wanted to bike around the lake (wtf guys why do you want to kill me), but some people (aka me) did not, so we ended up heading to our hotels. Now, since there were 20 ish people in the group, they had made reservations at different hotels. One building had room for 6, and since there were exactly 6 girls in the group, the girls decided to stay in this building and the guys stayed at another.
The interesting thing about Dishui Lake is that the area itself is a bit of a ghost town, meaning that nobody lives there. The lake itself is manmade (if you look on the map, you can see that it is a perfect circle in shape). Around the lake, there are really nice-looking condos, but apparently nobody lives here, so many of the buildings are empty. There is literally nobody around which is super creepy, especially considering that we are in China, the land of overpopulation.
It turns out the “hotel” we were staying in was not really a hotel, but more like rented rooms in one of the “condo” buildings. There were 3 double rooms, so I roomed with Bonnie. It turns out the other rooms had random stuff in their rooms, as if whoever actually owned the rooms used it for storage. Also, the bathrooms looked unfinished, and there were no doors to the bathrooms!!!! um what??
The hallway was also creepy as hell!!!! This is literally the most shady place I ever stayed at in China and ironically it was the one place that actual Chinese people booked for me!!!!
Anyways, I shouldn’t complain too much, because in the end, I was so tired/sore/achey/dead that I slept like a baby regardless of how creepy the rooms were. Also, Bonnie, the best roommate ever, brought those Asian bandaid/patch thingies with soothing herbal stuff! I put that stuff all over my legs and arms.
The next morning, I woke up crying on the inside about the prospect of having to bike back ANOTHER 85km. The other cyclers made plans to bike around the lake like they wanted to do the previous night. However, there was a problem with my bike, and ultimately they had to go out and buy some glue to patch up a hole that was in my front tire.
The officers of the cycling club are legit! I can’t believe they carry around a toolkit and have so much bike knowledge that they can fix bikes at any moment like this.
However, because of my sucky bike problems, there was no time for that bike ride around the lake. So they didn’t get to go last night mostly because of me, and they couldn’t go this morning, also because of me… LOL SORRY GUYS.
Also, it turns out that the boys stayed at a hella nice hotel. They showed us pictures. I’m talking marbled floors and everything. WHYYYYY
After my bike issues were fixed, we headed back to Fudan. Strangely, I felt SO much better the second day, and by the time we pulled onto campus, I felt like I could actually bike more!! I guess my butt built up resistance. Or just went numb. Good job butt!!!!!
Overall, this bike ride was the most physically painful thing I did in China (getting a foot massage comes second) but in the end, I’m glad I went! Joining clubs is a great way to get more involved with the school and local students, and I got to experience the city on a whole ‘nother level! And, I think I fulfilled my exercise quota for the year.