RapidRequest: Erudite Shanghai Alternatives

From an archaeological dig in the Tarim Basin, a renowned scholar writes:

Rapid Traveler,

I will be spending a few days in Shanghai with a friend who is coming down from Beijing to meet me there and am thinking of what to do with her.  What activities would you suggest that are:
a. not too tiring / taxing
b. interesting
c. in not too crowded places
d. not too far from SH
e. fairly easy to get to
f. maybe a great restaurant and / or tea shop
etc.

China is wonderful to visit, but as that correspondent scholar well knows from decades of travel to China , there is very little do in China that is not some combination of tiring, crowded and blanketed by traffic. He and his guest are fluent in Chinese and have both been to Shanghai many times, seen all the main tourist spots and are interested in something neglected and stimulating. Not a small challenge but The Rapid Traveler has some ideas:

Seems you two should hit the slopes at Shanghai Yinqixing Indoor Skiing, but that is probably crowded, too.

The ‘Water Towns’ like Zhouzhuang and Tongli are popular day trips but tough in the height of summer.

If she shares your scholarly bent, there are several quiet cultural gems, best enjoyed by those with Chinese language skills:

  • Getting up early in the morning before the wave of humidity rolls in, Lu Xun Park is a delight and Chinese literature buffs enjoy the Lu Xun Museum. Learn about Lu Xun, widely hailed as China’s greatest 20th century writer, and try out one of his great stories.
  • The Shanghai Public Security Museum, sounds dull but The Rapid Traveler especially enjoys the exhibit on propaganda packets dropped on the Mainland by Taiwan in the 1950s-1970s showing a taste of capitalist freedom.  Though narrowly focused, the museum is perhaps the best view to the changes in Shanghai over the past 150 years, and the propaganda elements can be easily disregarded.

For a spot of tea:

  • Traditional teahouses are vanishing but Qiuping Tea Banquet (photos) preserves the full experience and also has a restaurant serving dishes incorporating tea and is near the shopping maelstrom of Xujiahui.
  • Or why not get a more British experience than even the British can provide at the Rose House Tea House in  Pudong’s Super Brand Mall, their Mainland flagship location.

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