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4 Healthy Ways to Welcome Spring in Shanghai

Ready for spring? Or are you still trying to shake off those lingering chills of winter? Here are some ideas to get you into a happy, healthy frame of mind for the warm months to come.


It occurred to me one particularly nice day in early May several years back while lying in a park enjoying the warm sunshine, cool breeze (and doing my best to completely ignore the huge number of other park-goers that day) that China’s holiday schedule, Chinese New Year excepted of course, seem to intentionally coincide with the nicest times of the year to be outside.

Given that nine of the national holidays are based on the lunar calendar and change annually, it’s nice to know that those of us tied to the Chinese work schedule can, at the very least, get a couple of multi-day breaks during Shanghai’s all too short spring to enjoy the weather -- even if it does mean sharing what little grass is available with 23 million other sun-starved city-dwellers. And for anyone with a bit more flexibility in their schedule, spring is even better because it means that you can indulge in all this glorious weather that you want, while still beating the crowds by getting outside mid-week.

So, to kick your Shanghai spring off right, here are a few suggestions for some healthy, outdoor, family-friendly springtime activities to pry you out of winter mode and get ready for the fast-approaching summer.

1. Jiashan Market Saturday Co-op

Two Saturdays a month during spring the old knitting-factory complex turned shopping, dining, living and eco-gardens space hosts a “farmer’s market” of sorts where local artisans meet up to sell all sorts of green-focused products. Items for sale include organic vegetables, cheese, honey, meat, bread, coffee and other produce, as well as knitting supplies and other oddities. It’s the sort of pop-up city market you would find in Greenwich Village in New York or Thomas More Square in London, only much smaller.

Still, for former French Concession residents or anyone who just wants a great cup of coffee in a nice atmosphere while enjoying a beautiful day, with plenty of samples to keep the kids occupied for a while, the Jiashan Market is a good bet. For times, dates, and directions check out TimeOut Shanghai’s review here.

For a one day only market event, online-grocer Fields is hosting a marketplace in Pudong at the Kerry Parkside Hotel on April 26. Visit Shanghai Expat’s write up for details.

2. Learn To Save A Life

China’s lack of a “good Samaritan” law and the general fear of/disinterest in others during a medical emergency is appalling. But this is no reason for you to adopt the same can’t-be-bothered-to-save-someone’s-life attitude. In fact, the person you save could be your very own family member.

Private hospital chain Parkway Health is hosting a CPR and first-aid workshop in English on Tuesday April 15 and vacancies are still available for anyone interested in learning or refreshing their life-saving skills for just RMB400 per person.

It may not be the most fun and relaxing way to spend a day (since it’s indoors and life-saving is serious business) but it could be the best thing you do for yourself, your family, or a total stranger this spring. For more details and to enroll, click here.

3. Drag Racing

Not the 325mph kind, but the paddling down a river kind. June 2 is Dragon Boat Festival day in China this year, and as always there will be races hosted around the city in several major waterways. While the significance is lost on many foreigners, and even local Chinese for the most part, Dragon Boat Festival is allegedly to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan who killed himself in opposition to the corruption of this emperor in the third century – or so the story goes.

Anyhow, there is always a big longboat race in Suzhou Creek that ends near the Bund, so it is a great opportunity to check out the Suzhou Creek Waterside Parks, watch the races, and take the family for a stroll ending at Shanghai’s most historic and scenic area, all while getting a taste of what locals do nowadays to commemorate their country’s millennia old culture.

4. Go Fly A Kite

The Chinese have been flying kites longer than anybody. After all, they were invented here. To honor this ancient tradition, and because kids and grown-ups both love kites, pick one up and take advantage of the fantastic, breezy days while we’ve got them. Plus, getting outside for some fresh air and a little running to get the kite into the air is good for everybody.

While the older local gentlemen in Shanghai are famous for taking their kite flying to the next level, with equipment that looks more like it belongs on a sport fishing boat than in the park and with kites the size of light aircraft (complete with lights for night use), those of us who are novice kite-pilots can still join in on the action with a cheap-and-cheerful unit from the corner store. No need to pay a lot for what may well end up a tree decoration.

Head to any park with a decent patch of grass and not too many other kite flyers or too many nearby trees to earn your wings, and don’t forget to bring a blanket and some drinks and snacks so you can relax during the flight. If this isn’t a relaxed, healthy, stress-free way to ease into spring, nothing is.

 

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